From licking a frozen pole to sticking a fork in an outlet, there are countless bad ideas people can tell you that you absolutely, 100% should not try – and someone’s going to try them anyway. In the smartphone world, that extends to things like putting your Galaxy Note 5’s S Pen in backwards – at least on the original hardware. Today we’ve got another of these warnings to share with you, as we learn about an iOS bug that makes it way too easy to seriously disable your iPhone.
Users report that disabling automatic timekeeping and manually setting your phone’s date to January 1, 1970 can permanently brick the handset. This issue has only been encountered on iPhones with newer 64-bit SoCs (so, models from the iPhone 5s on).
Those of you with a little computer experience will recognize that date as the zero-mark for Unix time (which expresses time as the number of seconds since the stroke of midnight on January 1, 1970), which is likely tied to just why this bug is happening. Perhaps the iPhone sees that “0” time and panics? Or maybe it tries to to a time zone conversion (since Unix time is based on GMT) and comes up with a negative number. For whatever reason, it’s rendering smartphones inoperable.
Some users report success in restoring their phones by inserting SIMs (and presumably drawing correct date info over their cellular connections), or even just letting the phone sit long enough. Not everyone’s getting those to work, though, so you’d be wise to simply steer clear.
Now that it’s out in the open, we’re hopeful that Apple will swiftly deliver a fix, as this sounds like a simple enough problem to code around. Until that fix arrives, though, please resist the temptation to try this on your own phone – it’s not going to end well.