What To Do When an iPhone Won’t Turn On
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.
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.
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:
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.
Forcibly reboot the iPhone by holding down Power and Home button simultaneously until the Apple logo appears. Typically that takes 10-15 seconds.
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.