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This iOS time and date bug could permanently brick your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch

Posted: , by Ben R.

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This iOS time and date bug could permanently brick your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
Software bugs occur all of the time, but some pose more of a threat to the security and general wellbeing of our devices than others. Fresh off the back of the error 53 story, which revealed that the Apple iPhone can be rendered completely useless if unofficial repairs to the Touch ID component have taken place, a video has surfaced online that apparently shows how a device can be bricked by means of a fairly innocuous software trick. 

As seen in the video below and noted by several others apparently affected by the bug, changing the date to January 1st 1970 and rebooting results in a non-functioning handset. After the reboot, the handset can be placed into DFU mode and recognized by iTunes. But even after a restore, it gets caught in a boot loop and cannot be used. 

Affected devices are said to be those running a 64-bit processor. Specifically, this includes the iPhone 5 and newer, iPad Air / iPad mini 2 and up, and the 6th-gen iPod touch. If your device is older than any of the above, then this bug will not affect your device. 

There's nothing to be too alarmed about here, for the bug apparently won't affect you unless you deliberately expose it. It's very likely that your device will cease to function, and you'll probably be forced to take a trip to the Apple Store. Presumably, Apple will be able to repair or replace devices affected by this bug, and above all, we'd expect a fix for this strange issue to manifest itself in the next software update. 

Check the video demo of the bug in action below, and let us know of your thoughts via the comments. 


source: 9to5Mac

37 Comments
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posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:42 12

1. PHYCLOPSH (Posts: 182; Member since: 28 Jun 2014)


I have tried this on Android and confirm that there is no such issue at this time.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:46 3

3. AlikMalix (Posts: 5238; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)


Android does have it, it's just another date you have to set it to. You gotta try every day possible starting from 1940's.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:51 1

6. Unordinary (Posts: 1288; Member since: 04 Nov 2015)


Of course. It's just a matter of figuring it out. In some time zones, setting the date to 1 Jan 1970 will set the internal clock to a number less than zero, as the time is stored in GMT (as the number of seconds since midnight on that date) and then the offset is applied before display. In other time zones, setting the clock will result in a positive time value. This is triggered by having the time value less than zero

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 14:53 5

20. marorun (Posts: 3393; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


No such issue on android searched for 30 min the web for anything about this and found nothing!

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 15:07 9

21. lyndon420 (Posts: 3996; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


Google updated their clock app a few days ago and PA posted something I believe the following day. On a side note...what doesn't brick an iPhone lately???? Careful...don't breathe wrong or it'll brick on ya lol.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 20:52 1

32. AlikMalix (Posts: 5238; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)


My point went right over your head, apparently.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 15:58 3

23. Finalflash (Posts: 2795; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


Lol Yea no, Android has no such bug because the internal system clock doesn't depend on the millisecond. There is a "long" primitive that tracks how long it has been since Jan 1970 and it can go negative. Once an app tries to use that number, if it doesn't have a check to handle a less than 0 value it might crash. Apps that depend on that might break but the system itself does not track the time using that method. Regardless, this issue will not happen with OSX, Windows or Android because none of the developers on that side of the pond were stupid enough to link system functions with the millisecond counter used by the front end of the system without a security check.

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 02:24 2

33. RebelwithoutaClue (Posts: 2761; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)


I just tried every date from 1940's to 1945's, so if someone else can do the next 5 years ;)

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 03:20

35. My1cent (Posts: 342; Member since: 30 Jan 2014)


Have you ever tried to re-charge your phone using any microwave oven?
It works on iPhone!

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:44 10

2. AlikMalix (Posts: 5238; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)


Wow, I'm trying to imagine how someone came across that bug... Maybe someone sold it as a time machine to a clueless user. Apple users will believe anything...

