Some people might be surprised to learn that performing a factory reset on a Sprint Android phone won’t clear out all of your personally identifying information. In fact, a factory reset will only erase your previously installed applications, user data, and configuration settings. It won’t clear the phone’s NVRAM nor will it remove your Sprint mobile number or user name which usually contains your full name, e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org. You probably don’t want that kind of personal information left on your phone if you plan to sell it on eBay or Craigslist.
To clear your phone’s NVRAM, you’ll need to locate your Master Subsidy Lock (MSL) code. You may be able to get your MSL by calling Sprint or you can try to locate it on your own. Assuming that you haven’t already performed a factory reset, the easiest way to find your MSL code would be to use one of the MSL lookup apps available on Google Play such as Get My MSL. Alternatively, you could install one of the free terminal emulators such as Terminal IDE and use the following command:
Note that the above command is case-sensitive. Some custom keyboards may auto-capitalize the “r” in
ril.MSL preventing the command from working properly.
Your next best option, assuming you’ve already factory reset your phone, would be to install the Android SDK on your computer and use the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to look up your phone’s MSL over a USB connection. This procedure is somewhat more time consuming but doesn’t require reconfiguring your phone. To install the Android SDK and
adb tool on your computer, please do the following:
- Download and install the latest Android SDK from http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html
- Run the Android SDK Manager. The first time you run the SDK manager, you will be list of packages to install. If all you need is
adb, select the “Android SDK Plaform-tools” and “Google USB Driver” and de-select all of the other options. Note that you’ll need to scroll down to confirm that the Google USB Driver is selected. Most likely both options will be selected by default.
- Click the button “Install 2 packages…”
- Next, you’ll be prompted to accept the license agreements for each of the selected packages. Either click “Accept” under each one or click the “Accept All” radio button.
- Click Install to download the packages and begin the installation.
- Click Close when done loading packages then close out of the Android SDK Manager.
Once installed, you should see a
platform-tools folder inside your Android SDK folder, e.g.,
C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools. To make it easier to run
adb as well as the other SDK and platform tools, you can add the
platform-tools directories to your PATH.
With the Android SDK and platform tools installed, you’ll want to connect your Android phone via USB and verify that
adb is working.
- On your Android phone, go to the home screen, press Menu, select Settings –> Developer options (ICS) or Settings –> Applications –> Development (Gingerbread), and enable USB debugging.
- Click OK or Yes when prompted whether to allow USB debugging.
- Now connect your phone to your PC using a USB cable. Windows should automatically launch the new hardware wizard and install the required USB device drivers.
- Verify that
adbis ready to be used with your device by opening a command prompt on your computer, typing
adb devices, and pressing Enter. If properly configured, you should see the serial number of your Android device listed in the result.
- To get the MSL for your Android phone using adb, type the following command:
adb shell getprop ril.MSL
Finally, to clear the NVRAM on the phone, perform a
##72786# reset from the Dialer and enter the MSL when prompted. After pressing OK, the following message should appear prompting you to confirm that you want to reset your phone to factory defaults:
SCRTN is change to factory default value for DSA.
Click Yes to clear the NVRAM. The phone should restart automatically.
Confirm that all personal identifying information has been cleared by going to the Home screen and pressing Menu –> Settings –> About Phone –> Status. Note that you will likely be prompted to perform a handsfree activation. This indirectly confirms that all user identifiable information has been wiped.
At this point, I recommend performing one final factory reset.
- Select Settings –> Privacy –> Factory data reset
- Select the option to “Format USB storage” then click the Reset phone button.
- Click “Delete all” to confirm.
Your phone is now ready for sale. 🙂