What to do when your iPhone gets locked? How to unlock it and get it working again?
Setting up a Lock Screen password on your iPhone is a common method of protecting your personal information and the contents of your phone in case your iPhone gets lost, stolen or accessed by an unauthorised user. The iPhone Lock Screen password is a six-digit combination, usually fairly easy to remember and to tap in. However, it is still possible to forget the password or accidentally make a mistake while entering it. And as it goes for most of the privacy settings, entering the wrong password too many times results in locking and disabling your iPhone, referred to by Apple as ‘Security Lockout’.
Locked iPhone – how to unlock your iPhone when you forget your iPhone password. Key information
An iPhone might get locked in various situations. Although the most common causes are forgetting or confusing the password code by the owner themselves, there are other accidental ways for it to happen. For example, it is not unusual that children, while playing with the phone, end up locking it by pressing random numbers, which the device would have understood as wrong password attempts. Unfortunately, if this happens six times in a row within a specific timeframe, an alert will appear on the screen to let you know the iPhone has been disabled. This means, in short, that the screen functionality is restricted to a few basic features and tools: camera, clock, calculator, torch and, most importantly, emergency calls.
Once your phone gets locked for whatever reason, how do you unlock it?
Getting back the access to your phone is possible through several methods. The easiest and most straightforward way will be connecting your phone to iTunes on another Apple device. However there is one significant downside to it: unlocking your iPhone this way might mean losing all the data stored on it, unless you have previously backed up your iPhone on iTunes or iCloud. If you have done that, you have nothing to worry about: all of your phone settings and data will be safely restored.
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Unlocking your iPhone with iTunes
The fastest way of unlocking your iPhone is syncing the phone with the iTunes app. How do you do that? First, download the iTunes app on a trusted Apple PC or laptop. Once it has been installed, connect your iPhone to the device with a USB cable. In the case that the app asks you to enter a password, you will need to enable emergency mode on your phone. If it doesn’t ask you for any password, just wait until the syncing is complete.
Once the syncing is done, select the ‘Restore’ option. iTunes will then download and install the latest software update on your iPhone. Then, you will see a setting display where you should click on ‘Restore from iTunes backup’. Select the device in the iTunes app and indicate the correct backup copy. This process will erase the Lock Screen password on your iPhone, and once the backup is complete, you will be able to set it up again in Settings.
How to unlock your phone depending on the iPhone model
In most of the cases, you will most likely need to go through the Emergency Mode. The correct way of activating Emergency Mode on your iPhone may vary depending on its model. Most commonly, Emergency Mode is activated by pressing and holding the side button and the volume buttons.
If your phone is an iPhone X, iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, you will need to press the side button along with one of the volume buttons and hold them until the power-off slider appears. Slide it to turn the device off, then connect it to a computer with a USB cable while holding the side button again. Do not release the side button until you see the Emergency Mode screen.
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For the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons and continue holding them until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
If you have an iPhone SE (1st generation), iPhone 6s, 6, 5s, or one of the older models, you will activate the Emergency Mode by pressing either the side button or the top button and holding it until you see the power-off slider appear on the screen. Slide it to turn the phone off, then connect it to a computer while pressing and holding the Start button, and – as in previous examples – continue holding it until you see the Emergency SOS screen appear.
When is wiping the data necessary in order to unlock an iPhone?
If you don’t remember the Screen Lock password to your iPhone, you forgot your Apple ID, or do not have access to iTunes, you will have to use the last resort which is performing a factory reset on your phone. This will unfortunately mean erasing all of the data from your phone, including pictures, contacts, browsing history, applications, all of the saved chats, etc. – basically everything that’s on your phone. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean losing all the files and information forever. You should be able to recover the data from a backup copy, as long as you have made one before. Once you hard reset your phone, connect to iCloud or iTunes to download the saved copy of the data. But remember: you will only be able to recover the data up until the day you saved the backup copy. Anything you added on your phone after that, will be lost.
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How to hard reset an iPhone? If you want to regain the control over your iPhone, you will have to activate Emergency Mode so as to set it up again and configure it from scratch. There is also a feature that will allow you to set up an automatic factory reset (and therefore a complete data wipe-off) after having entered the wrong password ten times. This option will be particularly useful in the case your iPhone gets stolen and finds itself in unauthorised hands.
Lock Screen password – what is it actually for?
You may be wondering why the feature of locking the device is even there and what purpose it serves, especially if it might so easily get you stuck and cause you some serious trouble! Well, the primary purpose of the Lock Screen password is enhancing sensitive data protection. An unprotected iPhone which does not use any security measure is a fantastic opportunity for thieves, giving them access not only to your private conversations, personal pictures, contacts, etc., but also to sensitive data such as work documents or card and bank details, opening the door for fraud, identity theft, and other serious offences.
Setting up a password on your phone is a quick way to ensure extra protection of any data you store on your phone. Once you activate the feature, your smartphone will require you to enter the password every time you turn it on, after short periods of time, e.g. every 15 minutes, or immediately after you put your phone away, even if you pick it up and want to use it again straight away.
If entering the password every time sounds bothersome to you, more recent iPhone models allow you to set up a different identification method, such as Face ID or Touch ID, that, instead of a digit password, will use your face and fingerprint respectively to unlock the phone.
If you don’t want to add any security method and are willing to take the risk, you can just keep your iPhone unlocked at all times. To deactivate the Lock Screen password feature, in more recent phones, go into Settings and then, either ‘Touch ID and Passcode’ or ‘Face ID and Passcode’, depending on the model. Then, simply tap ‘Turn Passcode Off’.
That’s done! And you? Do you keep your phone locked or do you take the risk? Have you ever locked your phone and had to use one of our methods? Let us know in the comments!