What To Do When an iPhone Won’t Turn On

Jun 6, 2013 - 54 Comments

Many of us have found a situation where an iPhone just won’t turn on. Pressing the power button causes literally nothing to happen, the iPhone just displays a black screen. Fortunately, this is usually just a simple problem to resolve, because either iOS has suffered an unusually severe crash and needs the device to be hard rebooted, or the iPhone is just dead and needs the battery to be charged for a while before it can be used again. Of course there are some more severe situations that could be causing the trouble as well, but before you’ll know if that’s the case or not, you’ll want to try these two troubleshooting tricks. In the vast majority of seemingly dead iPhone problems, they will resolve the issue and the iPhone will become usable again.

What to do when an iPhone won't turn on

And yes, while we’re emphasizing the iPhone here, these troubleshooting tricks will apply universally to the iPad and iPod touch as well.

Charge the iPhone for a While

Connect the iPhone to the USB charger and connect it to a wall outlet for at least 15 minutes, or connect it through USB to a computer for at least 25 minutes, then try turning the iPhone on as usual while the device is still connected to a power source.

iPhone charger

Wall outlets typically output more power than the USB ports on computers, thus it’s generally better to connect a device to the wall to charge.

If an iPhone battery is completely drained and very low then sometimes after 10-15 minutes of being charged you will be able to press the power button and then see a screen like this, with an empty battery and icons showing a cable connected to a power source:

iPhone battery dead indicator

If you see that screen after the iPhone has been charging for a while, that means the device needs to charge longer before it will be usable again because the battery was completely dead. Ideally, let it charge for 4+ hours, if not overnight.

Force Reboot

Forcibly reboot the iPhone by holding down Power and Home button simultaneously until the Apple logo appears. Typically that takes 10-15 seconds.

Force reboot an iPhone

The hard reboot solution works if iOS has crashed or is frozen, which can sometimes manifest as an unresponsive iPhone with a black screen that appears dead because it isn’t responsive to anything. This is the easiest to determine and to resolve since it doesn’t even require waiting for the iPhone to charge before you can do it, and you’ll know nearly instantly if it works.

Help! The iPhone Still Won’t Turn On

If you’ve held Power & Home together for longer than 30 seconds and nothing happens, and the iPhone has been connected to a functioning power outlet for at least an hour, then you’re typically facing one of these problems:

  • The battery is completely dead and won’t take a charge – rare, but it does happen
  • The USB charger is not functioning properly or is defective and not adequately charging the iPhone – moderately common, particularly with cheap third party cables
  • The iPhone is broken, or a component is broken – common if the iPhone has been exposed to severe elements, improperly treated liquid exposure or water damage, or has severe external damage
  • The iPhone is defective – very rare, but it does happen, and Apple will typically swap such iPhones out for free

The USB/power charger issue is easy to test if you have access to another charger, ideally an official Apple charger, simply just connect it to a wall outlet for another 30 minutes or so and see if the iPhone becomes responsive. The other two issues are more challenging to troubleshoot or diagnose on your own unless the cause is obvious (like an iPhone with a bent case, cracked screen, rusted ports, and clear signs of severe damage), and it’s usually a good idea to take the less-obvious causes to the Genius Bar of an Apple Store to get it properly diagnosed.

Though Apple officially will only provide free fixes, trade-ins, and troubleshooting to iPhones that are still under the warranty service period, in practice the Genius Bar is very lenient and will often resolve problems long after an iPhone is out of warranty, and sometimes even if an iPhone has suffered damage that wouldn’t be covered by traditional warranty coverage anyway (like water damage). Your best bet is to make an appointment, be honest, and be friendly, the folks at Apple very well may make your day.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

54 Comments

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  1. sam says:

    Thank you so much!!I thought I broke my phone forever. In all reality I wad just using a cheap third party cable.

  2. Prasad says:

    Really worth.. my apple is working after hard boot. Thanks to every one

  3. Scott says:

    Fantastic information. It worked brilliantly, thank u VERY much.

