iPhone Disabled? Here’s What to Do

​If you use a passcode to unlock your iPhone and have mistakenly entered a wrong one too many times, the device will be locked for a while or even disabled. In this guide, we’ll present you with various options you can use with or without connecting the iPhone to iTunes.

Unfortunately, regardless of the reason behind your phone getting disabled, the data on it will be hopelessly gone if there is no previous backup made for the iPhone. Here we provide an explanation of the recovery procedure for all common iPhone models.

When You Forgot the iPhone Passcode

Before the iPhone and the associated message ‘iPhone is disabled’ shows up, a lot of times must have passed between entries. This is because Apple‘s protection technology doesn’t go into effect immediately after typing ten consecutive incorrect passcodes.

Instead, it prevents the next attempt from taking place for about an hour if the incorrect entries were too often typed. This is the way Apple staggers the unlock trials:

  • 6 incorrect entries – ‘iPhone is disabled, try again in one minute.’
  • 7 incorrect entries – ‘iPhone is disabled, retry in 5 minutes.’
  • 8 incorrect entries – ‘iPhone is deactivated, try again in 15 minutes.’
  • 9 incorrect entries – ‘iPhone is disabled, try again in 60 minutes.’
  • 10 incorrect entries – ‘iPhone is disabled.’

What to do if the iPhone Has Been Disabled?

If your smartphone is disabled, it can be reset to get rid of the passcode lock. However, as we mentioned above, all data, apps, contacts, and files on the device will be deleted, which shows how important it is to create a regular backup.

​If you use an iPhone​ and Windows-powered PC for recovery purposes, you can do so by connecting to iTunes. Mac users have the possibility to reset the smartphone via the Finder function. First of all, you need to set the iPhone​ on Recovery Mode in order to start the process of enabling it.

How to enable Recovery Mode on iPhone 8 or later:
  • The iPhone must not be connected to a PC
  • Press and hold the right side key and a volume key on the phone
  • Switch off the device via the slider
  • Next, hold down the side button and connect the iPhone to the PC by cable
  • Press and hold the Home button until the screen lights the Recovery Mode
Enable the Recovery Mode on iPhone 7 or 7 Plus:
  • The iPhone must not be linked to a computer
  • Press and hold the right side button on the device
  • Switch it off via the slider
  • Hold down the Volume Down button and connect the iPhone to the PC by cable
  • Press and hold the Volume Down button until the Recovery Mode appears on the screen
Enable the Recovery Mode for iPhone SE (1st generation), iPhone 6s or older:
  • iPhone must not be connected to a PC
  • Press and hold the right side or Volume Up button
  • Switch off the device via the slider
  • Press and hold the Home button and connect the iPhone on the PC via cable
  • Press and hold the Home button until the Recovery Mode shows up on the display

Now, using Windows, the iPhone​ can be restored by connecting it to iTunes. On macOS, however, the option is located in the Finder app.

When connected to the PC, this notification will show up: ‘There is a problem with the iPhone that requires it to be updated or restored;’ you need to select the ‘Restore’ option rather than the ‘Update’ one. If the charging process takes longer than 15 minutes, the device will exit the Recovery Mode, and the process has to be repeated.

Delete the Data on the iPhone via iCloud

If you have the ‘Find my iPhone​’ feature enabled on your device, or the recovery process on the PC doesn’t work, you can reset your iPhone​ via iCloud. This, also, will remove all data and an existing backup can be restored.

Here is how to do this:

  • Via an Internet browser, visit Apple’s iCloud website
  • Log in using your Apple ID and password
  • Click on the ‘iPhone search icon, select the ‘All Devices’ option and click on the disabled iPhone
  • Select ‘Delete iPhone’ and remove the device from the list to unlock it

Restore Your Data via iTunes, Finder or iCloud

The deactivated iPhone​ should now be unlocked, but it has no data anymore. Now, the device can be set up as a new one, or restored with a recent backup.

To do this, Windows users can link the iPhone​ to the computer and select the latest backup in the setup process. Meanwhile, Mac users can find the device in the Finder app and also select the most recent backup to restore the data.

If you have a storage plan on your iPhone​ and have enabled automatic backups via iCloud, you’re able to restore your device via the iCloud backup during the setup process.

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