Fact or fiction: Hyphens break iPhones

February 15, 2019

“Use voice input on your iPhone, say ‘hyphen’ five times, and see what happens,” says a friendly message from someone you know.

On the one hand, it might be tempting to try it and see if anything actually happens. Why else would anyone tell you to do such a weird thing?

On the other hand, you might be afraid to try — what if it actually breaks your iPhone? That may sound ludicrous, but don’t forget that messages actually bricked Sony PlayStations, for example, and it wouldn’t be the first time for Apple smartphones, either: At one point, setting the date to January 1, 1970, sent iPhones into a reboot loop. Apple has fixed that problem, but what if this hyphen thing is a new reincarnation of it?

So, does saying “Hyphen” five times actually do anything to your iPhone? We tested the theory and can show you the result:

So, yes, something happens. It looks like saying “Hyphen” five times crashes the iOS launcher, bringing you to the home screen. But the phone works just as it did before, with no information lost, so we can safely assume that saying “hyphen” five times to your iPhone is safe, and you can try it yourself if you want.

We even tried creating a text note and then using voice input to say “hyphen” five times to check if having a file open would result in data loss. We found that all of the text that was in the note before those repeated “hyphens” remained intact after the launcher crashed, so the action should not cause any loss of data.

For now it has been confirmed that the trick works on the iPhone 6, 6s, 6s Max, 8, X, and XS Max with iOS 12.1. Also confirmed: It does not work on the iPhone SE with iOS 10.3.1 — perhaps the bug was introduced in a recent version of iOS.

Verdict: Fact. Saying “hyphen” five times using voice input crashes your iPhone, but there’s no need to worry; nothing else happens in the process.