Don’t try this at home: iPhones apparently getting bricked after date is set back to a specific time

By , Feb 11, 2016

iOS 9 Date and Time iPhone screenshot 001

According to a post on Reddit and reports out of China, it is possible to brick an iPhone by setting the date back to a specific time.

I wasn’t brave enough to test it myself, but the post claims the bug only affects 64-bit iOS devices.

It would seem that changing the device’s Date & Time values to a specific point in time would cause it to fail to boot properly.

Basically, it gets bricked and stuck at the Apple logo boot image. Neither DFU mode nor restoring from a backup would bring a bricked device back to life as a physical repair is required to put it back into working order.

Don’t try this at home

You are wholeheartedly discouraged from trying this on your iOS devices. We don’t want our readers to brick their iPhones permanently and iDownloadBlog shall not be held liable should you decide to proceed.

To reproduce the issue, you would need to go to Settings → General → Date & Time and flip the switch next to the Set Automatically switch to the OFF position.

You would then need to change the date to January 1, 1970. You should be able to hit this date by scrolling up to get to year 2000, then go back, into Date & Time settings again and repeat the process until you reach 1970.

As a final step, you would need to reboot your device, which would cause it to get bricked. Neither a DFU restore nor Recovery mode would un-brick it, the poster claims.

Fun fact: January 1, 1970, is a special date in coding known as Unix epoch.

Another report claims an Genius Bar employee did not believe the validity of this when a customer sent his iPhone in for repair. “He tried to replicate the issue on his own phone and as a result had to send both his own phone and that customer’s phone into repair.

Are my devices affected?

“The restore will succeed, but the device will still not boot after restore,” reads the article. This issue affects any iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with a 64-bit chip (A7, A8, A8X, A9 and A9X chips) regardless of the iOS version being used.

This could be a longstanding bug in iOS. We have reached out to Apple for comment and will report if we hear back from them.

32-bit iOS devices reportedly are not affected. Here’s a video proof by a user who tried and tested the bug on their device and it didn’t work as intended, suggesting the issue may not be reproducible on devices with certain configurations.

As one poster explains, this may be due to time zones.

“In some time zones, setting the date to 1 Jan 1970 will set the internal clock to a number less than zero, as the time is stored in GMT (as the number of seconds since midnight on that date) and then the offset is applied before display,” reads the comment.

“In other time zones, setting the clock will result in a positive time value. Best guess is that this is triggered by having the time value less than zero.”

Be that is it may, I wouldn’t call shenanigans on this whole thing yet.

How can I prevent this from happening?

Again, I don’t want to try this myself, and neither should you. The growing Reddit thread suggests many people have bricked various devices after adjusting their device’s date and time, ranging from an iPhone 6s to iPad mini 3 to sixth-generation iPod touch.

If you’re jailbroken, a Cydia tweak called BrickingDate will prevent malicious users from potentially replicating this bug manually on an unattended device.

The jailbreak tweak only prevents changes to your device’s Date & Time values through the Settings app. The date can still be changed programmatically, meaning a malicious tweak could still change your date back to 1970.

Source: Reddit

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  • [RECON1]

    He bricked a good iPhone? Poor iPhone…How do people even come up with these things?

    • Leguro

      No.

    • Ángel Javier Esquivel

      Experimenting

    • Antzboogie

      This is dumb what has Apple been doing lately??

  • iPhoneWINS

    damn

  • JayDee917

    Just waiting for the first comment here from someone saying they tried this…

    • Ángel Javier Esquivel

      [Spanish Flea intensifies]

    • dawitch

      Apparently there is always scum out there lying to kids telling them to do so to see the cool graphics it makes!

  • pegger1

    Lots of demo phones in the Apple Store to test this out on.

    • Jayy

      Wow

    • Elias Chao

      I wonder if they would be any law problem with it. I mean, you would just change the date on the phone.

    • Tony Trenkle Jr.

      lmao omg!

    • Nolan I.

      First time I’ve heard this.

      Pretty sure the apple stores have security cameras though…

      What you could do is set the time but not reboot it. When they go to turn it off at night, once it turns back on, brick time.

      • pegger1

        What are they going to charge you with? Changing the date on the phone. It’s an issue with their product.

        Do they actually turn them all off at night?

