Why does my iPhone keep disabling itself in my pocket (Answered)

Why does my iPhone keep disabling itself in my pocket? (Answered)

During one of my trips to the market, I had my iPhone snugly tucked away in my pocket for safety, only to discover that it had disabled itself, leaving me in a digital blackout! 

The first time it happened, I blamed it on a techno-ghost, but as it became a recurring episode, I knew I had to unravel the mystery. 

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why your trusty iPhone decides to take a siesta in the cozy confines of your pocket, you’re certainly not alone! But fear not, because it’s high time we bring clarity to this puzzling situation. 

Why does my iPhone keep disabling itself in my pocket?

If your iPhone keeps disabling itself in your pocket, you turn on its screen without knowing it. As a result, your phone’s touchscreen will make screen unlock attempts once it comes in contact with fabric or skin.

This situation results in random button clicks, translating into failed unlock attempts. 

Unfortunately, failing to unlock your iPhone’s screen because of an incorrect passcode will penalize you with a time restriction, which is how the device disables itself.

The restriction becomes longer the more unlock attempts you fail. Below is a table with the corresponding time restrictions for each unlock attempt you fail on your iPhone.

Number of Failed AttemptsTime Restriction
51 minute
75 minutes
815 minutes
960 minutes
10Indefinite Restriction (Must connect to iTunes)

But that’s not the end of it. There are reports of iPhones being locked out for 10 years, even more. So, this can undoubtedly become a major issue. 

How do I stop my iPhone from turning on inside my pocket?

Here are some steps we recommend you take to prevent your device’s screen from turning on accidentally. These methods should stop your iPhone from disabling itself while inside your pocket.

Method 1. Turn off your iPhone’s “screen-waking” features

Contact with your skin or pocket fabric shouldn’t trigger your iPhone’s screen unlock sequence if it stays off. Unfortunately, most devices today have features that let you turn on their screens through a single motion or tap of your finger.

For instance, iPhones have the “Raise to Wake” and “Tap to Wake” features, allowing you to turn on their screen effortlessly. With “Raise to Wake,” you can turn on your device’s screen whenever its sensors detect movement.

It’s a convenient way to check your iPhone’s screen because you only need to perform a raising motion, which is natural when handling a smartphone. 

The same applies to the “Tap to Wake” feature that can turn on your device with a tap to its display.

Follow the steps below to turn off both features and prevent your iPhone from disabling itself in your pocket.

Turn off “Raise to Wake”

Difficulty Very Easy ●○○○○
Number of Steps3
Time to Perform Fix10 seconds
Things NeededAn iPhone

The “Raise to Wake” feature can quickly turn on your iPhone’s screen, making it the likely culprit when you accidentally disable your device. After all, triggering this feature is a no-brainer because it activates through movement.

When your iPhone is inside your pocket, it’ll naturally move along as you perform mundane tasks like walking, sitting, and more. 

As a result, this will turn on your device, causing subsequent contact with your pocket’s fabric to trigger a screen unlock.

Step 1: Go to Settings.

Step 2: Go to Display & Brightness.

Step 3: Turn off “Raise to Wake.”

Turn off “Tap to Wake”

Difficulty Very Easy ●○○○○
Number of Steps4
Time to Perform Fix15 seconds
Things NeededAn iPhone

Similarly, the “Tap to Wake” feature is a common cause of accidental screen unlocks that result in a disabled iPhone. In particular, this feature is more likely to cause this problem because you can activate it with a tap on your device’s screen.

Therefore, you’ll constantly activate this feature whenever your skin comes in contact with your device through your pocket’s thin fabric. Once it turns on your iPhone, it’ll disable itself in your pocket after continuously initiating screen unlock and failing.

Step 1: Go to Settings.

Step 2: Go to Accessibility.

Step 3: Go to Touch.

Step 4: Turn off “Tap to Wake.”

Method 2. Change your iPhone’s position

Difficulty Very Easy ●○○○○
Number of Steps1
Time to Perform Fix5 seconds
Things NeededAn iPhone

Changing your iPhone’s position when you place it inside your pocket can affect the likelihood of opening its screen and starting unwanted unlock attempts. In particular, making the screen face your skin is more likely to activate “screen wake” features.

After all, this makes your iPhone screen susceptible to contact with your skin and the fabric within your pocket. If you change the device’s position to face the opposite side of your skin, you eliminate one possible factor that can cause the problem.

Method 2. Change your iPhone’s position

In other words, this method limits the problem’s occurrence instead of resolving it entirely. Sadly, removing contact with your skin in the equation doesn’t prevent the fabric in your clothes from causing your iPhone to disable itself in your pocket.

