There are many ways your iPhone might have ended up being disabled. A toddler might have fiddled with it; your pocket might have entered the digits accidentally on its own; you might have forgotten the passcode as soon as it was set up and much more.
Recovering an iPhone, however, from a disabled state is a lengthy process. It could also lead to data loss. Therefore, it’s very important to backup your devices regularly.
In this post, we’ll learn four methods to deal with a disabled iPhone; or rather “fix a disabled iPhone.” Every method involves restoring the phone. Unfortunately, there is no way to bypass a disabled iPhone without restoring it.
Why an iPhone disables itself.
Because of Apple’s extended focus on security, it does not want users to lose their beloved iPhones in the hands of evil. As clumsy and cliche that may sound, it’s true for a fact.
So, Apple has put up a secure process in which if you fail to enter the correct passcode set for your iPhone six times, it will disable itself for one minute. On the seventh attempt, it will disable itself for five minutes. Eighth attempt; for 15. Tenth; 60. However, after those 60 minutes that you spend in denial, another wrong attempt at accessing your iPhone will disable it forever.
Although, getting an iPhone disabled is not that easy. If you, yourself, have set the passcode; chances of you forgetting it are usually significantly low. But sometimes, memory fails and you cannot remember no matter how hard you try.
Other times, your phone gets disabled when a toddler tries to fiddle with it. According to Pediatrics research, around 96.6% of the sample set of children used mobile phones, out of whom most started before the age one. This could be a major factor why children--mostly toddlers--are capable of locking themselves out of an iPhone. On top of that, you cannot deny the fact that toddlers are curious creatures. So, chances of your iPhone getting disabled after an hour of spaced-out attempts are pretty high.
Another speculation as to why your iPhone may get disabled that is much more believable and is proven to often occur is that your pocket could be the one doing this. There’s a high chance that you may keep your phone in your pocket for well over an hour or so and in the meantime, the pocket may become the cause.
Albeit, one way you can bar your pocket from inadvertently accessing your iPhone is by turning off the “Raise to Wake” feature in Settings.
How to fix “iPhone is disabled, connect to iTunes” and get your phone working again.
I cannot stress enough on the need to regularly back up your iPhone. It’s a precautionary measure that’s highly underrated. It could save you a lot of time and headache; sometimes grief too.
That said, here are some ways you can fix a disabled iPhone.
The easiest method to fix a disabled iPhone: Using iCloud restore.
This is the easiest method to bypass a disabled iPhone. It involves using iCloud remotely to erase your device, which, in turn, will allow access into the device later. It is the most convenient method to fix a disabled iPhone provided you had enabled “Find My iPhone” under iCloud settings on your iPhone before it locked you out.
Log in using the same Apple ID and Password that is on your inaccessible iPhone.
Click on the “All Devices” dropdown and select the disabled iPhone.
On the information card, click on “Erase iPhone”.
This will erase all the data on the iPhone and restore it to a fresh state. You can, then, choose to either set up the iPhone using a previous backup or continue using it without reacquiring your data.
Fix disabled iPhone using iTunes Restore method.
Since erasing and restoring your phone’s software is the only option you have, you may as well consider connecting your iPhone to the PC and restore it via iTunes. Because iTunes is Apple’s official tool for managing your iPhone (It’s deprecated and replaced by the Music app on Mac in the latest update. Windows app remains the same), restoring it becomes fairly easy and to some extent, automatic.
Restoring via iTunes is the second-best method to fix a disabled iPhone or bypass a disabled iPhone.
Click on the icon on the top left corner of the iTunes pane resembling your iPhone model. If it doesn’t show up, try unplugging and plugging your phone back into the computer.
In a separate, highlighted box; you will see an option to restore. Click on that.
Wait for iTunes to automatically restore your iPhone.
After it is done restoring, you can either opt to use the iPhone as a new device or restore a previously made backup using iTunes or iCloud. This is why backups are important.
Disclaimer: If, after clicking on the restore button, iTunes informs you that Find My iPhone is enabled, please refer to the previous method as it is easier. Generally, Find My iPhone needs to be disabled in the settings on an iPhone in order to ensure security. But in this case, since you’re locked out and cannot access the settings, a normal restore process isn’t possible.
