Soft Reset VS Hard Reset on mobile phones. What is the difference?

There are many types of resets associated with mobile phones. Soft Resets, Hard Resets, Second Level Resets, Master Resets, Master Clears, Factory Data Resets, to simply name a few. This article covers two of the more common resets available on cell phones, the Soft Rest and the Hard Reset, explaining 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.

Soft Reset

What the Soft Reset is

What is a Soft Reset? The Soft Reset is the easiest reset to perform on a mobile phone. To Soft Reset a phone is to simply power cycle the device, to power it off and then to power it back on.

How to do a Soft Reset

Some phones have a restart option which will allow the phone to power off and power back on by itself. Some older phones may only offer the power off or power down feature and the phones operator will have to power the phone on manually once it’s completely powered off.

What the Soft Reset does

The soft reset can actually solve many simple problems on mobile phones, especially when the phone has been on for a long period of time and has not been power cycled for a while.

Issues that can be solved by performing a Soft reset include and are not limited to:

  • Not receiving messages, both text and picture messages.
  • Cannot receive calls.
  • Cannot make calls.
  • Lag or sluggishness.
  • Not receiving emails.
  • Cannot send files.
  • Audio issues.
  • Incorrect settings.
  • Incorrect time being displayed.
  • Responsive issues with touch screens or when navigating the phone.
  • Network related issues.
  • Minor software related issues.
  • And many more minor issues can be solved by Soft Resetting a mobile phone.

A Soft Reset DOES NOT delete anything from your mobile phone and causes no loss of information from the device.  

Tips about Soft Resets

Soft Resets are the FIRST step in trying to resolve phone related issues, on both standard and basic phones as well as smartphones, and can solve many types of software related problems.

When performing a Soft Reset I recommend that the phone remain powered off for at least 10 seconds before it is powered back on.

It’s never a bad idea to get into the good habit of powering off your mobile phone for a few minutes at least once every few days. This can help contribute to a nice, happy, and efficient working cell phone.

Hard Reset

What is a Hard Reset?

A Hard Reset reverts a phone to its original settings and a clean OS (Operating System) removing all data and information added to the cell phone by the mobile phone user. In essence a Hard Reset erases everything from the phone and puts the phone back to like new condition as though it’s brand new right out of the box.

How to perform a Hard Reset

The steps involved when trying to perform a Hard Resets are going to depend on what type of cell phone you have, what operating system is currently running on the mobile phone, the make and model of the phone, and what version of software is installed on the phone.

Not all phones are Hard Reset the same way.

For example Android phones have many different types of Hard Resets available depending on the make and model of the phone itself. Most Android phones can be Hard Reset by holding a certain key combination such as holding the volume down and power key for 15-20 seconds then releasing those keys and then using the volume keys to navigate and highlight the Hard Reset option then using the power key to make the selection. This comes in handy if you forget your password or have a serious software related issue that’s causing your touch screen to be non responsive.

If you want to learn more about Hard Resets on Android phones you can read How to Hard Reset an Android Phone for more information. If you’re looking to do a Hard Reset on your cell phone, there are simply too many phones and to many methods available to list the instructions for every Hard Reset for every mobile phone on this page. Simply doing a Search on your favorite search engine should allow you to locate instructions for your specific phones make and model.

Don’t forget what a Hard Reset does

Remember that a Hard Reset erases all personal data from the mobile phone. Make sure to backup everything that you don’t want lost or deleted before performing the Hard Reset.

This is often the LAST resort in troubleshooting and a Hard Reset is a VERY POWERFUL tool that can solve most software related issues on a phone including but not limited to:

  • Fixing corrupted software.
  • Removing viruses
  • Fixing glitches
  • Reverting unwanted Settings
  • Removing bad applications
  • Removing anything that has been changed or added to the phone that can or is causing it to respond or act incorrectly (a Hard Reset removes everything but the OS).

Tips about Hard Resets

The Hard reset cannot be undone. BACKUP EVERYTHING if possible before performing a Hard Reset, if you don’t then that information is going to be lost forever.

Remember that a Hard Reset is typically the last resort in troubleshooting a mobile phone. If a Hard Reset doesn’t fix the issue and that issue is causing the cell phone to not function properly then the next step is often looking into your other options available when a phone cannot be fixed which includes looking into replacement options.

Review Hard vs. Soft Resets

These are two of the most commonly used resets.

