Has it ever happened that you get a “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes” message, and have no clue as to how or why that happened? In some cases, it may get disabled for a bit and will prompt you to try again after a few minutes. In other cases, it may get disabled and wouldn’t unlock unless you fix the issue. This mostly happens as a result of entering an incorrect passcode.

If it gets stolen, you’re out of luck because the thief would either just trade the parts for some money or simply erase it to re-enable the device. However, if you’re lucky enough to get away with an accidental disablement, we have a few fixes for you to get your phone to start working again.

But before that, let’s take a glance at some of the common reasons that could disable an iPhone.

how to fix disabled iphone

How Did Your iPhone Get Disabled?

Your phone requires you to either use Touch ID or enter a passcode in order to unlock it for security purposes. In case you forget your passcode and haven’t set up Touch ID or don’t have an iPhone with that feature, your iPhone will get disabled upon a wrong passcode attempt.

Here’s a breakdown on the number of incorrect passcode attempts that cause an iPhone to get disabled along with the time period until you can try unlocking it again:

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

Usually, if you yourself have entered an incorrect passcode by mistake, you should be able to rectify it within 1-4 attempts; so that is not an issue. However, if you have forgotten your passcode completely and make a few more incorrect passcode entries, you’ll have to wait for a few minutes to an hour before you can try to unlock it again; and that is quite inconvenient. The worst is if you make 10 wrong passcode entries in a row because that will cause your phone to get disabled without allowing you to try again later.

More Stuffs For iPhone Users:

Didn’t Try to Unlock Your Phone?

It is quite possible that you yourself haven’t tried to unlock your phone. Then the question is, who did it? Or, how did it happen? Well, majority of the times, an iPhone gets disabled permanently in case of an accidental unlocking attempt. Here are a few common instances:

  1. Family & Friends: Yes! You may have a snooper in your own clan and you don’t even know it. We don’t mean to creep you out but oftentimes, your parents or siblings, or even other relatives might be curious to check out what’s on your phone. Could be your texts, your photos, whatever feeds their interest. What they may not know is that your iPhone only allows a certain number of wrong passcode attempt until it notifies you that it has been disabled. Lucky for you that this can be fixed, but too bad for them. This is the most common reason behind getting your iPhone disabled.
  2. Butt Disable: Whether you call it a pocket disable or butt disable, what it basically means is that your phone accidentally swipes to unlock and enters an incorrect passcode. Maybe you 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. Little Ones: Whether you’re a parent with kids or have a younger sibling, you’d know how curious your little ones get with gadgets. They often fidget with phones, trying to play games or just explore your device. Its quite likely that the kids have tried to unlock your iPhone and couldn’t guess the right passcode, leading to disablement.

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

How to Unlock Your Disabled iPhone?

You’re probably wondering if there was a way to simply unlock your phone after it has been disabled (10 incorrect passcode attempts). We’re sorry to break it to you but there’s absolutely no way to do that. Even an Apple store executive wouldn’t be able to help you.

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

1. Back up & Restore Your iPhone using iTunes

backup restore via itunes

  1. Plug your phone (using the USB cable) into a computer that you have used to sync your phone with in the past.
  2. Launch iTunes
  3. Click on your iPhone device and select “Summary” from the menu to the left of your screen.
  4. Hit the “Back Up” 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 as good as new, restored as a new phone.
  7. The iOS Setup assistant will prompt you to set up your newly restored phone. Make sure that you choose “Restore from iTunes Backup” Then, select your device from iTunes and click on the most recent backup.

2. Using the DFU Mode for Restoring phone:

dfu mode

Now, if you have never synced your iPhone with iTunes, you’ll run into a few issues. This is because your phone has a passcode and iTunes will need the same in order to connect. In that case, you can try this method. This solution is simple, always works, and is one that I personally prefer.

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

  1. Connect your phone to the computer and launch iTunes (you can leave it switched on or off).
  2. Press & hold the power button together with the Home button (volume down button if you have an iPhone 7).
  3. Make sure that you count up to 8 seconds. Then, release the power (sleep/wake) button, while holding on to the home/volume down button. Do this until you see the message, “iTunes has detected an iPhone in recovery mode”.
  4. Now, release the home/volume down button. You’ll know that the process was successful if your phone’s display turns black. Or else, you might have to try again.
  5. Finally, restore your phone using iTunes.

If you own an iPhone 8 or above, follow the steps mentioned below:

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

For this to work, timing is of essence. Don’t hold onto the volume down button for too long.

3. Erase iPhone via iCloud:

erase iphone via icloud

If you do not remember your iPhone passcode, you will have no option 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 disabled. At least that’s better than not having an access to your phone at all!

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

  1. Sign-in with your Apple ID & password
  2. Select your iPhone from the “All my devices” menu
  3. Hit the “Erase iPhone” option.

Setting Up Your iPhone:

Whether you used iTunes to restore your phone or erased it via iCloud, the final step is to set up your device from the scratch. However, the procedure will vary depending upon whether you had an iTunes backup, iCloud backup, or none at all. So once you get a “Set up” screen on your phone, follow the steps mentioned below –

  1. iTunes Backup – As stated earlier, if you have an iTunes Backup, ensure that you select “Restore from iTunes Backup” while setting up your phone.
  2. iCloud Backup –Disconnect your phone from the computer and select “Restore from iCloud Backup” while setting up your phone.
  3. No Backup – Set up your phone while it is disconnected from your computer (iTunes).

And Voila! Your phone has been unlocked!

Final Thoughts:

Keep visiting our blog Dreamy Tricks to get latest tech updates. We truly hope that this article has helped you to have your iPhone up and running once again. Make sure that you select a solution that is best suited for you depending upon whether you remember your passcode and have backed up your data. In any case, you’ll basically need to restore or erase your iPhone.

If you wish to avoid this situation in future, remember to –

  • Set up Touch ID if you own 5s and up. This way, you wouldn’t have to keep trying different passcode combinations. This is especially useful if you’re prone to forgetting your passcode.
  • Try not to enter an incorrect passcode too many times in a row. Be patient and wait before you try to unlock again.
  • Be more careful about your phone around kids or people who you think are capable of snooping around.
  • Avoid sitting with your phone in the pocket.
  • Lastly, always take back ups of your data using iTunes, on a regular basis.

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