What to do if your iPhone won’t turn back on

By , Mar 16, 2016

iPhone black screen won't turn on

If you’re trying to use an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, only to find that the display is black and the device won’t power back on, it could be happening because of a variety of different reasons. The only way to know why it’s happening for sure is to troubleshoot.

In this piece, we’ll attempt to discuss the various reasons why this could be occurring to your iOS device(s), and some potential workarounds to get you back into the device if it won’t power back on.

Why is my screen black and why won’t it turn on?

There are a number of reasons why your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad might have a black screen and isn’t turning on. Any of the following reasons can be the root cause:

  • The battery has lost all of its charge
  • The device is completely powered down
  • The storage drive is damaged
  • A glitch in iOS
  • Total iOS corruption

Typically, a dead battery is the most common of these problems, and total iOS corruption is typically the least likely in most cases, but I have seen times when an iOS glitch has completely locked the user out of the device and special measures were required to get the device up and running again.

Getting your iOS device up and running again

Now that you’ve stumbled upon this information on why the problem could be happening, you’re probably wondering what you can do to get your device up and running again so you or the true owner can start using it again. If so, you can always try these steps:

Try rebooting the device

If the screen is black, and pressing the power button or home button doesn’t wake the device, it may just be powered down.

In this scenario, all you need to do is press and hold the power button on the device until you see an Apple logo, and at this point, the device should start to boot back up. If it doesn’t, try the next step.

Try a hard restart

If a soft reboot doesn’t work, try a hard reboot. In a hard reboot, the power from the battery is disrupted, allowing all of the system’s memory to be drained and to start back up in a completely fresh state of mind. This method is successful most of the time, unless the battery is kaput or a serious problem is afoot.

To perform a hard reboot, you can press and hold both the Home button and power button at the same time for 10 seconds, or until you see an Apple logo appear on the screen.

Note: Hard reboots are also very effective if the iOS device is frozen on a screen and is unresponsive to your touch screen input.

No Apple logo? Keep moving on…

Try giving it some power

If the screen remains black after both of the above suggestions, then it’s most likely out of juice. If an iPhone’s battery gets too low, you’ll usually see a low power icon on the screen, like the one below:

iPhone dead battery screens

On the other hand, if the battery level gets low enough, the device may not even have enough power to alert you that the power is too low. In this case, the device’s screen will stay black no matter what you do because there’s no juice to turn the screen on.

If a hard restart didn’t work, you can check to see if a dead battery is your problem by plugging the device into a power source for at least 1 hour. This will give the device some time to collect a charge and reinitialize. When it gets some power, you should at least see the low battery icon for a while before it fully boots back up.

If you see nothing on the screen after 1 hour, then check to make sure the AC adapter and charging cable you’re using aren’t bad by testing them on a known good device.

If they’re not bad, then keep moving on down the list…

Connect to iTunes and try a system restore

If all else fails, you can always try connecting the device to a computer with iTunes installed on it and see if iTunes recognizes the device. If it does, you can attempt a system restore. If the problem is severe enough, the device may not be recognized by iTunes at all.

Try putting the device into Recovery Mode by performing a hard restart, and then continue holding the buttons even when you see the Apple logo so that you’re brought to the Recovery Mode screen.

iphone6-ios9-recovery-mode-screen

iTunes may then show a pop-up like the one below, which tells you that the software on the iPhone needs to be updated and restored:

itunes-recovery-mode-iphone

After clicking on the blue Update button, your computer will start to download the latest firmware for your device. If it takes more than 15 minutes, Apple notes you’ll have to put your device into Recovery Mode all over again.

Allow the restore to take place, then try rebooting the device again.

Note: This method works great as a fix if your device attempts to boot up, but seems to fail mid-boot up for no reason.

I’ve tried everything. Nothing worked…

If after all that ruckus your device still won’t power on, then we’re really sorry to tell you that it’s likely a hardware failure.

