Panic: The iPhone “iPhone” could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (23).

My iPhone! I am completely lost. First, the Red Sox gets swept by the Baltimore Orioles (a team with worse record in MLB… they do have good young players, but still), then City of Boston (and Watertown and other communities around it) loses its drinking water. And now this?

My iPhone 3GS 32GB stopped working this afternoon. It was working just fine this morning, I was using my google map for direction, taking pictures, and calling. Then around 1 pm, I noticed it said “No Service,” but it was still getting text messages and my notification alert for calendar events.

Then, it got worse. My screen stared to say that I was only able to make “emergency calls” from it. I had no access to any of the apps, or music or phone. It shows that I have to connect it to iTunes. Pressing on the information “i” button, all I get is that my “IMEI/ICCID unknown”.

I plugged it into my work computer and it said it needed to restore. I since I was syncing it from my home computer, I didn’t do it. Then when I came home, I tried restore. I went through restoring procedure, and finally got this:

I am using Mac OS X 10.6.3 (MacPro 2.66 GHz QC Intel Xeon), iTunes 9.1.1 (12) and iPhone 3GS 32GB (Model No: A1303)

My iPhone screen is now permanently displaying this image to right and is completely useless. Apple’s support page isn’t so helpful. I tied playing with the “port” thing on my router. I even created a new account on a Mac and try to restore using that account and it gave me a same error message. I tried to open the ports it suggested, No luck. I am stuck. Help!

[MAY 4 7:20am UPDATE] I am now reading Frozen iPhone and common issues page, iTunes: Backing up, updating, and restoring your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch software page but not getting any new information. I tried restoring with my wife’s Mac Mini, no luck, same exact error 23 right after “extracting software” then “Verifying iPhone restore with Apple…” Maybe it is the port thing since it doesn’t seem to connect to the apple server? No idea. I am annoyed!

In one of the Apple forum posts, one poster writes

Error 23 is a hardware failure. You will not be able to update or restore your phone through itunes. There is no software fix for a hardware failure.

That thread has people with the same issues that I have been dealing with. But yikes, one was told that it will cost $200…. I can’t afford that if that was the case for me.

[UPDATE 8:20am] I contacted Apple via web from Expert Support page and they really called me right back. I now have an appointment at Apple store in Cambridge… a bit annoyed that I have to go there, but better than no phone. I told the female “expert” one the phone all the things that I have tried and she says that next step is to repair or replace the hardware. Mmm. I have no idea what I have done that caused this. At least the customer support experience (calling me right back without “holding on the line”, and the person who I spoke to was nice to me) was much better than that of AT&T…

[Update 9 AM] From messages on the Apple support discussion board (searching with IMEI/ICCID unknown), error 23 is where all of the radios (3G, WiFi, edge and bluetooth) fail after upgrading to 3.1.3 firmware, and sounds like a lot of people are having the same/similar problem. Fortunately for me (knock on wood) my phone should be under 1-year limited factory warranty and I have not damaged or tampered the phone. So, I have my fingers crossed for that appointment at the apple store.

[Final update 1:30 pm] I was so ready to fight my case at Apple Store. I went to Genius Bar and told a Genius who was assigned to me, Elizabeth at CambridgeSide Galleria Apple Store in Cambridge, MA, what happened. And basically without much questioning, she exchanged my old one for a new one, the same model. Geez, that was easy. I was all ready to make my case, fight even, with printout of forums in my hand, but I didn’t have to. Now I have to set up my iPhone again from scratch. Yes, it is annoying that I had to go through all that trouble for what seems to be Apple’s problem, and I feel that I am just lucky to have been covered by the plan, but thank God that the problem is resolved (for free, too). As far as the customer experience, Apple have it figured out.

8 Responses to “Panic: The iPhone “iPhone” could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (23).”

  1. hey man thx for the article
    i have “error 28” then “iphone could not be restored an unknown error occurred (2002)” i had error’s orinally in the 1611, 1604.
    Ive done everything uninstalled intunes 9.2 completely as i found on the apple page
    also i found a helpful fourm you they hide files on your system so when you try to install a lower verson of itunes like 8.1 it immediately reconizes you have already had later versions on your pc and stops the instalation.

    ive spent three days going thru forum after forum just look at all these..–How-To-Go-About-Fixing-1604-iPhone-Restore-Error

    MY POINT? is this your probably some paid disinfo agent by apple putting out a positive outcome this whole thing is like a feel good apple love fest and its bs
    apple is not allowing my sync
    i never had probs connecting befor its prolly the [explicit] government [explicit] with me again like how they always do jus cuz i say the CORPORATIONS RUN THE WORLD its not any nation vs nation like in the past its a controlling oligarchy running the show from behind closed doors.

    this guy is the ONLY HAPPY CUSTOMER

  2. Hi Christpher thanks for your comment, but I doubt government has anything to do with your iPhone not syncing. I am sorry that it has not worked out for you, I was devastated, too. Perhaps I got lucky. I hope you find the solution for your problem.

  3. Thanks for this post! I’m having the EXACT problem and also under the 1-year warranty. This gives me hope. :)

  4. ! SOLVED !Hi, i had this problem with my 3gs and found the reason behind this error was because i was using the front usb’s on my pc(hub usbs) when i switched to the rear sockets the iphone restored first time :D

    Hope this helps


  5. iphone is gone as soon as my contracts up, had problems from day 1….ish, had phone wiped 3 times and my backups always messed up so I had to start again, lesson learned for me is never buy apps , Free app a day rocks. but this latest one has taken the biscuit, just bought tomtom satnav app last month, if I cant get that back I think I might see how high iphones bounce ;-)

    I miss how simple my Nokia 3310 was…. it still works perfectly and snake rocks

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