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I’ve recently changed the password on my iPhone SE (running iOS 10.x?) and now I’ve forgotten it. I was able to use my iPhone for a few days from TouchID but after the iPhone restarted today, I can’t get into it. It's a 4 digit passcode.

I still remember my iCloud password. But the phone is not currently configured to back up to iCloud.

Would I be able to recover the Messages if I take my iPhone to an Apple Store? I don't have any trouble proving the iPhone and its data belong to me (I purchased the iPhone with my credit card, signed into my Apple ID and iCloud accounts). But my understanding is that they can't do anything either even if they want to.

Is there any way I can get back into my iPhone? Everything else can be erased, but I just really need access to my messages. For example, would I be able to jailbreak it given that it’s running a pretty old version of iOS?

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    Do you have any backups thru iTunes? If so, you can wipe the SE and restore from a previous backup. – fsb May 15 '18 at 21:46
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Your question is old but still relevant. Sorry I didn't see it soon enough.

This is an important feature in iOS and has caused a tremendous stir among privacy advocates and law enforcement. Just do a search for "graykey device"

For all intents and purposes your iPhone is locked and will stay that way. Depending on the iOS version you have installed it may or may not be able to be "hacked" using a zero day exploit. This isn't realistic to the 99.999% of us out there who have forgotten some old pin lock.

You can use your iCloud account associated with the device, and IF you can see it with "find my iPhone/ iPad" you can initiate an erase command.

If you have synced with iTunes at anytime in the device's history, you can put it into DFU mode and restore that way.

The data is gone forever either way

I'm sorry but I see this occasionally, especially with senior citizens who walked out of the cell phone store with a shiny new iPhone, and haven't kept up their backups, never synced to a computer, and forgotten their Email account, email account password, itunes account, icloud account and the email account it's associated with... they lose all of those grandkid pics and videos.

It's the sad price honest people pay for security and privacy

  • If you have synced your device with iTunes before you can make a backup and then resotre from it. – user310476 Jan 24 at 18:01
  • You would be surprised how many people never sync to iTunes, or sync to iTunes upon the initial setup and are under the impression a full local back took place when one did not. When you forget your passcode lock, plug the device back into the computer it originated from to sync, and 3 iOS versions later it throws a "trust" prompt onto the device before proceeding, in which the user cannot respond. Or how many people soon realize that the freebie 5gb iCloud backup space isn't enough to backup their iOS, turn it off, and the backup gets marked for deletion. – Mike IT-Admin Jan 24 at 20:36
  • These days the setup procedure is very insisting that icloud backups are enabled, and that the user is told explicitly why this is a good idea. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Apr 7 at 14:38
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The only way to reset the login PIN is to wipe the device.

As for JailBreaking, some JB's require that you wipe the device as well so you will have to properly identify your iOS version and then go to this website to see which JB is available for your device.

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The only way to reset the password is to completely wipe the device.

If you have synced your device with iTunes before you can make a backup and then resotre from it.

  1. Connect your device to the computer you synced with.

  2. Open iTunes. If asked for a passcode, try another computer you've synced with, or use recovery mode.

  3. Wait for iTunes to sync your device and make a backup. If it doesn't, learn what to do.

  4. After the sync and backup have finished, click Restore [your device].

  5. When you reach the Set Up screen while restoring your iOS device, tap Restore from iTunes backup.

  6. Select your device in iTunes. Look at the date and size of each backup and pick the most relevant one.

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Alternatively, if you made an iCloud backup or another backup, you can erase your device and then do a resotre.

See iCloud: Restore or set up iOS devices from an iCloud backup.

Erasing your device

If you've never synced with iTunes, you'll need to use recovery mode to restore your device. This will erase the device and its passcode.

  1. Connect your iOS device to your computer and open iTunes. If you don't have a computer, borrow one from a friend, or go to an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider.

  2. While your device is connected, force restart it:

On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery-mode screen.

When you see the option to Restore or Update, choose Restore. iTunes screen

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iTunes will download software for your device. If it takes more than 15 minutes, your device will exit recovery mode and you'll need to repeat steps 2 and 3. Wait for the process to finish. Then you can set up and use your device.

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For jailbreaking, you need to search for a specific one for your OS. Jailbreaking does void your warranty though.

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