6 Android Phone Encryption Pros and Cons You Should Know

6 Android Phone Encryption Pros and Cons You Should Know

Encryption is a hot topic lately, especially as people have growing concerns about data security. If you’re thinking about encrypting your Android, here are some Android phone encryption pros and cons to help you decide what to do.

1. It’s a Security Booster

One of the top reasons why many people encrypt their Android devices is that it makes them more secure. Encryption scrambles the data on your phone so that people cannot read it without the decryption key. In the case of phones, the decryption happens via a password or a security pattern drawn on the screen.

But, if an unencrypted device falls into the wrong hands, prying eyes can easily see the contents. Often, people who steal phones and try to get information from them boot the devices off a USB drive or mount the phone’s hard drive to another tech tool to get the data.

Encryption is also a smart thing to do before selling a phone. It prevents the next user from accessing your files and other stuff the phone once held. Contrary to popular belief, a factory reset alone is not enough to delete data.

2. It’s Easy to Do

Another positive thing about Android encryption is that it doesn’t require a complicated process. Every Android operating system since 2.3 has built-in encryption available. Assuming you have one of the newest operating systems, the encryption option is part of the Security menu in Settings.

Tap on Security, then scroll to the Encrypt Phone option under the Encryption header. If encryption is turned on, it shows as such.

Otherwise, tap the encryption option to go through the steps. A warning screen confirms that people need to start with a fully charged battery and keep their phones plugged in during the process to avoid losing data.

Individuals can’t use their phones while encrypting them, and the process can take an hour or more. Even so, it’s not difficult, and a status update indicator displays the estimated time left.

3. It Won’t Drastically Affect Performance

When many people make changes to their phones, they worry about potential declines in performance. However, one of the reasons why gadget owners choose to encrypt their smartphones is because doing so shouldn’t hinder how a device performs.

Something that may seem different is that encrypted phones take slightly longer to unlock. That’s when the encryption happens. But, it’s not a frustrating change, especially for people with updated operating systems.

So, we’re halfway through the list of Android encryption pros and cons. What should people know about the negative side of things?


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4. It Doesn’t Offer a Password Recovery Option

Perhaps the biggest downside of encryption is that people cannot access the data on an encrypted phone if they forget the associated password. Usually, if a person can’t remember the password to a website or an app, they can go through recovery options. But, that’s not the case for an encrypted Android.

Some people say that’s a good thing because it keeps things more secure. That’s true, but they should think carefully about moving forward with encryption if remembering passwords is a frequent problem.

5. It’s Not Available on Low-End Androids — Yet

Android began requiring the smartphones that use that operating system to support encryption as of 2015. But, the least-expensive phones get an exemption. That’s because encryption would place too many demands on devices that already lack in processing power and other capabilities due to their price points.

Encryption, then, isn’t an option for people who own the most economical phones running Android.

Fortunately, things may change. Google researchers recently created a new algorithm they say makes encryption more efficient and speedier, even on cheap phones. That development is in the early stages, though. And, it’ll be the device manufacturers that ultimately adopt Google’s solution or not. As such, the exemption for some Androids remains in effect.

6. It’s Not a Feature to Turn On and Off at Will

Android is a user-friendly operating system. It’s simple to do things like clear the cache for an app, change app notification settings, alter how the phone sounds when new calls or texts come through and more.

But encryption is different. Some phones come encrypted out of the box. Otherwise, people who want to encrypt their phones go through the steps mentioned earlier. On the other hand, disabling encryption is not as straightforward as tweaking a setting. The only option is to restore the phone to factory settings. Doing that deletes all the device’s information.

Is Encryption the Right Choice for You?

These Android phone encryption pros and cons should help you make a confident and informed decision about whether encryption is an appropriate precaution to take with your phone. Besides evaluating the aspects here and applying them to your life and usage habits, consider the value of the phone’s data.

Using your Android for work or holding sensitive data could make encryption especially appropriate.

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Kayla Matthews is a technology writer and the editor of Productivity Bytes. Her work has been featured on Digital Trends, MakeUseOf, VICE, VentureBeat, The Daily Dot and WIRED, among others. Follow her on Twitter to read her latest posts.

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