How to force recovery when an iPhone reset fails

This content is 14 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

A couple of years ago, I sold my original iPhone.  At that time, O2 was the exclusive iPhone carrier in the UK and so I needed to jump through various hoops to unlock it and prepare it for resale. Now the time has come to dispose of my iPhone 3G as I have a 3GS for work use (I can get by with a simple phone and my iPad in my personal life).

My iPhone 3G was “officially” unlocked by O2 so it should be a simple case of securely wiping the data from the device.  I say should, but it wasn’t (possibly because I’d previously jailbroken the phone in order to run background tasks without updating to iOS 4, which is unbearably slow on a 3G).

Resetting the iPhone to wipe all the data is straightforward enough (select Settings, General, Reset, Erase All Content and Settings, Erase iPhone) but after the iPhone had been erased (Apple says this can take up to 2 hours but it was only around an hour for me) the phone kept on rebooting, before freezing with the display showing the Apple logo and a frozen progress “ring”.  After a while it timed out and rebooted, only to get stuck at the same stage.

Fearing that I’d somehow “bricked” my iPhone, I turned to Google and found a MacRumors forum post which provided the answer:

  1. Hard reset the iPhone by holding the sleep/wake button and the home button together.  Release the buttons before the device turns on.
  2. Launch iTunes.
  3. Hold the home button on the iPhone at the same time as plugging in the USB dock connector from your PC/Mac. Eventually you should see the Connect to iTunes display.
  4. Follow the restoration process in iTunes to download and install the latest iOS release.
  5. Once the iPhone has been recovered, it can be activated if required and then either restored from backup (I didn’t want to do this as I’m selling the device) or set up as a new iPhone.

Now the phone is securely wiped, reloaded and ready for resale, it’s time for me to recycle it…

Recycling mobile phones is really simple to do and it helps the environment too. So go on, dig out that old phone and recycle it now! (Sponsored link)

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