Locked Out of Your G1?

One issue has been bugging the Android user community for awhile now, and it seems like Google has been mum on the issue (android bugs 3006, 4784).

The issue is that a phone can be locked out if too many tries of the unlock pattern fails to unlock a phone (usually a friend or a kid playing with the pattern maker).  The fallback mechanism that the Android puts forth is to fall back to the google login screen, which prompts for the google apps account associated with the phone.  Only problem is that even though you enter your username and password correctly, the phone refuses to let you in.  This is with Android 1.6.

Here’s how I fixed it, based on feedback from the above two bugs.

  1. Have someone call you.
  2. Either you or the caller hang up.
  3. Immediately start mashing the home button, this should bring you to the home screen, bypassing the lock.  Be wary as inactivity will reinstate the lock (though a keyboard-open event will bypass it again).
  4. Go into Settings > Security and disable the pattern lock by entering your pattern.
  5. Put the phone to sleep.
  6. Wake it up, and enter in your username associated with the phone.
  7. Enter in ‘null‘ as the password (no quotes).
  8. Rejoice.

I’m not sure if entering in null as your password in the outset will work, but that’ll be fun if it did! 

The problem with the implementation here is that if the phone is locked out, the Android phone will check a local hash of the account password.  At some point in the unlock process, however, this hash is screwed up and overwritten.  The phone seems to have no inclination to connect to 3G in order to verify the password, though some users have reported persuading the phone to connect to the internet in order to verify the password.

Seems like a serious issue as the only solution before this fix was to hard-reset the phone.  Any issue like this that threatens to corrupt/lose customer data should be prioritized to the top-level.  That’s, of course, not to mention (“the feature”) that you can circumvent the security mechanism by mashing the home button!  I hope this helps anyone else that runs into this problem.

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