Many iPhone problems can result in an unresponsive device. The good news is that many of these problems can be solved without having to pay for repairs or a replacement.
When your iPhone won’t turn on, you may think that you’re going to need to buy a new one. That could be true if the problem is bad enough, but there are lots of ways to try to fix your iPhone before deciding it’s dead.
The key to solving the riddle is diagnosing exactly what’s wrong. So let’s take a look at why your iPhone won’t turn on and what you can do about it.
Is It Hot?
Symptoms: Heat, obviously. You might also see a message displayed on your screen, but not always.
Let your iPhone cool down in a dry, cool place out of the sun. Never try to cool your iPhone down too quickly by putting it in the freezer or in front of an air conditioner, since this can cause condensation to form which will damage the device.
Is the Battery Dead?
Symptoms: You’ll usually see the “insert lightning cable” message pop up when you try to turn it on, though not always.
This might sound like the most obvious choice when your iPhone won’t turn on, but in the interest of safety, it’s better to eliminate excessive heat as the cause before trying to charge your iPhone.
When you plug in a charger, you should see the “battery empty” graphic remain, while the arrow telling you to insert a lightning cable disappears. Sometimes it can take (what seems like) a long time for an iPhone to come back to life, sometimes it’s instantaneous.
Is It the Charger?
Symptoms: You might see the “insert lightning cable” message pop up, even after you have plugged it in.
If your cable is damaged, you should probably throw it away. If you’re thrifty, you can save your cables before too much damage is done.
Does It Hang During Boot?
Symptoms: An Apple logo on-screen, possibly with a stuck progress bar.
Boot problems can often be symptomatic of bigger problems, but there are a few things you can try. The first thing to do is reset your phone, which can differ based on which model of iPhoneyou’re using.
If your iPhone hung during an iOS upgrade, it’s still worth trying a reset. The installation can repair itself and complete without issue on a second attempt. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to give iTunes a shot.
Plug your iPhone into a Mac or PC running the latest version of iTunes. If iTunes recognises your iPhone, now might be a good time to make a backup: select your device, then on the Summarytab, click Back Up Now. Once the backup completes, try updating your phone’s software by clicking Update.
If you’re already using the latest version of iOS, hit Restore to reinstall it. You’ll be able to restore the backup you made once the procedure is complete.
iTunes won’t recognise your iPhone? It’s time to enter Recovery mode. You can find out how to do that on your iPhone using this Apple Support document. Once you’ve done that, iTunes should recognise your iPhone and let you hit Restore to reinstall iOS, but you will lose anything you don’t have backed up!
Did You Damage It?
Symptoms: Flickering screens, cracked display, other obvious signs of damage.
If you recently damaged your iPhone and it won’t turn on, you may have killed it. This can include dropping it, getting it wet (or exceeding the water resistance), leaving it in a very hot or very cold environment for a long time, or letting your dog chew on it.
Repairs depend on the damage done. Water and static electricity can cause severe damage that usually requires a new phone. Broken screens can be replaced, but a device that won’t power on generally indicates there’s a problem with more than the display.
Is It Completely Dead?
Symptoms: Nothing, generally.
Did you throw an old iPhone in a drawer and now it won’t even charge? Devices that have been without power for some time can take up to 20 minutes to come back to life. Plug it in, make a coffee, drink the coffee, then check on it. If nothing happens at all, it might be time to visit a repair center.
Unfortunately you won’t know if it’s a simple battery problem until you replace it, and there’s always a chance that your efforts will be for nothing. Even if you’re getting work done at a service center, more extensive damage may not be worth it considering the price of a new device.
If your screen is black or frozen
If your screen is black or frozen, you might need to force restart your device. A force restart won’t erase the content on your device. You can force restart your device even if the screen is black or the buttons aren’t responding. Follow these steps:
- On an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo.
- On an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo.
- On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo.
Raising the Dead
Did your iPhone come back to life? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.