What To Do When Your iPhone Won't Turn On

Black screen on your iPhone? Try these tips

Man holding iphone
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When your iPhone won't turn on, you may think that you're going to need to buy a new one. That could be true if the problem is bad enough, but there are lots of ways to try to fix your iPhone before deciding it's dead. If your iPhone won't turn on, try these six tips to bring it back to life.

Charge Your Phone

iPhone charging on a window sill

It may sound obvious, but be sure your iPhone's battery is charged enough to run the phone. To test this, plug your iPhone into a wall charger or into your computer. Let it charge for 15-30 minutes. It may turn on automatically. You may also need to hold down the on/off button to turn it on.

If you suspect your phone ran out of battery but recharging doesn't work, it's possible that your charger or cable is faulty. Try using another cable to double check. (P.S. In case you haven't heard, you can now get wireless charging for the iPhone.)

Restart iPhone

If charging the battery didn't turn your iPhone on, the next thing you should try is to restart the phone. To do this, hold down the on/off button at the top right corner or the right edge of the phone for a few seconds. If the phone is off, it should turn on. If it's on, you may see the slider offering to turn it off.

iPhone in a person's hands showing the
 Original Image: Getty Images

If the phone was off, let it turn on. If it was on, restarting it by turning it off and then turning it back on is probably a good idea.

Hard Reset the iPhone

Try a hard reset if the standard restart didn't do the trick. A hard reset is like a restart that clears more of the device's memory (but not its storage. You won't lose data) for a more comprehensive reset. To perform a hard reset: 

  1. If you have an iPhone 8 or later, press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Then press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Finally, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo.

    iPhone X Volume up/down and Side buttons
    Apple 

    If you've got an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo.

    If you have an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch, press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo.

    Continue holding them for at least 10 seconds (there's nothing wrong with holding for 20 or 30 seconds, but if nothing has happened by then, it probably won't)

  2. If the shut-down slider appears on the screen, keep holding the buttons.

  3. When the white Apple logo appears, let go of the buttons and let the phone start up.

Restore iPhone to Factory Settings

Sometimes your best bet is restoring your iPhone to its factory settings. This erases all the data and settings on your phone (hopefully you synced it recently and backed up your data), and can solve a lot of problems. Normally, you'd sync your iPhone and restore using iTunes, but if your iPhone won't turn on, try this:

  1. Connect your iPhone to a computer with a Lightning cable and open iTunes. You should see the iPhone icon in the upper left area of the iTunes window.

  2. If you don't see your iPhone in iTunes, do the following to put it in recovery mode.

    On an iPhone 8 or later, press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side button until you see the recovery-mode screen.

    If you have an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, press and hold the Side and Volume Down buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery-mode screen.

    For an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch, press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery-mode screen.

  3. Once your iPhone is in recovery mode, click the device icon in iTunes.

    iPhone icon in iTunes for macOS
  4. Next, click on the Restore iPhone... button.

    Restore iPhone button in iTunes for macOS
  5. You'll be asked if you want to Backup your iPhone. This is a really good idea, since you're about to wipe it clean. If you are SURE you have a recent backup, you can skip this step (though we don't recommend it).

    Back Up button in iTunes for macOS
  6. You'll see another confirmation dialog box to make sure you want to restore your iPhone. Click Restore if you're ready, and wait for the iPhone to restart after several long minutes.

    Restore confirmation button in iTunes for macOS
  7. Now your iPhone should be as clean and new as it was the day you got it. You can either leave it as a new phone or restore it from the backup you just did.

Put iPhone Into DFU Mode

In some situations, your iPhone may not turn on because it won't boot up. This can happen after jailbreaking or when you try to install an iOS update without enough battery life. If you're facing this problem, put your phone into DFU mode this way:

  1. Make sure iTunes is running and that you've powered off your iPhone. Plug your iPhone into your computer.

  2. Hold down the on/off button for 3 seconds, then let it go.

  3. Press and hold down the volume down button on the left side of your iPhone while still holding down the On/Off button for about 10 seconds

    For iPhone 6 and earlier, hold down the on/off button and Home button together for about 10 seconds.

  4. Release the on/off button, but keep holding the volume down button (on iPhone 6 or earlier, hold Home down) for about 5 seconds.

    If you see the "plug into iTunes" message, you've held the buttons down for too long. Start again.

  5. If the screen stays black and nothing appears, you're in DFU Mode. Follow the onscreen instructions in iTunes.

Lifewire Bonus iPhone Tip: Don't have enough room to update your iPhone? Here are a few tips to help you get the job done.

Reset Proximity Sensor

Another rare situation that causes your iPhone not to turn on is a malfunction in the proximity sensor that dims iPhone's screen when you hold it up to your face. This causes the screen to stay dark even when the phone is on and not near your face.

  1. Perform a Hard Reset on your iPhone as above.

  2. When it restarts, the screen should be working.

  3. Tap the Settings app.

  4. Tap General.

  5. Tap Reset.

  6. Tap Reset All Settings. This erases all your preferences and settings on the iPhone, but won't delete your data.

If Your iPhone Still Won't Turn On

If your iPhone won't turn on after all of these steps, the problem is probably too serious to fix on your own. You need to contact Apple to set up an appointment at the Genius Bar. In that appointment, the Genius will either fix your issue or let you know what it costs to fix.

You should check the status of your iPhone's warranty before you go since that could save you money on repairs. If it turns out that you're going to end up standing in line for a new phone, read everything you need to know about the iPhone 8 after you pitch a tent.