Resetting A Locked iPhone

I have an iPhone 6 Plus which was locked by a broken touch screen. Unlike the normal lockouts which expire, it was locked without a timeout. This takes 10 different failed passcode attempts in a short time. The screen was saying:

iPhone is disabled
connect to iTunes

However, this isn’t useful advice at this stage.

Following replacement of the broken touch screen (thanks to these guys), I tried to get back into my phone.

I dutifully downloaded iTunes, installed it, authorized it for the computer, signed in, and then connected my phone. iTunes came back with:

iTunes could not connect to this iPhone
because it is locked with a passcode

OK, so locked and needs iTunes, but iTunes needs it unlocked. Great.

There are plenty of guides out there to tell me what the solution to that was – I need to put the phone into recovery mode, then use iTunes to perform a full base restore of iOS.

However, it wasn’t that simple. When I tried step one – holding the side and home buttons in  (phones newer than the 6S have different combinations, all listed here) until the recovery mode screen appears – nothing happened.

I got the white screen with the black Apple logo for a few seconds, but a few further seconds later the screen went blank and there was never anything more – not the iTunes logo or anything else. Just a plain black screen. I held the buttons in so long and so many times I had a deep indent from the side button in my fingertip!

I tried this several times but nothing seemed to work. I swallowed my pride and contacted Apple technical support through a chat, and Sean there helped me through it.

It seems that recovery mode is heavy on the power use. It needs a lot of juice supplied to get into recovery mode. My 3 year old large-screen iPhone 6 Plus especially – even though the phone was fully charged at this point. The “high current” charger I use every day wasn’t doing it. The docking station of my laptop wasn’t doing it, despite it being specifically labelled as a fast-charging USB port. I tried a couple of different cables just in case, and they made no difference.

Out of desperation I tried one of the USB ports in my laptop direct, and bingo! The recovery screen appeared finally, iTunes popped up to say the magic words:

There is a problem with the iPhone that requires it to be updated or restored.

I hit Restore, and the download started, the upload to the phone progressed and eventually the install completed.

Thanks to Sean on the Apple support chat for pointing out that it was a lack of power from USB causing Recovery mode to fail to start.

Note: because the iCloud backup I had and the spare phone I used while the 6 Plus was out of action were in the iOS beta program, I then had a further hurdle to get iOS back to the right version through to a full restore, detailed here.

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