iPhone Randomly Turns Itself Off with Battery Remaining? This May Fix it

Jun 9, 2014 - 19 Comments

iPhone turns itself off at random

Some iPhone users have experienced a very annoying issue; their iPhone will randomly turn itself off, despite having battery charge remaining. Sometimes this is just a matter of the iPhone battery indicator not updating properly, sometimes it’s software related, and sometimes it’s actually related to the battery hardware itself.

If you’re experiencing the random shutting itself down problem on your iPhone, we’ve got a few troubleshooting solutions that may fix the issue.

Step 1: Drain the iPhone to 0%, Charge to 100%

For many users, simply draining the iPhone battery all the way down to 0% (not just to the point of shutting down, but actually letting it completely drain) and then charging it back to 100% is enough to get the random shut-off problem to resolve itself. This usually only works if the issue is related to the iPhone battery indicator not properly showing the charge remaining.

100 percent charge on iPhone

Still randomly shutting off? Try step 2:

Step 2: Back up & Restore as New

The next step is to restore the device as new, then restoring from a backup, but only do this after you’ve made a backup of everything on the iPhone.

  1. Connect the iPhone to a computer and launch iTunes
  2. From iTunes, choose to “Back Up Now” – this will make a most recent backup of the iPhone and everything on it (you can also backup to iCloud if you want) – wait for this to finish
  3. When the backup is complete, choose to “Restore iPhone” from the iTunes options
  4. Let the restore process complete, when finished the iPhone will start as if it was brand new. In this setup process, choose to restore from your backup that you just made

Backup and restore the iPhone

Note that restoring the iPhone this way will also install the latest version of iOS available for your device – that’s a good thing, if you’re not on the latest version you may be missing out on bug fixes anyway.

This wipes the iPhone, reinstalls iOS, and then puts all your stuff back onto it, helping to rule out software problems as the random shutdown cause. You’ll need to use the iPhone for a while to determine if this has fixed the problem, many times this will resolve it completely and the iPhone will no longer randomly turn itself off.

Restored and STILL having the phone randomly shut itself down? Step 3 is the way to go…

iPhone randomly turning off

Step 3: Phone Still Shutting Down Randomly? Contact Apple Support

If you still experience the random shutdown problem after doing the full restore, you’ll probably need to visit an Apple Store Genius Bar or contact Apple’s official support channels to resolve the issue. It’s entirely possible that the iPhone battery itself has gone bad or is no longer functioning properly, and if the iPhone is still under warranty Apple will replace the battery for free. In order to find this out for sure, Apple will need to run tests on the device, which is why you’ll either need to go to the Genius Bar or send in the iPhone, thus your next move is to contact Apple Support online, calling 1-800-MY-IPHONE (1-800-694-7466), or visiting an Apple Store.

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

19 Comments

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  1. Kingsford says:

    If the iPhone turns off with Battery Remaining, it indicates one of two things.

    1. The Battery is Bad.
    2. The Battery is Consumed.

    Both result in the battery needing to be replaced. The symptom is the battery showing a miscalculation of its charge.

    • Kr00 says:

      Not totally correct. Batteries have a BMS (battery management system) control chip that manages and records charge cycles, calculates charge and discharge times of the battery and even temperature.

      Frequently the BMS calculates incorrectly, charge and discharge levels and will shutdown when it indicates 20% or such.

      Completely discharging the battery and fully charging with the correct charger resets the BMS.

      • Kingsford says:

        Take it to the Apple Store. It will show Consumed or Bad.

        • vdiv says:

          Agree. In my case the battery of my 4S showed as healthy in Apple’s diagnostics, however performing the listed steps (deep discharge/charge and backup, reset, restore) did not solve the problem. Considering the device is 2 years old it is most likely the inability of the BMS to track the battery state of charge due to the battery being old and being unable to deliver the required power. Note that the battery may still have quite a bit of charge remaining, it is that it cannot deliver it fast enough as the device demands.

          Now if Apple would only agree to replace the battery without wiping off the device…

          • Mike says:

            I also agree, if you’re experiencing this issue just take the iPhone to Apple they will probably swap the battery out for you.

            Warranty coverage extends to the iPhone battery, and even sometimes without warranty they will fix it for free anyway as long as you’re not a raging jerkface to the Apple support persons. A new battery can make an old phone feel new again simply because it lasts longer than 2 hours without going kaput.

  2. Tania says:

    My 5s used to randomly turn off frequently until I disabled fingerprint recognition, now it stays on all the time as it should.

  3. cashxx says:

    I have a 2 year old iPhone 4S that shuts off around 48% battery life left. Did a restore and the battery drain and charge and no luck. I’m running iOS 8 and noticed the other day I got down to 45% or so and it didn’t shut off. Hopefully that fixed it, I was guessing it was the battery finally failing being 2 years old.

  4. DG says:

    Will somebody please explain the difference to an old fool;

    …………simply draining the iPhone battery all the way down to 0% (not just to the point of shutting down, but actually letting it completely drain) ??

