iOS 7 activation required error on iPhone and iPad

Apple beta devices around the world have been receiving the error “Activation Required”. Apple has placed an expiry date on their beta versions, this forces users who are still running betas of iOS 7 to update to the current version.

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The Solution*

Currently the only way to get around this is to plug your device into iTunes and restoring from a backup. Then you can update to the latest version of ios 7.02

Developers can also access the latest build of iOS through the Apple members centre.

Some users are saying that they cannot restore their device because they have “Find my iPhone” enabled.

If you haven’t got find my iPhone enabled you can use the steps below to try and restore your device.

1. Copy over your photos using Image Capture/iPhoto/etc.

2. Boot into restore mode: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1808

3. Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes (11.1.1) then Download the 7.0.2 firmware for your device (Mac OS X daily has links to the direct downloads for all devices).

4. Alt+Click (Shift+Click on Windows) the restore button to specify the firmware file. Everything on the phone will be deleted.

5. Restore from iCloud or iTunes “restore backup”

Restoring phone with “Find my iPhone” enabled

Diana has commented below with details of restoring with “Find my iPhone” enabled. See details below.

“If you have Find My iPhone activated, you’ll need to do a recovery-mode restore: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1808

If your iPhone turns on randomly during the download, just let the download finish, and repeat the process of shutting off the phone and holding the home button while you plug the lightning cable in (continue holding until you see the connect to iTunes screen again). You can then install what you’ve downloaded.”

Another Suggestion from a comment below

“Information: My iPhone is a iPhone4s purchased in November 2011 and I updated to ios7 before the official release through apple (early September). I use a MacBook pro to connect my computer.

Solution: the first thing I did was log into icloud and ‘forget’ my iPhone so that I could turn it off. I restarted my computer, then I updated my iTunes to itunes 11. Once it was installed I restored my phone by turning the phone off then pressing the home button while connecting the cable to the iPhone, then the ‘connect to iTunes’ logo appeared. My iTunes had detected the iPhone in recovery mode and It began to reset my iPhone to factory settings then it automatically updated the iPhone software to ios7.0.2. All is well and the whole process took less then 20 minutes.”

Thanks to Nick Prasad for this information.

*please use these solutions with caution as none have been tested by us and are not confirmed as working.

Have anymore details about this error? Comment below.

Web Developer and Graphic Designer at graphitas interested in seo, design, websites, css, and the latest technology!

Ross Hammond – who has written posts on Graphitas Blog.



Leave a Comment




  1. james tyler

    when i attempt to restore it says ” cannot restore… because session could not be started with this iPhone!!!

    • jeroen

      same here. i’ve been googling for hours now,

  2. Christian W

    Said to go to my icloud settings and turn off Find My Phone, Help!

  3. Ashley

    This problem has happened to my iphone.. I downloaded the latest iTunes and tried to restore my phone but a message keeps coming up saying “There was a problem downloading the software for the iPhone. The requested resource was not found”

    I really don’t know what to do from here.
    help.

  4. Mark

    I have Find my iPhone enabled and I cannot restore it now.

  5. Mike

    Unfortunately even plugging the phone into Itunes and trying a restore won’t work if you have ‘find my iphone’ on. When you hit restore it asks you to turn off ‘find my iphone’ ON THE DEVICE which can’t be done because it’s a total brick. It’s been a gradual decline but Android is starting to look better and better

  6. auto

    If you’re willing to restore to your last backup (and not wait and see if Apple grants us mercy):

    Copy over your photos using Image Capture/iPhoto/etc.

    Boot into restore mode:
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1808

    Click Restore. In my my case, it started to download 6.1.3; Instead, I’m download the 7.0.2 firmware for my device (google for links). Alt+Click the restore button to specify the firmware file. Everything on the phone will be deleted.

    Restore from iCloud or iTunes “restore backup”.

  7. Tom G

    I also have the find my iphone issue…. really would have thought that apple would have thought about this, or perhaps given users a warning before doing it, good work apple

  8. Diana

    If you have Find My iPhone activated, you’ll need to do a recovery-mode restore: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1808

    If your iPhone turns on randomly during the download, just let the download finish, and repeat the process of shutting off the phone and holding the home button while you plug the lightning cable in (continue holding until you see the connect to iTunes screen again). You can then install what you’ve downloaded.

    • Thanks Diana.

      Have added this onto the post.

      • lh

        i dont have find my phone enabled. i can only access the passcode then i get the activation error message. if i try to restore i get an error message that says a session could not be started.

    • Dennis Paul

      This Works!

      • rutanah

        how do u say so??

  9. Greg

    Looks like you have to get your phone into DFU mode if you have Find My Phone enabled. You can’t get in there to turn it off without updating. You can’t update without turning it off. DFU mode allows you to override and install 7.0.2

  10. Tom G

    Sounds good in theory Diana but when I do this I get a “This device isn’t eligible for the requested build” error… trying to find a way around this as we speak :)

  11. James

    Method that worked for me with Find My Phone Enabled:

    1) download latest ipsw from apple: 7.0.2
    2) plug in iphone to itunes
    3) fn+option click check for update
    4) select ipsw and everything should update to 7.0.2 and you should be set to go.