Method 3. Remove your iPhone’s passcode

Difficulty Very Easy ●○○○○
Number of Steps5
Time to Perform Fix20 seconds
Things NeededAn iPhone

Removing its passcode should be ideal because you can only disable an iPhone if you fail your screen unlock attempts. This way, you don’t have to worry about unwanted contact with your skin or fabric when the device is inside your pocket.

After all, your iPhone can’t disable itself regardless of subsequent contacts if you can’t fail your screen unlock attempts. Without a security feature, the screen will turn on and go straight to the menu since there’s nothing to block access.

Undoubtedly, this method should resolve the problem effectively. However, this might not be practical because unwanted contact with your skin may open your apps and result in further complications.

For example, you don’t want your iPhone to open Facebook accidentally and click things at random. In such cases, having a disabled iPhone might be better instead. 

Step 1: Go to Settings.

Step 2: Click “Touch ID & Passcode.”

Step 3: Enter your passcode.

Step 4: Click “Turn Passcode Off.”

Step 5: Enter your passcode again.

What can I do if my iPhone is disabled?

Here are the steps we recommend if you already have a disabled iPhone. These methods will let you unlock your device immediately, so you don’t have to wait if you need to use it for something urgent.

FIX 1. Use iTunes to restore your iPhone

Difficulty Easy ●●○○○
Number of Steps6
Time to Perform Fix10 to 15 minutes
Things NeededAn iPhone
A compatible USB cable
A Windows or Mac PC

Knowing how to restore your iPhone is essential for unlocking its screen whenever you disable it after failing your unlock attempts. However, it’s important to note that restoring your iPhone will delete its settings and data.

As a result, you must set it up like a brand-new device, which can be inconvenient in most cases. More importantly, the data this restoration process will delete is unrecoverable unless you have a backup option.

Therefore, we only recommend restoring your disabled iPhone to its original state if it’s inaccessible for 60 minutes and you think it’s a tough wait. 

Otherwise, it can be tedious to opt for a restoration whenever your iPhone disables itself in your pocket.

Step 1: Use a compatible USB cable to connect your iPhone to a Windows or Mac PC.


Note: Your iPhone may ask for your passcode before allowing your PC to connect.
Step 2: Go to iTunes.

Step 3: Click the iPhone icon on iTunes.

Step 4: Go to your iPhone’s Summary page.

Step 5: Click Restore iPhone and follow the subsequent on-screen instructions.

Step 6: Set up your newly restored iPhone.

FIX 2. Use Finder to restore your iPhone

Difficulty Easy ●●○○○
Number of Steps5
Time to Perform Fix10 to 15 minutes
Things NeededAn iPhone
A compatible USB cable
A Mac PC

If you have a Mac PC with macOS Catalina, you can’t use the iTunes app to restore your disabled iPhone to its original state. Instead, you must perform this restoration process from the Finder app.

Don’t worry; this change doesn’t complicate the process because you only use a different app to access the restore option. You can think of this method as an alternative to the previous one.

Plus, having more options is always favorable since you don’t have to struggle looking for a restoration tool whenever your iPhone disables itself in your pocket. Expect that the process is exceptionally similar, except for some specific steps.

Step 1: Use a compatible USB cable to connect your iPhone to a Windows or Mac PC.


Note: Your iPhone may ask for your passcode before allowing your PC to connect.
Step 2: Go to Finder.

Step 3: Select your iPhone in the Finder app’s left menu panel.

Step 4: Click Restore iPhone and follow the subsequent on-screen instructions.

Step 5: Set up your newly restored iPhone.

FIX 3. Use your iPhone’s recovery mode

Difficulty Easy ●●○○○
Number of Steps8
Time to Perform Fix10 to 15 minutes
Things NeededAn iPhone
A compatible USB cable
A Windows or Mac PC

Alternatively, you can put your iPhone in recovery mode to perform the restoration process and delete its settings and data. This method works similarly to the first solution above because you need the iTunes app on a PC to make this work.

However, this method requires booting your iPhone into recovery mode before accessing the restore option on iTunes. Although this might look redundant, booting your device into recovery mode has specific use cases.

For instance, we recommend this method if your PC can’t detect your smartphone or its screen is unresponsive and stuck in the Apple logo. 

You can consider this a fail-safe for situations where you can’t restore your iPhone, which keeps disabling itself.

Step 1: Use a compatible USB cable to connect your iPhone to a Windows or Mac PC.

Step 2: Put your iPhone in recovery mode by quickly pressing its volume up and volume down buttons before holding the side button.

Step 3: Release the side button when the screen displays the connect-to-laptop animation.


Note: If you switch to your Mac, the iTunes app should load and detect your iPhone.
Step 4: Select Restore in the pop-up window from iTunes.

Step 5: Click “Restore and Update.”