The Soft Reset: The most basic reset which can solve many minor issues that can occur throughout the use of the phone. The Soft Reset should be the first reset and often the first step in troubleshooting that a person can do when attempting to fix an issue on their mobile phone. This reset is simply power cycling the cell phone turning it off and then back on. The Soft Reset does not cause any loss of data on the phone.

The Hard Reset: Usually a last resort and the last reset to try when other types of resets have been attempted and have been unsuccessful in resolving the issue. The Hard Reset is intended to fix serious software problems that can occur on mobile phones. This reset removes all user data from the phone and resets the phone to its factory default settings.

All the resets in-between

We covered the most basic reset being the Soft Reset, and the more intense reset, being a Hard Reset, what about all the other resets in between the two? What about the other types of resets available like the ones mentioned in the beginning of this article? If you’re interested in some of the other types of resets that can be done to a mobile phone you can check out mobile phone resets for more information.


Thank you for reading. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. If you found this article informative or helpful then let me know by leaving a comment or pressing the Facebook Like button or Google + button below. Thanks again and have a wonderful day.

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20 thoughts on “Soft Reset VS Hard Reset on mobile phones. What is the difference?”

  1. Tablets
    Does this also apply to tablets? If i do a hard reset (pressing the power button and volume down etc), will it erase my pictures, downloads and videos from the internal memory? Thanks.

    1. Yes, the same information applies to an Android tablet as well

      Hi Paul,

      Yes, the advice above applies to Android tablets as well. If you perform a hard reset on your tablet then it will erase any pictures, images, music, videos, downloads, and will pretty much remove all the user data from your devices internal storage.

      So don’t forget to fully backup your Android to an SD card or a computer before performing a factory reset. If you want to review a more detailed description of what a hard reset effects than make sure to read this frequently asked hard reset questions and answers guide for more information.

    2. I have a question…
      I have a question. Does a hard reset remove additional software, added into Android by phone provider? For example Verizon they add they own programs, which can not be deleted regularly, they are built in OS. But the phone is unlocked already.

      1. A hard reset simply removes all user data from the device

        Hi Libertylee,

        I hard reset does not remove additional software added by the manufacturer or your service provider. It simply removes all user data and reverts the phone back to its factory default settings. Imagine that your buying your phone brand-new from the store again (software wise anyways).

  2. May i ask if a soft reset of an iPhone 6…

    May i ask if a soft reset of an iPhone 6 (hold sleep/wake button with the home button for 10 seconds) harms the phone in anyway? May it be battery, hardware etc? And is it advisable to do it occasionally where it actually removes caches and memory stored in the phone? Thank you.

    1. I don’t foresee any problems

      Hi Benji,

      I don’t see any reason why performing a soft reset on your iPhone (with or without using the hardware buttons) would harm your phone in any way shape or form. In fact it’s not a bad idea to turn off or restart your phone every once in a while to give it a bit of a rest. Most people leave their phones on constantly and even phones need a rest every once in a while.

  3. I can’t actually do this…
    I have a Samsung Galaxy young and mine just stays on the one screen. I can’t do a soft reset because it just repeats the cycle and I can’t do a hard reset because it just the repeats the cycle.

    1. It sounds like a serious software problem

      Hi Bella,

      It sounds like your phone is experiencing a serious software issue that may not be solvable through standard troubleshooting…

      I talk about this issue HERE in more detail but your phones Bootloader (basically the software that tells your phone how to turn on properly) may be malfunctioning and will need to be replaced with a working version of the software.

      This issue can be a hard thing to fix so if you need help with it then make sure to read that entire article especially the bottom part about re-installing software and you will likely need to do some further reading online. This should hopefully point you in the right direction though and with a little bit of research and some elbow grease you should be able to get your phone to turn on properly again.

  4. LG L34C play store and downloaded apps won’t open.
    Somehow or another I corrupted the Bluetooth feature on my phone so I downloaded and opened the Kitkat 4.4 zip and selected write over on everything figuring they were all just fresh factory copies of what everything was suppose to be anyways. Well it fixed my Bluetooth but messed something else up so I called tech support and they told me to factory data reset. Now when I power on at boot it always goes “Optimizing app 2 of 8…” and so on. Then once I’m on my home screen I can’t open Google play store to get any of my apps back. I can download some stuff off 3rd party sites but when I try to open the apps after the install it just flashes the logo screen then the app closes and goes back to home screen. YouTube, chrome, hangouts, Google play… all that works. But when I did the data reset I lost a lot of preinstalled apps; and files too I’d imagine. How can I repair my corrupted os? Can I do this without a computer? I think my phone might be confused thinking it has two different os. Later I found that this phone comes with Kitkat 4.4.2… not the 4.4 I unzipped. What went wrong?

