If you enter your password incorrectly too many times, you’ll be left with a locked device. You probably rarely do it voluntarily, but occasionally someone grabs the iPhone and taps on it like crazy – maybe your toddler. Before the iPhone is completely locked, it shows several other error messages. For example, this one: "iPhone is disabled, try again in 1 minute." Or this one: "iPhone is disabled, try again in 60 minutes". But if you screw up again and again, you will end up with: "iPhone is disabled, connect to iTunes". The warnings with waiting time should not be ignored, because once the latter error message occurs, the restore process via iTunes or the Finder (as of macOS 10.15 Catalina) will also delete all data on the phone. If you make regular backups, you’re on the safe side – but it’s still annoying and time-consuming.
What do the error messages "iPhone is disabled" mean? but specifically?
As a rule, they mean that you have entered the password to unlock your iPhone too often. Or someone else (have you let your kids play with your iPhone maybe once?). To protect you from a possible hacking attempt, the device locks itself for a while. Because if a potential thief could just keep on guessing passwords – in the worst case even with a matching software that tests much faster than a human – a hack would not be a problem anymore. With a 4-digit security code there are only 10.000 possible combinations. A human would need 4 hours and 6 minutes to try them all – a computer only 6 minutes and 34 seconds…
To eliminate this risk, iOS deliberately stops password entry if it was previously entered incorrectly too many times. With up to 5 wrong attempts everything is still in the green zone. With 6 or 7 wrong entries you are already punished with a waiting time. From the tenth wrong entry, that’s it – your iPhone will be locked.