My iPhone Screen Won't Rotate. How Do I Fix It?

Make that screen move the way you want

One of the really cool things about the iPhone and other iOS devices like the iPad and iPod touch is that their screens can reorient themselves based on how you're holding the device. You've probably made this happen without even meaning to. If you turn your iPhone on its side, the screen adjusts to display wide rather than tall.

But sometimes, when you turn your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch the screen doesn't rotate to match it. This can be frustrating or make your device difficult to use. It may even make you think your phone is broken. There are a couple of reasons why the screen might not rotate — and most aren't signs of trouble. Here's what could be going on and how to fix it.

Person holding an iPhone with the rotation lock highlghted
Lifewire / Kyle Fewel 

The tips in this article apply to all iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad models running iOS 11 and iOS 12.

Try Unlocking iPhone Screen Rotation

The iOS includes a setting called Screen Rotation Lock. As you've probably guessed from its name, it prevents your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch from rotating its screen no matter how you turn the device.

To check whether the screen rotation lock is turned on, look in the top right corner of the screen next to the battery indicator for an icon that looks like an arrow curving around a lock. If you see that icon, screen rotation lock is turned on (this icon is not present on all versions of iOS, and on some devices like the iPhone X and XS, it can only be seen in Control Center).

To turn screen rotation lock off, follow these steps:

  1. In iOS 7 or higher, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center. The icon at the far left — the lock and arrow icon — is highlighted to indicate that it's turned on.

    On the iPhone X and newer models, or on iPads running iOS 12 and up, swipe down from the top right corner instead.

  2. Tap lock and arrow icon to turn off rotation lock.

    Screenshot of iOS Control Center, one with rotation lock ON and one with it OFF
  3. When you're done, press the home button or swipe to close Control Center and you'll be back to your home screen.

With that done, try rotating your iPhone again. The screen should rotate with you this time. If it doesn't, there are other things you can try.

On older versions of the iOS, rotation lock is found in the Fast App Switcher, which you can open by double-clicking the Home button and then swiping left to right.

Some Apps Don't Support Screen Rotation

While many apps support screen rotation, not all of them do. The home screen on most iPhone and iPod touch models can't rotate (though it can on the iPhone 6 Plus, 6S Plus, 7 Plus, and 8 Plus) and some apps are designed to only work in one orientation.

If you turn your device and the screen doesn't reorient, check to see whether the orientation lock is enabled. If it's not enabled, the app probably is designed not to rotate.

Display Zoom Blocks iPhone Screen Rotation

If you have an iPhone 6 Plus, 6S Plus, 7 Plus, or 8 Plus, you can rotate the layout of the home screen along with apps. If the home screen won't rotate, and Screen Rotation Lock isn't on, Display Zoom could be interfering with it. This option enlarges the icons and text on these devices' larger screens to make them easier to see. If you can't rotate the home screen on these devices, disable Display Zoom by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Display & Brightness.

  3. Tap View in the Display Zoom section.

  4. Tap Standard.

  5. Tap Set.

    Three screenshots of iOS Settings to Set Display Zoom to Standard
  6. The phone will restart in the new zoom setting and the home screen will be able to rotate.

If Screen Won't Rotate, Your Accelerometer Could Be Broken

If the app you're using definitely supports screen rotation, and orientation lock and Display Zoom on your device are definitely off, but the screen still isn't rotating, there could be a problem with your device's hardware.

Screen rotation is controlled by the device's accelerometer — a sensor that tracks the device's movement. If the accelerometer is broken, it won't be able to track movement and won't know when to rotate the screen. If you suspect a hardware problem with your phone, make an appointment at the Apple Store to have it checked out.

Using Screen Rotation Lock on the iPad

While the iPad runs the same operating system as the iPhone and iPod touch, its screen rotation works a little differently on some models. For one, the home screen on all models can rotate. For another, the setting is controlled a bit differently on some models.

If you've got an iPad earlier than the iPad Air or the iPad mini 3, this tip applies to you. In the Settings app, tap General and you'll find a setting called Use Side Switch to which lets you choose whether the small switch on the side above the volume buttons controls the mute feature or the rotation lock.

On newer iPad models — the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and all iPad Pro models — use Control Center as described earlier in the article.