Step 6: Click the download icon to check how long it takes until iTunes downloads your iPhone’s new software version.

Step 7: Restore your iPhone after the software download and click Done.

Step 8: Set up your newly restored iPhone.

FIX 4. Use iCloud to erase your iPhone’s data

Difficulty Very Easy ●○○○○
Number of Steps6
Time to Perform Fix40 seconds
Things NeededAny smartphone or PC
A working internet connection

Apple’s Find My app is primarily for searching lost iPhones, but you can use it to erase your device’s data even if it’s with you. 

This remote feature supposedly protects your vital information when someone gets their hand on your missing device.

However, it makes for an excellent method for erasing your phone’s data if, for some reason, restoring it using the previous methods is unavailable. Unfortunately, you need a separate device to initiate the remote process for your disabled iPhone.

You can use the Find My app if you have another iPhone or someone you know can lend you their device. Alternatively, you can use the browser on any non-Apple device and visit iCloud’s Find My page to perform this method without another Apple gadget.

Since you have more device options, this iCloud method is the most convenient way to erase your iPhone’s data after it disables itself in your pocket.

Step 1: Open your phone’s browser and go to the iCloud Find My page.

Step 2: Sign in using the target iPhone’s Apple ID.

Step 3: Click the target iPhone.

Step 4: Click Erase iPhone.

Step 5: Click Continue to erase the target iPhone’s data.

Step 6: Set up the target iPhone.

FIX 5. Use a third-party iPhone unlock or restoration tool

Difficulty Easy ●●○○○
Number of Steps10
Time to Perform Fix10 to 15 minutes
Things NeededAn iPhone
A compatible USB cable
A working internet connection
A Windows or Mac PC

If you’re looking for more options, third-party iOS unlock and restoration tools online will meet your needs. Thanks to third-party developers, your options for restoring your disabled iPhone are endless.

Choosing the perfect app might be more complicated than unlocking an iPhone that disables itself in your pocket. To help trim your choices, we recommend Tenorshare’s 4uKey unlock tool because it’s famous for its reliability and effectiveness.

Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to the 4uKey unlock tool because there are other excellent third-party apps. 

Ultimately, you know your app preference better, so don’t be afraid to explore other options until you find one you think is most satisfactory.

Step 1: Go to the Tenorshare website.

Step 2: Click “Password & Transfer” and select the 4uKey unlock tool for iPhone.

Step 3: Download and install 4uKey on your PC.


Note: Use the Windows and Finder icon below the Free Download button to select the version for your PC.
Step 4: Open the unlock tool and click Start.

Step 5: Use a compatible USB cable to connect your iPhone to your Windows or Mac PC.

Step 6: Click Next.

Step 7: Follow the unlock tool’s on-screen instructions to put your iPhone in recovery mode.

Step 8: Click Download to get the suitable firmware version for your iPhone.

Step 9: Click “Start Remove.”

Step 10: Wait for your iPhone to restart after the removal process and set it up once it reboots.

FIX 6. Wait for the disable timer to end

Difficulty Very Easy ●○○○○
Number of Steps5
Time to Perform Fix40 seconds
Things NeededAn iPhone

Unless you need to use your iPhone immediately, the easiest thing you can do is wait for the disable restriction to end. Of course, waiting is easier if the penalty is only one or five minutes.

As mentioned, the maximum time restriction you can receive is sixty minutes, which shouldn’t be an issue if you focus on other tasks while waiting. After all, busying yourself with other things makes time fly faster.

FIX 6. Wait for the disable timer to end

FAQs about iPhone Disabling Itself in the Pocket

Why is my iPhone locked out while in my pocket?

Your iPhone disables itself after you fail to unlock its screen with an incorrect passcode. If the device is inside your pocket, you can turn on its screen accidentally, causing it to come into contact with skin or fabric.

When this happens, your iPhone will enter random characters for your passcode, resulting in failed attempts that will turn off the device.

How do I stop my iPhone from going off in my pocket?

Turn off your iPhone screen-waking features to prevent its screen from turning on inside your pocket. Your device can’t enter random passcodes through accidental clicks if you keep its screen turned off.

Why is my iPhone randomly disabling itself?

Entering a passcode randomly because of unwanted contact with skin or fabric can cause screen unlock attempts to fail. As a result, your iPhone will disable itself to penalize the failed attempts and protect itself from unauthorized access.

Why is my iPhone unavailable in my pocket?

An iPhone becomes unavailable when it disables itself while inside your pocket. Therefore, you must prevent it from coming in contact with fabric or skin because they can register as touch inputs that can make screen unlock attempts.

When this happens, subsequent screen unlock attempts will disable your iPhone if they fail, which is likely because the clicks are random.


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