How to Easily Fix the iPhone White Screen of Death

Is your iPhone (or iPad) showing a white screen? Try these five fixes

Illustration of a worried person with a white-screened iPhone

Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

If your iPhone's screen is totally white and isn't showing any icons or apps, you may be facing the infamous iPhone White Screen, aka the iPhone White Screen of Death. That name makes it sound scary, but it's not as bad as it sounds in most cases. It's not as if your phone is going to explode or anything.

The iPhone White Screen of Death rarely lives up to its name. The steps explained in this article can often fix it (and can fix an iPad or iPod touch, too. Check out the end of the article for more info).

The while the tips and instructions in this article were written using iOS 12, they apply to all recent versions of the iPhone and iOS operating system, including (but not limited to) iOS 11 and iOS 12.

The Causes of the iPhone White Screen

An iPhone White Screen can be caused by a number of things, but the two most common culprits are:

  • Failed software update or jailbreak. When you try to update the iPhone's operating system and the update fails, sometimes you'll see the white screen. This is even more common when trying to jailbreak your iPhone and the jailbreak fails. 
  • Hardware problem:. If software isn't the culprit, the other most common cause of the white screen is the cable that connects the iPhone's motherboard to its screen coming loose or breaking. In some cases, this is simply the result of a hardware failure over time. In others, the connector comes loose after the phone has been dropped too often.

Whatever the cause of the iPhone White Screen of Death on your phone, try these steps to fix it.

Try the Triple-Finger Tap First

This won't solve the problem in most cases, but there's a small chance that you don't have a White Screen of Death at all. Instead, you may have accidentally turned on screen magnification. If so, you may be zoomed super close in on something white, making it look like a white screen. In that case, normal taps won't help you.

To fix magnification, hold three fingers together and then use them to double tap the screen. If your screen is magnified, this will bring it back to the normal view. Turn off magnification in Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom > Off.

For more on this phenomenon, read My iPhone Icons Are Large. What's Happening?

Hard Reset the iPhone

Often the best step to fix any iPhone problem is to restart the iPhone. In this case, you need a slightly more powerful restart called a hard reset. This is like a restart but it doesn't require you to be able to see or touch anything on your screen — which is key if you've got a white screen that won't respond to taps. It also clears more of the iPhone's memory (don't worry, you won't lose your data). 

Illustration of iPad and iPhone models with buttons labeled

To perform a hard reset on any iPhone model from the original through the iPhone 7:

  1. Hold down both the Home button and the sleep/wake button at the same time (on the iPhone 7, hold the volume down and sleep/wake buttons instead).

  2. Keep holding until the screen flashes and the Apple logo appears.

  3. Let go of the buttons and let the iPhone start up like normal.

Because the iPhone 8 has different technology in its Home button, and because the iPhone X, XS, and XR don't have a Home button at all, the hard reset process is a little different. On those models:

  1. Press the volume up button and let it go.

  2. Press the volume down button and let it go.

  3. Hold down the sleep/wake (aka Side) button until the phone restarts. When the Apple logo appears, let go of the button.

Hold Down Home + Volume Up + Power

If a hard reset didn't do the trick, there's another combination of buttons that works for many people:

  1. Hold down the Home button, the volume up button, and the power (sleep/wake) button all at once. 

  2. It may take a while, but keep holding until the screen turns off.

  3. Continue holding those buttons until the Apple logo appears. 

  4. When the Apple logo shows up, you can let go of the buttons and let the iPhone start up like normal.

Obviously this only works with iPhone models that have a Home button. It probably does not work with the iPhone 8, X, XS, and XR and may not work with the 7. No word yet if there's an equivalent to this option on those models.

Try Recovery Mode and Restore From Backup

Restore to iTunes screen on iPhone X
Apple

If none of these options worked, your next step is to try putting the iPhone into Recovery Mode. Recovery Mode is a powerful tool for getting around whatever software problems you may be having. It will let you reinstall the iOS and restore backed-up data onto the iPhone. To use it, you'll need a computer with iTunes installed on it and then to follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your iPhone, if possible.

  2. Plug the syncing cable into the iPhone, but not into the computer.

  3. What you do next depends on your iPhone model:

    • iPhone XR, XS, X and 8: Hold down the Side button while you plug the syncing cable into the computer.
    • iPhone 7 series: Press and hold the volume down while plugging the phone into the computer.
    • iPhone 6S and earlier: Press and hold the Home button and connect the cable to the computer. 
  4. Keep holding whatever button you're holding until the Recovery Mode screen appears (the iTunes icon with a cable pointing to it and the text Connect to iTunes).

  5. If the screen turns from white to black, you're in Recovery Mode. At this point, you can use the onscreen instructions in iTunes to Restore your iPhone from backup or Update the operating system.

  6. Restore your phone from back up.

In some cases, you can hit a problem when restoring your iPhone that prevents you from completing the process. If you encounter this problem, learn how to solve it in How to Fix iPhone Error 4013.

Try DFU Mode

Device Firmware Update (DFU) Mode is even more powerful than Recovery Mode. It lets you turn on the iPhone but prevents it from starting up the operating system, so you can make changes to the operating system itself. This is more complex and tricker, but it's worth trying if nothing else has worked. To put your phone into DFU Mode: 

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer and launch iTunes. 

  2. Turn off your phone.

  3. What you do next depends on your iPhone model:

    • iPhone 7 and up: Hold down the Side button and Volume Down button at the same time.
    • iPhone 6S and earlier: Hold down the sleep/power button and the Home button at the same time.
  4. Hold the buttons for 10 seconds. If you see the Apple logo, you held for too long and should start over again.

  5. After 10 seconds, let go of the sleep/power/Side button, but keep holding the other button.

  6. If your phone's screen is black, you're in DFU mode. If you see an iTunes logo, you need to start again.

  7. Follow the onscreen instructions in iTunes.

If None of This Works, Try Apple

How to Make Apple Store Genius Bar Appointment
image credit: Artur Debat/Moment Mobile ED/Getty Images

If you’ve tried all of these steps and still have the problem, you’ve likely got an issue that you can’t fix. You should contact Apple to make an appointment at your local Apple Store for support.

Fixing an iPod touch or iPad White Screen

This article is about fixing an iPhone White Screen, but the iPod touch and iPad can have the same problem. Luckily, the solutions for an iPad or iPod touch White Screen are the same. All three devices share many of the same hardware components and run the same operating system, so everything mentioned in this article can help fix an iPad or iPod touch white screen, too.