Apple's stolen iPhone advice lists the final step - after having erased the device - as:

  1. Remove your lost or stolen device from your list of trusted devices.

However, it is clear from the "If the previous owner isn't with you" section of How to remove Activation Lock that this will remove the lock and allow the thief to use/sell the phone. This has been discussed previously and it also seems clear that the erased and logged-out device will not pose a security risk to your account. It thus seems like terrible advice. Furthermore, it is not hard to find examples of people removing their device too soon (such as before it has been erased).

I can only see this step as adding value to thieves. It would surely be better to instead provide additional warnings when removing a device of what the consequences are for Find My and activation lock etc. Why would Apple possibly advise this? Are there any advantages to doing it?

  • I'm actually not sure the premise is right: The "Remove from Account" referenced for Activation Lock is in Find my iPhone, not in Apple ID trusted device list. The Activation Lock article from Apple specifically says to remove it in the Find My app – whereas the article you first linked says specifically the trusted device list in Apple ID settings.
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 15:36
  • That's a fair point - it's hard to be 100% sure although I think it's very likely that they have the same effect - if anything a total removal would seem to be a superset of a Find My removal. By current count there are actually 3 different ways - via Apple ID device list, iCloud Settings device list, and via Find My device list. Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 20:12
  • However, there is a comment in a related question that suggests they are different. I am hesitant to test this though. Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 20:16
  • The iCloud Settings device list and Apple ID device list are likely the same - and both about what devices are authorized to use your account. But yeah, I can't say for sure whether it'll remove from iCloud. You could always try removing a different device.
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 22:50

2 Answers 2


Once you reach step 6 you are in effect abandoning the device.

Some company phones are considered less valuable than the data they contain. Stripping the last remaining link to the previous user is therefore considered a better option.

  • The data is also gone at this point though - even the email address is heavily obfuscated. Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 20:02

I can't remember if I tried removing it myself or if it has somehow timed out but the device is no longer present in the list of iCloud devices despite being listed in Find My. I think the comments to the question contain the correct answer - activation lock can be maintained even when following the instructions to remove from the iCloud account.

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