What To Do When Your iPhone Won't Turn On

Black screen on your iPhone? Try these tips

Man holding iphone

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.

1. Charge Your Phone

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.)

2. 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.

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.

3. 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. Hold down the on/off button and Home button at the same time. (If you have the iPhone 7 series, hold down on/off and volume down.)
  2. 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)
  3. If the shut-down slider appears on the screen, keep holding the buttons
  4. When the white Apple logo appears, let go of the buttons and let the phone start up.

4. 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. Plug in the iPhone's USB cable to the Lightning/Dock Connector port, but not into your computer.
  2. Hold down the iPhone's Home button (on an iPhone 7, hold volume down).
  3. While holding the Home button, plug the other end of the USB cable into your computer.
  4. This will open iTunes, put the iPhone into recovery mode, and let you completely restore the iPhone.

5. 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. Plug your iPhone into your computer.
  2. Hold down the on/off button for 3 seconds, then let it go.
  3. Hold down the on/off button and Home button (on an iPhone 7, hold volume down) together for about 10 seconds.
  4. Release the on/off button, but keep holding the Home button (on an iPhone 7, hold volume down) for about 5 seconds.
  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.

6. 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. Hold down the Home and on/off buttons to restart the phone.
  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.