What Hap­pens When You For­mat Your Phone

Mehvish

Call it a hard reset, factory reset, or formatting the phone – all of them are scary terms. And they should be. Why? Because the repercussions are severe. What are those repercussions? Find out the answer in this post where we tell you what happens when you factory reset your Android or iPhone.

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Factory reset deletes everything present on the internal storage of your phone. Now, a lot of things such as apps, files, settings, data like contacts, messages, etc. can exist there. What happens to them?

We intend to clear your confusion. Let’s see what happens when a phone is hard reset.

What Happens to the System Operating System

You must be wondering what will happen to your operating system when you format your phone. Do you need to install it again? The answer is no. Formatting the phone doesn’t remove the current software from your phone. By current, we mean the software version that was active on your phone before you reset it.

For instance, if your Android phone came with Android 9.0 Pie and later it was updated to Android 10, formatting will restore the Android 10 version and not Android Pie. The same holds true for iOS. If you have installed the latest version, the phone holds on to that part a secured area of your storage and uses it as a backup to restore things to the factory state.

What Happens to Apps When You Hard Reset Your Phone

To keep things clear, most preinstalled apps stay, and roll back to the factory version of the operating system. However, all that apps that you manually install from Google Play Store (Android) or App Store (iPhone) are removed when you format/reset the phone. You will have to reinstall them.

Also, you will lose the data associated with such apps unless they offer a backup feature and you use it. For instance, if you have the Candy Crush game installed on your phone, formatting the phone will delete it. But, if you are logged in with an account in the game, you will be on the same level when you install it again.

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In case you have purchased an app, you don’t need to pay again after formatting the phone. Install it using the same Google account (Android) or Apple ID (iPhone) that was used to download it in the first place.

On the contrary, the apps that came preinstalled on your phone will appear again automatically when you format the phone. However, the data of those apps will also get deleted and it would be wise if you have taken a backup.

What Happens to Calls Logs, Contacts, and Messages

Few of the top concerns while contemplating to format or reset your phone is Contacts, Messages, and Call logs. When you format the phone, you will lose your call history and messages unless you have taken a backup. You can use the native Backup feature available in Android and iPhone or download third-party backup apps.

When it comes to contacts, they will be deleted too. But if you use Google or iCloud to sync contacts, you can restore them when you add the same accounts to the phones after formatting it.

Pro Tip: Check our guide to find out how to backup contacts on any Android phone.

What Happens to Data in Memory and SIM Card

Formatting your phone will not impact your data stored either in your memory or SIM card. Your photos and other data on your SD Card and contacts in SIM are safe. You will have to format them separately. However, we would suggest removing them from your phone before you format your phone.

What Happens to Settings

Since hard reset deletes everything, that means it will also revert all your customizations to their default values. Your Wi-Fi passwords, paired Bluetooth devices, your home screen customizations, ringtone selection, and other settings will be removed.

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In case you don’t want to set up your device again from scratch, you should back up your phone before formatting it. When you do so, the customizations made to settings will reflect again when you restore the phone. Check out how to backup the phone below.

What Happens to Photos

If the photos are stored in the internal storage of your phone, they will be deleted by hard reset. However, if you use photo storage services such as Google Photos or iCloud Photos, then you don’t need to worry. Those apps take a backup of your photos. Your photos will be safe on them even after formatting your phone. Another alternative is to move them to the microSD card, if your phone supports and expansion slot.

What Happens to Files and Other Data

Similar to other things, your files such as PDF, audio, etc. will also get removed after you reset your phone. You should either move them to the SD card, if your phone supports it, or use cloud storage services.

Does Factory Reset Delete Google Drive and iCloud Files

The short answer is no. Since both of them are cloud services, the data in them is always syncing to the cloud. So, you will not lose your Google Drive files or the data in iCloud when you format your phone. However, you will have to sign in again into these services to view the data.

How to Backup Your Phone

To back up your device settings, call logs, SMS, and contacts, you should use the backup feature available in Android and iPhone.

To access it on Android, go to Settings > System > Backup. Enable the toggle.

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On iPhone, open Settings and tap on your name. Then, tap on iCloud followed by iCloud Backup. Enable the toggle for iCloud Backup.

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How to Format Your Phone

Let’s check the steps to hard reset your Android and iPhone.

How to Factory Reset Android Phone

Step 1: Open Settings on your phone and go to System or General Management.

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Step 2: Tap on Reset. Then, tap on Factory reset or Erase all data. Confirm on the next screen.

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How to Factory Reset iPhone

Step 1: Open Settings on your iPhone. Tap on General.

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Step 2: Tap on Reset. Tap on Erase All Content and Settings.

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Pro Tip: Find out what the other reset options do on iPhone.

When to Factory Reset Your Phone

Factory reset is like switching to a new phone, at least in terms of software. You should hard reset your phone only when it’s absolutely necessary. For instance, if you are selling your phone, then we highly recommend resetting and formatting your phone along with its microSD card.

If you are facing any issue on your phone, then resetting it should be your last resort. Typically, most of the issues are resolved by following various troubleshooting tips, and a reset isn’t required. Do it only if the issue persists for a longer time. Once you decide to format the phone, do create a backup before taking the harsh step.

Next up: Still thinking whether creating a backup is a good choice or not? Know why you should back up your iPhone to iCloud or a computer from the next link.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Mehvish

Written By

Mehvish

Mehvish is a computer engineer by profession. Her love for Android made her develop the first app for Kashmir. Known as Dial Kashmir, she won the prestigious Nari Shakti award from the President of India for the same. She has been writing about technology for 3+ years and also has her own Wikipedia page.