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Don't panic! If your iPhone is unavailable, you can still unlock it

Here's how to gain access to your iPhone that gets unavailable after forgetting the passcode to get to the Home screen.

Lucas Seltzer Updated on Jun 21, 2023 2:15 PM
  • After trying, then retrying the wrong passcodes, you'll end up with 'iPhone Unavailable' message on the lock screen. To unlock the iPhone, you have to reset the passcode.
  • It's possible to use iTunes to unlock an unavailable iPhone by doing a factory reset. You'll need to put iPhone in recovery mode and choose "Restore" option.
  • With your Apple ID password, you can erase and reset your locked iPhone by tapping on "Erase iPhone" option on the unavailable screen, or through iCloud Find My.
  • You can also download iPhone Unlocker utility to restore your iPhone that's unavailable so you get the screen unlocked. You're able to restore data from backup after accessing it.

Locking out of iPhone with Unavailable error? We'll show you how to get back in and access data.

You wouldn't think we'd forget the passcode to iPhone. But we do. Attempting to enter too many incorrect passcodes will result in the lock screen reading 'iPhone Unavailable', which declines you to access your own device until you're able to unlock it.

It's a nightmare your iPhone locks you out, but it's not end of the world. There're a few easy ways you can unlock iPhone unavailable lock screen and regain physical access - using iTunes, Erase iPhone, iCloud or iPhone Unlocker. The end result is that your phone will be totally erased and reset to factory settings with the unavailable screen & passcode removed.

Jump to:

iPhone Unavailable or Security Lockout error messages

When your iPhone stuck on iPhone Unavailable in Lock Screen after five or more wrong passcode attempts, it should look like this:

The login screen changes to black background and stops accepting any more attempts.

iPhone Unavailable try again in 1 minute:

Each iPhone is unlocking to the lock screen within 6 wrong guesses. After 1 minute, you'll have access to the device if you remember your passcode. You will see the 'Emergency' option right beneath the error message.

iPhone Unavailable try again in 5 minutes:

7th failed attempt to unlock the iPhone will give you 5-minute waiting time. The device accepts entries if time is out.

iPhone Unavailable try again in 15 minutes:

If you do forget your code to get past locked screen, entering random one should you see the 'Erase iPhone' option at the bottom. 8 incorrect guesses or more will trigger the reset function.

Security Lockout try again in 15 minutes:

If there have been 9 times wrong passcode in a row, the lock screen appears to be Security Lockout and locks for 15 minutes (How to fix Security Lockout?)

Security Lockout try again in 1 hour:

Then iPhone sets 1 hour delay before you can unlock it.

iPhone Unavailable or Security Lockout:

When you see this, it's null and void for passcode. Your only way of unlocking it is perform an erasure and reset.

Some users face a situation where sometimes there's neither countdown timer nor 'Erase iPhone' on unavailable screen.

Note: If you iPhone is on iOS 15.2 or earlier, the alert will be iPhone is disabled connect to iTunes after it's locked with failed attempts.

What does it mean when iPhone says 'iPhone Unavailable'?

When the lock screen turns to iPhone Unavailable warning, it's because the device detects many constant incorrect passcode attempts at unlocking the phone.

Maybe you forgot your passcode. Or perhaps, the screen rubbing your leg is causing the passcodes to be entered incorrectly while in your pocket, and eventually, the lock screen gets unavailable unexpectedly for a brief period of time of 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes and 1 hour. The device will be completely locked out in the 12th failed attempt.

Whatever the reason, getting an unavailable iPhone brings lots of frustration, so this article is going to explain how to reset it.

How to unlock an unavailable iPhone from lock screen

You won't unlock the device if all passcode attempts have been consumed until you get it reset.

There are four unlocking strategies to reset iPhone when it says iPhone Unavailable and remove the passcode - but you will lose data during the system restore process. By restoring a previous backup, your phone could be able to return to the state prior to getting unavailable with all data coming back.

Which one you choose to use is depending on how the lock screen looks like as well as whether you have an active internet network and Apple ID.

Use Recovery Mode to unlock locked iPhone

Recovery mode has been around for years to erase the iPhone when someone can't remember the passcode, giving you access to set it up again. It's also helpful if there's no option for erasing or logging in with passcode or face id. Just the message states iPhone Unavailable (and time delays), shown as the screenshot below.

There's no timer saying when it won't be unavailable anymore.

Here are a few things you need to know:

1. You need a PC or Mac nearby, and an original charging cable.

2. You will get a blank iPhone after the recovery process but the phone allows you to get back into it. All data and settings including the passcode will be deleted.

3. You'll be able to restore your data from the last backup if you kept one in place. Anything will be reverted to the status before iPhone becoming unavailable.

