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PSA: There appear to be two reliable fixes for the 1970 date bug, but you’ll need skill or patience


While an upcoming software update should soon eliminate the 1970 date bug, that doesn’t help if you currently have a bricked phone. There have been varying reports of fixes that do or don’t work, but experiments by Macnn suggest that two approaches do the trick – both of which are apparently being done by Genius bar staff when people take in their bricked phones.

The ‘simple but not easy’ approach is to remove and replace the battery. This forces a full reset of the phone, but is not for the faint-hearted.

This is either just hard, or very difficult, and may require tools not generally found in the home. Yanking the battery for even a short period of time will force a reset of the phone. Sound scary? It can be, and if you mess something up in the disassembly, or tear a ribbon cable, you’re out of luck.

Obviously don’t do that on any phone still covered by warranty, and then only if you know what you’re doing.

Method 2 is to put the phone into DFU (Device Firmware Upgrade) mode. While some people have reported that this doesn’t work, Macnn reckons this is because they didn’t wait long enough.

This is where the recovery time has varied for us. We’ve done the restoration ten times. Three times, iTunes recognized the need for a recovery right away, and times on the other seven varied somewhat up to an hour. So, the moral of the story is, as long as the phone is in DFU mode, be patient. Also, if the recovery doesn’t work, wait an amount of time after your clock was set to Jan 1, 1970, and your deviation from Greenwich Mean Time (also sometimes referred to as Zulu time). Eastern time is currently five hours off of GMT, then try again.

Either way, you’ll need to restore from backup afterwards.

You can take the phone into an Apple Store, but don’t expect much sympathy. A friend reports that when his son did so after one of his mates thought it would be amusing to brick his phone, the Genius was rather unfriendly – probably because he’d been spending most of his time fixing this problem.

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  1. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    Has anyone just let the battery drain, would that do the same as pulling the battery cable without cracking the unit open?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      There have been mixed reports on this.

    • alexandereiden - 7 years ago

      You know how when your iPhone dies, and you press the power button and see the little battery and plug show up on your screen? The battery still has a charge. Even after you don’t see that (which would take a week or more after the phone dies), the battery still has a slight charge, however I imagine that once there isn’t enough charge to even display the charging symbol, that means there isn’t enough power to let anything else last. So only in this case would it work.

  2. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    It’s a real head scratcher to me as to why anyone would willing do this to their phone. I can imagine some wiseguys going into the Apple store and doing it to the display phones – as a very poor prank – but to do it to your own phone?


    • alexandereiden - 7 years ago

      I believe the settings are locked on those devices, most of the settings anyways. But there have been blog posts and websites that state that you will unlock a secret skin or new features or something of the sort if you put your phone back to this date.

      • jnuneznj - 7 years ago

        Which is why I immediately contacted my 2 kids with information to not lend their phones to any of their “friends” and do change the date back to 1970 or else. In my home “ELSE” equals my old Nokia flip phone from the late 90’s

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        Heh, the ultimate deterrent

  3. simply disconnect battery)

  4. darwiniandude - 7 years ago

    Just wait for the clock to advance to the next day.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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