Here’s how to keep your iPhone safe from thieves

Apple Close up of woman's hand using smartphone in the dark, against illuminated city light bokeh
Apple's latest iOS version will make it harder for thieves to access your private data. (Getty)

The next version of iOS which will be available as a free download in coming weeks makes it much harder for thieves to access your private data – but there’s more you can do right now.

A new feature coming in iOS 13 7.3 locks away the ability to change your Apple ID password and security settings behind a second biometric scan. The feature – called Security Delay – requires biometric info (i.e. a face scan or fingerprint scan) once, then again an hour later.

It can’t be bypassed using a PIN, so will add a useful security barrier when it’s released in iOS 17.3, which is currently in beta and expected to arrive in early 2024.

But there are still ways to protect yourself from opportunistic criminals built into iOS - here’s a few of them.

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Stop thieves switching your phone to airplane mode

Apple’s iOS comes with an easy way to stop thieves switching a phone to airplane mode and thus disabling features such as Find My iPhone.

Control Centre, which allows you to access functions when iPhone is locked, can allow criminals to enable airplane mode - so for optimum security, switch it off.

Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode then toggle off Control Centre.

You can control many security features from this menu in Settings (Apple)
You can control many security features from this menu in Settings (Apple)

Stop thieves plugging in devices

Thieves will often attempt to take over phones by plugging in accessories – so it’s essential to ensure your iPhone can’t connect when locked.

Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and ensure USB Accessories is set to off.

Use ‘guided access’ to really lock your phone

If you’re leaving your phone somewhere it might be stolen, you can ensure would-be thieves are locked inside one app with no access to the rest of the phone.

On Guided Access, the user is locked inside a single app, and it has a separate passcode, so that even if someone knows your PIN they can't get out.

Go to Settings > Accessibility, then turn on Guided Access, and then add your passcode.

To start Guided Access – for when you're leaving your phone somewhere you’re worried someone might steal it – open an app, triple-click the side button, tap Guided Access, then select Start.

Use an alphanumeric passcode

It’s far more secure to use an alphanumeric passcode rather than a PIN - to enable this, go to Face ID & Passcode in Settings.

Then tap Passcode Options. The most secure option is Custom Alphanumeric Code.