  • Proaxel

    I wonder how bored this person was when he discovered this…

    • pegger1

      His trial period expired on an app he bought in 1970. He was trying to reset the trial period.

  • Jayy

    Just don’t let any crazy ex/girlfriends find out about this!

  • Easily fixed by disconnecting the battery then reconnecting.

    • That indeed does reset the iPhones time and date.

      • Know if the data is retained after this incidence? Or does it reset everything from scratch?

      • Unplugging the battery doesn’t delete any data, If I’m not mistaken even multitasked apps are still intact.
        If you do happen to change the date on your phone if any new data is saved it does interfere with it. For example text messages and call logs will be in a mess after changing the date back because the date received is saved.

      • pegger1

        Running/multitasked apps will not stay running after a reboot. Your multitask list will remain, but those aren’t necessarily running apps, just last used.

  • Logan

    Is “fixable” by turning the device on and just letting the battery drain completely, or just take to the Genius Bar.

    • dawitch

      my kid was told to do this to get a rainbow cool lookng apple on poweruo

      no we tried letting power run out

      has anyone actually disconnecting battery or us that just conjecture?

  • Smegmatron

    Who the f.. Was bored enough to come up with this s**t?

    • Good question, but an even better one would be why does it happen in the first place.. how could something so small trigger that..

      • Vinnie

        It was discovered by someone trying to fix the bug in iOS 9.3 beta 3 where the time does not display after unlock until you launch on app.

  • Felipe Queiroz Drumond

    Why didn’t they use a hammer? It’s a faster and more reliable method.

  • Jared

    “32-bit iOS devices reportedly are not affected. Here’s a video proof by a user who tried and tested the bug on their device and it didn’t work as intended”

    But the video you showed was a 5S which is a 64-bit device…..

  • Merman123

    Don’t try this at home?

    Well I’m at work.

    • Ángel Javier Esquivel

      [instintct of stupidity/trying intensifies]

  • TheShade247

    No its a serious issue, remember when we jailbreak and we have to go back to previous date.

  • InfinitePlusOne

    Will apple fix it, I have warranty still.?

    • Troy

      Yes, just take it to an apple store

    • Elias Chao

      It seems a good deal if you want to get a new iPhone 😛

    • Jonathan

      Y–You tried it?

  • Zack Morris

    apple would have to cover this-especially since this is a non-jailbreak issue. Although sucks, I would have faith apple would make this right or push a background update. Side note- if one is dumb enough to sit around messing with dates, then you almost don’t feel bad for them.

    • dawitch

      Thats not fair. Creative kids like apple products and someone is out on social media saying apple put in a cool rainbow app if you do it.

      Thats just evil. Parents hard earned money

  • Bob Newman

    Very interesting timing for this article..
    Yesterday, this happened to my mail app (I didn’t mess around with the time by the way)

    • Well well well. I didn’t realize it until I saw your comment, but this also happened to me on one email yesterday. I didn’t make much of it at the time.

  • Bob Newman

    Image

    • Kyle

      iPhone/iPod touch 5? Those are not affected.

    • Morgan Freeman

      I’ve gotten one or two of those before but not recently.

  • Eric Draven

    I just tried it at Walmart with a 6s and it bricked lol

    • Thats pretty messed up, They wont have a clue what to do to fix it lol.. I wonder how many OS’s this issue goes back to..

    • Morgan Freeman

      What an asshole.

    • Ja1lBreak K1nG

      yo that’s f***ed up

    • Ashy Larry

      How old are you?

      • Eric Draven

        43. Also use to jailbreak them at the store back in the day when you could do it through safari. Had to see if it was for real with this bricking thing.

  • Chirag

    Guess everyone needs to careful now for candycrush lives

  • Ted Forbes

    Dont do it.

  • f96lrs

    Do it

  • Lol, talk about security by obscurity…the “world’s most advanced mobile OS” bricked by simple a date change.

    • pegger1

      Apple will some how word it as a security “feature”.

      • Ashy Larry

        I don’t think Apple will worry much since it’s, you know, 2016 and not 1970(I mean, who does this really affect?)… They will patch it and not think twice.

      • Agreed. Who needs to actually set the time back that far? Its not like the phone needs to control a time machine of some sort.. or does it?

  • iDara09

    1970? Sound like someone fails to acquire the IBN5100; RIP Suzuha.

