Apple reposts iOS 9.3 for older devices bricked by Activation Lock

By , Mar 28, 2016

iOS 9.3 logo full size

Shortly after releasing the new iOS 9.3 firmware, Apple was forced to stop signing the update following numerous complaints from owners of older iPhones and iPads, such as the original iPad Air and the iPhone 5s and older, that it was bricking their devices.

Monday, Apple re-released iOS 9.3 to fix an issue that prevented users from activating their device via Activation Lock if they couldn’t recall their Apple ID password used to originally set up their device with.

The re-released versions of iOS 9.2 carries a build number of 13E237 and is now available as an over-the-air download although those with a bricked device might want to apply the update through iTunes in DFU mode.

For those wondering, iTunes will reinstall iOS 9.3 on affected devices without erasing any user data.

If your device is unaffected by the Activation Lock bug, the update won’t show in Settings. Apple has also detailed the problem in a support document on its website.

Those who were affected were greeted with a message saying the device couldn’t be activated “because the activation service is temporarily unavailable.” Applying an over-the-air update to an iOS device requires users to optionally confirm their Apple ID password as part of the iOS setup process.

Due to a bug in iOS 9.3’s Activation Lock, users were required to provide credentials for an Apple ID they had used to originally set up their device with. As a result, those who couldn’t recall that information were left with a bricked device.

Just a few days ago, Apple re-released a version of iOS 9.3 for GSM iPad 2 models (build 13E236) to address an issue which prevented the device from communicating with iTunes activation servers.

Apple has now resumed signing iOS 9.3.

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  • Nicolás Cevallos

    Typo: “The re-released versions of iOS 9.2 carries a build number of 13E237 and is now available as an over-the-air download…” Should be 9.3

  • Nolan I.

    I think this is a massive misuse of the term “brick” – a bricked iPhone will not boot at all, requiring a hardware fix.

    This “bricking” can easily be undone by DFU restoring to 9.2.1 in iTunes.

    • Pixel Perfect

      Brick refers to a useless device. This is technically a soft-brick. The device is useless without a factory wipe to an older firmware.

      • Diego Milano

        I like the term “soft-brick,” however that means the term “hard-brick” may need to be introduced as opposed to “brick” which should suffice.
        I do agree the term can be misleading especially for those who have either not yet updated or have indeed updated but not experienced any issues, such as myself.

  • leart

    I did a restore on my ipad 2 and restore from backup without any trouble.. probably who updated had issues …
    strange fact is that now the 9.3 is not present like ota on older ios, 8.4.1 is back like the only ota version…

  • Fede777

    I already have iOS 9.3 on my 5S and had no problems at all with it. It was 292MB to download OTA.

    Now if I go to Software Updates there’s another 9.3 update but this time is 1.4GB OTA. This is kinda weird.

    Should I update again? Wait for 9.3.1?

    • Max Payne

      What a mess. Isn’t it advisable to not update OTA if a jailbreak is released later?

      • Fede777

        I dont have a JB

      • Max Payne

        Not yet.

    • Ccman12345678

      This is happening to me as well on the same device Fede777

  • Ccman12345678

    I am running the version of ios 9.3(iPhone 5s) on the day of release and now in software update it says ios 9.3 is available? Current build i am on- 13E233
    New Build – HT1222

    I am so confused

    • Vasu Chawla

      same here !

  • Jonathan

    I don’t know if this is coincidental, but I was restoring my grandmother’s iPad 2 on iOS 9.3 (she accidently set up a passcode while updating to 9.3 and we couldn’t figure out what it was) and I kept getting an error 3194.

    I downloaded the 9.3 IPSW (that was my fault. I didn’t know Apple stopped signing it) and tried 2 cables and 2 Windows computers and got 3194.

    Then, I let iTunes download the software, and it wanted to download 9.1
    STILL got a 3194 error.

    Called Apple, they believed the port was going bad, and I feared that’s what it was too.

    So I then tried a Mac and this time it wanted to download 9.2.1
    And it FINALLY restored.

    Does this chaos sound like anything to do with 9.3 being as buggy as it was on release?
    Kinda ironic. It was what, 7, 8 betas before release?

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