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Today my Sony Z1 Compact Android phone (4.4 Kit Kat) is stolen. Bad luck, but nobody's hurt and I'm quite sure my insurance will cover this. I've encrypted the phone and external SD card. Now this has happened I wonder if it is possible (for the new owner) to reset the phone, wipe and reinstall it?!

They don't have the code of course, and trying to enter the code manually will be a waste of time - the code is too long for that.

So what I want to know: can this phone ever be used again?


Update

I've bought a new phone, exactly the same, and it's encrypted again. It is not rooted! I don't know if USB debugging was on, but it could very well be. So let's assume it was.

If I understand correctly, I need to boot into recovery mode to reset the machine. I've found the following guide: How to Boot Into Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Recovery Mode. It offers three methods.

The last method involves the Playstore, which requires that you started up the phone, which is not possible without the PIN code. So that method is out.

The first method doesn't seem to work. When I reboot the phone, I don't see the led flashing, and pushing the volume button up or down many times during startup doesn't do anything, well except that I seem to enter some kind of "secure mode", but then again only after unlocking the phone.

The second method involved the ADB. I have enabled developer options on the stolen phone. I probably have enabled USB debugging, and didn't disable it afterwards. I need to try this, but it seems to me that this method too requires that you can startup the phone. I can only test this on Ubuntu right now, but I don't see how this can work without unlocking the phone. I connected the phone via USB to my ubuntu desktop, the started the phone. First thing that I have to do is unlock the phone. When the phone has started up, and I unlocked another time I get a notice asking to install software. For me this means this method won't work either.

Maybe it is possible to wipe the phone with Windows?

Is there another way to wipe the phone and reset it to the state when I bought it?

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You can flash the factory ftf using flashtool. You can connect the phone in flashmode (Volume down) and flash the ftf. This is similar to factory reset. This method does not require USB debugging to be ON.

  1. You need flashtool to be installed in your machine.

  2. Install the flashmode and fastboot driver for your device.

  3. Open Flash tool

  4. Switch off your phone

  5. Hold volume down button

  6. Connect USB cable to PC

  7. Flash the ftf. Refer this

Note : First connect the usb to your phone then hold volume down button and then connect the cable to PC. I dont know why I need to follow this order. But the other way is not working for me.

  • I tried this, see my comment in the other question. – SPRBRN Sep 17 '14 at 9:58
  • @SPRBRN I updated the answer – samnaction Sep 17 '14 at 12:19
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Yes, it's possible to factory reset (wipe) the phone, and then it'll be like new. If you want to make sure the phone can't be used any more, you have to report the theft to the police and make sure to give them the IMEI of the phone. (It should be written on the box it came in, or possibly your carrier will know.) Then they will blacklist the IMEI so the phone won't work on any cell network.

  • Thanks for your reply. Still wondering - how can you factory reset a phone without being able to login to the settings? – SPRBRN Aug 25 '14 at 22:17
  • By booting into recovery mode and factory-resetting from there. – Dan Hulme Aug 25 '14 at 22:27
  • I've tried this, and haven't succeeded. I haven't tried the ADB method, will do so soon. I've updated the question. Can you tell me how this should be done on a phone that is not rooted? – SPRBRN Sep 13 '14 at 22:18
  • I don't see how this can be done via ADB with the phone locked. So please explain how you would do this. – SPRBRN Sep 15 '14 at 14:42
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    @SPRBRN According to xda, while device is Off, holding Volume_Down and connecting USB cable (with a PC on its other end) starts Flashmode and enables you to install stock firmware. – Gyebro Sep 16 '14 at 21:12
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I had a Xperia Z, with encrypted storage. But it gets factory reset automatically when i enter wrong pass key 5-6 times. Anyways, do you have any anti theft software installed. If yes they might be a help for you.

  • Interesting. Do you mean that after entering the wrong password 6 times, it automatically resets? Do you get a warning about this? I did have anti-theft software, but it didn't do anything for me. I guess this only works if you have it unlocked, not encrypted, when they can use it right away. They probably destroyed the simcard right away, and another simcard does nothing because you need to unlock it, which is impossible without password. It took me two hours to get to a computer to block simcard and try to activate the anti theft software. I didn't get anything back until now, weeks later. – SPRBRN Sep 19 '14 at 10:12
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    I really don't like this. That could mean that anyone can erase my phone by simply entering a password several times. – SPRBRN Sep 19 '14 at 10:15

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