An interesting bug relating to the date and time system in iOS has emerged recently. Several users have discovered that if you change your iOS device’s date to January 1st, 1970, your device will be permanently bricked. You can see the process in the video below, and while I don’t have any desire to try it out to confirm, it’s pretty apparent based on separate reports that it’s a legitimate issue.
In order to change your date and time settings, you have to go to the Settings app, tap the General menu, choose Date & Time, and turn off the Set Automatically option. From there, you’ll have to scroll through the menu until it reaches as far back as it goes. After that, go back to the General menu then go back into the Date & Time settings and scroll backwards again. You’ll have to repeat this process until you reach 1970. The video below shows specifically how to do it.
After you successfully set your iOS device’s date to January 1st, 1970, you’ll then want to reboot your phone and book a trip to the Apple Store. Once you reboot, your device will reportedly not come back on. You can put it into DFU and even get iTunes to recognize it to perform a restore, but even after that, it will remain stuck on the boot up screen.
This bug affects any iOS device that uses a 64-bit processor and is running iOS 8 or newer, including iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. For those unsure, 64 bit processors are the A7, A8, A8X, A9, and A9X (iPhone 5s or later, for instance). If you use a 32 bit device, you’re in the clear.
A Reddit thread offers a handful of possible causes of the issue. The most reasonable appears to be that it all comes down to time zones and that setting the date to January 1st, 1970 causes the internal clock to be set to less than zero, which confuses the device and crashes it.
Another user claims that he inadvertently suffered this bug when he changed the time zone on his iPhone from Bejing back to New York, experiencing the same issue.
One Twitter user says that the device could come back on after 5 hours, while another notes that changing the SIM card could fix the issue, as well. Other users, however, say that it has been longer than 5 hours, some upwards of a day, without the device coming back on. If your device comes back on after 5 hours, expect it to be very laggy, but you should be able to go into Settings and change the date back.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen odd bugs causing iOS devices to crash. Last year, sending a text message with a certain string of Arabic code caused the Messages app to crash and the iPhone to reboot, sometimes continuously. This year, a website emerged that crashes Safari every time you visit it. This date and time bug, however, is unique in that it permanently bricks your device.
We haven’t tested this issue first-hand and we don’t recommend that you do either, as it will likely result in you having to make a trip to the Apple Store to get a new phone. Nevertheless, the video below demonstrates the process: