iPhone Won't Download Apps? 11 Ways to Fix It

Sort out your iPhone and get back into the App Store

It can be frustrating when your iPhone won't download new apps. There's little value in an iPhone if it can't make use of the vast Apple app store and its library of applications. Fixing this problem usually isn't very hard.

These tips apply to all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with recent versions of iOS.

Reasons Why iPhone Won't Download Apps

While fixing an iPhone that won't download apps is fairly straightforward, the causes aren't easily diagnosed. Causes may stem from App Store rules, simple software bugs, or problems with your Apple ID or iPhone settings. Rather than providing a list of the causes here, each solution below provides some background for the issue.

One simple explanation for why you can't download apps is that there's not enough storage space on your iPhone. There are ways to free up storage on an iPhone and even expand your iPhone's memory.

How to Fix an iPhone That Won't Download Apps

There are several ways to fix an iPhone that fails or stalls while attempting to download apps. If apps on your device won't download, try these fixes, in this order.

  1. Download over Wi-Fi. You may reach a limitation of the App Store if you download an app over a cellular connection like 4G LTE. Apple limits the size of apps you can download over cellular networks to 200 MB. (Older versions of iOS set the limit to 150 MB.) This prevents people from using too much data on a single download. If the app you want to download is bigger than that, connect to Wi-Fi and try again.

    Make sure the phone isn't in Airplane Mode, which blocks all Wi-Fi and cellular network connections.

  2. Restart the App Store app. The bug in downloading the app may have to do with the App Store app. Quitting the App Store app may clear the bug. After you quit the app, re-open the App Store app and download the app again.

  3. Pause and restart the app download. This tip works when the app download stalls. If an app icon appears on your home screen, but the download has slowed or stalled, tap the icon for the app you're attempting to install. This pauses the download. Wait a short time and then tap it again to resume the download.

  4. Restart the iPhone. Sometimes you need to restart a device to get things working again. There may be a temporary glitch in the operating system or a software component. A restart usually resolves these issues.

  5. Check your Apple ID payment method. To download apps, you need to connect a payment method to your Apple ID, even if you're downloading a free app. If you do not have a payment method on file, or if your card is expired, you might not be able to download apps. This can also lead to a Verification Required pop-up message. Adding a valid payment method may solve the problem.

  6. Sign out of the App Store and sign back in. An iPhone that can't download apps may signify that something is wrong with your Apple ID. If the connection between your iPhone and the Apple App Store is disrupted, signing out and signing back in may fix it. Select Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID > Sign Out. Then, sign back in by selecting Sign In and entering your Apple ID username and password.

  7. Update iOS. Updates to iOS—the operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch—frequently resolve software bugs. It could be that your iPhone cannot download apps because of a bug in the OS. An easy, fast, and free OS update may solve the problem.

    You can update iOS wirelessly or through iTunes.

  8. Set the correct date and time. Incorrect date and time settings may block you from downloading apps. The easiest way to solve this is to make your iPhone automatically set its date and time so that it's always correct. Select Settings > General > Date & Time. Move the Set Automatically toggle switch to On (green).

  9. Reset the iPhone device settings. Bugs sometimes stem from low-level settings. You can't always see or fix these settings individually, but iOS gives you a way to reset all settings. Doing this won't erase your data, but it can solve these sorts of issues.

  10. Check the Apple ID you're using. If you have a problem updating an app on your device, the problem could be the Apple ID you're using. When you download an app, it's tied to the Apple ID you're logged into at the time. If you change the Apple ID you're using, apps tied to the old ID can't update. Sign in to other Apple IDs you've used, following the instructions in step 6 above.

  11. Get help from Apple. If you tried all these steps and your iPhone still won't download apps, you need help from the experts at Apple. You can get online or phone support at the Apple website, or make an appointment at the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store for in-person help.