    • Pumpkin says:

      Meaning, drain the iPhone down so the battery is actually at 0%, say by leaving it uncharged overnight after it shuts off from battery loss, not just to the point where it randomly shuts off (which is the problem trying to be solved)

  5. Jasper050 says:

    I had the same problem with my iPhone 5 60GB.
    The memory was almost fully utilized. Since I take care that I have about 10% free memory, the problem has not occurred again. (yet)

    Jasper The Netherlands

  6. jimmy says:

    There is *quite a lengthly discussion about this on Apple forums. My iP5 would die at 36% battery. The ONLY fix is a new battery. iOS 7.0.4 destroyed my battery calibration. There is no other real fix. iFixit.com or genius bar…

  7. FRED says:

    Uniqe medicine for all – Back up & Restore as New
    Amazing!

    BUHAHAHA

    • Paul says:

      Yes FRED that is correct. The reason being, that if you take your iPhone to an Apple Genius Bar for repair on this issue, they will restore it as new. This is directing users to perform that same troubleshooting step themselves, the average user does not have the Genius Bar tools to test the battery, but they can reload iOS to see if that makes a difference. If it does, problem solved, no trip to the genius bar. If it doesn’t, to the official support channels one must go as it often indicates a physical battery issue.

  8. Jason says:

    My iPhone 5 battery is terrible, easily has the shortest battery life of any modern electronic device I’ve owned. I can maybe get 2 hours of use out of it before it’s drained, even just from talking on the phone for an hour starting from 100% it’ll be drained down to the point of an alert 10% left. Does a battery really have that short of a lifespan? Never seen something this awful before.

    And here the rumors are that iPhone 6 will be ‘thinner than ever’ but who cares? We all want battery life. Keep it as thick as the iPhone 5 but make it last all day, that would be something. Or you know, you can just get that from an Android I guess if you don’t mind the Android experience.

  9. Paul says:

    It’s almost always the battery needing to be replaced. I tried all of this on my iPhone 5 that was a year and a half old, and the only thing that worked was a new battery.

    I didn’t have this problem on any previous generation of iPhone. Not sure if Apple had a defective batch (as many people have battery issues) or if iOS caused the problem, or just plain use.

  10. Jim says:

    1and 2 did not fix the problem for me but 3 did when Apple replaced my phone.

  11. Jim says:

    This happened to me with a new 5s. I tried both of the suggested solutions before this article was published and neither worked. I went to the apple store, described the problem and the two solutions I had attempted and his response was “we will give you a new phone.” No hesitation in his response so I assume this is a known problem.

  12. Ramesh says:

    To fix the issue with your iPhone shutting off even though it says there is still battery life remaining, we’re going to do a “DFU Restore”. DFU stands for Device Firmware Update and because it reloads the software and the firmware, it’s an even deeper restore mode than the recovery mode Apple describes on their website.

    It’s a simple process, but you’ll need to know what I mean when I say the ‘Home Button’ and the ‘Power Button’ (the Power Button is also referred to as the sleep / wake button). The Home Button is the circular button on the front of your phone, right below the display. The power button is the button on the top right hand side of your phone. You also might need a timer – but if you can count 8 seconds in your head, you won’t need one.

    Back up your iPhone to iCloud or iTunes.
    Plug your iPhone into your computer and open up iTunes. You’ll see your iPhone show up in the upper right hand corner.
    Press and hold the Power Button (on top right of iPhone) and Home Button (front center, below the display) together for 8 seconds. You’ll see your iPhone’s screen go black – that’s normal. Yes, this is like doing a hard reset, which generally isn’t a good idea, but it doesn’t matter here because we’re reloading all the software on your iPhone anyway!
    After 8 seconds, release the Power Button but continue to hold the Home Button. Keep holding until iTunes says it has detected a phone in recovery mode. Then you can let go of the home button and set your iPhone aside.
    If you’ve successfully entered DFU mode, your iPhone will show up in iTunes but the display of your iPhone will be black. This is perfect! If you see anything at all on your display, you haven’t entered DFU mode. If you need to reset your phone, hold both the Power Button and Home Button together for several seconds until the Apple logo appears. Note: Once you start a restore, don’t pull the phone from your computer – let it finish.
    Click ‘Continue’ on the iTunes dialog box that says ‘iTunes has detected an iPhone in recovery mode…’
    Click Restore, download the software if necessary, and allow your iPhone to restore. The process can take anywhere from 8-15 minutes, depending on the model of iPhone you have. Older models tend to take longer to restore, but the process is the same.
    After the restore finishes and your iPhone reboots, iTunes will display a screen that says ‘Welcome to your new iPhone.’ Unplug your phone from the computer and walk through the restore process using your iPhone.
    Embrace your inner geekiness in all its glory! Now you can tell your friends (and kids), “Yeah, I know how to DFU restore my iPhone.”
    Now that your iPhone is good as new new and all your apps are downloading, give your phone a few days to recalibrate and get to know the battery again. It might take some time for it to recalibrate and I recommend fully charging your phone and letting it fully discharge a couple times before declaring the problem officially fixed or not. If the issue comes back, you’ve eliminated the possibility of a software or firmware issue, and it might be time to a trip to the Apple Store (or just use expresslane.apple.com and mail your iPhone in to get repaired if you have a backup phone lying around. It take a couple days, but it’s really easy!

    Back when I worked for Apple, I’d always do DFU restores when a customer needed their phone restored. Why? The DFU restore is the biggest stick of all, and if the customer had a software or firmware problem that could be solved with a restore, a DFU restore would solve it. It wasn’t official Apple policy, but I saw it help a lot of people, and that’s why I’m passing this information along to you.

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