iPhone or iPad showing the wrong time? Try these steps

By , Mar 29, 2016

wrong date or time showing in iOS

If your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad has decided that it’s going to start showing you the wrong date or time, it can cause all sorts of issues.

Apart from making you miss important appointments and misinforming you when you want to glance at the time, having the wrong time can also cause issues with App Store downloads and other functions that are critical for operating the iOS device.

In this troubleshooting guide, we’ll walk you through some steps to figure out why your device is showing the wrong date or time, and provide some fixes for the problem.

The wrong time is being displayed; why?

It doesn’t typically happen often, but it’s possible for your device to display the incorrect time under weird, seemingly unexplainable circumstances when you let the device set your time zone automatically. The reason? Having anything set to do anything automatically means you’re relying on software to perform actions, and software can have bugs.

If your device incorrectly pinpoints your location with its built-in location services, then the time zone settings in your device could throw you into a different time zone and cause the device to display an incorrect time. iOS is also notorious for having daylight savings time bugs, and these will also cause your device to display the wrong time in some scenarios.

Other times, software glitches can be the cause. Perhaps something in iOS has become corrupted, or messing with too many files after a jailbreak could have broken a feature related to time-keeping.

Whatever the case, there are ways to fix it. Below, we’ll go over the steps to get your device to show the right time again.

How to fix an incorrectly displayed time in iOS

Despite how annoying date and time issues can be, and the havoc they can cause, they can be easy to fix. Sometimes, you don’t have to completely restore your device, but then again it depends on the severity of the problem. If your time isn’t showing correctly, try these steps in the following order:

1. Is your iOS version up to date?

This typically almost has nothing to do with the time, except for rare circumstances, but it’s a good idea to check and make sure your iOS firmware is up to date (unless you’re relying on a jailbreak).

Bugs in the past that have affected time display during daylight savings time have been fixed in recent iterations of iOS, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re on the latest version of iOS possible. This will prevent or stop daylight savings bugs from displaying the incorrect time on your device now, or in the future.

To check for a software update, open the Settings app and navigate to General > Software Update to see if there are any updates waiting to be installed.

Check for software update in iOS

2. Check the time of the computer you sync with

If your computer that you use to sync with iTunes has the incorrect time settings, then those time settings may be transferred to your iOS device after a sync. This would, of course, result in the incorrect time being displayed on your iOS device as well.

On a Mac, you can check your date and time settings from the System Preferences app under the Date & Time preferences pane.

Check Date and Time on a Mac

You will want to check the date, time, and the time zone. By default, all Macs will set the date and time automatically, but you can always set this manually if it doesn’t meet your expectations. You may need to enter your administrator password to unlock the Date & Time preferences pane after clicking on the lock at the bottom of the System Preferences app.

After you’re satisfied with the date and time settings on your Mac, try to sync your iOS device with iTunes again and see if this resolves the problem.

3. Time set manually? Change it to automatic

If your time is set to a manually, rather than letting iOS do the timekeeping for you automatically, then it’s possible that the time was entered incorrectly or that the device hasn’t been maintained through daylight savings time changes.

Try letting iOS set the time automatically based on your location, and see if the proper time is displayed after the change. To do this, launch the Settings app and go to General > Date & Time and then turn the Set Automatically option on.

Letting iOS handle time automatically

Afterwards, iOS should automatically set your time straight after acquiring your location (an internet connection is required).

4. Time set automatically? Change it to manual

In converse of the explanation above, it’s possible that iOS is bugging out and is incapable of setting your time automatically because of poor location acquisition or a bug in the software.

If iOS is set to change the time automatically and displays the incorrect time with no real explanation, then the best action to take might be to set the time manually on that device (even if for a temporary period of time).

To do this, open the Settings app and navigate to General > Date & Time and then turn the Set Automatically option to the off position. You will then have to choose the date and time yourself, as well as select your time zone.

How to disable automatic time settings in iOS

5. Contact your cellular provider

If none of the above steps worked in allowing your device to acquire your location and set the time automatically, then you may need to contact your cellular service provider, or carrier. Not all carriers in all countries support the location services necessary to set your time automatically, and as a result, your time accuracy may suffer.

Of course, you could always override this problem by setting the time manually, but it never hurts to find out if this could be the reason behind your incorrect time so you know for the future.

cellular network icon

You can get help from your iPhone or iPad’s carrier by finding it’s support medium from Apple’s carrier support web page.

6. Last resort – restore your device

If you suspect that your device is not showing the correct date or time because of a corruption in iOS or because you were tinkering with related files after jailbreaking your device, then you may need to restore your device to factory settings to get it to work again.

If you need help with this, we have a detailed tutorial on how to enter Recovery Mode on your iOS device and restore it with iTunes. This is the best way to do it, rather than using the “Reset” option built-in to iOS itself. As always, you’ll find any firmware files you might need for your device’s restore process from our downloads page.

iPhone in Recovery Mode

Wrapping up

Hopefully after following the above steps, you were able to get your iOS device to show the proper time. Typically, unless you’ve deleted important system files, you can simply set the time manually to fix any problems related to automatic timekeeping.

Also read: How to show an analog clock in your Mac’s Menu Bar

Have any of your iOS devices ever displayed the wrong time before? Share in the comments and tell us how you fixed it.

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  • Jose Rivera

    Not sure if I was the only one having this issue back in iOS 7 & the iOS 8 betas, but I had both an iPad mini and an iPod touch both running the A5 chip display the wrong time/date. They would jump ahead randomly. and a restore wouldn’t help either. I don’t own these devices as they’re long gone, but did anyone else have the same issue I did? Just curious if it was only on the A5 devices, or if it spread across a variety instead.

    • Jiten

      Same issue on my iphone 5s. Factory reset already, no sim card inserted and still showing time problem.

      • Jose Rivera

        So unless you’re using the device, it won’t keep track of time correctly? That’s what happened to both of my devices when I had them back in 2013…

      • Jiten

        Is there any other solution you find?

      • Jose Rivera

        No? As I had stated in my first post above I got rid of them… I don’t know how to fix that and I doubt anyone can do just get a new phone to be honest…

  • Carlos Rezende

    I bought a iPhone 5C to my girlfriend and after a year the device started to display the wrong time! We tried all those steps and still didn’t work. We called Apple and the answer was: your device has a firmware problem, bring it back to an Apple Retail Store and pay for another phone. #truestory
    By the way, I’m brazillian. Almost everything here doesn’t work like it should. I’m sure that if I took it to a store in US they would change it at no cost.