I locked myself out of my phone

4 minute read.

Turns out the Google Pix­el has quite some stur­dy se­cu­ri­ty with An­droid 9.0.

How it happened

Last Fri­day Vhite Rab­bit went to the Start-up BW sum­mit. We pre­sent­ed the pro­to­type of an Aug­ment­ed Re­al­i­ty booth there: ba­si­cal­ly a dig­i­tal event booth that works with a Web App and mark­ers stuck all over the booth.

It went re­al­ly well, apart from the ser­vice we used to gen­er­ate and short­en the QR code for the vis­i­tors ask­ing for mon­ey af­ter 20 scans. Al­so, it was just a pro­to­type and many phones end­ed up not sup­port­ed.

Due to all of that, we all used my phone for demon­stra­tion, which meant I had to change my pat­tern to some­thing the oth­ers could re­mem­ber (I have an in­stane­ly com­pli­cat­ed pat­tern usu­al­ly).

Ex­haust­ed from the event on Sat­ur­day, I was un­able to re­mem­ber my usu­al pat­tern on Sat­ur­day morn­ing. In the delir­i­um I set the pat­tern to an equal­ly com­plex one… that I do longer re­mem­ber, be­cause most of the time I was able to un­lock via fin­ger­print and did not need to re­mem­ber what the pat­tern was.

What now?

There is quite a bit of da­ta on that phone that I’d like to save, so what choice do I have but try to un­lock the phone to avoid the fac­to­ry re­set.

While try­ing around I re­boot­ed my phone, which locked me out of most op­tions that would have been bet­ter than brute forc­ing the un­lock pat­tern:

Luck­i­ly, I’m a de­vel­op­er and have USB de­bug­ging en­abled. Al­so luck­i­ly, the An­droid De­bug Bridge tool al­lows you to in­put any­thing in­to the de­vice re­mote­ly.

And even more luck­i­ly, you can by­pass most of the pat­tern un­lock time­out by restart­ing the phone (28 sec­onds in­stead of 960, yay!).

I am now at 1028 tries. Should this ev­er work out, you will read about it.