The ‘1970’ Rollback Prank Can Disable iPhones Easily

There are going to be a lot of disabled iPhones soon – here’s a fix.

Despite our amazing sense of humor, there are few things we hate more than pranks. We don’t mean the cheeky “cover your desk in post-its” kind (those are fair game) – we mean the “property damage that doesn’t become funny later” brand of tomfoolery. And no, “Bro, it was just a prank!” won’t hold up in court. Recently it was discovered that a simple maneuver in your settings can disable iPhones in just a couple minutes. No amount of powering down or attempts at rebooting will fix it. Results vary according to device, but most often the iPhone will be set on an endless sleep/wake loop with no inputs from the user enabled. So far it’s looking like the 5S, 6/+, and 6S/+ are affected.

The reason for the bug has to do with what’s called the Unix “epoch,” which is the date Jan.1, 1970. This is the first day recognized by the Unix programming language when configuring time. For systems such as iOS that use a Unix-like language, setting the date and time to this can cause an “integer underflow” which basically means a number too small for the system to store in its 64-bit memory. This makes screwy things happen.

A quick gander on reddit shows users testing this digital mischief in places like Best Buy, leaving entire rows of display devices disabled and unresponsive. While admittedly that might be a little funny, it’s only a matter of time before it’s dished out to unsuspecting friends, family members, and coworkers everywhere.

While the trick disables your device, it doesn’t technically “brick” anything considering it’s still fixable. The solution, however, is a bit of a pain even with all the necessary tools at your disposal. It’s unlikely your dear gammy will be able to fix her only means of calling talk radio stations to complain after her little sh%t grandson tries this cool little trick he found online.

You’re probably asking, “if it’s so bad why is iCracked telling people how to do it?” Simple. it’s only a matter of time before this little “hack” becomes widely known amongst maladjusted tweens and the degenerate youth. We figure you might as well know not only what causes it, but what fixes it as well.

How to break your iPhone

To test the bug firsthand, we selflessly disabled an iPhone 5S . Bare in mind, the pictures below do not constitute a repair guide. For a detailed step-by-step walkthrough on how to open your iPhone, check out our sweet screen repair videos and please use a delicate touch.

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1. First, you’re going to have to go into your Settings, then under General go into Date and Time. From there you have to manually scroll the date back to Jan. 1, 1970. While this apparently works for the iPhone 6/+ and 6S/+, we found that the 5S needed to be set to Dec. 31, 1969 to get scrambled.

To disable the iPhone, go into General in settings 2016-02-16-13-37-46-062

2. Next, you’re going to have to hold both the power and home button down until your device shuts off. If successfully disabled, the phone will show the Apple logo and enter a reboot loop that you will not be able to get out of. It will also start to feel warm.

2016-02-16-14-49-34-267 This is what a disabled iPhone looks like.

And there you have it. You’ve successfully disabled an iPhone potentially ruining someone’s day. Are you proud of yourself? Did you think it would be funny??

How to fix it

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1. To fix your device you’re going to need to disconnect the battery then reattach it. This requires taking out the pentalobe screws at the base. For the 5S, you’ll only want to remove the screen about a half inch as there’s a cable connecting the frame to the fingerprint scanner. Again, please don’t use these pics as a guide, we’re only including them to give you an idea of what is entailed. Here’s a video on how to open the 5S.

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2. After disconnecting the biometric scanner cable (on the 5S only), you’ll have to remove the metal housing that covers the battery connection port.

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3. Using a plastic spudger, pop the cable in the picture above from its socket by lifting from the side (the iPhone 6/6S will be pretty similar). You can also use your fingernails if you have any. Don’t pry up on the side opposite the battery with any tools as it could ruin the metal connections beneath. After it’s removed for a few seconds, your phone’s time and date should be reset, thus stopping the reboot loop.

2016-02-16-14-31-05-460 2016-02-16-14-33-36-259

4. After that, just reattach the battery connection and reverse the steps you took to open the device.  Once it’s closed correctly, power your device on.

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5. Your device should now be able to take inputs and work normally. The date will likely still be set to 1969 so be sure to change that once you’re in.

That was your crash course on the 1970 “rollback” prank. There’s a pretty good chance this will become more problematic in the near future unless Apple makes a software update. Until then, remember that the fix, though pretty inconvenient, really isn’t that serious. It’s still not funny though.


contributor: Reuben Esparza

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