How to Fix the “iPhone Unavailable” Screen

Person holding iPhone 14 Pro with the back of the phone facing the camera
Marcus Mears III / Review Geek

If your iPhone shows the iPhone unavailable error with a timer, just wait for the timer to expire and then enter your passcode carefully and correctly. If you don’t see a timer, you’ll need to erase your device and restore it from your last backup.

You pulled your iPhone out of your pocket, only to be greeted with an “iPhone not available” error message with seemingly no solution. Why does this “unavailable” lock screen appear, how to fix it and how to avoid it in the future?

What does iPhone unavailable mean?

iPhone Unavailable black screen appears after too many wrong passcode attempts. It is designed to protect against brute force attacks where someone trying to gain access to your iPhone will try as many passcodes as possible in order to force themselves into access.

Enter your iPhone passcode

In most cases, you’ll see a timer below the message letting you know how long you’ll have to wait before your iPhone becomes available again. After five failed attempts, the timer is set to one minute, with each subsequent attempt increasing the delay to five, 15, and 60 minutes.

After 10 wrong passcode attempts, your iPhone will be permanently locked without showing a timer.

TIED TOGETHER: Here’s how to make your iPhone more secure when it’s locked

Fix iPhone not available by waiting for it

Supposing your iPhone is showing a delay time on the “iPhone unavailable” lock screen, the simplest solution is to wait it out. After the time is up, you can unlock your iPhone with the correct passcode. Be very careful when doing this, as entering an incorrect passcode will increase the timer again (e.g. from one minute to five on the second attempt).

iPhone lock screen error not available

Fix iPhone Unavailable by restoring your iPhone

If you don’t see a timer and your iPhone just shows the message “iPhone Not Available” instead, it means that waiting a long time won’t fix the problem. Your iPhone is permanently locked and needs to be erased and restored from scratch. You should still be able to call emergency services via the ‘Emergency’ button at the bottom of the screen if needed.

iPhone not available "Emergency" button visible

Some versions of iOS show an “Erase iPhone” button on the lock screen to help you complete this process. Tap on it, confirm that you want to erase everything, and then enter your Apple ID password. Your iPhone will now be restored to factory settings. You’ll have to set it up from scratch and restore from an iCloud, macOS, or iTunes (Windows) backup.

Alternatively, you can connect your iPhone to a Mac or Windows PC and restore it that way. macOS or iTunes for Windows will recognize that your iPhone needs attention and provide an option to “restore” the software on the device. As part of this process, you will need to enter your Apple ID password.

Finally, there are third-party apps that claim to be able to disable the iPhone unavailable screen for a pretty hefty fee. We can’t confirm these will work as Apple is constantly tweaking the software that runs on the iPhone. The safest way is to erase your device and restore it from a backup.

Avoid triggering “iPhone not available” in the future.

The only way to avoid the iPhone unavailable issue in the future is to make sure you don’t enter the wrong passcode too many times. Sometimes this happens accidentally in your pocket or while holding your iPhone. It is also possible for young children to unknowingly trigger the iPhone unavailable screen.

Be careful when entering your passcode, make sure Face ID is working (or rescan your fingerprints if you’re using Touch ID) so you don’t have to enter your passcode most of the time.

Mistakes can happen, and the safest thing to do is make sure you have iCloud backup turned on or manually back up regularly using macOS or iTunes for Windows.

TIED TOGETHER: Here’s how to backup and restore your iPhone or iPad without iTunes