Mobile Phone Resets

There are a lot of different types of resets for mobile phones. Soft Resets, Hard Resets, Second Level Resets, Master Resets, Master Clears, Factory Data Resets, to simply name a few. With all the resets available for mobile phones this article will cover some of these types of resets, what they are, what they are intended for, how they can be performed, and what they can do to help your mobile phone function properly.

Types of Resets for mobile phones

Soft Reset

What is a Soft Reset? A Soft Reset is basically powering a cell phone off and then back on. It does not cause any loss of data or information on the cell phone and can resolve many common basic issues on mobile phones including minor software problems or network related issues.

The Soft Reset is often the first step that should be taken in trying to fix a malfunctioning mobile phone and is the most basic type of reset. More information about the Soft Reset can be found at Differences between the Soft Reset and Hard Reset.

Second Level Reset

The Second Level Reset is one step above a Soft Reset. If a cell phone is frozen or unresponsive and you cannot power the phone down like you normally would then a Second Level Reset is usually the best option available.

What the Second Level Reset is

What is a Second Level Reset? The Second Level Reset is to remove the battery while the phone is powered on. This causes the phone to power off. After reinserting the battery (I recommend waiting at least 10 seconds before putting the battery back in) the mobile phone can be powered back on completing the Second Level Reset.

Not available on all mobile phones

The Second Level Reset isn’t an option on all cell phones. Mobile phones that do not allow the user to remove the back plate and battery are of course the exception. Removing the battery from these types of phones would void the phones warranty and as such it is not recommended.

Performing a Second Level Reset on an early Windows phones (before windows 7) used to run the risk of damaging the boot up software as well. The phone would power off and have a hard time booting back up correctly again.

99% of the mobile phones in use today can have their batteries pulled while the phone is on without causing a single issue other than a loss of power. So don’t panic about performing a Second Level Reset on your cell phone.

What the Second Level Reset does

Simply removes the power from the phone and causes it to turn off. No information is lost and no data is removed or deleted from the phone.

The Second Level Reset is basically a Soft Reset and can solve all the same issues as was mentioned in the Soft Reset section earlier in the article.

Hard Reset

What is a Hard Reset? A Hard Reset restores a device to like new condition removing all the data added to it by the user as well as changing all settings back to their factory defaults.

Make sure that you perform a full backup, when possible, before performing a Hard Reset on a phone. This process removes everything that has been added or changed on the phone since it was powered on for the first time. The Hard Reset basically sets the phones software back to like new condition.

Hard Resets are typically a last resort and often the last step when troubleshooting a mobile phone and trying to resolve software related issues.

There are a few methods available when trying to perform a Hard Reset on a cell phone the most common options available are the Master Reset, a Master Clear, a Factory Data Reset, or an Alternate Reset. All of which are types of Hard Resets because they can erase everything from the phone and set it back to like new condition.

Master reset

On some mobile phones, usually the older basic flip phones, a Master Reset option was available in the settings.

Depending on the phone itself the Master Reset would either reset the settings in the phone leaving the user data intact and untouched. Or the Master Reset would act as a Hard Reset clearing the user data and resetting the entire phone back to factory default including the settings and user data.

Master Clear

Another option commonly available on older basic phones, such as flip phones, is the Master Clear. This option can be found under the settings and resets the entire cell phone to like new condition and erases all user data and custom settings. The Master Clear is a type of Hard Reset and cannot be undone.

Note: If your phone has both the Master Reset and Master Clear as options under the settings then the Master Reset will only reset the settings on the mobile phone while the Master Clear will reset the entire phone.

Factory Data Reset

What is a Factory Data Reset? In essence a Factory Data Reset is the exact same as a Master Clear. It removes all information added to the device and resets all the settings back to factory default. All user data is deleted so make sure to completely backup your device to a good memory card or a computer before performing the Factory Data Reset.

Because the Factory Data Reset and Master Clear are so thorough in removing everything from the phone these resets can be the best tools to use when trying to resolve problems and issues on cell phones.

Alternate Reset

What is an Alternate Reset? The Alternate Reset is a type of Hard Reset and performs the same action as the Master Clear and the Factory Data reset.

The Alternate Reset is one of the most powerful Hard Resets available because it does not require the user to go into the settings on the device like you would for the Master Reset, Master Clear and Factory Data Reset. An Alternate Reset can be done when a phones touch screen is not responsive, when it has navigation issues, a forgotten password, or when the Master Clear or Factory Data Reset is unavailable or do not solve the issue.

Hard Reset review

Since the Master Reset, Master Clear, Factory Data Reset and Alternate Reset can remove all information and custom settings from a mobile phone they are all considered Hard Resets and are sometimes referred to as such. For example if a person has performed a Factory Data Reset on their cell phone then they have Hard Reset their cell phone.

Make sure to fully backup a phone, whenever possible, before performing a Hard Reset as it erases everything from the phone and sets it back to like new condition. A Hard Reset cannot be undone.

More information about Hard Resets can be found in the article Soft Reset VS Hard Reset.

Recap of the types of resets available and the order they should be performed

In a nutshell here is a list of resets available for mobile phones and the order they should be performed in. Arranged from least intense and having minor effects on the phone and its information to the more serious and most impacting types of Resets.

  1. Soft Reset – power cycling – no loss of data
  2. Second Level Reset – battery pull – no loss of data
  3. Master Reset – can either cause just the phones settings to go back to default or it can erase all user information from the phone as well as reset the settings to default. ~This depends on what type of phone this option is available on~. Note: If presented with both the Master Reset and Master Clear options on the device then the Master Reset will only affect the Settings and no user data should be erased. If only presented with the Master Reset option then the Master Reset will erase all user data and reset the phones settings back to factory default.
  4. Master Clear – erases all user data from the phone and changes all settings back to the factory default settings. Accessed through the device settings.
  5. Factory Data Reset – resets all settings to default and removes all user data from the device. Performed through the settings on the phone.
  6. Alternate Reset – basically the same as the Factory Data Reset and Master Clear as it resets all settings to default and removes all user data from the device but the Alternate Reset does not have to be done through a phones settings and can be performed when the Factory Data Reset or Master Clear options are unavailable.


These are the most common types of resets that can be done on mobile phones. If you have any tips, suggestions, or questions then don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. If you found this article informative or helpful and would like to show your appreciation then let me know you liked it by pressing the Facebook Like button or Google + button below. Thank you for reading and have a fantastic day.

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1 thought on “Mobile Phone Resets”

  1. 1st time visitor — greetings
    Hello, James. Glad I landed on your site (reading about PHONE RESETS). Keep your enthusiasm for learning + helping others. All success!

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