3 Methods to Unlock Disabled iPhone

Have you ever received a “Disabled iPhone?” Log in to iTunes message and have no idea how or why this happened? In some cases, it can be disabled a bit and prompt you to try again after a few minutes. In other cases, it might be disabled and not unlocked unless you fix the problem. This mainly happens as a result of entering an incorrect password.

In the event of theft, you are out of luck as the thief would simply exchange the coins for cash or simply erase them to wake up the device. However, if you are lucky enough to get away with an accidental disability, we have a few solutions to get your phone working again.

But before that, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons that might turn off an iPhone.

How was your iPhone deactivated?

Your phone requires you to use Touch ID or enter a passcode to unlock it for security. If you forget your passcode and haven’t set up Touch ID, or you don’t have an iPhone with this feature, your iPhone will be disabled if you try to passcode incorrectly.

Here’s a breakdown of the number of incorrect password attempts that resulted in an iPhone being disabled over the period of time until you can try to unlock it again:

  • 1-4 unsuccessful access code attempts – the phone will not be deactivated
  • 5 unsuccessful access code attempts – phone is deactivated, try again in 1 minute
  • 7 unsuccessful access code attempts – phone is deactivated, try again after 5 minutes
  • 8 unsuccessful access code attempts – phone is deactivated, try again in 15 minutes
  • 9 subsequent incorrect passcode attempts – phone is deactivated, try again in 60 minutes
  • 10 subsequent wrong passcode attempts – phone is disabled, connect to iTunes (or your device will be wiped if self-destruct mode is enabled)

Usually, if you have entered an incorrect password yourself by mistake, you should be able to correct it in 1-4 attempts; so this is not a problem. However, if you have completely forgotten your password and entered a few incorrect passwords, you will need to wait a few minutes to an hour before you can unlock it again. and it’s very embarrassing. The worst part is that if you enter 10 consecutive wrong code entries, it will cause your phone to deactivate without allowing you to try again later.

Have you tried to unlock your phone?

It is quite possible that you yourself have not tried to unlock your phone. So the question is: who did it? Or how did it go? Well, most of the time an iPhone is permanently disabled if an accidental unlocking attempt is made. Here are some common examples:

  1. Family and friends: Yes! You can have a snooper in your own clan and you don’t even know it. We don’t want to disturb you, but often your parents or siblings, or even other family members, may be curious about what’s in your phone. It could be your texts, your photos, anything that feeds their interest. What they might not know is that your iPhone will only allow a certain number of incorrect password attempts until it warns you that it has been disabled. Lucky for you this can be fixed, but too bad for them. This is the most common reason for turning off your iPhone.
  2. Butt Disable: Whether you call it a pocket deactivation or a final deactivation, it basically means your phone accidentally slips to unlock and enters an incorrect password. You might tend to keep your phone in your back or front pockets, or even in your jacket. This is one of the most common occurrences!
  3. The little ones: Whether you are a parent with kids or have a little sibling, you would know how curious your kids are with gadgets. They often wave with phones, trying to play games or just explore your device. Chances are, kids tried to unlock your iPhone and couldn’t guess the correct password, resulting in deactivation.

So what do you do then? Keep reading to see which solution works best for you.

How to unlock your disabled iPhone?

You’re probably wondering if there was a way to just unlock your phone after it was disabled (10 incorrect passcode attempts). We’re sorry to tell you, but there is absolutely no way to do it. Even an Apple Store executive couldn’t help you.

But, you can follow the steps below to get to your phone. This is only applicable if you remember your password and your iPhone has been disabled, asking you to “connect to iTunes”.

1. Backup and restore your iPhone using iTunes

  1. Connect your phone (using the USB cable) to a computer with which you have already synchronized your phone.
  2. Launch iTunes
  3. Click on your iPhone device and select “Summary” from the menu on the left of your screen.
  4. Press the “Backup” button to create a backup of all your data on iTunes.
  5. Then select “Restore iPhone” and follow the instructions as shown on your screen.
  6. Once the process is complete, your iPhone will be like new, restored as a new phone.
  7. The iOS setup wizard prompts you to configure your newly restored phone. Make sure to choose “Restore from iTunes Backup”. Then select your device on iTunes and click on the most recent backup.

2. Using DFU mode to restore phone:

Now, if you have never synced your iPhone with iTunes before, you will come across some issues. This is because your phone has a passcode and iTunes will need it to connect. In this case, you can try this method. This solution is simple, still works and which I personally prefer.

DFU, or Device Firmware Update, is an aberrant way to restore your phone. Follow the steps to put your iPhone in DFU mode:

  1. Connect your phone to the computer and launch iTunes (you can leave it on or off).
  2. Press and hold the power button along with the home button (volume down button if you have an iPhone 7).
  3. Make sure to count up to 8 seconds. Next, release the Power (Sleep / Wake) button while holding the Home / Volume Down button. Do this until the message “iTunes has detected an iPhone in recovery mode”.
  4. Now release the home / volume down button. You will know the process was successful if your phone display turns black. Or, you may have to try again.
  5. Finally, restore your phone using iTunes.

If you have an iPhone 8 or higher, follow the steps below:

  1. Press and immediately release the Volume Up button. Then press and immediately release the volume down button.
  2. Press and hold the side button until you get a black display.
  3. Press and hold the volume button with the side button.
  4. Count to 5 seconds and release the side button while holding down the volume button until your iPhone device appears in iTunes.
  5. Once you see it, release the volume button as quickly as possible.

For this to work, timing is essential. Do not hold down the volume button for too long.

3. Erase iPhone via iCloud:

If you can’t remember your iPhone password, you’ll have no choice but to erase your device and set it up as new. You will lose all your data unless you backed it up before your phone was deactivated. At least it’s better than not having access to your phone at all!

If your phone was signed in to your iCloud account and the “Find My iPhone” option was enabled before your phone was disabled, you can use it to erase your device. Here’s what you need to do –

  1. Sign in with your Apple ID and password
  2. Select your iPhone in the “All my devices” menu
  3. Tap on the “Erase iPhone” option.

Configuring your iPhone:

Whether you’ve used iTunes to restore your phone or erase it through iCloud, the last step is to set up your device from scratch. However, the procedure will vary depending on whether you have an iTunes backup, an iCloud backup, or none. So once you get a “Configure” screen on your phone, follow the steps mentioned below –

  1. ITunes Backup – As stated earlier, if you have an iTunes backup, be sure to select “Restore from iTunes backup” when setting up your phone.
  2. iCloud Backup – Disconnect your phone from the computer and select “Restore from iCloud Backup” when setting up your phone.
  3. No backup – Configure your phone when it is disconnected from your computer (iTunes).

And There you go! Your phone has been unlocked!

Final thoughts:

Keep visiting our TechTip blog for the latest technical updates. We sincerely hope this article has helped you relaunch your iPhone. Make sure you select a solution that works best for you, depending on whether you remember your password or have backed up your data. Either way, you will basically need to restore or erase your iPhone.

If you want to avoid this situation in the future, remember to –

  • Configure Touch ID if you have 5 or more. This way, you shouldn’t keep trying different combinations of passwords. This is particularly useful if you tend to forget your access code.
  • Try not to enter an incorrect password several times in a row. Be patient and wait before trying to unlock again.
  • Pay more attention to your phone around children or people you think you can snoop around.
  • Avoid sitting down with your phone in your pocket.
  • Finally, always back up your data using iTunes, regularly.