An iTunes restore more than likely would have remedied any kind of software corruption or bug in the system, a hard restart would have probably solved a software glitch, and a simple charge of the battery would have resolved a lack of juice. Anything else may be related to a failed storage unit, failed display, or something else going wrong.

If the problem is related to a display, you’ll likely see a black screen, but still hear notifications and vibrations coming from the device when you receive notifications. This can be related to a broken display flex cable or damaged display internals. The display’s digitizer is at fault if you can see what’s on the display, but are unable to make the display recognize any of your touch input. Both scenarios will require a replacement display.

If you have a non-functioning Home button or power button, then this will hinder your ability to perform a hard restart, and will also require replacement parts. Another possible scenario is your syncing port, whether it’s Lightning or 30-pin, may be damaged and is unable to accept power or sync with iTunes. Like a few other scenarios discussed before, this will require replacement parts (or a whole new device). If it’s your device’s storage drive having a bad soldering connection, or something else along those lines, you can also expect a replacement device.

If you couldn’t get your device up and running with any of the steps above, then we’d recommend getting in touch with AppleCare or visiting your local Apple Retail Store.

Wrapping up

It’s never fun when your expensive iOS devices stop working as expected, but hopefully after following the steps in this tutorial, you’re able to get your device up and running again. The worst case scenario is you’ll need to contact Apple for support, but the good news is Apple has great technical support and is usually more than happy to put a smile on your face.

Also read: What to do if you’ve forgotten your iPhone’s passcode

If you found this tutorial useful, let us know in the comments below!

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  • J™

    Yes I have encountered one my screen turn black… neither soft or hard reset can turn it back on so I tried to plug in my cable to charge it…. after 2 hours still dead… only then i realize i did not turn on the wall switch.

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    I encountered an issue about 5 months ago where my older iPhone 6 suddenly shutdown on its own, turned it back on and it shutdown again on its own every 2-3mins. Did a full iOS restore, didn’t fix it, took it to Apple got a replacement on the spot. Strangely enough this started to happen after I played a few rounds of Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies for iOS. Non-jailbroken iPhone running iOS 9.2 at the time. Since then I’ve been wary of running this game on my newer iPhone 6S Plus. Probably has nothing to do with it but still, not taking any chances.

  • seaky

    Tip: If your screen is black and you want to know, is this low battery issue or not, just press the wakeup/power-on button rapidly 3-5 times it will displays the battery indicator

    • Jeffrey

      Or just hold it

      Or did you mean when holding the power button doesn’t work anomore?

  • jalexcarter

    you never explained how to do a hard restart

    • This was stated in the post: “To perform a hard reboot, you can press and hold both the Home button and power button at the same time for 10 seconds, or until you see an Apple logo appear on the screen.”

      • jalexcarter

        Didn’t realize he meant the same thing when he said hard restart and reboot. He probably shouldn’t switch back and forth between nomenclature, causes confusion, thanks.

  • Rodney Coleman

    Tinyumbrella will work well ahhahaha

  • Clark

    Recovery mode will do absolutely nothing for a phone that is black screen and won’t boot. DFU mode however installs new firmware which allows software and hardware to talk again, this rules out corrupt firmware and works every 9/10 times.

    • Angel

      What is DFU mode?

  • Fred Bazzeeda

    Hello All on this, I had this problem which seemed to arise from not using the phone for over 2weeks as I went on holiday and took and different phone. Came back and tried to turn it on. To no avail, nothing. Charged it over night, nothing. Tried all of the above, nothing.
    Here is a solution, heat up the phone/battery for around 10min. I put it on a radiator and it really worked. There are a lot of other forums which speak about this. Some used a hair dryer, some used other methods, but it all came down to warming it up. After the charging icon comes on and then put it to the charger and let it charge up under normal charge, but let it get completely charged.
    I am glad I found out about this and didn’t get suckered in with a huge battery replacement and service bill. Apple should definitely put out a notice about this. Do NOT let the battery run completely down and not use for long periods of time. Otherwise you have this problem.
    Good luck everyone.