How to Fix an Unresponsive iPhone X Screen

Mar 2, 2018 - 13 Comments

How to fix an unresponsive iPhone X screen

Rarely, owners of an iPhone X may discover their screen is unresponsive seemingly at random, where swipes and taps on the screen are either not registered at all, or they have a severe lag and there’s a notable delay before the touch interaction completes. Swipes and gestures suddenly have a huge lag, and taps on the screen either take moments to do anything, or are ignored entirely.

Sometimes, the iPhone X screen freezes completely, becoming entirely unresponsive to any engagement with the device at all.

These are rare issues but when and if they do happen to a user, it’s understandably annoying. Fortunately there’s a simple solution available, so if you discover that your iPhone X is randomly unresponsive and the screen does not appear to be working, you can fix the problem fairly quickly.

Before anything else, make sure your iPhone X display is clean, and there isn’t any poorly fitting screen protector or case on the device that could prevent the screen from being touch responsive. Assuming the iPhone X screen is clean and there isn’t any obstruction, you’re in the realm of the unresponsive display troubleshooting that we’ll cover here.

So, what’s the best way to resolve an unresponsive iPhone X with a frozen display? The good old fashioned hard reboot! Yes indeed, forcibly restarting iPhone X will cause the iPhone to reboot and once it has booted back up again, the devices display and touch interactions should respond to all input as expected.

How to Fix Frozen / Unresponsive iPhone X Screen

Here is how you can quickly fix an unresponsive iPhone X by forcibly rebooting the device, be sure you follow the sequence exactly to properly initiate the forced reboot:

  1. Press down the Volume Up button and release
  2. Press down the Volume Down button and release
  3. Hold down the side Power / Lock button until you see the  Apple logo appear on screen, this can take about 10 seconds or so
  4. Once you see the  Apple logo on the display, release the Power button and the device will boot up as usual

Once the iPhone X boots back up, the screen should instantly work as you’d expect it to. All touch should be immediately recognized, and touch gestures and swipes should be recognized fluidly as usual.

Admittedly force rebooting a device is not the most elegant solution, but since it works (and since there is no known other solution) and it doesn’t take too long, it’s perhaps the best option available at the moment.

Next: Update iOS on the iPhone X

After you have forced your iPhone X to reboot, you should take a moment to update iOS to the latest version, or at least be sure your device is on the latest version available.

  1. Back up the iPhone X, backing up to iCloud is easy or you can backup to iTunes
  2. Open the “Settings” app and go to “General” and then to “Software Update”
  3. If an iOS software update is available, download and install it as usual

Installing the latest version of iOS to iPhone X is important because each software update release tends to include bug fixes, some of which may remedy the unresponsive screen issue.

Why does the iPhone X screen freeze or become unresponsive?

It’s not entirely clear why the iPhone screen can become unresponsive to touch, swipes, gestures, and other touch input seemingly at random. Presumably the unresponsive screen issue is software related, however.

Interestingly, some time ago Apple had released an update to iOS for iPhone X versioned as iOS 11.1.2 that specifically mentioned in the release notes the following:

“Fixes an issue where the iPhone X screen becomes temporarily unresponsive to touch after a rapid temperature drop”

There are also various reports online that the iPhone X screen can become unresponsive or frozen when the device is in a cold environment. In these situations, installing the iOS updates may resolve the problem.

But skepticism of temperature being the only cause of an unresponsive screen is warranted, because I have personally experienced the unresponsive screen issue on my own iPhone X in an indoors temperature controlled environment at a pleasant 72 degrees, and while running iOS 11.2.6.

It’s reasonably likely that the iPhone X screen occasionally freezes or becomes unresponsive due to some particular software issue, whether it’s a bug in a particular app, or iOS itself, or whether some daemon is running in the background and suddenly consuming excessive resources leading the device to become so slow that it appears unresponsive of frozen. Because the screen becomes responsive again after a hard reboot, this makes sense.

Finally it’s worth mentioning that because the iPhone X is fairly new, the device is covered under the regular Apple Warranty, and so if you’re experiencing constant freezing or unresponsive screen issues and the above tips of updating iOS and forced rebooting are not resolving the problem for you, you might want to consider reaching out directly to an official Apple Support channel. Unresponsive screens are not common but they’re also not entirely rare, and a similar issue happened with iPhone 6s models a while back, as well as occasionally on iPhone 7 and other iPhones too, often also requiring a hard reboot, software update, or even a system restore.

