An annoying lock screen bug has been bothering some unlucky Android users for months now, locking them out of their devices by way of a weird authentication loop. The bug has been present as far back as September, when it was originally spotted on Pixel XL devices. It remains unfixed and, worse, seems to be cropping up for even more Android owners. Here's what you need to know (and how to fix it.)
According to Android Police’s most recent update, the bug has now been confirmed on more than just Pixel phones: the OnePlus 7 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact, and the Seuic Cruise 1, to name a few, running either Android 9 or Android 10, are also affected. Google has acknowledged the bug’s existence, but hasn’t provided any official advice, nor has it indicated when a fix might arrive.
Some users have been brute-forcing a workaround for the issue while they wait for Google to fix it, but it’s an imperfect solution that will keep you locked out of your main Google account (and any data or apps associated with it). Still, it remains one of the only ways to get back into your phone once the bug starts up.
Those affected by the PIN bug can try the workaround by following the steps in this Google Support post:
From your phone’s lock screen, tap the “Emergency Call” option.
Press the volume button, then press the gear-shaped settings icon.
From here, you may be able to sign back into the phone through the settings menu, though how is dependent on your device and requires you to have previously saved your fingerprint data. Use the search box to find your lock screen settings and try changing to the fingerprint unlock method.
If that doesn’t, the other option is to create a new or guest user account within the settings menu. Search for “user” or “account” settings. Note: Do NOT add a password or enable other unlock methods, and make sure you allow for call and text permissions for this new account.
Unfortunately, if you are forced to create a new account then you’ll be locked out of all the data saved on the phone that is associated with your other account. It’s technically safe and still there, but you won’t be able to access it until Google figures out a fix so you can log back in.
Preventing the lock screen bug
For anyone who hasn’t encountered the bug, I recommend changing to a different lock screen method for the time being—especially if you’re using one of the devices confirmed to have the issue. The specific pathway will differ based on your device and Android OS versions, but if you open your device’s settings and search for “lock screen,” you should find the right menu.
Your device and OS version will determine which unlock methods are available to you, but common ones include using biometrics like thumbprints or facial recognition, a password, or even a pattern. Any of those will work just fine in place of a PIN—keeping your phone safe from the bug and keeping outside parties from breaking in.