    1. An issue with your phones software

      Hi Calvin,

      Yeah it sounds like the software on your phone is malfunctioning. Unfortunately a hard reset isn’t going to help solve your problem as a hard reset will remove all of the user data from the phone but it won’t touch the Operating System which is where the problem lies.

      You will likely need to flash the phone with a completely fresh copy of software using a program like ODIN. You can install custom software but an official copy of the latest software from the manufacture is a pretty good idea too.

  5. Android version
    If you hard reset your phone will it reset your android version? For example my version is 5.0.1 will it return to 4.4.4?

    1. A hard reset won’t affect the current version of Android

      Hi Rizl,

      You ask a good question. A hard reset should only erase all of the user data from the device. It is not going to affect the current operating system on the phone and will not return it to an earlier version of Android that may have been installed originally or previously.

      So if your Android smartphone is running on Android 5.0.1 Lollipop and you perform a hard reset on the phone it’s still going to be running on Android 5.0.1 Lollipop after the reset.

      So you asked a good question Rizl. If you have any more questions than feel free to check out the sites Hard Reset FAQ guide for even more information about the effects of hard resets on Android smartphones.

  6. Battery Indicator Problem
    Hi, your article is very interesting. I have a question about the battery indicator. My android phone has an unsolved problem from the first time I bought it (till now). Every time I charged the phone, the battery indicator never reaches 100%. It only reaches (at max) 60%. So, even if I charge it for 3 or more hours, the indicator never reaches 100%. I already went to the service center but they don’t have the software to repair it (the software tester didn’t release yet). Can a hard reset solve this problem?

    Thank you.

    1. It’s hard to tell if a hard reset will fix your problem

      Hi Uli,

      It’s hard to tell if a hard reset will resolve your specific problem as you mentioned that this particular issue has been occurring since you originally purchased your device. It could just be a bug in the software which is making the battery life indicator show false readings but it’s hard to tell for sure. If it becomes a nuisance or interferes with the use of the phone you may want to try a hard reset just to see if it helps correct the problem. If not then you may have to look into your replacement options.

      In the future, I would recommend that if you ever purchase a new phone and it’s not working properly that you should definitely consider taking it back to where you bought it and looking into getting a replacement or refund. Having a brand-new phone malfunction right out of the gate is rarely a good sign.

  7. I have a Sony Xperia that has been having some issues
    I have a Sony Xperia that has been having some issues. The screen will sometimes freeze especially if I have recently watched YouTube and I can’t do a soft reset right away. It will take numerous tries for my phone to shut off and restart. Also, it becomes extremely hot after using it for a short period of time and sometimes the screen will go blank (turn blue) and I’ll have to shut it off. Will a hard reset solve these issues?

  8. Hard Reset and Memory issues
    I am thinking if doing a hard reset for the second time because my apps kept on lagging and crashing, especially when I am surfing the net and reading articles. It really frustrates me and disturbs my reading activities since I have to look up my history and load it up again and again because it crashes every time. I don’t know if my phone’s infected with a virus since I uninstalled my antivirus app. Sometimes I think maybe that’s the case. Also, whenever I visit the Google Play Store and try downloading apps, it always says that I don’t have sufficient memory when I have more memory than what that app is worth either on my SD card or my phone memory. My phone is a Sony Xperia MT25i. My classmate has the same problem as well.

  9. Mike Jaive Celis

    Hard Reset
    Hi everyone.. does the hard reset erase all data including the system data or the system apps??

    1. Performing a hard reset on your cell phone

      Hi Mike,

      A hard reset will only erase the user data that has been added to the phone after it was originally purchased.

      All of the default apps and programs that originally came with the phone will not be erased from the device. If you have added any information to those system apps however that information may get erased so make sure to perform a full backup of all of your information so that you do not lose anything that you do not want to lose.

      For example, an android phone comes with an application called contacts. Chances are that you’ve added some names and telephone numbers to your phone since you first purchased it. If you do not backup those names and telephone numbers (to a Sim card or memory card or your phones Primary Google account or some source other than the cell phones memory) and then perform a hard reset the contacts application is still going to exist on your phone but it may not necessarily retain the contacts that you’ve added to it.

      Basically it’s going to revert your cell phone to the state it was in when it was first purchased.

      If you’d like to learn more about hard resets and the effects that a hard reset will have on your smartphone, then please do not hesitate to read this hard reset guide for more information.

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