iPhone DFU Mode Explained: How to Use & Enter DFU Mode on iPhone
Need to use DFU mode with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch? Maybe you need to restore from firmware or troubleshoot an iOS device from DFU? We’ll explain how to enter and exit DFU mode on any iPhone model with a clickable Home button, what DFU mode is, why you may want to use it, and of course, how to use it. Do note that using DFU mode requires iTunes, a USB cable, and a computer, as well as the iOS device in question.
What is iPhone DFU mode?
DFU mode is a state that you can put your iPhone into where it can interface with iTunes, but does not load the iPhone operating system or boot loader (this is what really differs DFU mode from the more simple recovery mode). DFU stands for Device Firmware Update.
What is DFU Mode Used for?
DFU mode is generally intended for advanced use only. The primary reason people need to access DFU mode on their iPhone is to update or change the firmware and iOS on the device, either out of troubleshooting requirements, or personal preference. This can serve to restore a bricked iPhone where updating iOS has failed and the phone is seemingly broken, but it can also be used sometimes to downgrade to a prior iPhone firmware and operating system. In some unique situations, it can also be used to install custom firmware that is required for a jailbreak or SIM unlock. A practical example is if you have an iPhone IPSW file downloaded locally for updating a malfunctioning iPhone, which may require DFU in iTunes to accomplish. Another common usage of firmware downloads is if you have decided you would rather have a prior version of the firmware on your iPhone, you would need to do this through DFU mode, assuming that version of iOS is still signed by Apple.
How to Enter iPhone DFU Mode
The method discussed here will work to enter DFU mode on any iPhone model with a clickable Home button, including iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and earlier.
You will need iTunes (Mac or Windows PC), the iOS device (in this case, an iPhone), and a USB cable, in order to enter into DFU mode:
- Connect the iPhone to your computer and launch iTunes
- Turn the iPhone off (hold down the power button at the top of the iPhone) if it isn’t off already
- Hold down the sleep/power button and home button together for exactly 10 seconds, then release the power button
- Continue to hold down the Home button until a message appears in iTunes telling you an iPhone in recover mode has been detected, here is what that that message in iTunes usually looks like:
- When you are in DFU mode your iPhone screen will be completely black, but detected by iTunes
This is what an iPhone in DFU mode looks like, it’s not much, just a black screen – but critically, it’s detected by iTunes on the computer:
Even though the screen is black, that doesn’t mean the device can’t be interfaced with either iTunes or a custom firmware client (for jailbreaking, etc).
Remember that if you see the restore logo, iTunes logo, or any message on the iPhone screen, you are not in DFU mode but standard Recovery Mode. Again, DFU mode is signified by having a completely black screen on the device. If anything else is the case, repeat the steps above until you enter into DFU mode successfully.
Restoring a Device from DFU Mode
Once you are in DFU mode you can restore the iPhone with firmware by selecting the appropriate iOS IPSW files, or set it up as new, restore from a backup, update with iTunes itself to the latest version of iOS, or whatever else you need to do. We cover using IPSW files in detail here.
Do note that you can usually perform a simple iOS update or restore with Recovery Mode, DFU is not always required, particularly for some more basic troubleshooting situations.
How to Exit DFU Mode on iPhone
The simplest way to exit out of DFU mode is to hold down the Home and sleep/power buttons on the iPhone while connected to iTunes. Then just hit the power button as and this should reboot the device as usual.
And if you’re curious, yes this works all the same on an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, it’s all the same.
The most common use for DFU mode is to repair and restore a bricked iphone, sometimes to attempt an iOS downgrade to an earlier version, or for reasons pertaining to a jailbreak. In the latter situation, it’s not unusual for people to buy an existing iPhone and jailbreak and unlock the device to use the phone on another network or overseas. But there are other purposes for DFU mode as well, and it’s a handy troubleshooting trick if you’re in a bind and an iOS device is seemingly not working at all, and not responding to typical tricks if it’s refusing to turn on.
All Devices Support DFU
Do note DFU mode works on all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices, with all versions of iOS, and it can be detected with all versions of iTunes. That said, you will generally want to have the most recent version of iTunes available to avoid trouble updating and restoring devices from iTunes.
One thing to keep in mind is that some of the newer Apple devices have different methods of entering DFU mode, for example entering DFU mode on iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus and DFU mode on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are different from DFU mode on prior devices because the hardware buttons have changed or been removed. You may also want to know how to enter DFU mode on iPad Pro (2018 and newer with Face ID), enter DFU mode on iPad with Home button, or enter DFU on iPhone XS, XR, XS Max, X.
If you know any other DFU tricks or have any suggestions, let us know in the comments below.