You’re staring at a black screen on your iPhone, wondering what to do because it won’t turn on. The fix can either be really simple or somewhat complex, depending on what’s really going on with your iPhone. I’ll help you determine the reason why your iPhone won’t turn on and provide solutions for each step along the way.
First, we need to determine is whether a software or hardware problem is preventing your iPhone from turning on. Your iPhone’s software is the easiest to troubleshoot, so that’s where we’ll start. If that doesn’t solve the problem, I’ll discuss the hardware issues that can cause the problem.
I wrote this article because I’ve seen a lot of other articles that claim to have a solution to this problem, but based on my experience as an Apple tech, the other articles have only one piece of the puzzle or the information is just plain wrong. So let’s get to it: Here are the real reasons why your iPhone won’t turn on:
1. Software Crash
I saw this problem a lot at Apple. Someone would walk in, hand me an iPhone with a blank screen, and tell me their iPhone won’t turn on. I’d do a hard reset and their iPhone would immediately spring back to life. Astonished, they’d ask, “What did you do?”
Cross your fingers and try a hard reset. To do a hard reset, press and hold the Sleep / Wake button (the power button) and the Home button at the same time, for at least 20 seconds. Hopefully, the Apple logo will appear on the screen. Apple’s support article recommends you hold the Sleep / Wake and Home buttons for 10 seconds, but I’ve seen it take longer than that.
Why Can A Hard Reset Fix An iPhone That Won’t Turn On?
If a hard reset fixed your iPhone, your problem was never that your iPhone wouldn’t turn on, because it was on the whole time.
A lot of people think their iPhone won’t turn on when their iPhone is on, but the software has crashed so it’s displaying a black screen and not responding. It’s an easy mistake to make, because an iPhone in that condition is almost indistinguishable from an iPhone that’s turned off.
Here’s a typical scenario: Someone walks in and says their iPhone wouldn’t turn on yesterday, but when they woke up and plugged it in this morning, it suddenly turned on. What happened? Their battery ran out in the middle of the night, and that’s when their iPhone really turned off. When they plugged it in this morning, the iPhone rebooted from scratch, and that’s the same thing that happens to the software when you do a hard reset.
If you’ve determined that your iPhone’s software is the reason your iPhone won’t turn on, I recommend you backup and restore your iPhone. When a software problem is that bad, it’s time to fix the software. You can learn about how to do the deepest type of iPhone restore in my article about how to DFU restore an iPhone.
2. Check Your Lightning Cable And Your Charger (Don’t Skip This Step)
Try charging your iPhone with another cable and another charger, or alternatively, try charging someone else’s iPhone with your cable and your charger. If their iPhone charges and yours doesn’t, don’t skip to the next step just yet.
A common, less-documented issue is some iPhones will charge when connected to a laptop computer, but not with the wall charger. Even if your friend’s iPhone charges with the same cable and wall charger, it’s possible that your iPhone will not. Without going into a detailed discussion about why this happens, try charging your iPhone using a USB port on your computer if you usually use a wall outlet, and try a wall charger if you usually charge your iPhone with your laptop.
To learn more about how to fix iPhone charging problems that can be related to this issue, I recommend you check out my article called My iPhone Won’t Charge.
Make Sure It’s Not Just The Display
Plug your iPhone into your computer and open iTunes. Does iTunes recognize your iPhone? If it does, back up your iPhone right away. If there’s a serious hardware problem, this might be your last chance to back up your data.
If your iPhone shows up in iTunes and you can successfully back it up, or if it’s making any noises at all, you may need to have your iPhone’s display repaired. My article about what to do if your iPhone screen turns black can help. Scroll to the Repair Options section at the bottom of this article to learn what to do next (and possibly save some money).
If your iPhone doesn’t show up in iTunes, try doing a hard reset while your iPhone is connected to your computer. Do you see any error messages? If iTunes says you need to restore your iPhone, do it. If you’ve tried the previous steps and your iPhone still won’t turn on, there’s probably no way to recover the data that’s on your iPhone now unless you have an iTunes or iCloud backup. The only other option for recovering data is to use one of the very expensive iPhone data recovery companies you can find with a Google search.
4. Check For Physical Or Liquid Damage
For those of us who’ve dropped our iPhones and got away with it, iPhones are tough. For people whose iPhones stopped working after they watched their daughter’s softball game in the rain, iPhones are fragile. Drops and spills can cause damage that stops iPhones from turning on.
Water damage is insidious and unpredictable. A spill from a week ago can cause a problem to occur today for the very first time. A drop of water got in the charging port and your iPhone won’t charge, but your friend spilled a glass of water on his iPhone and it works just fine — we hear stories like this all the time.
Do a visual inspection of the outside of your iPhone — is there any damage? If it’s minor, Apple may ignore it and replace your iPhone under warranty.
Next, check for liquid damage. Your iPhone’s warranty doesn’t cover liquid damage unless your have AppleCare+, and even then, there’s still a deductible. To learn how to check if your iPhone has water damage, check out Apple’s unambiguously-titled support article, Liquid damage to iPhone or iPod isn‘t covered by warranty.
If you’re under warranty and there’s no physical or liquid damage, Apple will probably cover the repair for no charge. If you’re not, Apple can be expensive—but there are good alternatives.
If you want to repair your iPhone today, CellSavers will meet you at a location of your choice and fix your iPhone in minutes. If you’re not in one of the cities they service, iResq.com is a mail-in repair service that does great work for a lot less than Apple.
Your iPhone Is Turning On Again: Time To Wrap It Up
By this point, you’ve determined why your iPhone won’t turn on and the next steps to take if your iPhone needs to be repaired. I’m interested to hear about your experience with troubleshooting and how you fixed your iPhone in the comments section below.