  • Rowan09

    While I’ve never went back to 1970 if you put any IOS device back to a date before the device was created it won’t function properly. The reason I know is when you had to do the date trick for emulators, etc.

  • Gulam

    The device will also brick for “19 January 2038” date

    • Morgan Freeman

      Well that’s…specific. Wonder what happens when we actually get to that date, will everyone’s phone that’s been in their drawer for years stop working? Not that anyone plans to keep their old iPhone that long, but you never know. Maybe to show the grandkids what we had to endure “back in the day” lol..

  • Paklan

    First error 53, than this 1970 date bug. Come on lar Apple!!!

    • Rowan09

      I’m just curious to know. Would you pay a third party store to fix your phone, break your Touch ID sensor and want to take the phone back without a Touch ID? Who you also but your phone back to 1970 for some reason as well? None of these are real issues, just because it’s Apple it’s overblown.

  • Dalson

    “Dont try this at home” and you put just the right way to do this in Settings…-> -> ->…. somethinf like “Do this now and just mess all your life your jerk”……. lolololol you are hilarius……………..

  • Tim

    Wsup with apple and bricking devices lately???

  • kofmasters mty

    brick? nop, we have to get the battery empty, then plug to pc , wait a few minutes , 40 aprox, then the iphone will reset and reboot, now you can change the date time. easy pals! , no bricks no worry!

    • dawitch

      have u tried this?

      we have run battery down to nothing, plugged into pc, tried to recover… nothing. brick

      please post what youve done and be clear when something is just an idea bcuz i think we’ve exhausted all of those.

      nasty piece of work who told kids to do this!!!

  • Eman pani

    Same here.

  • Giuse

    Tried. Works.

  • Tommy

    I just tried this at an Apple Store near my place and am proud to report that IT WORKS! Successfully bricked a 6S Plus 128GB 😉

  • TheShade247

    It won’t permanently brick the iphone, if you disassemble iphone and detach battery for 15 secs, this will fix the issue. Also if you let the battery die completely it would also fix it.

    • Aluratek

      mmmhhh isn’t removing the Battery Auto VOID the Idevice?? and they phone would be really really hot if you just letting it sit there with apple Logo runing the whole time.. for like 8 hours at stand by isn’t it..

      • TheShade247

        Just put it in the freezer lol..
        In my case i live in Canada its like -30 C out anyway.

      • Aluratek

        i live in canada as well.. but freezer leave condensation. how long you leave in there for… don’t they detect if its water damage or not…

      • TheShade247

        Use cooling fan then.
        I’m sure Apple will try to fix it with new update.

  • Scott

    Weird. On the aircraft I fly, the FMS’s show that date (01JAN70) until it obtains a GPS fix. A UNIX thing?

  • Morgan Freeman

    Hey thanks for the info. Learn something new every day!

  • John

    Its funny how suddenly after this error 53 problem happens, this bug is found which bricks the phone just like error 53. Could it be that apple is trying to use this bug as an excuse if lawsuits happen later down the line? Easier to say that the user has stupidly tried this bug and deny error 53 so they dont have to replace handsets. Ive noticed they still not released a fix for it and its been 2 days. Seems a bit odd.

  • dawitch

    Some nasty piece of work ontwitter told kids to do this to get a cool rainbow apple on powerup

    so yeah now my kids phone is dead dead

    what kind of pond scum waste of space …

    has anyone fixed this?

    if what you have is just an idea- pls give it but do be clear youre guessing dont say it with absolution unless youve seen it work as i think we’ve tried everything there was to try with no luck

    what a hateful peice of human excrement telling kids to do this knowing youre killing thier phones. these kids need their phones to call for rides everyday now he has none . He just wanted a cool looking apple

    • Aluratek

      there are lots of talk about it.. some ppl say let the Battery die out and then plug it in and charge and start it up.. that will fix it.. lots of claim.. but you will need to find soemthing to cool down the phone as it have to sit like that for few hours. 6-8 hours…

  • Aluratek

    hahah.. not prode but i took this Brick to my advantage. since i have extend warrantee on the iphone 6. so i brick it and restore using DFU and phone pretty much dead. bring it in to bestbuy after 2 hours of waiting.. they declear the device “Dead” and i walk out of the store with a 6S. 🙂