Why Apple retail locations can remove security tethers from their demo devices

“I suggested last week that Apple’s apparent move to remove security tethers from demo devices in its retail stores likely wasn’t too risky thanks to a range of hidden security measures, and we’ve been hearing a little detail on how some of these work,” Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac.

“Apple has long had special OS images for demo devices. You can’t, for example, set a passcode on a iOS device and then lock it, and Macs revert to their original state after a reboot,” Lovejoy reports. “Apple regularly tweaks these images. For example, at one time you could go into Safari and change the homepage to any site you liked; there’s now a lock-out to prevent this.”

Lovejoy reports, “One security feature on the current display models of both iOS devices and Macs is designed to instantly render them useless if someone removes them from the store.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So, this’ll be great as soon as thieves understand that there’s no point in stealing devices from Apple retail locations. Until then, expect a bit more e-waste in trash bins around Apple locations.

Steve Jobs never wanted devices in Apple locations to be shackled with security tethers.

Apple retail locations removing security tethers from iPhone display units – October 14, 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. My guess is they tested it in a few stores first. If it works, it works.

    Every time I scan and purchase something at the apple store with the app and stick it in my backpack without talking to a clerk, I always feel like a shoplifter.

    It makes me wonder how many people make it look like they are scanning a product and then slip it into their bag. Seems like this would be hard to combat, but they must have it all figured out somehow.

    One could try pretending to scan and then walk out. If a guard stops you, play dumb and say you thought you had scanned it, but weren’t sure how the app worked.

    In any case, if they got the self checkout working, I think they can manage to get the untethered phones secured with blue tooth proximity alarms or something.

    1. Demo devices are not for purchase so scanning doesn’t apply to a demo device and it’s dumb doing it.
      Demo devices will have a sensor inside, like books have in a book store or library, that will trigger the alarm the moment you cross the door out.
      It is likely that demo devices will include a Bluetooth tether.
      Demo devices [will] show/appear in a ‘Find My iPhone’ map (per store).

      1. If someone can build a wallet that prevents scanning of the RFID chip in your CC, the same material made into a fanny pack or backpack may block wireless connections.

      2. If you see MDN put square brackets around text, it indicates that they amended a mistake or ambiguation within those brackets from the text they are quoting. Doing it to your own words as you type is a bit strange? 😉

  2. I suspect that there may be one or two other surprises baked into the ‘shop display’ operating system.

    Once it’s taken out of the shop, apart from bricking the iPhone, they could also make it difficult to turn off, sound a loud alarm and display a message warning that it’s a stolen iPhone. It could also be put into a mode where it tries to report it’s location wirelessly, but otherwise appears to be bricked.

  3. If people want to risk jail time over chump change, go for it. They will regret it later. Apple should prosecute shoplifters with extreme prejudice. Shoplifters cost honest folks down the line. People that cannot afford Apple shouldn’t even bother going into their stores.

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