Don't set your iPhone's date back to January 1, 1970

Reseting iPhone
Reseting iPhone (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

A recently-uncovered date glitch in iOS, which has evidently been present since, iOS 8, will cause your phone to become inoperable if you reboot your device after manually setting the date to January 1, 1970. You will also apparently be unable to place your phone in DFU or Recovery mode, so a Genius Bar appointment may be in order if you do this.

The glitch surfaced thanks to a video from Zach Straley on YouTube.

In order to avoid this, simply let your iPhone automatically set the time. If for some reason you need to manually set the time, don't set it to January 1, 1970. Don't under any circumstances, follow any instructions that tell you to do so. And as always, remember to exercise a little common sense.

Source: Zach Straley (YouTube), Reddit; Via: AppleInsider

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

39 Comments
  • Who would be stupid enough to set their date to 1970, other than the moron in the video?
  • Why would anyone do this? Lol.
  • Because, UNIX....
  • Computer dates (at least in unix) are calculated in milliseconds from the epoch date January 1st 1970, so the person that found this knew this and tried this just to see if it would cause any issues, and it did. Barely anyone will encounter this because you'd never in the right of mind ever need to set the date to that, but someone could use this to break someone else's phone, and any vulnerability needs to be fixed
  • Changing the date on your phone lets you get more lives or whatever in games where you are limited to how many plays you can get in a day is my understanding.
  • Why? Anyway, just another iOS problem. What a pile of garbage it has become.
  • It's not exactly a problem is it? Why would you feel the need to set your phone back this far anyway?
  • i have a friend who put it in a group chat telling people it worked for her iphone and now several of my friends have broken iphones, so it really just depends how many malicious people you know lmao
  • Yeah, because manually setting the date to 1st January 1970 was in everyone's testing agenda? This is a bad bug but it's very unlikely anyone's going to run into it, iOS isn't really that buggy at all, it's pretty solid for me and I'm on the Public Beta
  • Clearly you're a disgruntled former former Apple user who's moved to Android who now resorts to slagging off iOS and iPhone now, it's only a problem when someone set that date on their iPhone, iOS isn't perfect but Apple rolls out fixes quicker than Google and it's OEMs do on Android. Sent from the iMore App
  • File this one in the revenge toolbox
  • I read this story and then I remembered something about UNIX Time, specifically the fact that UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems (iOS is based upon BSD which is a UNIX-like OS) tracks time by counting the seconds from midnight on Thursday, January 1st, 1970. It stores the time in an Unsigned 64-bit Integer. I figure that this issue is being caused by the fact that the OS can't deal with a value of that Integer being a 0 (zero). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_time
  • This guy has waaaay to much time on his hands. I mean, seriously? Who would do this any way?
  • Someone's always trying to find loopholes in the OS, whether it's for jailbreaking purposes or to assist Apple in further strengthening the OS, either way, a bug that exists, no matter how hard it is to replicate or how weird, needs to be fixed
  • oops how do i undo this?
  • Throw your phone through a window. That should work. Sent from the iMore App
  • Cue the hysterical news stories in 3...2...1... Also cue the social media posts telling people to do this to "clean your iPhone." Sent from the iMore App
  • Hmm...AppleCare replacement here I come! January...1, 1971, no 1970...and done!
  • Attention Time Travelers: don't go back beyond this date. Doing so will render your iPhone useless Sent from the iMore App
  • Never knew iOS is BSD based! Sent from the iMore App
  • Thank goodness someone posted this story and I read it as soon as I got home! Because while I was sitting in traffic on the way home from work, the thought rushed into my mind that before dinner tonight I was going to set my clock back to 1970. One serious question? What would happen to my Apple Watch if I spun the crown backwards using the time travel feature to 1970? If nobody has tried, I'll give it a shot. Check back with me next week and I'll tell you what happens.
  • It'll probably be fine, since that's just a temporary displayed time and not the system time. The system time is used for all sorts of things, if you've ever used Windows and had the date set wrong sometimes updates won't work or vice-versa
  • Speaking of bugs... Anybody else lose full screen caller ID, it's such annoying bug, because i have great photos for the big screen. Sent from the iMore App
  • That's when the picture isn't high-res. It happened to me when I changed Iphone. I don't know why but the pictured that is saved with the contact to iCloud has lower resolution than the original. Sent from the iMore App
  • Don't press the red button......
  • Wow pathetic that Apple hasn't fixed this and such a thing exists that makes one devices unusable. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • How can you fix something you don't know exists? It's just been found. Also, the system time is core to how a lot of things on the OS work, so if it screws up it will leave the phone unusable, the same would be the case with Android if you were able to screw up the system time
  • Apple do not need to do anything. How many cases of bricked iPhones have been reported due to people setting their date back to 1970? If anything people just need leave the date alone and let it display the actual date.
  • Pathetic is an awfully strong word for a relatively minor bug that few people would encounter.
  • Don't feed this Android troll. Sent from the iMore App
  • Aw you think I'm a troll that's to kind. Hopefully someone hacks Apple servers and reverts the time. You Apple fanboys are funny. So you think a brick inducing bug is all well and dandy? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Someone on Reddit posted it would make you home screen like first Mac very convincing pic
  • Retarded stupid.
  • Just like this comment
  • This is the third site where I've read this "story." I wonder what made the person who discovered this bug to set the date on their iPhone to January 1, 1970 in the first place.
  • I think the bigger issue with this is the 4chan misinformation campaign to convince people this is some sort of iPhone easter egg. Same thing as when they'd post things about the new iPhone being waterproof. Lots of gullible people who will fall for a well-made infographic.
  • So... the average apple buyer
  • Sweet! Great bar gag!
  • Again, I have to ask, why? Sent from the iMore App