Updated on 02-15-2016 by Malarie Gokey: Added a statement from Apple acknowledging the issue and promsing to fix it.
For the rest of us who would like to maintain a functioning mobile device, please, please, avoid this dangerous date. It apparently affects all 64-bit iOS 8 and iOS 9 phones, as well as tablets using Apple’s A7, A8, A8X, A9, and A9X processor. Apple later acknowledged the problem, saying, “An upcoming software update will prevent this issue from affecting iOS devices,” on its support site. If you’ve accidentally bricked your phone while messing around with the date, contact Apple support.
Related: iPhone 5s from $99
While we haven’t tested the bug ourselves (mostly because we have no desire to be left phoneless and deeply sad), a number of separate reports have confirmed the strange glitch. It involves going to your iPhone settings, tapping the General menu, going to Date & Time, and turning off the Set Automatically option. Then, you scroll back until you hit the beginning of time (in Apple land). And you have to keep hitting the beginning of time (yes, you can do that), until you’ve gone all the way back to 1970.
Once you’ve reset your device to January 1, 1970, you’ll have to reboot and go to the Apple Store, whereupon you’ll be informed that your iPhone is officially kaput. You can’t restore it, you can’t boot it back up — it’s bricked. Forever. Moral of the story? Don’t do it.
Some Reddit users have advanced the theory that timezones may be the culprit in the bug — if you continue setting the date back as far as possible, it’s changing the clock value to less than zero, which the iEmpire doesn’t like. Luckily, it seems to only affect 64-bit phones. Still, friends, don’t try this one at home.