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How to use Android Smart Lock to automatically unlock your phone

Want your phone to automatically unlock when you get home? Smart Lock helps with that.

samsung android phone on table
Image: Unsplash

You should always secure your phone with a reliable security method, such as a PIN, password, or a difficult keypad pattern. If you’re on Android, you also have the option of using Smart Lock.

Biometric methods, such as fingerprints and facial recognition, are convenient, helpful options for unlocking your phone. But, Smart Lock gives you additional ways to manage your device.

For added convenience, Smart Lock offers additional ways to unlock your device without using a passcode. Let’s discuss Android on-body detection, trusted places, trusted devices, and the less-secure Wi-Fi unlock.

How to unlock your Android phone with on-body detection

On-body detection keeps your phone unlocked while it’s in your possession and still moving. Your device senses when it’s with you and automatically locks when you put it down.

Here’s how to use on-body detection to unlock your Android phone:

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen > Smart Lock and enter your PIN or password when prompted
android lock screen settings menu
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap On-body detection
smart lock feature on android
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Switch on Use On-body detection and tap Continue
on-body detection feature on samsung
Image: KnowTechie

As the warning suggests, on-body detection keeps your device unlocked when it senses that you’re walking. If someone snatches your phone from you and keeps moving, they may retain access to your device.

Unlock Android phone with Trusted Places

Having your phone unlock when you arrive at a trusted location is convenient. You should, however, ensure that the people at that location are also trustworthy.

Here’s how to use Trusted Places to unlock your Android phone:

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen > Smart Lock and enter your PIN or password when prompted
    android lock screen settings menu

  2. Tap Trusted placestrusted places on smart lock screen

  3. Tap Add trusted place (android-trusted-places.jpg)trusted places setting option on samsung phone

  4. Locate the trusted location on the map and select it in the list belowfinding trusted places on android

  5. Tap OK to add the entryadding a trusted place on android

When you tap an already-added place, you’ll see options to Delete, Rename, and Edit.

If you have your home address connected to Google Maps, the entry will appear automatically in the list. You can enable this as a trusted place by tapping it and choosing Turn on this location.

Using this Smart Lock feature comes with obvious drawbacks. If someone in a trusted place picks up your phone, they’ll automatically have access to all of your data. While they can’t physically take your device far from the authorized location, they could send your private information wherever they want.

How to unlock an Android phone with Trusted Devices

The trusted devices Smart Lock feature keeps your phone unlocked whenever it’s connected to an authorized Bluetooth product, such as a smartwatch, wireless speaker, or computer.

Here’s how to use Trusted Devices to unlock your Android phone:

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen > Smart Lock and enter your PIN or password when prompted
android lock screen settings menu
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap Trusted devices
trusted devices on android
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Switch Bluetooth on and tap Add trusted devices
trusted devices add-on android
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Select a device from the list or tap Pair new device and complete the pairing process
choose device menu on samsung phone
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap Add when prompted
add trusted device on android
Image: KnowTechie

While this Smart Lock feature is somewhat secure, a sketchy individual could technically hijack your phone and your trusted Bluetooth device to gain full access to your data.

Unlock an Android phone with Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi unlocking is a less-secure solution, as anyone with the right motivation could spoof a wireless network and gain access to your device. For this reason, Google doesn’t include the option in its operating system.

Some third-party solutions do exist, but most relevant apps only work with older versions of Android OS and produce unpredictable results and it is generally best to avoid them.

When it comes to automatically unlocking your phone, you’d be better off using a location or device-based trigger.

Is Android Smart Lock safe?

google android 11
Image: Google

Using Smart Lock is safer than having no protection at all, but enabling the feature does come with additional risks. A motivated thief could use certain unlocking triggers, such as a trusted place, to gain access to your device and data.

With that said, an even more motivated thief could probably torture your passcode out of you or borrow your fingers or face. But why make it easy for them?

When considering whether to enable Android Smart Lock, you should ask yourself: what’s more important, convenience or security?

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