Factory Reset Protection has been around on Android since Android Lollipop 5.1, which got released two years ago, in March. Google released this feature as an anti-theft protection, closing a vulnerability for all the devices that run Android Lollipop 5.1 and above, up to Android 8.0 Oreo.
Factory Reset Protection – Effectively Locking Phones
Right now, Android Oreo 8.1 is being advertised by Google as having this feature too. Users can see if they have the Factory Reset Protection on by looking at a status bar icon when they are in the Android start screen. The status tells users if their phones are protected or not with the Factory Reset Protection feature.
Before Android Lollipop 5.1, anyone could have unlocked a stolen/lost phone by having the phone get a factory reset. This allowed them to get pass the locking screen, as the factory reset would wipe the locking screen security.
How Does Factory Reset Protection Work?
If you are connected to an active Google account on your smartphone, even though you perform a factory reset, it will not wipe your Google account. You cannot log into that phone with a different Google account. It only works with an account that was previously synced to that phone. Unless the person knows the password of that Google account, they cannot unlock the smartphone.
This feature wasn’t advertised before, but in the new Android OS, Android Oreo 8.1, Google lets everyone know that it exists by adding that status bar, informing users if their smartphones are protected or not.
For those who want to buy second-hand phones, this is a good information that the sellers have to know, so that they log out their Google account before performing the factory reset and selling it. Buyers should also ask for the sellers to do that, so that they can actually use the smartphone that they bought.