Tech & The Web

Can You Imagine Being Locked Out of Your iPhone for Decades?


An unfortunate woman learned that allowing a toddler to play with the wrong ‘toy’ could keep you locked out of your iPhone for a long, long time.

An Apple Store technician told a woman in China it’s possible to be locked out of your iPhone for 80 years: he’s seen it happen, according to her story. It’s probably of little consolation to the mother, however, that she’s only locked out of her device for a mere 47 years. recently reported about the woman’s plight after she allowed her toddler to watch videos on her iPhone. Somehow, the device must have wound up locked, and after so many incorrect password attempts, a delay began, preventing access to the phone for a certain period of time.

It’s not clear how long the delay is, but the phone’s screen apparently told the woman she had to wait “25 million minutes.” If you’ve ever heard the song “Seasons of Love,” you probably know right off the top of your head that there are 525,600 minutes in a year. Do the math and it works out to about 47.56 years.

Then there’s this line:

“The Apple Store in Shanghai recommended the mother to either wait out the 47 years, or wipe the phone clean and start from scratch.”

Seriously? Any Apple Store technician who seriously (or even jokingly, for that matter) recommends that someone should just “wait out the 47 years” needs a big slap. Or a visit to the unemployment line.

Fair warning, Apple Store folks: if you ever tell me anything as assinine as that, you won’t like how loud I get in your store.

But seriously, folks, Apple must have some way to override such a ridiculous situation. If they don’t, they should. It’s something that could happen to anyone with a child.

Okay, okay, maybe the 47-year part might be an extreme example, granted, but any child could wind up unintentionally locking up a phone for a certain period of time. Once that period of time extends past an hour, that’s long enough.

A day should be the upper limit of any kind of password-related delay.

If the number of hours extends into three digits, that should be a red flag for Apple to get hold of itself and stop the delay.

I understand security concerns. But an Apple Store should be able to preserve the material on a phone through an emergency backup process, then override the delay and allow the user to enter the correct password. Apple should already have record, through its Apple ID, who the actual device owner is. Once that identity is established and the correct password is entered, that “delay” should be terminated.

The South China Morning News reported there were two common reactions to the story: that the mother shouldn’t have allowed the child to play with her device or that the mother should have had a backup of her data so a “factory reset” wouldn’t be (as big) of a problem.

I’d agree on the latter.

If the mother allows the child to watch videos on her phone, that’s her business, isn’t it?

She shouldn’t be penalized to this degree for such an easily-made mistake.

Apple engineers surely can do something about this.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.