If you’ve forgotten the PIN on your iPhone or iPad and haven’t set up Touch ID, the only thing you can do to regain access to your device is to reset it.
Unfortunately, this means losing everything you’ve stored on it, although you can restore from backups if you have them. Also, if you’ve synced your device with iTunes, you can create a fresh backup first and you won’t lose a thing!
There’s no way to get past the PIN requirement and regain access to your iPhone or iPad, even if you have the username and password of the account signed into iCloud.
Also, if you enter the wrong code six times in a row, your device will become disabled for a period of time – which can be annoying, but at least it prevents a potential attacker from trying lots of combinations and eventually gaining access to your phone or tablet.
On the more recent iOS devices, the hardware encryption keys are protected with the passcode you enter, which is why you always have to enter the code every time your device reboots. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the only way to bypass this would be to restore the iPad or iPhone and start again.
How to wipe and restore from an iTunes backup
If you’ve synced your device to iTunes before having this issue, you’re in luck! You can have iTunes create a fresh backup and restore your phone from that, without losing any data in the process.
In order to do this, connect your device to a computer (Mac or PC) you’ve previously synced with and then open iTunes. If you’re asked for a passcode, you won’t be able to provide it if you can’t get past the lock screen, so try another computer you’ve synced with. If that doesn’t work, you won’t be able to back up or restore the device with iTunes, so you’ll try other options instead.
If iTunes doesn’t ask for a passcode, go to the device’s summary screen and hit “Back Up Now” to create a backup. After this process is complete, click “Restore iPhone/iPad.” You can then restore it from the backup and set up a new passcode (which is not part of the backup).
Wipe from Find My iPhone
If you haven’t synched the device with iTunes but you have Find My iPhone enabled on the device, you can go to the Find My iPhone page at iCloud.com and sign in with your iCloud username and password.
Next select the iPhone or iPad you want to wipe using the option you can find at the top of the screen, and then hit the “Erase” button. By doing this, you will remotely erase your device. Afterwards, when you set it back up, you can either restore from an iCloud backup or set it up as a new device. In any case, you will then be able to enter a new passcode.
Wipe from Recovery Mode
If you haven’t synced your device with iTunes and you haven’t set up Fin My iPhone either, the only thing you can do is to use recovery mode to wipe it.
First thing you’ll need to do is connect the phone to a Mac or PC which has iTunes installed. Next, you open iTunes and then you press and hold the Power/Wake and Home buttons at the same time, which forces the device to restart. Keep pressing the buttons even after the Apple logo appears, until you see the recovery mode screen (with the iTunes logo and the outline of a cable).
At this point, iTunes will tell you that “There is a problem with the iPhone/iPad that requires it to be updated or restored.” Hit the “Restore” button to restore the device o its factory settings and set it up again from scratch. If you’ve enabled iCloud backups beforehand, you can restore it using this feature.
Note that this method also works for Apple’s iPod Touch devices. And if you’ve forgotten the passcode to your Apple Watch, you can erase it using the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, and then restore an Apple Watch backup from the same device.