This Simple Three Character Text String Will Unapologetically Crash Any iPhone

iPhone Hack

There seems to be no limit to the number of ways that exist to trip up an iPhone or other iOS device. The latest method involves a rather simple text message consisting of just three characters, and unfortunately for the recipient, just receiving the text message is enough to freeze an iPhone running iOS 10 or later. The good news is that it will only cause the phone to crash rather than brick it or otherwise result in more permanent damage.

What's scary about this particular exploit is that it works instantly and does not require any interaction by the recipient. All it involves is sending an iPhone user a text message with the white flag emoji, the digit 0, and the rainbow emoji. Fortunately it is a bit more complicated than opening up Messages, selecting those three digits, and firing away. For this to work, the prankster has to jump through the hoop of creating the three-character text in a specific way in Notes on his PC in iCloud, then copy and paste the simple text message to the desired recipient from his phone.

YouTube channel EverythingAplePro demonstrates how it works:

Once the text message arrives, the unlucky recipient will be stuck with an unresponsive iPhone that crashes and stays frozen for around 3-5 minutes, at which point it will reboot automatically and all will be well with the world again.

So, what's going on here? According to the tipster who sent this in to EverythingApplePro, the three-character text confuses iOS because it takes those characters and tries combining the emojis into one, which would create a rainbow flag that consists of three layers. For some reason, iOS is unable to do this, so a crash occurs.

There are actually a couple of methods to pull this prank, depending on whether the recipient is running iOS 10.2 or iOS 10.1.1 and below. Both achieve the same result and both are outlined in the video above.

It is a little bit concerning that there are so many easy ways to wreak havoc with iOS. Back in November of last year, a hacker who goes by Vincedes3 demonstrated how to paralyze an iPhone and force a system reboot simply by sending a link to a short video. We've also seen text messages crashes similar to the one here in the past.

To be clear, our reporting on this is not an encouragement to go out and do it. As much as we rely on our smartphones these days, intentionally crashing someone's can kill a friendship. Prank responsibly, folks.