Then, let's see how to use iTunes to fix the lock screen and open the unavailable iPhone:

Step 1: Open iTunes on your computer. If you're using a Mac with macOS Catalina or higher, start Finder.

Step 2: Connect your iPhone to computer. Then enter recovery mode, which applies different button combination based on the device model you hold.

iPhone 8 or later - press and release volume up button, press and release volume down button, then press and hold the side button until the recovery mode screen appears.

iPhone 7 or 7 Plus - press and hold volume down button and side button until it gets to recovery mode state.

iPhone 6s or earlier - it's just press and holding Home button and power button at the same time. When the recovery mode screen shows up, release them.

Recovery mode allows a locked iPhone to be recognized.

Step 3: Restore your iPhone by selecting Restore option. In iTunes or Finder, you're given the option to Update or Restore. In order to unlock and log into the device, click on Restore option. The latest iOS will download and install onto the phone followed by the setup process.

Wait while for the iPhone to be wiped clean. If the process takes longer than 15 minutes, you need to reconnect the device, start it to recovery mode and restore it all over again.

One way to unlock an iPhone without passcode is to use iTunes or Finder.

Step 4: Start over and set up iPhone. When you see the phone restarting with a Hello screen, it means that it has been reset. Follow the onscreen instructions to set it up as if it's new and restore from a backup through computer or iCloud.

Use your Apple ID to reset your iPhone unavailable screen

Once 'Erase iPhone' shows up on the screen, tap on it, then sign out of your Apple ID account, and the unavailable lock screen should be unlocked. It's easy, right?

With the jump to iOS 15.2 or later, an iPhone gains a new 'Erase iPhone' function to erase all content and settings without computer when forgetting the passcode. In general, You will see the option when the unavailable goes to 'try again in 15 minutes'.

Apple includes an immediate way to bypass the iPhone lock screen without computer.

  • Be sure that the phone is connected to a network.
  • Tap 'Erase iPhone' located at the lower right of the screen.
  • You'll be prompted to erase your device. To confirm, tap 'Erase iPhone' again.
  • Enter your Apple ID password.
  • iPhone is now wiping off anything including the passcode. Wait for a while.

After restoration, the rest thing is to set up the phone again. You'll get the option to restore from backup. If you've previously backed up your iPhone, any data will be back.

Unlock iPhone without passcode with iPhone Unlocker

"Tried connecting iPhone to computer but iTunes or Finder doesn't discover the device." Fairly true, it would be likely that an iPhone getting unavailable won't connect to iTunes or finder so you can't do anything to fix it.

Take a deep breath. iPhone Unlocker cuts through your confusion. It quickly detects the iPhone whether it's staying disabled, unavailable, or security lockout, and bypass the locked screen in just a few simple clicks. Likewise, the software factory resets the device, granting you access to restore from a backup or set up as new.

Download Now!

for Windows | for MacOS

Here are the detailed steps:

1. Launch iPhone Unlocker tool. Choose Wipe Passcode.

2. Attach your unavailable iPhone that waits to unlock with your computer.

3. If the software could not recognize the device, you need to put it into recovery mode. You can use the guidelines outlined in the previous method to enter this magic state.

4. Once recognized, check if your device info is accurately.

5. Click Start button to download the firmware for the device. This takes a few minutes.

6. When done, you'll be taken to the 'Unlock Confirmation' screen, letting you know the unlocking process will erase your lock screen and all data. Click Unlock button to initiate the task.

The unavailable screen has been removed. Now access iPhone without entering passcode. Set it up, follow the prompts to restore backup and use it again.

Watch Video Here:

Erase unavailable lock screen via iCloud

What You Need for iPhone Unlock:

  • Find My iPhone feature has been enabled on iPhone before it's getting unavailable
  • Your Apple ID and password
  • Stable network connection.

First, go to your web browser on your computer (or another iOS device), and search for iCloud Find My iPhone. Then, sign in with your Apple account credentials.

While you're on a map, click All Devices at the top, then select your iPhone with iPhone Unavailable message stuck on the lock screen in the pull-down menu.

The final step is to hit Erase iPhone, then click Erase iPhone again to begin wipe off of the locked screen and the passcode you've forgotten.

Unlocked! How to restore your iPhone after a reset

After doing a system restore, everything changes back to a totally new situation where you unbox your iPhone for the first time. iPhone unavailable message and forgotten passcode has been gone. There's nothing out there.

If you have enabled automatic backup enabled, set up your iPhone, Then, sign in to your iCloud account to easily recover your photos, videos, contacts, messages, notes, and other data and settings. You can also recover from a backup on PC or Mac if you manually backed the phone up via iTunes or Finder.

Otherwise, you'll not be able to get back your data. Read: How to retrieve photos (or any data) after a reset on iPhone

When getting back in the device, set a new passcode on it to protect your data. Make sure that you won't forget it again.

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