How to Fix 'iPhone Is Disabled' Error

What causes an iPhone or iPod to be disabled?

If your iPhone doesn't unlock and shows an iPhone is Disabled message, you may be worrying that there's a serious problem with your device. However, the problem likely isn't as bad as it seems. If your iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) is disabled, this article explains what's happening and how to fix it.

These directions work for all iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad models.

Someone holding an iPhone that says it's disabled
Lifewire / Miguel Co

Causes of the iPhone Disabled Error

Any iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch) can be disabled, but the messages you see come in a few different forms. Sometimes, you'll receive a plain iPhone is Disabled message. Other times the message asks you to try again in 5 minutes or to connect to iTunes. The cause is almost always the same: An incorrect passcode has been entered too many times.

The passcode is a security measure that requires you to enter a numbered password to unlock the device. If the wrong passcode is entered six times in a row, the device locks itself and prevents you from attempting additional passcodes. If the wrong passcode is entered multiple times, the device interprets it as an attempt to hack or break into it. Disabling the phone prevents such activity.

Devices can be set to erase data after 10 incorrect passcode attempts. While extreme, this setting is the best way to protect sensitive data. If you use Touch ID, another problem—error 53—may prevent you from accessing your phone.

How to Fix a Disabled iPhone, iPad, or iPod

No matter how your iPhone, iPod, or iPad was disabled, fixing it is relatively easy. It's the same set of options that you follow when you forget your passcode. The downside is that you have to restore your device.

Restoring means replacing existing data with a backup. This results in the loss of data that was added since the last backup was made. It is all the more reason to back up data regularly.

There are four main options for fixing a disabled iPhone, iPad, or iPod:

  1. Restore the iPhone from a backup. The first step you should try is to restore the device from a backup using iTunes. If you no longer use iTunes, there is a way to restore from a backup without iTunes. Restoring your phone may solve the disabled problem, but you lose any data not included in your last backup.

  2. Use Recovery Mode. If that doesn't work, or if you never synced your device with iTunes, use Recovery Mode. Again, you may lose the data you added after you last backed up the device.

  3. Use DFU Mode. If the above methods don't work, try DFU Mode—a more extensive version of Recovery Mode.

  4. Use iCloud or Find My iPhone to erase data. Either log in to iCloud on the web or download the Find My iPhone app to a different iOS device. Log in with your iCloud username and password. Use Find My iPhone to locate your device, then wipe it remotely. This deletes the data on your device and resets it so that you can access it again. Only attempt this if all your data is backed up. If you back up your data to iCloud or iTunes, you can restore it from that source.

If you encounter an error 4013 when attempting to restore your iPhone, there are several ways to fix that problem, too.

How to Avoid Getting a Disabled iPhone

Having a disabled iPhone is annoying and inconvenient, so you'll want to do what you can to avoid it happening again.

You have two options:

  • Set a new passcode that's easier to remember. If you remember your passcode and don't have to guess it, you're less likely to enter the wrong passcode, which leads to a disabled iPhone.
  • Use Touch ID or Face ID. With these options enabled, you don't need to enter your passcode. Just show your face or scan your finger, and your device will unlock.