Reset iPhone to Factory Settings
If you want an iPhone to appear as brand new from a software standpoint, you need to reset the device to it’s factory settings. This is ideal if you plan on selling an iPhone or are going to transfer ownership of the device to another individual, and it can also be a very helpful troubleshooting technique for some persistent iOS based software problems. After you have reset the iPhone, it will reboot as if it was brand new and go through the standard new setup procedure that all new iOS devices go through, and can then either be set up as new or restored from a backup.
It’s very important to note that the factory reset process will remove all data and settings on the device, meaning you will lose everything that is stored on there, from pictures, to music, to notes, and specific app data. If you are looking to avoid that data loss, you will want to backup the iPhone with iTunes or back up to iCloud beforehand, that way you can restore personal data after the reset if you want to.
This method is going to use the iPhone exclusively to perform the data removal and factory reset, meaning the entire process is going to be finished on the iPhone through iOS Settings without the need to connect to a computer or anything else.
How to Reset iPhone to Factory Settings with iPhone Only
Warning: This will removal all data, music, photos, settings, literally everything, and the entire process is done from the iPhone without the need of using a computer. Back up before beginning if you need any of your personal data again, this will basically format the iPhone:
- Launch “Settings” and tap on “General”
- Scroll to the bottom of General and tap on “Reset”
- Tap on “Erase All Content and Settings”
- Enter the iPhone passcode if one is set, and confirm the reset by tapping on “Erase iPhone”
This is what the proper setting looks like in modern iOS versions:
The option looks slightly different in older versions of iOS, but the process is identical:
Resetting the iPhone on device can take a while depending on the model, the warning dialogue will give you a rough estimate but it can range from a few minutes to over an hour to restore the device completely. During this time the phone is otherwise inoperable, as everything is be cleared off.
To be clear, this completely obliterates any and all user data on the iOS device, it can not be undone (unless a backup was made and is then restored). How definitive and how secure is this iPhone erase option? Extremely secure in modern versions of iOS, as Apple details and explains in their iOS Security Whitepaper for versions beyond 9.0 and newer of iOS software:
The “Erase all content and settings” option in Settings obliterates all the keys in Effaceable Storage, rendering all user data on the device cryptographically inaccessible. Therefore, it’s an ideal way to be sure all personal information is removed from a device before giving it to somebody else or returning it for service. Important: Do not use the “Erase all content and settings” option until the device has been backed up, as there is no way to recover the erased data.
Beginning the reset process is very fast, however, as demonstrated in the video below:
Once completed, the device will reboot and show the familiar new setup screen. You’ll either want to leave the iPhone in it’s factory new state for a new owner to configure, complete the setup as a brand new device yourself, or restore from a backup if you initiated the factory reset for troubleshooting purposes.
You can also restore iPhones as to factory default settings by resetting through iTunes and a computer connection, but that is not necessary and the method outlined above using only iOS Settings is by far the fastest way to reset an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Important note: if you do not have the iPhone passcode or you forgot it, you will need to initiate a factory reset by connecting the device to a computer with iTunes and put the device into Recovery Mode first. That is a different process than what is described here, but you can follow our guide to resetting forgotten passcodes if that is deemed necessary.