This morning, it’s been reported that older beta versions of iOS 7 have now expired, leaving many iPhones with the error message “could not activate iPhone”. If you’re a developer, you’ll more than likely be used to this. It’s typical practice for Apple to get rid of pervious beta builds of iOS when the official public release is out.
Kat Hannaford of Gizmodo reports:
Around midnight UK time, my iPhone 5, along with thousands of other iOS 7-running devices which hadn’t updated from their dev betas, randomly crashed. An error message of “could not activate iPhone” appeared, and prompted users to sign in with their iCloud details. Unfortunately this did not solve the issue, with Apple’s activation server being “temporarily unavailable.”
The fix for the problem is fairly simple. There are a few steps to it, but, you shouldn’t find it too difficult.
1. Make sure you have the most recent version of iTunes. Currently, it’s version 11.1.1. If you don’t have it, check for updates in the Mac App Store (if you’re a Mac user), or check for updates in iTunes itself if you have a Windows PC.
2. Switch off Find My iPhone. Sadly, since your device is bricked, you’ll need to go to iCloud.com, log in and go to the Find My iPhone service where you’ll see your device(s) listed. Remove your iPhone.
3. Download the correct iOS 7 firmware file. Plenty of places have links available to them, but the one I found most helpful and easy to find was on iMore.com. You can download the firmware file for iOS 7.0.2 here. Once you’ve downloaded, just save the file to your desktop.
4. Open iTunes (presuming it’s the latest version) and plug in your iPhone. In the iPhone summary window click on “Check for Update” while holding the alt/option key on Mac or Shift key in Windows. It’ll bring up a pop up window allowing you to select the firmware file you downloaded earlier.
Once you’ve gone through those steps, you should find your that your iPhone is being updated. One seemingly common error is one showing that iTunes isn’t recognizing the device you’ve plugged in. If that happens, you’ll need to go through a “Recovery Mode Restore”. A tutorial on how to do that is over at Apple’s Support Pages.