    Just did this 5 minute ago

    • Ola

      Same for me.
      Works great with the “update-version” instead of the “restore-version”
      No need for restore from backup after. Everything was there.

      Note! Don’t forget to download the correct 7.02 ipsw-file for your device. Different for all models!
      Search for “7.02 ipsw” and you will find several pages with links to ipsw-files

      Click and hold ALT+”Check for Update” and choose your downloaded 7.02 ipsw

      Good luck!

      • Fox

        Hi Ola,

        Where did you find an ‘update version’? I can only seem to find a ‘Restore version’…

        • This option only shows up when the phone is in DFU mode! Were you in this?

    • Jason

      I also did this. This will solve the issue.

  12. Evan Dinsmore

    I was able to get around this without deleting everything on my phone. I downloaded the latest iOS 7 beta ispw from the developer center, and by Option+clicking the update button in iTunes you can select the ispw and force the update. On reboot you’re asked to activate again, but there’s no activation error.

  13. jks

    error 3194 wont let me restore

  14. Diana

    Also, don’t forget to do a backup before you do your recovery-mode restore! I keep my phone pretty light, so it wasn’t an issue for me, but my husband needed to do a backup before I could do his restore.

  15. Tim

    after doing the restore, don’t allow iTunes to restore you from an old backup. Log into wifi on the device itself so that you can restore from a recent iCloud backup

    • Diana

      Yes, this! Also, grab your recent photos with iPhoto just before the restore.

      • Liam

        I have find my iphone activated however when I try to restore my phone iTunes isn’t recognising my phone :( need help :/

  16. joe

    Please add this to your directions!!!!!

    For a lot of people, what actually works, without requiring a backup or loss of data is to download the IPSW and then Option-Click Update in iTunes and select 7.0.2!

    • Thanks it’s probably just safer to backup all the files that you can first.

      • auto

        Update:
        I just restored mine, and here’s some corrections to what I said (and you so kindly highlighted)…

        iTunes was offering me 6.1.3 and not 7 because I hadn’t updated to itunes 11.1 yet. An updated itunes (currently 11.1.1) will offer to download ios 7.0.2 when you click the restore button (no need to google for links and manually alt+click the button) while the phone is in recovery mode. You must update to 11.1+ even if you downloaded the firmware separately.

        I meant to say “Recovery mode”, not restore mode.

  17. JZ

    die apple die!!!!!!!!
    kinda hate apple now. I’m getting screwed around soooo much by apple. agh
    apple needs to be more of a open type platform.

  18. Ruben

    It Works !

  19. fiorix

    I have “Find my Phone” on and restored without any problems. Just downloaded the 7.0.2 firmware and Option+Click the “Check for Update” button in iTunes, which restored the device and rebooted asking for my Apple credentials.

    Not surprised with these things as beta software is advised to be only used in test devices.

    • Joe

      Using Option+Click in iTunes to restore from a downloaded .ipsw manually doesn’t work for me unfortunately.
      I have “Find my Phone” on, and trying to restore in this way just gives me the “firmware is not compatible” error. I’m positive that it is the right firmware :-( Looks like recovery mode for me. Really angry about this.

  20. geo

    thank you it works

  21. auto

    Also, I believe you’re commenters are right when they say that downloading the ipsw then alt+click the “Check for updates” button will allow an upgrade without deleting anything.

  22. Nick Prasad

    Problem: Ok so this morning I work up and my iPhone wouldn’t do anything except display an activation error and prompted me to register as a developer on developer.apple.com/iPhone. I connected my phone to iTunes which seemed useless since it said it could not restore my iPhone since my ‘find my iPhone’ was on.

    Information: My iPhone is a iPhone4s purchased in November 2011 and I updated to ios7 before the official release through apple (early September). I use a MacBook pro to connect my computer.

    Solution: the first thing I did was log into icloud and ‘forget’ my iPhone so that I could turn it off. I restarted my computer, then I updated my iTunes to itunes11. Once it was installed I restored my phone by turning the phone off then pressing the home button while connecting the cable to the iPhone, then the ‘connect to iTunes’ logo appeared. My iTunes had detected the iPhone in recovery mode and It began to reset my iPhone to factory settings then it automatically updated the iPhone software to ios7.0.2. All is well and the whole process took less then 20 minutes.

    Wishing you all the best of luck!

    • chris wantia

      This is the correct way. I did it with mij IPhone 5, 4S and IPad 4.
      And after less than 2 hours all my Apple devices are working again.

      • beshop

        my error 3004

      • Niels

        I can’t get it to work with the alt click + check for update. I’m getting a message saying Could not update because the firmware is not compatible.
        I’m pretty sure I’m using the right version of IOS
        … its an iPhone 5 GSM and I have the latest version of iTunes and Find my iPhone turned on…

        Have anybody ideas to solve this problem?

  23. Daenney

    I had zero issues upgrading, not even restoring, from the iOS 7 developer builds to the final release. Just download it from Dev Center, option/shift-click on Update in iTunes and feed it the IPSW.

