How to Fix an iPhone Glitch

Tips for resolving common iPhone issues

The iPhone may be the most popular smartphone, but it is by no means perfect. Plenty of users report annoying screen glitches and other problems with no apparent cause. If your iPhone is glitching, follow these tips to identify and fix the problem.

Smoke rising from an iPhone
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How to Fix an iPhone Glitch

Glitches come in all shapes and sizes, and the fix depends on the type of glitch you're experiencing. Most problems have their own set of potential solutions. Follow these troubleshooting tips, in order, to get your iPhone working again. If your particular glitch prevents you from attempting one step, skip to the next one.

  1. Quit or close problem apps. iOS sometimes crashes or causes a range of problems, but force-closing and relaunching apps often solves those problems.

  2. Restart the iPhone. Restarting your iPhone can solve a host of problems, including a frozen screen. The instructions for restarting an iPhone depend on your particular model.

  3. Update iOS. Regularly updating an iPhone is the most effective tool to prevent glitches. Often, Apple includes fixes for known glitches that can be applied by installing the new version of iOS.

  4. Sign in and out of your Apple ID. A common error is when the App Store constantly refreshes but never actually loads. The best way to stop this is to restart the phone. If that doesn't work, sign in and out of your Apple ID. Select Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID, then select Sign Out. From there, use the same process to sign back in.

  5. Disable background refresh for apps you don't use or don't need. Even if you don't open apps, many apps refresh in the background, which may put a strain on the phone and its battery, especially if you use data or processing-intensive apps. Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. You can disable background refresh for all apps or select ones.

  6. Disable automatic updates. Apps that don't run in the background download updates automatically, and if there are many updates, it may slow down the phone. To shut this down, select Settings > iTunes & App Store. Under Automatic Downloads, toggle App Updates to off. You can also turn off automatic updates for Music, Apps, and Books & Audiobooks.

  7. Clear the Safari cache. Every browser collects data over time to make it easier to navigate the internet. While convenient, the cache can slow a device when it gets too large. To delete the cache, go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data, then confirm that you would like to delete the data.

    Clearing the cache removes passwords and cookies for websites, such as your social media accounts. Make sure you have these passwords backed up or memorized before you clear the cache.

  8. Check for iOS update and restore errors. Some glitches prevent you from updating iOS, which results in error codes. While brief and somewhat cryptic, these codes inform you of the problem that prevents you from updating or restoring the device. Consult Apple's list of update and restore errors to find your error, then follow the instruction to fix it.

    Apple Pay may block downloads until it is updated. If Apple Pay doesn't update, take your phone into an Apple store.

    If you get an alert stating, "Cellular Update Failed," this may be an issue with the phone's cellular modem. Take it to an Apple Store or Genius Bar to fix it.

  9. Try a different Wi-Fi network. If you're at work, school, or another location where you sign in to the Wi-Fi every time you enter, this may interfere with Apple updates. Use a public Wi-Fi connection or disable Wi-Fi and see if the app updates using a cellular connection. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi, then tap the Wi-Fi toggle to disable Wi-Fi. Afterward, either find and connect to a new network or wait a minute or two to reconnect to your current network.

  10. Reset the network settings. If you have problems with Wi-Fi or cellular data, reset the network settings. You can also instruct the device to forget a specific network, which forces the iPhone to disconnect from the network.

  11. Reset the router. Restart your devices in a chain to diagnose the problem. First, restart the iPhone. If the network issue persists, restart the Wi-Fi router, then the modem. If none of this solves the issue, there is likely an outage with your internet service provider, and there's nothing you can do but wait.

  12. Clear iCloud storage or buy more. If your iPhone doesn't back up to iCloud, first check your storage settings. Go to Settings, select your name, then select iCloud > Manage Storage. If your iCloud is full, download an iCloud utility app to your computer and use it to download and back up files you no longer need direct access to, such as old photos. Making some room can solve many problems, or you can buy more space from Apple.

  13. Clean the iPhone. Some devices, particularly old ones, create hardware problems as dust and residue build up. You can easily clean, sanitize, and disinfect the phone but be careful not to cause damage in the process.

  14. Troubleshoot the camera. If your iPhone's camera is on the fritz, open the Camera app and tap the flip icon in the lower-right corner to see if both front and back cameras are unavailable. If only the rear camera is affected, remove the iPhone case and see if it solves the issue. Some iPhone cases are not designed with the rear camera in mind. If only the front camera is affected, turn the phone off and carefully clean the front of the phone with a dry cloth. If both are not working, restart the device. If that's ineffective, there is likely a hardware problem, and you'll need to take the iPhone to an Apple Store.

  15. Protect your iPhone data. Hackers may attempt to crash, freeze, or otherwise glitch your iPhone, and the best way to keep them out is to protect your data and practice safe online behavior. Don't open emails or attachments on your phone if you're not sure who sent the messages. The same is true of text messages. Don't open text messages from numbers you don't know.

  16. Confirm the problem is not hardware-related. The line between a software problem and a hardware issue can be thin. The easiest way to confirm it isn't a software issue, or at least not one you can resolve, is to inspect the device for physical damage. Look for cracks or distortions in the casing. If you find any sign of physical damage impairing the phone, take it to Apple for repairs.

  17. Take the iPhone to an Apple Store. If none of the above tips resolved the problem, take the iPhone to a repair technician or Apple Genius Bar.