Fix iPhone is disabled and won’t connect to iTunes
Let me guess. You had turned off Find My iPhone from within the settings when your phone was accessible. And due to some reasons, your iPhone won’t connect to iTunes or let you restore using the same. This calls for booting into Recovery Mode.
Booting into Recovery Mode works differently for different iPhones.
For iPhone 6S and earlier: Connect the phone to a computer and open iTunes. Press and hold the homeand lockbuttons until the Apple logo appears. Do not leave the buttons yet. Continue holding those buttons for a while until the Recovery Mode screen finally appears.
For iPhone 7 and 7 Plus:Connect the phone to a computer and open iTunes. Press and hold the lock and volume down buttons until the Apple logo appears. Do not leave the buttons yet. Continue holding those buttons for a while until the Recovery Mode screen finally appears.
For iPhone XS/XS Max, X, and 8/8 Plus:Connect the phone to a computer and open iTunes. Press and release the volume up button. Immediately after that, press and release the volume down button. Then, hold the lock button on the side until you see the Apple logo on the screen. Do not leave the button yet. Continue holding the button for a while until the Recovery Mode screen finally appears.
Booting into Recovery Mode was the only difficult step in this method. Further steps are easy as you just need to restore your iPhone using the regular iTunes restore method.
In case you don’t know how to do that, here are the steps:
Since your iPhone is already connected to the computer and iTunes is open, iTunes will automatically detect that the phone is in recovery state and will offer a restore.
When prompted, click on Restore.
Wait until iTunes downloads the firmware file and automatically restores your iPhone.
Later, after the iPhone boots with a fresh install, you can restore your backup that you might have done earlier using iTunes.
This method usually is the last resort and is only used when every other method in this list fails. But it’s nice to know you have a last resort in order to fix a disabled iPhone and not all hope is lost.
Fix disabled iPhone without iTunes.
If iTunes does not accept your iPhone whatsoever, apparently, you’re in for a treat. Because iTunes is a resource-heavy software, it’s sometimes difficult to conduct normal functions with it. That is why a multitude of different apps and services exist for both Windows and Mac that not only replicate but also sometimes extend the functionality that iTunes offers.
My favorite is 3uTools. It’s versatile, easy-to-operate, and occupies very few resources on your computer. Just to be clear, this isn’t a promotion of any sorts. I recommend this because 3uTools is genuinely the best iTunes alternative. You can download 3uTools from here.
The basic premise in fixing a disabled iPhone is to restore it. It’s the only way. And this app makes it extremely easy to do so.
Plug your iPhone to the computer.
Open 3U Helper. Note: Make sure iTunes is also installed on the computer since 3U Helper utilizes resources from iTunes and won’t work without it.
Once the app detects your iPhone, click on “Flash & JB” from the tabs on the top panel.
Click on Easy Flash.
There, select the latest firmware for your iPhone. The Helper will automatically download the firmware for you.
Check the Retain User Data button if you want your iPhone to automatically retain the data in your iPhone after the restoration process is complete.
Wait for the process to complete.
Do not disconnect the device from the computer until the data is restored as well.
Note: It is recommended to backup your device before attempting to restore. Fortunately, you can also backup using 3U Helper.
Why isn’t itpossible to bypass the disabled iPhone without restoring it?
A lot of users raise a concern about whether they could bypass a disabled iPhone without having to restore it. Unfortunately, however, the answer is no.
Since Apple lays a prime focus on privacy and security, it does not integrate any method to bypass a forgotten password screen that could potentially jeopardize user data. So, the only way to do so is to back up the iPhone and restore it. It takes up some time but you lose nothing else.
It’s, at least, better than losing your phone to a pickpocket that could break into it easily. The restore option gives you time to track the phone as well; if you look at it from a positive viewpoint.
However, in any way, forgetting a password or making an iPhone believe so is no short of a disappointment for iPhone users. Maybe try staying vigilant with your phone next time.