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Some new iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s models suffer from a strange Activation Lock issue

Published Oct 6th, 2016 7:45AM EDT
iPhone 7 Activation Lock
Image: Jonathan Geller, BGR

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Issues are expected whenever a new gadget launches, especially smartphones. The iPhone is no stranger to post-launch problems. They can be temporary, like battery life or wireless connectivity issues, or more permanent — think Bendgate or storage issues. The iPhone 7 doesn’t suffer from any “gate” scandal, but there is one issue that will make it impossible to use the phone. What’s worse is that the problem also seems to affect iPhone 6s units.

DON’T MISS: After buying 9 Android smartphones in a row, this Android fan switched to the iPhone 7

According to MacRumors, some iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s experienced Activation Lock issues that make it impossible to use the device. The phone is locked to a different Apple ID email address than the owner’s, which means the phone can’t set up the iPhone, and therefore they can’t use it.

“Just received my brand new 256GB Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus,” a MacRumors reader wrote. “Looks immaculate, screen is perfect, machining all fine… Only problem is, it appears someone has already used it as the iPhone is asking for the account used to activate it — o… Apple say it needs replacing […] Now got to wait for an expedited replacement iPhone once I’ve returned this one.”

What’s puzzling is that the Activation Lock issue doesn’t only affect the brand new iPhone 7. It would appear that Apple’s security is acting up, and would show a similar Apple ID error on an old iPhone 6s.

“I purchased an iPhone 6s full-price and outright directly from an Apple Store in September 2015,” a different reader said. “The phone was unlocked (I switched from T-Mobile to Verizon after I purchased it without issue). I recently purchased an iPhone 7 Plus, and after that phone was activated on Verizon’s network, the iPhone 6s now indicates that it has an ‘Activation Lock.’ It is also linked to some unknown iCloud account (not the account I activated it with or have been using it with for close to a full year).”

Activation Lock is a security feature meant to prevent unwanted access to a lost or stolen iPhone, but it’s not clear why it’s malfunctioning on other devices. The problem isn’t widespread, and it went largely unnoticed so far. But affected users started complaining about it on social media soon after the iPhone 7’s launch.

Apple is yet to address the problem officially, but the company is aware of the issue, and there are two ways to fix it. You can either have the phone replaced in a store, or have Apple remove the Activation Lock in the phones by confirming that you are the owner of the handset. The process can be completed at a Genius Bar or by calling Apple’s support team at 1-800-MY-APPLE.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.