  4. Sue says:

    Huge thank you! I thought I had tried everything – wrong! I did the hard boot up as you suggested and in 15 seconds of holding down both the home button and the power button, my phone immediately came up. Thank you!

  5. Char says:

    THANKS!!

    Thought my iPhone was toast.

  6. akua mensah says:

    non of the methods worked on my phone

  7. Suzanna says:

    Thank you! Thought I’d have to drive 1hr to the nearest apple store… but the hard reboot solved my problem, since my phone had been plugged in all night! Glad I wasn’t working today or the alarm would have never gone off!

  8. bob w says:

    thanks, did a hard reboot and i’m back in operation

  9. Maaz says:

    i was worried about my phone as it was not doing anything, saw your article and tried the hard reboot. it is then i found out that my phone needed a recharge.

    now All is Well, Phone’s working fine Now.

    Thanks!

  10. bdsudek says:

    thank you so much. I thought my phone was gone forever.

  11. Victoria says:

    I have tried charging my iPhone 4S for about 20 minutes and no “low battery” warnings have appeared. I have tried a second apple charger but no sign of the warning either.

    The other problem with my phone is that the power button stopped working a while back. So I haven’t been able to use it. I can’t try the hard reboot tip. I have tried holding the home button, though. No luck!

    My iPhone hasn’t been exposed to water or such things. So no damage has been done. I just left my phone upstairs (it was working well) and when I went upstairs again, It wouldn’t turn on.

    Any more advice of what I can do? I really can’t afford to buy another phone.

  12. TONY LEWIS says:

    Fully charged 100 percent SLIDE TO UNLOCK can’t access my Messages please HELP

  13. maria says:

    it was 100% charge it just turn off by its self and never came back on it was working fine just two hours ago, what should i do?

  14. snehal says:

    i did hard reboot and it worked…super!!! thanks lot!!!!

  15. Mavis says:

    Hard reboot worked. I’m back in business. Thanks!!!!

  16. Alex says:

    This was soooooo helpful, your a life saver

  17. Megan says:

    Thanks so much! Had a hard time helping my mom with it but once I read this it worked! Thanks again(:

  18. Erin says:

    I’ve tried everything and the Apple logo does show up but it has been on the Apple logo for 4 hours and plugged in all that time. This happened to me at least a year ago and I left it be for a week before it finally worked again. I can’t go a week without my phone right now, though since I’m on vacation.

  19. CESAR says:

    OMG THANKS MY PARENTS WOULD HAVE KILLED ME

  20. Eva says:

    My daughter has an iPhone4s and she told me, lastnight when she turned it off, it wouldn’t turn back on at all. It happend about 2 days ago as well, and when she plugs it into the charger it vibrates constantly, after a while that night it finally turned on. now that it happend again , it wont turn on. Please help.

  21. I just experienced a dead iPhone and attempting the usual methods still exulted in the Apple screen showing for a minute or 2 then shutting down. Finally I plugged it into my MacBook Pro which managed to “kickstart” the iPhone. When it went into its backup routine I discovered that my phone was 1.28 GB OVER capacity! Since I hadn’t installed anything recently I determined that an app must have updated and placed my phone into the over capacity realm. After some purging it seems to be back to normal. Whew!

  22. Diane says:

    Thanks! You saved me a trip to the Apple store. My 5 month old 5s responded with the reboot after going dead overnight. Is this crash indicative of a problem with my software and thus, more likely to happen again in the future? Thanks again!

  23. Sid says:

    Thankyou so much. I rebooted and it worked. :)

  24. Andrew says:

    Thank you! The second method worked. I think it was frozen

  25. princess says:

    I just wanted to say thank you buddiee. I was so worried that id have to take my phone to the dang apple store on my day off.. the rebooting worked perfect. me n iiphone thank u .. =)

  26. Bonnie says:

    Worked like charm.

    Thanks!

