This iPhone bug will erase it

Passcodes? More like Blockcodes!

Italo Baeza Cabrera
3 min readApr 11, 2023
Photo by H K on Unsplash

TL;DR: Deleting the in-screen Passcode after verifying, while it’s loading, will force you to recover the device, which erases everything.

Friday before Easter weekend. Mom decides to change her iPhone Passcodes (also known as “PIN”) after seeing the news about iPhones being stolen to steal someone’s entire digital life (2), including bank accounts and social media.

I helped her by supervising the whole process: from pointing out the configuration app to getting right to the option where you are able to change the Passcode. Pretty much what happens in Apple’s instruction video:

For some reason, after verifying the new Passcode, the iPhone took a while to process the change. As you can see in the video at 0:50, a loading indicator appears on the upper right. It’s barely noticeable and stood for several seconds.

She thought that the process failed, so she deleted the passcode in the screen, but couldn’t go back to the previous step. Shortly after that, the iPhone goes back to the Configuration. We assumed everything was just fine.

After confirming exactly what happened, recollecting exactly what I saw, and trusting there was no new Passcode change, I figured out this is a device-breaking bug on iPhone.

Some hours later, I get a call through another phone. It’s mom. Her iPhone is locked. The Passcode is not working. She tried multiple times, as she feared to lose EVERYTHING on their device and some work stuff. During the panic, she tried the old Passcode, the new Passcode, “123456”, and even some variations where she could have gotten it wrong, without success.

After confirming exactly what happened, recollecting exactly what I saw, and trusting there was no new Passcode change, I figured out this is a device-breaking bug on iPhone. In other words, the iPhone is rendered useless.

She was out of luck and tries too. A full disaster right before Easter weekend plans and may be some more days.

What may have happened?

I’m not an Apple Engineer, but I can blind guess what happened behind the scenes. After completing the process, the iPhone successfully encrypted some parts with the new Passcode. After that, it stored the Passcode showed in the screen in a separate place, which was empty, instead the one already verified.

For those who don’t want to have this problem again, here is the checklist I will run down next time:

  1. Confirm your Apple ID password by logging in manually before any changes, as you may need it the worst-case scenario.
  2. If you have the time, create a backup in your nearest Mac/PC, in case you have to erase your device.
  3. After verifying your new Passcode, don’t press anything until the whole process completes.
  4. Immediately test it by locking the screen and covering your face/finger.
  5. If the Passcode doesn’t work, force reset your iPhone. This may make the device refresh the Passcode internally.
  6. If the new Passcode doesn’t work, reset your iPhone with the backup you made previously.

Meanwhile, as things escalated in my absence, the ball is on Apple courtside. It’s kind of disappointing that Apple will take its time to unlock her account and, hopefully, render these devices online again instead of leaving them as costly paperweights, but it grinds my gears to find a device-breaking bug on iOS 16 just at Friday dawn.

PS: Couldn’t test on iOS 16.1 because, well, the device is locked.



Italo Baeza Cabrera

Graphic Designer graduate. Full Stack Web Developer. Retired Tech & Gaming Editor.