Courtesy of The Guardian, Fortune, Reddit, and a great many other places besides, here’s an issue that every e-reading Apple user needs to be aware of – if they’re not already. Manually setting the date of your iPhone or iPad to Jan 1, 1970, will brick the device. Why would you want to do that anyway? No idea. But anyone urging you to do it is not your friend.
According to 9to5Mac and most of these other sources, the bug doesn’t affect all iOS devices, only those with 64-bit processors and running iOS 8 or later, including iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches – which in practice means iPhone 5s or later. You’d have to wonder why anyone would chance this exploit on earlier devices in any case, but that’s apparently how it goes.
And why does this happen? The speculation on Reddit is that this particular move can set the internal clock on some devices to less than zero. Some Redditers are saying that a physical repair is required if this happens; others are saying that the device will revive itself after five hours; still others are accusing each other of planning to use the exploit maliciously. It’s even possible that this is all just a vile rumor, albeit a well-substantiated one, capitalizing on the “Error 53” screen kill issue and the other problems with Apple devices so ably covered by Joanna Cabot. But The Guardian warns that some skeptics have already destroyed their devices in trying to disprove the reports. So, once again, definitely: Don’t try this at home.