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Setting Date to January 1, 1970 Can Permanently Brick Your iOS Device

Setting Date to January 1, 1970 Can Permanently Brick Your iOS Device

A nasty iOS bug has been discovered which could permanently brick your iOS device (sort of) by chancing its date to January 1, 1970.

A nasty iOS bug has been discovered which could easily brick your iPhone, iPod or iPad permanently by changing the device date to January 1, 1970. A thread was started on Reddit notifying about this bug and its effect on iOS devices. According to the thread, even a full firmware restore doesn’t help in recovering the device.

FYI: January 1, 1970 is the date an iOS device sets as factory default if the battery is removed. (Unix time system)

The bug reportedly affects any 64-bit iOS device powered by A7, A8, A8X, A9 or A9X chip, regardless of its iOS version. 32-bit iOS devices are not affected by this bug.


The iOS date bug was discovered unintentionally when a user tried to get a workaround for an iOS 9.3 beta 3 bug which prevents the time from displaying in status bar. Upon changing the date way back to January 1, 1970 and rebooting, the user discovered that the device didn’t boot.

It was first believed to be an issue related to iOS 9.3 beta 3 but as reports spread around, random users started testing this bug, causing their device to brick.

According to an update posted on a Chinese portal Wei Feng, more than hundred users have bricked their iOS devices so far.

Following the steps given below could brick your iOS device. In case you wish to try out, just for science, you know. (You better don’t, unless you have a device under warranty)

1. Go to Setting > General > Date & Time
2. Turn “Set Automatically” off
3. Set date to Jan 1, 1970
4. Reboot your device.

After rebooting your device, it will get stuck at Apple boot logo.

I’m not sure why on earth would someone try this but users are indeed trying it out. The thread on Reddit has been updated with users reporting they bricked their iPhone 6s, iPod touch 6th-gen and iPad mini 3.

Hopefully the date bug doesn’t turn a device into complete paperweight. Disconnecting and reconnecting the battery manually will reset the motherboard clock and reset device time to its factory default settings. This is the only working way to recover an iOS device damaged due to time change bug. If your device is under warranty, you can get Apple fix it for you.

Apple has not yet commented on this bug and its effects, but Apple could be fixing it in next iOS release.

Meanwhile a jailbreak tweak called BrickingDate has been developed to prevent users from replicating this bug manually. BrickingDate can not prevent the date being changed programmatically, but it can prevent users manually changing the date (like trolling friends).

BrickingDate is available on Cydia in ziph0ne repo (http://repo.ziph0n.com/).

Update: lfcameron7 has a nice explanation how date and time system works and what causes the device to brick. Have a look over here in case you’re interested.

Do you have an iOS device under warranty? Would you care to try this out or did you already try this? Share your results with us in comments.

About the author

Parvez Shaikh

A blogger by profession, Parvez is passionate about new technology and gadgets. He's pro-encryption and enjoys his privacy. When not blogging, he enjoys reading books and other blogs or planning a never ending vacation.

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