iPhone Camera Not Working? Try These Fixes

Get your selfie back on fast

Hand holding iPhone in front of railroad tracks

Kaique Rocha/Pexels

The iPhone's camera is a combination of sofware and hardware, so if something is acting up, we'll need to investigate where the trouble lies.

We'll start with software and then move to hardware.

iPhone Camera Software Troubleshooting

  • Test with FaceTime

    Perhaps the quickest way to test both front and back cameras is with the FaceTime app. Fire up the app with a friend and try switching between front and back cameras. It really is the perfect app for testing both cameras.

  • Quit the Application

    The problem with your camera may just be the camera app itself. Whether it’s frozen up or not loading correctly, quitting the application could be all you need. You may have to force quit to get the app to completely close. 

  • Restart the iPhone

    While restarting the phone may sound like an unlikely solution, you’d be surprised how many times this will resolve the simplest of issues. When you restart your iPhone, you are clearing the temporary memory of any errors or hung up apps. Restarting gives your iPhone a fresh start as if you just turned it on. While many information technology folks joke about turning things off\on, it really does fix many problems.

  • Update the Software

    Most developers, including Apple, will continuously improve and patch the apps and even the operating system (iOS) on your phone. Your camera issues may merely be outdated software. You can check to see if your camera app has any patches or new releases in the App Store. You also can see if Apple has released a new patch or OS version here as well. Most companies try to fix bugs as they are reported or at regular intervals.

  • Reset the iPhone to Default Settings

    Sometimes you or another app may change settings on your iPhone that will cause your camera or camera app to stop working or malfunction. One way to eliminate this possibility is to reset all the settings on your iPhone. The nice thing with the iPhone, you can reset settings without losing all of your data, photos, and other personal documents. It is almost like a factory reset without all the hassle of reloading and backing up everything. This is different from “wiping” your iPhone (which deletes your data), but the steps are very similar.

    1. iPhone X, 8, 7, 6
    2. Tap Settings.
    3. Tap General.
    4. Tap Reset.
    5. Tap Reset All Settings.
    6. At the dialog box, tap Reset All Settings.
  • Wipe the iPhone

    One of the last-ditch efforts to try before contacting Apple is to set the phone back to its factory settings. A completely fresh start or restoring your iPhone to factory may be the only fix for your issue.

    This will wipe everything on the phone, so make sure you have backed up your data.

  • Ideally one of these steps has helped. If not, it's time to take a look at the hardware.

Hardware Issues

Hardware issues can often be easy to diagnose. Here's what to look for.

  • Lens Obstruction

    As obvious as this might sound, lens obstruction is one of the more common reasons why your iPhone camera isn’t taking pictures. First, make sure your hand or fingers aren’t blocking the lens. It’s easy to do especially when excited to capture that perfect shot. Second, check is if your phone case is wholly or partially blocking the lens. Some cases can easily be installed upside down as the iPhone is a simple rectangular shape.

  • Dirty Lens

    Like many of us, we shove our phones into pockets, purses, and bags, all with the lens exposed to whatever is lurking to dirty the lens. Take a clean microfiber cloth and wipe the lens. A dirty lens will also affect focus and cause your pictures to be blurry. So, if you’re having blurry photos or your camera will not focus properly, a quick wipe could fix all that ails your iPhone.

  • Overheating

    Just like any piece of technology or appliance, if it gets too hot, things will start to malfunction. On all iPhones, if your phone is overheating, you should get some sort of on-screen message stating the iPhone needs to cool down before you use it. If you’ve seen this message, then power your iPhone off for a few minutes to give it a chance to cool. If you haven’t seen this message yet and your iPhone feels hot to the touch, go ahead and power off. Even as few as 10 minutes can make a difference in the temperature of your phone. However, if it begins to overheat again, see your local Apple store or website for repair\replacement details.

  • Flash isn’t working

    Flash issues can be either hardware or software. To check software, make sure you haven’t turned off the flash in the app. Look to the right of the lightning bolt at the top of the screen, and make sure that On is highlighted. Once you’ve confirmed it’s on, then a quick test of the flash is to turn on the flashlight.

  • If it's still not working, a trip to the Apple Store for further diagnostics will be needed.