Airwatch + Samsung Ultra Power Saving Mode = “How to brick your phone…”

Christian Pezzin
3 min readMar 13, 2015

This is a technical report of a bug we found today about a possible issue related to phones running the following combination of software:

  • Samsung with Android 4.4.2+
  • AirWatch MDM Agent

and on which you will try to turn on the “Ultra Power Saving Feature” mode.


The Ultra Power Saving Mode is a feature available on all latest Samsung phones that allows you to “survive” in case your phone is running out of battery power and you won’t be able to recharge it anytime soon.

This feature, if enabled, will prolong the life of your phone by limiting its functionalities to just calls and text messaging. In order to activate it, you’ll need to tap the proper icon in the notification area:

The first time you’ll activate this feature, you’ll have to accept its terms and conditions:

AirWatch MDM

If you work in a company or in a large enterprise, you might be familiar with the concept of an MDM. An MDM (Mobile Device Management) is a platform used to manage and control the corporate mobile phone devices from a central point, with common policies and profiles, in order to avoid misuse from your employees.

In this scenario, the MDM agent that is causing the issue is the one provided by AirWatch (VMware).


The issue that we found is the following:

On a Samsung smartphone that is running the MDM AirWatch agent, if you activate the Ultra Power Saving Mode, the phone will brick and it won’t be usable anymore.

The problem is related to the fact that you cannot restore its normal usage mode anymore, since the button that should be visible here “Disable ultra power saving mode”:

is not visible anymore.

There is something preventing the phone from displaying the new home screen and this the Disable button is not visible anymore. All you can see are the following 2 screens:

The screenshot is in Italian and it says “No applications available”.
The screenshot is in Italian and it shows a very basic settings page.


All these info were tested and replicated successfully on the following Samsung models:

  • Samsung S5 Mini
  • Samsung A3
  • Samsung A5

We are not sure if this will affect other models or brands, but more investigations are undergoing also by our telco provider.

If you have more info about this bug or would like to amend something, feel free to contact us. Thanks.



Christian Pezzin

Chief Digital Officer. Passionate about technology and innovation. Explorer of new digital solutions. Proud father of little Sofia and Pietro. :)