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 16:48

27. Finalflash (Posts: 2795; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


It is a simple thing to set the clock back 50 years to fool around. See how far you can go, someone was bound to do it. Sad thing is, someone at the iOS development team with system level programming access decided not to do a

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 02:37

34. RebelwithoutaClue (Posts: 2761; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)


It is the date that is set when the phone completely runs out of battery and the phone is reset to factory settings. Had an iPhone 4s in storage once that was locked for 24 million minutes because of this.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:47 2

4. Wiencon (Posts: 1820; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)


"Affected devices are said to be those running a 64-bit processor. Specifically, this includes the iPhone 5 and newer"

iP5 doesn't have 64 bit soc

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:57 1

7. Subie (Posts: 545; Member since: 01 Aug 2015)


I'm guessing they forgot to add the "S"

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:49 1

14. Wiencon (Posts: 1820; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)


But if you click on it it brings you to iP5 page so it's more than a typo :P

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 12:49

5. nepalisherpa (Posts: 211; Member since: 17 Jul 2015)


I wonder what's significant about Jan 1, 1970.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:16 10

9. matistight (Posts: 431; Member since: 13 May 2009)


The Unix epoch is the time 00:00:00 UTC on 1 January 1970. So setting it before that, the phone does not know what time it is, confuses the system, freaks out and bricks itself in confusion. Just like error 53, its another part of coding they simply need to change "true" to "false", or the reverse.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:37 1

12. nepalisherpa (Posts: 211; Member since: 17 Jul 2015)


Thank you.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 16:18

25. Brewski (Posts: 332; Member since: 05 Jun 2012)


^yes. I can confirm this. When setting the time on a machine running Unix it counts the seconds since then and so you set it to years/months after that date.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:11 3

8. htcisthebest (Posts: 166; Member since: 15 Nov 2011)


It's alright. If this happens to me. I will just upgrade to the Galaxy S7 or the Surface Phone, whichever comes first.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:31

10. tacarat (Posts: 735; Member since: 22 Apr 2013)


Dead display units will start popping up at stopped all over the country.... Sigh.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:37 8

11. SirYar (Posts: 351; Member since: 02 Jul 2014)


Another quality piece of software from Apple.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:47 1

13. MrElectrifyer (Posts: 2377; Member since: 21 Oct 2014)


No, you're setting it wrong...

Yet another proof of how iOS is considered the most vulnerable OS on the market.

bit.ly/1FZM9C9

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:49 5

15. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 8958; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


What idiot would do this? Oh wait, the potential with iOS must really be high. Or you basically would have to be high.

The time and date is set by the network on the phone, so how would it ever be an issue?
Who would ever do this?

The idiot who even found this bug, needs a life. Get out the basement dude, and get some human interaction.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 14:01 1

18. MrElectrifyer (Posts: 2377; Member since: 21 Oct 2014)


Simply security researchers exposing all the bugs and vulnerabilities apple just sweeps under the rug and calls it a day. Security by obscurity ain't security, and apple needs to fix that in all their software...

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:57

16. Baracus (Posts: 223; Member since: 15 Sep 2012)


The iPhone is just there to remind us that almost nothing good emerged from the 1970s.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 13:59

17. xondk (Posts: 1250; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)


I don't know, RAM and Floppy disk were invented in 1970 amongst other things :P but yeah I get what you mean.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 18:52

28. tedkord (Posts: 10688; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


But so was disco.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 14:10 5

19. buccob (Posts: 2522; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


How long before malware apps change the date of users, or people fall for pranksters asking others to try it out...

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 15:08

22. lyndon420 (Posts: 3996; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


Doesn't anyone have their clocks automatically set to their carrier? Weird.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 16:17

24. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 2253; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


Why change the date to jan 1st 1970 and reboot anyway that's stupid.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 16:20 2

26. darkkjedii (Posts: 20115; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


I thought this would be something to worry about...Mehhh.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 18:57

29. submar (Posts: 417; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)


I thought iOS is stable

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 19:08

30. 47AlphaTango (Posts: 284; Member since: 27 Sep 2015)


What if the user doesn't register their fingerprint from the unlocking and apple id? You won't encounter error 53!

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 20:31

31. Paximos (Posts: 158; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)


Would this take me back to 1970 too?

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 08:38 1

36. Lauticol (Posts: 335; Member since: 25 Jun 2011)


Nice way to get a replacement if your iPhone is having other issues

posted on 14 Feb 2016, 08:32

37. _PHug_ (Posts: 444; Member since: 11 Oct 2011)


Going to be funny when Apple charges people full price when they bring in phones that were bricked on purpose just to see if it works.

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