Apple Admits January 1, 1970 Boot Freeze, Issues Patch
Apple has acknowledged an iOS error that bricks devices when the date is manually set to January 1, 1970. This morning, the company issued a statement about the issue and promised an upcoming patch in an iOS update.
If Error 53 wasn’t enough iPhone-bricking fun for the whole family, we found out last week that you could make your own iPhone paperweight by setting the date to January 1, 1970. Reboot your device and you’ll be stuck at the boot screen Apple logo, forever. The issue is not only limited to iPhones, either; any 64-bit iOS device– iPhone 5S and later, iPad Air and later, iPad Mini 2 and later, and iPod Touch sixth generation and later– is affected by the flaw.
Like many software bugs these days, the issue was posted about on Reddit and immediately tested by some of the readers. Many of them took their newly-bricked phones to their local Apple store, but later posted that the Apple Geniuses didn’t know what to do. There is an explanation, though. January 1, 1970 is the first day in the Unix era– that is to say, Unix systems measure and record time in seconds relative to that date. The count is normally saved as a 32-bit number, but since the issue only affects 64-bit iOS devices, it seems that the 64-bit systems are having trouble handling numbers close to zero.
Manually changing the date to May 1970 or earlier can prevent your iOS device from turning on after a restart. An upcoming software update will prevent this issue from affecting iOS devices. If you have this issue, contact Apple Support.
The statement released on Apple’s support site suggests that anyone who experiences this issue should contact Apple Support. Users are reporting various degrees of support success at Apple retail locations. Some have received new replacements after taking it to the Genius Bar, while others have been told that they are unable to assist. It’s also been reported that people have been changing the dates on devices at Apple Stores to brick the floor models.
iOS 9.3 is expected to be released at the March Event, but it’s uncertain if they will push out a 9.2 update before then. If anything, it would help alleviate the massive headache that this debacle has caused for Apple Support.