Recover From the iPhone Recovery Mode

I finally agreed to apply the iOS 4.0.2 update that iTunes was nagging me about. I'm a very security-conscious person, but I wasn't in a hurry to patch the PDF vulnerability because it was easily avoided (indeed, I avoid using the browser at all these days because it's abhorrently slow), and there are many reports of this update not going so smoothly. When I finally agreed to do it, iTunes backed up my phone and started the upgrade. Suddenly I saw a dialog box stating that it had failed. Crap. I tried disconnecting and reconnecting and it still didn't work. iTunes sent me to this page which was completely useless. Everything was locked down on the phone. No fancy button combination could rescue me. I was starting to get scared that it had been bricked.

Recovery mode screen

It was clear to me that my goal was to revert back to a previous version of iOS; but I couldn't get rid of the recovery mode screen. I tried removing the downloaded file and forcing iTunes to download a new one. That didn't work. So I thought I'd try and recover using a backup that iTunes takes every time I sync. Apparently recovering using a backup requires that the iPhone not be in Recovery Mode. Wow.

Then I thought: I'm stuck in this because of Apple's walled garden. Their bug has caused this. They don't play nice with anything open. Obviously their programmers have trouble with exceptional cases (heck, iTunes doesn't even seem to use a background process!!), so the answer is to remove them from the equation. Look elsewhere!

So I did. And it was solved.

The Recovery

I came across this post that referenced RecBoot, a utility that forcefully takes the phone out of recovery mode. I downloaded it (scanned the download), and ran it with my phone still displaying that Recovery Mode screen. My phone instantly started rebooting. Presto!

Eventually it finished booting and I could enter my password, as if the last hours of fighting with iTunes had never happened! Thank you RecBoot!! I was back in business, nothing changed, settings intact, apps installed, etc. Take Apple out of the solution, and it's solved in minutes!

Don't We Jump Through These Hoops With Other Devices?

Absolutely. From time to time this happens with any high-tech device.

My issue here is this: my phone was actually fine, it was just stuck in Recovery Mode (I think this qualifies as ironic). It was Apple's need for total control, their forcing me to use iTunes (worst. software. ever.), that couldn't seem to flick off the Recovery Mode switch that itself flicked on.

I can forgive other operating systems because they are faced with supporting literally millions of different configurations of hardware and software. iPhone OS has only had to support new 1 configuration per year. If Apple insists on employing a closed, vertically-controlled M.O., I expect my experience be next to perfect if I comply. I got my phone for Christmas 2008. I started having serious issues with it when it was 18 months old. It's damn-near unusable now (maybe I'll really rant later). It can't even recover from it's recovery mode. Seriously, Apple?

I very strongly doubt that, at 18 months old, my user experience would be this bad on another device. And, even if it were, I could forgive to a degree because no other company enforces this much control over its customers. If Apple is going to force me to use iTunes with their products, then it should work. If I had stuck to Apple's products, who knows how long it would've taken to simply disable Recovery Mode (if ever)?

Silhouette of woman whose hands are tied up behind back by iPod earbuds cord.

I know I'm not forced to use this product. I chose to when it was the only real smart phone out there. Now it's not, but unfortunately I'm stuck with a terrible contract length (3 yrs) with a worse carrier (Rogers) and the worst selection of smartphones. I'm drooling at the new Android phones that have been coming out and putting even the iPhone4 to shame. I'm sure the iPhone 4 is a nice phone, but it already seems outdated. Will it be usable in 18 months, long before my new contract is up? Will it live through all of the inevitable patches? Do I have strength to endure three more years of iTunes?

Not likely. The day I pitch this iPhone can not come soon enough.

Hello Android.