iPhone Activation Lock and Missing Apple ID: Corporate Device Solutions and Benefits of Mobile Device Management 

Faced with iPhone activation lockout on a corporate device and unfamiliar with the Apple ID needed for reactivation? Discover effective enterprise device resolution methods and learn why implementing a mobile device management system will prevent future issues

Activation lock: “iPhone locked to owner” An iPhone with activation lock can be a real nuisance for companies and, in the worst case, make the device unusable if a private Apple ID is used without company access.

What is the iPhone Activation Lock? 

Activation Lock is a security feature created by Apple to prevent stolen or lost devices from being used without the original Apple ID and password. To fully recover an iPhone, you must unlock it, which usually requires entering the original Apple ID and password. 

Locked corporate device and no Apple ID – What to do? 

If an organization is faced with the challenge of resetting an activation-locked iPhone that was used by a departed team member who did not leave Apple ID information, there are a few starting points: 

1. Apple Business Manager (ABM) in combination with Mobile Device Management (MDM): If an organization uses Apple Business Manager with Automated Device Enrollment (formerly Device Enrollment Program – DEP) in combination with an MDM system and the device in question is enrolled in it, the organization has control over the activation lockout and can remove it. Through Apple Business Manager, the IT team can purchase devices directly from Apple, authorized resellers or carriers, and those devices are automatically enrolled. With support from the MDM system, IT admins can then override the activation lock and reset the device without the original Apple ID. 
To see how you can unlock the activation lock using Cortado MDM and bypass codes take a look at this article in our Knowledge Base

2. Invoice and proof of purchase: Apple can help remove the activation lock in some cases if valid proof of purchase is provided to the support team proving that the company is the rightful owner of the device. However, this process can take some time and there is no guarantee that Apple can help in each case. 

3. Communication with the former employee: In many cases, it may be easiest to communicate directly with the departed employee.in and ask them to remove the activation lock themselves. This can often be done via the iCloud website by the user logging in and removing the device from their account. 

4. Legal action: If all other options fail and the former team member refuses to provide the information, the company could theoretically consider legal action, especially if specified in the original employment contracts or equipment use agreements. In practice, however, it is questionable whether the effort and cost of such legal action is worth the value of the equipment and would therefore be justified. 

So, while option 4 is essentially uneconomical, options 2 and 3 can be very time-consuming and there is no guarantee of success. We therefore strongly recommend that companies use Apple Business Manager in conjunction with a mobile device management system such as Cortado MDM and establish clear policies and processes for handling corporate devices to avoid difficulties with missing Apple IDs in the future. 

How Mobile Device Management eliminates the problems of missing Apple IDs for your business 

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a tool that enables companies to centrally manage the use and security of mobile devices used in the company. The use of MDM systems can also avoid problems caused by missing Apple IDs, for example. You can find out how this works here: 

  • Centralized management: With MDM, IT departments can centrally manage all devices used in an organization. They can set up profiles and configurations on the devices without the end user having to intervene in the Apple ID account. 
  • Activation lockout override: For Apple devices, IT can override the activation lockout using Apple Business Manager. This means that even if a device is deleted or an employee leaves the company and the Apple ID information is not provided, the company can still reactivate and use the device. 
  • Device configuration recovery: With MDM, IT departments can back up and restore device configurations. This means that even if a device is reset, IT can quickly restore the required enterprise software and configurations without the device being blocked by a missing Apple ID. 
  • Access restrictions: IT teams can prevent employees from changing certain settings, such as the ability to associate a device with a personal Apple ID, reducing the risk of problems caused by missing credentials. 

With an MDM system like Cortado MDM, companies can efficiently and securely manage the use of mobile devices in their organization, easily avoiding problems that occur without centralized management.