    Granted Apple’s way of forcing the upgrade here is painful but it’s more than possible to upgrade without issues and without bricking your device.

  24. Tom R

    When i plug my iphone into my mac, itunes doesnt even recognise it

    • Have you tried connecting the phone while in DFU Mode?

  25. Simon Robb

    For those who are having trouble with establishing a session or having find my iPhone issues – you’ll need to put your phone into recovery mode by turning off your phone, holding down the home button and while still having the home button down, insert the USB cable connected to your computer. The iPhone should switch on. From here you can click Restore phone in iTunes, and follow the steps in the post.

  26. julien

    Downloaded the new ipsw file, for iphone 5 GSM, but when trying to update it it says that the firmware is not compatible :( .

    My iphone is a A1429, so iphone 5, and bought in the UK, which i understood would confirm it’s a GSM.

    Any idea??
    thanks

  27. Tamara

    I Tried To Restore my device form recovery mode and it says that my iphone could not be restored. help me please

    • Are you running the latest version of iTunes?

  28. Marty

    This isn’t completely accurate. I fixed this last night without turning off find my iphone or doing a backup and restore. Just download the firmware and then alt click the upgrade and specify the file. No need for recovery mode and no need for for disabling find my iphone.

    This was ios beta 6, so entirely possible there are different edge cases.

    • joey

      For those getting error messages even while in itunes recovery mode what I did was: download ifunbox turn the phone on like normal where it is asking for activation go into ifunbox and delete all the raw system files, turn the phone off enter into itunes recovery mode and restore like normal. Worked for me hope it helps!!!

  29. Giorgio

    Perfect!
    Thanks

  30. Andrew

    Apple sucks why do this. I can’ even restore my phone because Find My Iphone is active. I went on iCloud to delete my phone but nope. Apple really went downhill since Steve Jobs died. They should just sell their business somewhere else.

  31. David

    Instead of connecting my iPad to my computer, can I just go through the find my phone App on my iPhone and hit erase on my iPad?

    • Unfortunately this will not work as you will still have the old beta software. You need to update through iTunes.

  32. Patrick

    Is there any way to recover lost photos and videos from before the install of 7.02? as my iPhone 5 would only restore in DFU mode, and wiped everything.

    • Unfortunately not that I’m aware of, These should have been backed up using iPhoto before updating the software, as stated above.

      • Patrick

        It turned itself off during breakfast and wouldn’t do anything in iPhoto as it wouldn’t activate. If I’d known beforehand that this would happen, then I surely would have backed up.
        So there is no 3rd party deep scan extraction software that anyone is aware of.

  33. asd

    already updated my os to 7.0.2 but still say activation rquired :(

  34. Ryan J Downey

    Evan Dinsmore! THANK YOU sir! YOUR solution absolutely worked. I didn’t need to delete anything from my phone, I didn’t have to restore, I didn’t have to switch off find my iPhone, none of that. Finding this thread as a true Godsend.

    My phone went into this crappy mode the same day as everyone else. Problem was I was headed to a work engagement and I wouldn’t be back to my computer for another five hours! I found an Apple Store near where I was and when I finally made it in there to talk to someone, he said casually, ‘Oh, yeah, did you have the beta?’ I said yes and he said, ‘Yeah you’re the fifth person to come in tonight. We can’t do anything for you. You’ll have to basically wipe the phone and restore from a backup.” Then all skeptically he asks, “Did someone GIVE you this phone?”

    I walked out of there in an even bigger frustrated panic. I’m a journalist by trade and I had an HOUR LONG interview saved in Voice Memos — a once in a lifetime story that could not be duplicated. I hadn’t been home to download it into my iTunes yet or save it anywhere else. It only existed on the iPhone. I could NOT just “restore!”

    Thankfully I found this thread and Evan’s comment is what “saved” the situation for me. I did exactly what he suggested and it worked like a charm! I’ve kept this browser window open in order to leave a “thank you” comment when I had time to do so haha. Cheers!

    • Glad this thread helped, and hope the interview goes down well!

  35. krypke

    sir i have an error i forgot my apple id and password to stuck on activate iPhone i tried restoring in dfu but no luck help me please

  36. Abdullah faheem qurashi

    I am on my holidays in Pakistan and I have the same problem with my iphone 4s as my phone is showing activation required , please inform me how to restore my mobile phone back to normal as I cannot do anything without my iphone , I lived in united kingdom and I do have o2 network Iphone 4s-can anyone please send me an email to how to set up back to normal my iphone 4s . thanks in advance

    • Hi Abdullah

      If you follow the instructions above this should help you. You will need a computer with the latest version of iTunes.

  37. Ray Pace

    How can I delete messages from iphone iOS 7.0.2?

    • When you are in messages swipe left on the message that you wish to delete and the delete button will appear.

      • Vothnak

        My iPhone error activation ( password iCloud ) when I update phone. How can I do ?

  38. aidil

    My iPhone 4 UK have upgred iOS 7 but it still not open!.I from malaysi