How to Unlock an Android Smartphone After Too Many Pattern Attempts

By Danielle Fernandez

Don't stress out over a forgotten pattern unlock sequence.
i Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

The built-in pattern lock tool is useful for adding an extra layer of security to your Android smartphone. When enabled, it will not unlock the screen until you have successfully drawn a user-defined pattern over nine arranged dots. If you forget the sequence or have made too many incorrect guesses, you may be able to unlock the device by either entering your Google account information or simply performing a hard device reset.

Forgotten Password Prompt

After you have tried unsuccessfully to enter a pattern unlock five times or more, the device will display an error message requesting that you wait anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes before trying again. If you tap "OK" to acknowledge the error, you will notice that you also have access to a new "Forgot Password" button at the bottom of the touchscreen display.

Using Your Google Account

Tap "Forgot Password" and then enter your full Gmail address and password on the next screen. Tap "Sign In" to continue and allow the device a few moments to verify and confirm your Google account. Create a new unlock pattern and tap "Continue," then confirm your new unlock pattern by drawing it again and tap "Continue" once more. Your phone will now be unlocked and a new unlock pattern established.

Google Account Verification Failed

If you are unable to get in with your Google login -- for example, you don't remember the information or enter it incorrectly -- you can perform a hard reset instead. Only use this process as a last resort, since committing to it completely erases all data stored in the device's internal memory. Your photos and files will be safe, however, since they are stored on the SD card, and your Google Play account will present you with all of your apps so you can download them again.

Hard Reset

Though you can also reset the device using onscreen prompts, a locked screen means you will need to implement a hard reset using the external device buttons instead. The buttons used vary based on your device manufacturer, however, and are not uniform across all Android systems. As such, it is best to check with your phone's user manual to find out the proper procedure.

Other Screen Lock Options

Most Android devices running at least Android OS 4.0 offer five different security options to lock your display. In addition to drawing a pattern, you can slide a finger across the screen, use facial recognition technology, or enter a PIN or password to unlock it. Device manufacturers may label options with slightly different names, but functionality should be fairly uniform across brands.