Best ways to secure and unlock your Galaxy Note 8

We've said it a million times (and we really mean it): your personal information, financial details, address book, photos and all the rest of the "stuff" on your phone should only be seen by people you want to see it. That means you should pay attention to the things apps you install want to do with all of it, but more importantly, it means you need to keep your phone locked when you're not using it.

70 million phones are lost each year. Yours could be one of them.

For starters, you need to have a screen lock set up to use mobile payments from both Samsung and Google. If you don't use your phone to pay for things, it's still worth making sure some random person can't rifle through everything if they find or steal your phone. A study for Lookout (by IDG Research) says that 1 out of 10 people are victims of phone theft, and Kensington has said that 70 million smartphones are lost each year, with only 7% recovered.

When someone finds or steals your phone, they'll shut it off, pull out the SIM card, then turn it on to see if it's locked. If so, they just try to wipe it and sell it. If not, it's time to look through your photos, read your texts and social DMs, then see what they can find in your email. Losing your phone sucks, no matter how it happens. Losing your phone, then having someone steal your identity on Facebook and charge stuff on your credit cards sucks way more. A simple lock screen is a must nowadays.

We've looked at all the ways you can lock your Galaxy Note 8, and sorted them from best to worst — but even the "worst" isn't bad, it's just not as good as the best! We factored in a few different things to build our list: security, convenience, and ease-of-use. And here it is!

Fingerprint sensor: Best

Yes, the placement of the fingerprint sensor on the Note 8 is terrible compared to the way things used to be. And being a bit taller than even the Galaxy S8+ doesn't help. But it's still the best way to keep your screen locked. It's easy to set up, accurate, and once you get used to reaching for it it's easy to use. Of all the ways you can lock your Note 8, the fingerprint sensor is still the best.

Pattern lock: Good, but slower

Did you know the Android pattern lock is more secure than a four-digit PIN? Crunch the numbers — there are more possible combinations in the pattern lock than there are in four digits, and that means someone is less likely to make the right guess before the phone shuts them out.

Pattern lock is secure and easy — exactly what we want to see in a screen locking method!

That aside, a pattern lock is easy to use and after a few days, you'll be able to do it without looking. The one drawback is that greasy fingers can leave a trail on the screen, so wipe it down every now and then. Especially after eating some greasy finger food.

A PIN or passphrase: An oldie but a goodie

This can be the most secure method to lock your phone. It can also be the least secure. It depends on you! Don't use a PIN like 0000 or your birthday digits. Use something that nobody will guess on the first few tries but you'll still remember it. Nobody can unlock your phone but you if you have a PIN or password to get in, but it's just not as convenient as the first two entries on our list.

Iris scanning: Secure and unreliable

The Iris scanning on your Samsung phone is secure. It can't be fooled unless someone goes to great lengths and has a high-resolution photo of your eyes looking directly into the camera.

If someone has that, you have bigger things to worry about. It's easy to set up (and kind of cool, we admit) but you also need to position your phone in the right spot and at the correct angle to get a good reading and unlock it. Some people find that easy, others not so much. You should give it a try because if you're someone who can get things lined up naturally and easily, this will be number one on your list.

Face recognition: Fast and loose

Samsung has improved the standard Android facial recognition software and it can scan your face faster and look at more areas at once.

Samsung improved Face Recognition but still tells you it isn't secure.

But this is easy to fool with a good photo of your face, and even Samsung doesn't claim face recognition is secure. It is convenient and easy to use though. Decide if you need a little extra security (only you know the answer to this) and if you do, don't rely on face recognition.

Everything you need to know about using facial recognition on your phone

Trusted Location/Device/Voice: Built-in goodness

This goes at the bottom of our list. It's easy to set up (you'll need a secondary Bluetooth device for Trusted Device unlocking) and easy to use. Really, you don't "use" it at all. Under certain conditions, your phone stays unlocked. Like when your phone is in a certain place, connected to a certain Bluetooth device, or hears you say the passphrase. When the person at Starbucks calls your name and you leave your phone on the counter, it's unlocked for anyone to pick up. Setting your phone on the coffee table at home in front of your snoopy roommate keeps it unlocked. Any system that allows your phone to be unlocked when you're not holding it and looking at it is not a secure system.

If you use any Trusted Unlocking method, make sure you have remote wipe and find my phone set up through both Samsung and Google.

How to track your missing Android phone

Gear S3 Frontier and Gear S3 Classic

The important thing is that you use a secure lock screen.

As mentioned at the top of this article, even the worst method on our list is a lot better than nothing. We're picking nits here to choose the best way, but if one works well for you and you use it all the time, it's a good one. once you get used to having a secured lock screen, you'll not have any problems unlocking your phone when you need it. And when you don't need it, you'll know someone can't just pick it up and peek into your private life.

Your turn

What locking method do you use on your phone? If you're getting the Note 8 or already have one, what are you using, and why? Your feedback is important! It helps everyone make a better decision and nothing is better than helping each other.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.