iPhone Camera Not Working? Try These Fixes

Get your selfie back on fast

The iPhone's camera is a combination of software and hardware, so if your iPhone camera isn't working, you need to investigate where the trouble lies—with the software or the hardware.

Hand holding iPhone in front of railroad tracks
Kaique Rocha/Pexels

Causes of an iPhone Camera Not Working

There are several potential causes for an iPhone camera not working. You may only need to restart the Camera app or your iPhone, but the fix could be more complicated. Depending on how your camera is acting (if it is acting at all), you may want to try out software fixes before hardware fixes or vice versa. In general, if the camera isn't working at all, start with the software fixes, but if your problem is limited to one complaint, such as a dirty lens, it makes sense to start with the hardware fixes.

How to Fix iPhone Camera Not Working Due to Software

When your iPhone camera is not working, take steps to test it and solve the problem.

  • 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 switch between the front and back cameras. It is the best app for testing whether the problem occurs with one or both cameras.

  • Quit the Camera application. The problem with your camera may be the Camera app itself. Whether it's frozen or not loading correctly, quitting the application could be all you need to do.

  • Restart the iPhone. While restarting the phone may sound like an unlikely solution, you'd be surprised how many times this resolves problems. When you restart your iPhone, you are clearing the temporary memory of any errors or hung-up apps. While some tech folks joke about turning things off and back on, it fixes many problems.

  • Update the iOS software. Apple continuously improves and updates the operating system (iOS) on your phone, and updates to the Camera app are included in those iOS updates. If you haven't updated your phone's iOS software recently, your camera issues may be the result of outdated software. Check to see if you are running the most current version of iOS that is appropriate for your iPhone.

  • Reset the iPhone to default settings without erasing your content. Sometimes you or another app may change settings on your iPhone that 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 is that you can reset settings without losing your data, photos, and other personal documents. It is almost like a factory reset without the hassle of reloading and backing up everything.

    If you accidentally select Erase All Content and Settings in the Reset menu, all your content is erased, and the iPhone is returned to its factory settings.

  • Factory reset the iPhone. The last-ditch software fix to try before contacting Apple is to set the phone back to its factory settings. A completely fresh start may be the only fix for your problem.

    A factory reset deletes all your data on the phone, so make sure you have a backup.

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

How to Fix iPhone Camera Not Working Due to Hardware

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

  • Remove any 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 you're excited to capture that perfect shot. Second, check if your phone case is wholly or partially blocking the lens. Some cases can be installed upside down on the iPhone.

  • Clean the camera lens. Many of us shove our phones into pockets, purses, and bags with the lens exposed to whatever is lurking there. Take a clean microfiber cloth and wipe the lens. A dirty lens can also affect focus and cause your pictures to be blurry. So, if you have blurry photos or your camera does not focus properly, a quick wipe could fix all that ails your iPhone.

  • Avoid overheating. Just like any piece of technology, when an iPhone gets too hot, things start to malfunction. If your phone is overheating, you should see an on-screen message stating the iPhone needs to cool down before you use it. If you see this message, turn off your iPhone for a few minutes to give it a chance to cool. If you haven't seen this message but 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 for no apparent reason, go to your local Apple Store or the Apple Support website for repair or replacement details.

  • Confirm the flash is turned on. Problems with the camera flash can be caused by either hardware or software. To check the software, make sure you haven't turned off the flash in the Camera app. Look to the right of the lightning bolt at the top of the screen, and make sure that On is highlighted. Once you confirm it's on, test the flash by turning on the flashlight. If it's still not working, a trip to the Apple Store for further diagnostics is needed.

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