  27. Mariahhh says:

    I have an iphone 4s and about 4 days ago,and it like wont cut back on. But whenever I plug it in the screen shows whether its charging or not but it wont cut back on. I even would charge it for about 6 hrs and it wont do anything. ): What do i do? i accidently dropped my phone in a pond and on the road but that was about 4 months ago and it still works until now. Helpp!

  28. Philippe says:

    Help! my iphone lock button is not working anymore, and my phone battery drained and is completely dead. so i plugged it in a wall outlet, after a 5 hours its still dead. How can i turn it on? also im using a cheap cord. What would be the Problem?

  29. nepal says:

    thanks a lot for brilliant idea..it works now..try to push both button to start atleast 15 seconds..it will..

  30. helpme says:

    I have an iphone4s and ive tried everything…I mean EVERYTHING and nothing works, my phone is damage free and ive left the phone on charge for hours now and it still shows up with the “red battery logo”. though my phone has not been in use for a good week, do I just leave it to charge longer?? please help. I really need my phone. HELLPPP

  31. Dee says:

    OMG, hope this works :( … I haven’t turned on my phone for 7 days. It shows a drained battery with red line and a cable below when the power switch is pressed.
    I’ll update later.

  32. Dee M says:

    I phone suddenly went dead and I realized after reading your suggestions that I didn’t hold the Home button and the power button long enough. Awesome advice!

  33. delilah says:

    omg!!!! after 2 hour now finally my iphone turn on!! Thanks!!!

  34. Susie says:

    well that’s sucks my home button doesn’t work so I Cant try and reboot it and I think that’s what the problem is.

  35. Thamzi says:

    I went on a roadtrip with friends and my phone died I didn’t charge it for a few days and since being back at home I have tried to charge it, I even bought a new charger and still nothing. Charged it for a full day and the screen is still blank… tried everything you suggested and nothing worked. Apparently my battery is completely drained but like how do I fix this?

  36. William says:

    I got grounded got my phone taken and my phone died that night and was dead for two weeks. I just got it back and I’ve been charging it for an hour and no charging notifications are coming up

  37. Susan K. says:

    My iPhone works with the force reboot solution, but I don’t understand why it shut off to begin with. Was playing YouTube songs for my daughter. The battery was at about 50% power. Could this have ran it down that fast?! only was on about an hour or so. This my first IPhone so I have no idea.

  38. KELVIN says:

    IT WORKED FOR MY I PHONE THANK YOU

  39. JACKIE says:

    Dropped my iphone 4 on the floor and it won’t turn back on. I tried the force reboot, but nothing happened.

  40. isabel says:

    Img this heloed so much !! I almosed died !

  41. David c says:

    Tried everything n nothing worked it’s been off several days now n won’t come back on before it happened the phone used to get really hot while charging then went cool then it started turning itself on n off n if I turned it off it wud turn back on itself no nothing I’m lost

  42. Rebecca says:

    I had a 3GS, ended up getting a 5s months later and haven’t tried to turn the 3GS on until now and all I’m getting is the battery logo with the fine red line and it’s been on charge for about 2hours and the bar isn’t going up and everytime I unplug it it’s just turning off. Is it normal for the phone to take so long to turn on after being off for so long or it Is something more serious?

  43. Vigin says:

    Hello,

    I have Iphone 4s and it got wet in the rain today. I came home and now the screen is black and do not respond at all. I get vibrations when someone calls and also i can speak very clearly. But the screen is still black even after connecting to Itunes.

    Kindly help

  44. pepeng agimat says:

    what the f@#ck!! it works men…thanks a lot…more power..

  45. nobby clark says:

    My iphone 4 charges and the apple flashes up on the phone every 5 minutes so it shows it’s charging but the phone simply won’t turn on. Any suggestions??

  46. gelia carter says:

    thankyou
    so much my phone is working im so proud

  47. Jennifer says:

    My phone has been on charge for 30 mins an won’t cut on ?

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