Got Locked Out of My iPhone 5S – the Consequence and Remedy

Thanks to iPhone 5S’ new fingerprint touch ID feature, I used it to lock my iPhone out of the reach of my daughter, who liked to play video games on it. During our family vacation travel, my daughter decided to try to break in my lock code without my permission to use the iPhone. The iPhone quickly locked up after 3 failed attempts, after which you would have to wait 1 minute to enter the PIN, if failed again wait another 10 minutes, next 15 minutes, next 60 minutes, then the complete lockout. The worst part is that after using the Touch ID (fingerprint) for so long, I eventually forgot my original unlock PIN. After my several failed attempts to “guess” my own code, the iPhone finally decided to lock out my iPhone completely. Why Apple would not allow Touch ID to unlock the iPhone after 3 failed attempts are beyond me. The only way to unlock it now was to connect the iPhone to my iTune account on my PC, which I decided not take with me to vacation to avoid checking work emails. So I lost last few days of using my iPhone except for receiving phone calls. Not too bad, I thought.

As soon as I came home from my vacation, I discovered the ugly side of extra security; all the photos I took with my iPhone during my vacation were all gone because I couldn’t backup the iPhone before the restoration. (You’d need to agree on the iPhone before the connection to iTune but since the iPhone is locked out, this step is not possible).

Finally, I was able to restore my iPhone to the same backup copy I made a month ago. Better than nothing…

From now on, I’m leaving off the Touch ID and Locked PIN feature. It’s too painful to justify the added security.

The lessons learned: be wiling to pay the price for the extra security: remember your lock PIN and backup often to iTune, especially before your vacation. Do not attempt to “guess” the lock PIN lest you get locked out of your mighty mobile device that’s getting harder and harder to do without in our daily lives.