We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
2,862 Tutorials

How to unlock an Android phone/tablet

Bypass a pattern, PIN, password or face lock

It's wise to use a security measure to protect from unauthorised access your Android smartphone or tablet, whether you use a pattern, PIN, password or face lock. But what do you do when you forget your own access code? See Android Advisor.

Fortunately, it is possible to bypass the security code and unlock your smartphone or tablet. However, if you have set a PIN or password rather than pattern or face lock, you may lose your data in the process - exactly why you should back up your data before something goes wrong.

Here, we'll show you how to regain access to your Android smartphone or tablet when you forget your unlock passcode.

How to bypass pattern lock

If you've forgotten the pattern used to secure your Android smartphone or tablet, regaining access is easy.

Step 1. Incorrectly enter your pattern five times. On the fifth attempt a message will pop up informing you that you must wait 30 seconds before you can try again. You may find your handset requires more than five incorrect attempts; this is because Android registers only those that comprise four or more points.

Unlock phone tablet 1.1

Step 2. What happens next depends on your handset. On our Sony Xperia P we clicked Next and were prompted for either our Google account details or the answer we gave to a security question when we set up the pattern lock. On a Huawei Ascend G 330, on which we hadn't supplied an answer to a security question, we simply tapped 'Forgotten pattern?' at the bottom right of the screen.

Unlock phone tablet 1.2

Step 3. On the following screen enter your Google account username and password, then click Sign in (if you've forgotten this information you can reset your Google account details at http://tinyurl.com/cczjl3m).

Unlock phone tablet 1.3

Step 4. Choose a new screen lock option, such as a pattern or PIN, then enter a code. This time, be sure to pick something you'll remember.

Unlock phone tablet 1.4

How to bypass a PIN or password lock

If you've locked your Android smartphone or tablet with a PIN or password, regaining access requires a little more effort.

Step 1. If you're using a device running Android 2.2 to Android 4.0, many users have had success with Screen Lock Bypass Pro (£2.60, Google Play). This doesn't work on every device (indeed, we were unable to test it on the two phones we had to hand), and it's worth the download only if your device is online and signed into your Google account.

Unlock phone tablet 2.1

Step 2. Find Screen Lock Bypass Pro in Google Play. Click the £2.60 Buy link, then Install, then select your device in the 'Send to' list and click Continue. Once the app has installed, either turn off and on the device or plug in the charger, then click the Activate button to reset the password or passcode.

Unlock phone tablet 2.2

Step 3. If Screen Lock Bypass Pro isn't supported by your device, you can reset the PIN or password by performing a hard reset. This isn't something you should undertake lightly, since you'll lose any data on your phone or tablet that hasn't already been backed up.

To perform a hard reset without unlocking the phone or tablet, you'll need to access Android's Recovery Mode. This involves switching off the device and performing a specific key sequence - on the Samsung Galaxy S III it's Volume Up + Home + Power, for example, and on the Huawei Ascend G 330 it's Volume Up + Power. You should be able to find the specific key sequence for your device by running a Google search for your model with the term 'recovery mode'.

Unlock phone tablet 2.3

Step 4. Having accessed the Recovery Mode, use the Volume Down button to highlight the 'Wipe data/factory reset' option, then use the Power button to select it.

Unlock phone tablet 2.4

Step 5. Again using the Volume Down button, scroll down to and select (using the Power button) the 'Yes - delete all user data' option. When the device has reset, select the option to 'Reboot system now'. Your device will turn on, unlocked, but your personal data will be gone.

Unlock phone tablet 2.5

How to bypass Face lock

Let's say you set up your Android smartphone or tablet to unlock only when it recognises your own face, and then accidentally fell into a Botox needle/ate too many pies/had a horrible disfiguring accident/broke the front camera/found out the feature doesn't work very well. You're locked out. So, what can you do?

Unlock phone tablet 3.1

You'll remember that when you set up Face Unlock you were asked to provide a pattern or PIN passcode as a backup. So, far from a wannabe hacker resorting to Face Off measures to infiltrate your device, they need to bypass only your pattern or PIN lock. As do you, when you've, erm, forgotten your face.

To regain access, simply follow the steps above for bypassing Android's pattern or PIN lock.

IDG UK Sites

Best January sales 2015 UK tech deals LIVE: Best New Year bargains and savings on phones, tablets,...

IDG UK Sites

Chromebooks: ready for the prime time (but not for everybody)

IDG UK Sites

Hands-on with Sony's latest smartglasses

IDG UK Sites

Apple TV expert tips: get US Apple TV content, watch Google Play, use multiple Apple IDs and more