What is Stolen Device Protection in iOS 17.3 and how does it work?


iOS 17 may not have been a big update for iPhones, but Apple has been adding new features to the OS with recent updates. With iOS 17.2, Apple added features like the Journal app and the option to change your iPhone’s default notification sound. And now, with iOS 17.3, Apple has brought a new safety feature to iPhones called Stolen Device Protection. In this article, we’ll explore what this feature is and how it works.

A recent report by WSJ’s Joanna Stern highlighted that there has been a considerable increase in the number of iPhone thefts in public places like bars and cafés. In such incidents, thieves patiently observe the users while entering their PIN, steal their iPhones, and quickly change the Apple ID password. This essentially locks them out of their account and even iCloud backups. The Stolen Device Protection feature is designed to protect users in such situations.


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What is Stolen Device Protection on iPhone?

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Now, while Stolen Device Protection might sound like a magical way to locate your stolen iPhone, it’s not quite that. Instead, it is a way to protect your data (and account) in case your iPhone is stolen. When Stolen Device Protection is enabled, your iPhone adds an extra layer of security, requiring you to use biometric authentication or wait for certain actions when your iPhone is in an unfamiliar place.

For example, when the feature is enabled in unfamiliar places, you’ll need to use either Face ID or Touch ID – without the option of a passcode – to access sensitive data, such as your passwords or Apple Card virtual number. Similarly, if you’re performing certain actions, such as changing your Apple ID password or turning off Find My, you’ll have to wait for an hour from when you initiated the action.

So now, in case your iPhone gets stolen, the thief won’t be able to perform critical action — lock you out of your Apple ID — since the action would require biometric authentication as well as a delay, allowing you to mark your device as lost. But when your phone is in familiar locations, like your home or workplace, you won’t encounter these additional steps, and you can use your device passcode as usual.

Now, let’s take a look at the list of the features that require either biometric authentication or involve a security delay when Stolen Device Protection is enabled (via Apple):

Biometric Authentication (Face ID or Touch ID)

Security Delay

Use passwords or passkeys saved in Keychain

Change your Apple ID password

Use saved payment methods in Safari (autofill)

Sign out of your Apple ID

Turn off Lost Mode

Update Apple ID account security

Erase all content and settings

Add or remove Face ID or Touch ID

Apply for a new Apple Card

Change your iPhone passcode

View Apple Card virtual card number

Reset All Settings

Take certain Apple Cash and Savings actions in Wallet

Turn off Find My

Use your iPhone to set up a new device (e.g., Quick Start)

Turn off Stolen Device Protection

How to Enable Stolen Device Protection on iPhone

The Stolen Device Protection feature is available on iPhones with iOS 17.3. If you haven’t updated your iPhone already, head over to Settings → General → Software Update and install the latest update available. You’ll also need to make sure 2-factor authentication (2FA) is enabled on your Apple ID, and your iPhone has a passcode set, which is usually the case. After that, follow these steps:

  • Open your iPhone’s Settings and choose Face ID & Passcode.
  • You’ll now need to enter your device passcode.
  • Scroll down and enable Stolen Device Protection.

That’s all you need to do. Your iPhone will now be more secure in unfamiliar places. Nonetheless, you need to take care of your iPhone when out in public as this feature will only protect your data but won’t help you recover a lost or stolen phone. For that, you’ll still need to purchase AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss.

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