How to fix "iPhone is Disabled" on iOS (All Devices)

Apple has long believed in the walled garden approach to iOS security. One of the landmark changes on iOS was a few years ago when Apple introduced lockscreen passcodes and the ability to tie the device to an Apple ID.

This has the benefit that the owner can remotely locate, wipe or ping the lost or stolen device, but at the same time, it can backfire severely if you forget your passcode, your Apple ID, or your password.

What is the iPhone is Disabled error?

The iPhone is Disabled error occurs when you input the wrong passcode several times in a row. The way iOS passcode security is built, if you get the passcode wrong several times, you will lock your ability to input another passcode for 5 minutes.

After this time elapses, you get another chance to input the correct passcode. Failing that, your device will lock once again for an even longer period of time.

Eventually, if you keep inputting the wrong passcode, you will lock the device completely, with no timer, so no more chances for you to unlock the device.

Do keep in mind that iOS does have an option (disabled by default) that can erase all data on the device if you input the wrong passcode 10 times. At that point, you will not see the “iPhone is Disabled” screen, but your data will be wiped and the device will be iCloud locked.

How to fix “iPhone is Disabled” on iOS (All Devices)

Regardless of what people say on fake YouTube videos, the only real way to fix this issue is to restore the device either via iTunes or Finder.

Of course, you can use other restore software too but stay away from tools like 3Utools which have been the subject of malware controversy lately due to their modified jailbreak IPAs and exaggerated user data logging.

In order to fix the issue, you can simply restore the device from an IPSW of the latest signed iOS version, but that CAN result in data loss.

Warnings before we start

  • Depending on the device and iOS version, all of your data that is not backed up to the computer or to iCloud may be lost.
  • If FindMy is turned on, you will need to input your Apple ID and Password to activate your device. Failing that, the device will remain unusable.
  • Restoring is only possible for signed iOS versions. Let’s say iOS 15.6 is the only version signed at the moment – this means you can only restore to that.

With this being said, here’s how to fix iPhone is Disabled.

Step #1: Put your device in DFU mode

The key combination for that is different depending on the generation of device you have. Of course, you can always search how to put your particular model in DFU mode, but here’s how to do it for most devices:

DFU Mode guide for iPhone 6S Plus or older

  1. Open iTunes / Finder and connect the powered-on device to the computer via USB.
  2. Press and hold the POWER + HOME button until the screen turns off.
  3. Once the screen is off, wait 1 second then release the POWER button while still holding HOME.
  4. Keep holding HOME until your computer detects the device and iTunes detects it too.

DFU Mode guide for iPhone 7 or newer, up to iPhone 13:

  1. Open iTunes / Finder and connect the powered-on device to the computer via USB.
  2. Press and hold the POWER + VOLUME DOWN button until the screen turns off.
  3. Once the screen is off, wait 1 second then release the POWER button while still holding VOLUME DOWN.
  4. Keep holding VOLUME DOWN until your computer detects the device and iTunes detects it too.

The difference is that iPhone 7 and newer do not have a physical Home button so the key combination uses the VOLUME DOWN key instead.

Apple themselves also provide a DFU Mode guide on their “If you forgot your iPhone passcode” page.

IMPORTANT: In DFU mode the phone’s screen remains black, and nothing is displayed. You only know it’s in DFU mode because the computer detects it.

Step #2: Restoring the device

If iTunes successfully detected a device that needs to be updated/restored, follow the instructions in iTunes / Finder.

Basically, iTunes / Finder will start downloading the appropriate IPSW firmware file for your device and then proceed to restore it.

You know the device is restoring because it will show an Apple logo and a white progress bar on the screen.

The whole restore process takes about 10 minutes to complete. Your device may reboot several times during the restore.

After the restore is complete, your device will reboot to the Hello Screen where you set up the language, country, WiFi network, and activate the device. At this stage, if Find My was turned on, you will be asked to log in to your Apple account linked to the device.

That is all. You can now start using the device normally.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What if I don’t remember my Apple ID or password?

A: Your device will not be usable until you do. Go to an Apple Store with the proof of purchase and they may be able to help you unlock the device if you can prove it’s yours.

Q: Can I retrieve the passcode from a backup?

A: No. The passcode is not stored inside backups. Even if it was, it would be encrypted.

Q: Can I restore a backup of my data after I do the iTunes / Finder restore?

A: Yes. You may restore any backup you have. Since passcodes are not stored in backups, your device will not be re-locked. You will still have the new passcode (or no passcode) after you restore the backup.

Q: What about IMEI passcode unlock paid services online?

A: All of them are fake. The passcode has nothing to do with the IMEI, to begin with. It is handled by the Secure Enclave Processor (SEP) core of the Apple SoC inside your phone.

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By GeoSn0w

An iOS and Jailbreak enthusiast who has been around for quite some time in the community. I've developed my own jailbreaks before and I am currently maintaining iSecureOS, one of the first iOS Anti-Malware tools for jailbroken devices. I also run iDevice Central on YouTube with over 142.000 Subscribers! Thank you for being part of this awesome community.

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