Did these tips help you fix your unresponsive iPhone X screen? Do you have another solution for this issue? Let us know your experience in the comments below.

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

13 Comments

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  1. John says:

    What am I missing? I followed steps 1, 2, and 3- and all I got was Siri, awaiting instructions. Don’t we accomplish the same thing by pressing the bottom volume button and the power button simultaneously to shut it down?

    John

  2. threedog says:

    You’re not missing a thing. It’s obvious that a “hard reboot” is simply accomplished by powering off and then back on. Whe I read this I also tried the directions because I was like wtf and also got Siri. Sheesh. What kind of a “tip” or “trick” is it when it’s the obvious?

    • remrem says:

      No, what you both are describing is a simple power down or power off (rebooting) of the iPhone. That will solve some issues. What is necessary to fix this issue is a hard reset. In older iPhones the hard reset was done by pressing the power on and home buttons together until the Apple Logo appeared. The iPhone X does not have a home button and therefore requires a different set of buttons.

      if You follow the directions in the article correctly, you will not get Siri, you will wait a little while pressing down on the power on button and then the Apple Logo will come on and the iPhone will reset (as opposed to reboot). You possibly waited too long after each press. Do it quickly on the up and down buttons and then hold down on the power button immediately.

      • John says:

        I’ve tried this “fix” numerous times and all it does is provide me with the option to shut the phone down as usual. Upgraded by OS and it seems to be working fine on my iPhone 6+.

  3. DP says:

    easy to fix in 3 steps:
    1) open window
    2) throw iphone x into open window
    3) get yourself android phone

  4. nateaych says:

    This sounds like the same issue that plagued the iPhone 6Plus that Apple refused to aknowledge and is currently under class action suit. See article https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/xyg59d/iphone-6-plus-touch-disease-touchscreen-problems

  5. Pete says:

    I have not had the described problem to the point of having to take any new action (i.e., maybe a few taps – instead of the usual one – were necessary). However, I was unable to download music; I could access Apple Music, I could listen to anything I selected, I just could not download. I tried the power-off reboot (soft) – not the hard reboot described above – and then could download. This situation happened across two system upgrades/reloads. For about the past month, this problem has not recurred. Friends with iPhones have said a hard reboot about once-a-month is a really good idea….

  6. Jeff says:

    Gee do ‘ya think by now the overpriced junk Apple sells would have any reliablity? DP got it right or try string & 2 tin cans V. 2.0

    • John says:

      Ge thanks Jeff. You and the squirrels out in the yard are going to be my “go to” tech advisors from here on!

      Thanks!

  7. luke says:

    I have the same issue with anew iphone SE, I returned it and switch back to 11.2.2 and no problems.

    11.2.5 and 11.2.6 = SUCKS! ( i bought 4 iphones in past month/returned) all do the same. Or i jsut had bad luck?

    Hope this helps someone.

    • Millsy says:

      I’m sure it has to do with the latest update 11.2.6 as I have only just come across this issue on my 12.9 IPad Pro 2 since downloading the latest update, it had never been an issue prior to this. I really do hate how Apple forces you to keep the updates once it’s downloaded even if it’s causing annoying issues.

  8. JB says:

    My issue is usually just with texting or emailing someone. The screen freezes for about 7 seconds and then catches up with what I typed. Super annoying. I’ve tried all the suggestions but still have the issue. Oddly, I had it on my iPhone 6 and assumed it was the issue because it was having various issues, but when I got the iPhone X, after a couple days the same thing happened.

    Usually I just need to close 5-8 apps and then the screen doesn’t freeze when I type, but that is annoying for a $1200 ‘smart’ phone. Apple’s support forum has several threads about it, but Apple rarely comments on this issue.

  9. Michael Fox says:

    What a pile of sh the Iphone X is

    Brand new – straight out of the box – following problems:-

    1) Zoom turned on by itself
    2) Follow Thingy turned on by itself
    3) Screen unresponsive 90% of the time
    4) You MUST put a sim chip in this POS or you wont get far – not like the previous models
    5) Restoring from iTunes 11.3 didn’t work – 6 times
    6) Screen takes on a mind of its own and just leaving it on the table it goes through random routines without any touch input – most amazing piece of fin sh i ever had bought for me as a B’Day present

    The wife is beside herself and I think 500 mill Cook’s a thief

    REFUND – 2 weeks for an appointment though – I love Apple me. NOT

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