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How to Fix iPhone is Disabled with or without Connecting to iTunes

“iPhone is disabled” — have you ever come across that pesky message on your iPhone and were told to “try again in 1 minute” or 5, 15, 60 minutes? In some worst cases, the message can read: “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes,” and your phone is not usable until it is connected to iTunes. What is the cause of this snafu? How do you fix it?

In this post, we will elucidate the causes of the problem and walk you through the steps to take to resolve it with/without the need to connect the device to iTunes.

What Causes “the iPhone Is Disabled” Issue?

As a security precaution, you need to enter a passcode or Touch ID to access a locked iPhone. After entering the device passcode incorrectly for 5 consecutive times, the iPhone will disable itself for 1 minute, automatically, which will result in the “iPhone is disabled” error message popping up on your screen. The obvious way out of this problem is to wait for the 1 minute to elapse (or other duration) and then input the correct passcode so as to unlock the iPhone and remove the disabled error message.

When next you encounter this kind of issue, simply input the correct passcode in the first attempt to avoid this message and prevent any lockout from your phone.

It may interest you to know the number of incorrect passcode entries that are required to get your iPhone disabled for a specific period of time and for the accompanying error message to crop up. Here is the number of entries of inputting incorrect passcode and the corresponding lockout duration:

  • Five (5) incorrect passcode entries in a row: Your iPhone will be disabled, and you have to try again in 1 minute
  • Seven (7) incorrect entries in a row: Your iPhone will be disabled, and you have to try again in 5 minutes
  • Eight (8) incorrect entries in a row: Your iPhone will be disabled, and you have to try again in 15 minutes
  • Nine (9) incorrect entries in a row: Your iPhone will be disabled, and you have to try again in 60 minutes
  • Ten (10) incorrect passcode entries: Your iPhone will be disabled, and you are required to connect to iTunes (or the mobile device will wipe itself of every data if you put on self-destruct mode)

While it may not be too bad waiting a minute, waiting several minutes to 1 hour is obviously inconvenient, as is being asked to connect to iTunes in order to enable the iPhone again.

What If You Didn’t Unlock Your iPhone, But Still Get “the iPhone Is Disabled” Message?

Sometimes, you may not really try to unlock your iPhone and didn’t even enter a wrong passcode, intentionally, but are still nagged with the pesky error message that the phone is disabled. What could cause that? Well … there are 2 most common reasons that could seemingly make an iPhone lockout itself: pockets and people. We examine the 2 below:

  1. The pocket disable: It is surprisingly common for an iPhone to be disabled, inadvertently, in your pocket. This is often experienced by iPhone users that keep their devices in a pocket, which is also used for their hands, like the hoodie pouch pocket, hip jacket pockets, or front pants pockets. Owing to the fact that the device screens slide to unlock option is easy to be swiped from any part of the screen, it is quite common to activate that screen mistakenly and then bring up the passcode entry screen with a hand or two while the smartphone lies in your pocket. And you may accidentally enter a passcode a couple of times to trigger the lockout, mistakenly. This can easily happen while you twirl your iPhone in your pocket (perhaps out of boredom). Some people can even disable their iPhone, accidentally, while searching the same pocket containing their iPhone for money to pay for a service. This is quite common if you are the kind of person that keeps an iPhone in a busy pocket or often put your hands in the pockets.
  2. The person disable: We have identified 2 types of person interaction, which can disable an iPhone. The first is intentional passcode entry of a stranger who is trying to guess your passcode and then disabling your iPhone as they fail. And the second: Unintentional passcode entry, which is normally triggered by a young child. The latter type is very common with iPhone users that are parents and caretakers looking after young children that may tap on, fiddle with, and swipe around on the device screen, which is otherwise locked. While you may not really see it as anything to worry about since your phone is locked with a passcode or Touch ID, the kid normally makes their way onto the passcode entry screen (since it is just a swipe away) and inputs an incorrect password, repeatedly, as they tap on the device screen. This then becomes locked out, bringing up the “iPhone is disabled” error message.

To unlock your iPhone that is stuck on the disabled screen, you need to wait for the duration of time you are given to elapse and then input the correct passcode.

If you are not willing to wait or have forgotten the passcode, you would need to put the mobile phone into recovery mode before restoring it.

You only have those 2 options to get out of the quandary.

What to Do to Fix the “iPhone is Disabled. Connect to iTunes” Issue

Getting the “iPhone is Disabled. Connect to iTunes” message is the worst scenario you could experience as it requires that you connect the device to a computer in order to have access to it again. If you have recently made a backup to that computer and are able to remember the actual passcode for your iPhone, you won’t have much issues to grapple with. Otherwise, you will need to erase the phone, which will make you lose all your data on it. This is another good reason to have your device frequently backed up.

If you know the passcode for your iPhone and have backed the device up recently, simply unlock it via iTunes. (Though this process requires a restore.) These are the steps to take:

  • Using a USB cable, connect your phone to a computer that it’s synced to before and launch iTunes
  • Select “Sync” in iTunes and input the correct passcode when asked to unlock your iPhone; this procedure backs up the mobile device to your computer
  • Select “Restore” in order to restore the phone from the backup most recently created

If you do not know the passcode for your iPhone, you will need to wipe it clean, erasing all your data with recovery mode. If you have created a backup to iTunes or iCloud, you can do the restore it after wiping the phone.

However, if you don’t know the passcode for the iPhone and have no backup, the data on it will be erased and cannot ever be recovered.

Closing Thoughts

To prevent this kind of scenario, the best thing is to make sure you don’t enter a wrong passcode, repeatedly, while unlocking your iPhone. And it is also important to regularly back up all the data on your device.

Tijani Mustapha
Tijani Mustapha
Tijani Mustapha Adedeji is a Senior Tech Writer on Phonecorridor. He has a strong flair for gadgets and tech-related developments around the globe. Deji, based in Lagos, Nigeria, is an avid reader, who loves meeting people.