Have you got an iPhone, iPad or iPod that won’t turn on or seems to be ‘bricked’? There’s a good chance your iOS device is still functional; you just need to use some gentle persuasion to wake it up.
In any case, there are several steps you can take to fix the problem with your iPhone or iPad, and we’ll work our way through those steps in this article. (If you’ve got problems with your Mac, on the other hand, here’s 10 steps to take when your Mac won’t start up.)
As a note: this is a guide to mysterious situations where an iOS device refuses to turn on as a result of problems unknown. If you’re pretty sure what the matter is – if your device has fallen into water or overheated, for example – then we would recommend contacting Apple. Finally, we’ve got separate advice for the White Screen of Death, which is a slightly different problem.
Out of power
Basics first. Let’s see if your device has simply run out of battery power. To ensure you’ve got enough power to switch on your iOS device, plug it into a wall charger and give it at least ten minutes to charge, before attempting to turn it on.
Bear in mind that there could be a problem with the wall charger or the cable, so if charging isn’t doing the trick you should try the same routine with a different plug, and with a borrowed or spare cable. (If there’s nobody you can get a cable from, you could pop into an Apple store and borrow one of theirs, or simply buy a new Lightning cable.)
If you’ve given your iPhone or iPad a decent charge using multiple plugs and cables but it still fails to display anything, you’re probably looking at a hardware problem such as a degraded lithium battery and should look into your repair options.
If on the other your device now switches on but doesn’t get past the Apple boot logo, follow the steps below.
“Have you tried switching it off and on again?” might be a hackneyed phrase, but this principle is the default go-to for those stuck in a bootloop.
A force-restart is often enough to fix a bricked device. The method you need to use to perform this depends on the iPhone (or iPad) you own. We have a complete guide that explains how to force-restart your iPhone.
For most iOS devices, including all iPads, you can force a restart by pressing and holding the home button and power button.
However, if your device is new enough to have a non-mechanical software Home button (iPhone 7/8 generations), and certainly if it doesn’t have a Home button at all (iPhone X) then the process is different and more complex.
On iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, you press and hold the power (or side) button and the volume down button at the same time, until the recovery mode screen appears. On 8, 8 Plus and X you have to press (and release) volume up, then press (and release volume down), then finally press and hold the power button until the recovery-mode screen appears.
Once you’ve rebooted, give the device a few minutes to switch on, then try using it normally. (To eliminate any battery-related problems, it’s a good idea to perform the reset while the device is plugged into a power source.)
If your device switches on, but then instantly switches off or refuses to get past the Apple logo after 10 minutes, then you might need to restore it. See the next step to see how to perform a reset.
If your iPhone turns on, but continues to have serious problems with iOS, you might need to restore it.
Plug it into your computer and open iTunes if it doesn’t open automatically. Click the device’s icon to open its summary page and hit ‘Restore’. (It’s recommended that you back up your iOS device before restoring it, but it’s not required.)
Once the procedure is complete, iTunes will ask if you want to restore from a previous backup. If you don’t have an old backup, you’ll have to set up your device as new. The process can take several hours to complete, depending on the speed of your machines and the amount of data.
DFU (Device Firmware Update) mode is used to update firmware and often enables you to fix a completely unresponsive iPhone or iPad, but should only be used in extreme situations.
Plug your device into your Mac (or PC), and open iTunes. Now hold down the iOS device’s power button for about three seconds, and swipe to power off when prompted.
Once the power-off process is complete, press and hold both the Home button and power/side buttons, and keep them held for 10 seconds. (You need to be fairly precise about this.) Then let go of the power button, but keep the Home button pressed for another 5 seconds.
If you see the ‘connect into iTunes’ screen or an Apple logo on the device’s screen, you’ve got the timings wrong. You should just see an alert in iTunes that your computer has detected the device, and offering to restore it, while the iPhone screen remains black.
On the iPhone 7, 8 and X you should follow the above method but replace every mention of the Home button with the volume down button. Remember that those devices either don’t have Home buttons, or have non-mechanical Home buttons that don’t work when they are powered off.
To read more, including how to get the device out of the mode, see How to put an iPhone in DFU mode.
Try another PC
If you’re unable to restore your device or enter DFU mode, it might be worth trying a different Mac or PC if you’ve got one. Sometimes a conflict or driver problem prevents your computer from recognising your iOS device.
Talk to Apple
If all else fails, your next best bet is to book an appointment with Apple’s support staff, who will be able to suggest solutions or offer a repair or (if necessary) replacement. Not sure how? Here’s how to book an Apple Genius Bar appointment.
Of course, this may cost you, particularly if your device is old and out of warranty. It’s always worth remembering that other companies will be able to do the repair instead, and are likely to do so for less money – but the payoff is that you are likely to have a little less peace of mind.
It’s also worth considering the cost of replacing your old device versus the cost of a replacement. Apple might even offer you a trade-in option.
Sell or recycle
Don’t want to pay for a replacement, thrown in the towel or looking to get a new phone anyway? Then you could always sell your iOS device on sites such as eBay as ‘parts or not working’. Some lucky soul might be able to buy your device and salvage some components for their own device.
No matter the age of your device, there’s always someone out there looking to buy replacement parts. Having a software-broken device doesn’t necessarily mean the hardware is faulty. Read more in our How to sell your iPhone guide.
Alternatively, if you feel it’s not worth your time selling the broken iOS device, you can always be environmentally conscious and recycle your device through Apple directly.