My Unlocked iPhone is Stuck in Recovery Mode

By Josh Airman

If your iPhone is stuck in recovery mode, it's a clear sign that you'll need to do just that -- recover it. Like all computers, iPhones depend on properly installed fimware. Firmware, defined simply, is the program governing the interaction between software and hardware. It is quite possible that in the process of unlocking the iPhone, a piece of the firmware has been corrupted. Restoring the iPhone in DFU mode should repair this issue.

Step 1

Open iTunes and connect the running iPhone to your computer using a USB cable.

Step 2

Turn the iPhone off and enter DFU mode. To enter DFU mode, simultaneously press and hold the "Top" and "Home" buttons for 10 seconds; release the "Top" button and continue holding the "Home" button until iTunes recognizes the iPhone in recovery mode.

Step 3

Right-click on "Restore" on the iPhone screen in iTunes to search for the custom firmware file originally used to unlock the iPhone. For example, an unlocked iPhone 3G running OS 3 would use a file titled, "iPhone1,2_3.0_7A341_Custom_Restore.ipsw". Select the custom firmware file and click "Choose." iTunes will restore the iPhone. Do not interrupt the restoration process.

Step 4

Select the desired backup from the dropdown menu and click the "Continue" button to restore the iPhone. iTunes will offer to restore the iPhone with the most recent backup of user data. Once restoration is complete, the iPhone is ready for use.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may need to try multiple times to get your iPhone working again.
  • Occasionally, custom firmware used to unlock the iPhone will improperly compile. You may need to create a new version of the unlocked firmware.
  • All user data will be wiped from the iPhone in the restore process. It's a good idea to back up frequently.