How to fix boot loop on a jailbroken iPhone or iPad with ‘No Substrate Mode’

By , Jun 9, 2016

Jailbreak Cydia Tweak Icon

What happens when a jailbreak tweak bugs out on your device and ends up in a boot loop? Do you try to reboot the device to no avail? Do you take to the internet to ask how to fix it?

How about this: try booting into a form of booting up that Saurik calls ‘No Substrate Mode,’ then uninstall the faulty tweak.

In this piece, we’ll talk about how you can use No Substrate Mode, an under-used feature of jailbroken iPhone or iPad that can truly save you from losing your precious jailbreak when you’re unable to turn on your device.

Bugs can cost you your jailbreak

It’s never a good feeling when your jailbreak tweaks bug out on you, but it happens. The jailbreak community is not only full of experienced iOS developers, but it also acts as an outlet of emerging iOS developers who are tinkering with iOS for the first time.

I’ve been in the jailbreak scene for many years, and I’ve watched developers come and go – both new and old. Although new developers will get their moment of fame when they release their first jailbreak tweak in Cydia, sometimes it comes with bugs that can make a jailbroken device unstable, or cause things to crash or bug out.

In some scenarios, bugs can be severe enough to cause what’s known as a boot loop, which is where your device won’t fully boot back up and will show the Apple Logo forever.

In this case, most people hook their device up to iTunes and restore it to factory settings. The only problem is, that will erase your jailbreak.

Nowadays, a jailbreak is hard to come by. If you update to the latest firmware, you’re out your jailbreak and there doesn’t seem to be any new jailbreak in the works at this point in time due to the silence of all the major jailbreak teams and length of time between jailbreak releases.

The long story short is, you want to avoid restoring at all costs, and Saurik, the guy behind Cydia, implemented a genius feature into jailbroken devices called No Substrate Mode, which lets you boot your device up without any instances of Cydia Substrate-based tweaks running in the background.

Using No Substrate Mode to fix a boot loop

Whenever you’re in the middle of a boot loop on your jailbroken device, you should think twice about restoring your device in iTunes.

Often times, you won’t get that jailbreak back until a new jailbreak is released because Apple has been flinging new iOS releases that aren’t jail breakable left and right for the last several months.

Instead, you can manually access No Substrate Mode while your device is in a boot loop by following these easy steps:

1) Press and hold the Power and Home buttons for 10 seconds until your device shuts off and restarts itself.

iPhone Rebooting

2) While the device is booting back up (when you see the screen with the Apple logo), press and hold the Volume Up button until you see your Lock screen.

iPhone Lock Screen

At this point, you should now have access to your device again. Keep in mind that because you’re in No Susbtrate Mode, none of your Cydia Substrate-based jailbreak tweaks will function and their settings will be missing from the Settings app.

Now is your chance to open the Cydia app and uninstall the tweak that was causing your boot loop.

After you have removed the jailbreak tweak that wreaked havoc on your jailbroken device, you can reboot your device normally. The boot loop problem should be gone, and you can go back to enjoying the rest of your jailbreak tweaks without even having to restore your device in iTunes.

Wrapping up

No Substrate Mode is a valuable feature for jailbreakers, and I’m surprised it’s as under-used as it is. When I hear horror stories about people having to restore their devices in iTunes because of a faulty tweak, I feel bad for them for not knowing this feature existed.

I’ve never actually heard of a time where No Substrate Mode couldn’t fix a boot loop issue caused by a jailbreak tweak, so it’s important that jailbreakers know this feature exists; especially if we’re going to keep this community afloat and prevent unwanted software upgrades from killing the jailbreak.

Did you know you could boot into No Substrate Mode to end a boot loop issue on a jailbroken iOS device? Share below!

UPDATE: As pointed out by an iDB reader, this mode is more accurately referred to as ‘No Substrate Mode,’ and not ‘Safe Mode,’ so we’ve edited the post to reflect that. Thank you.

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  • Rares

    Jailbreak? What’s that?

    • Mike M. Powell

      I thinks it’s something u use to eat ur food with?

  • Mesut

    Years ago, i cleaned some useless keyboards via iCleaner, i didnt’t know how to enter in safe mode, since that year(B.C) i have been looking for Jailbreak

    • lookHOWMADheis

      Use the tweak “PowerDown”

  • pnh

    I vote that you not use the Cydia logo again with a story until the next jailbreak is out.

    • Rahimo

      me too!! When I saw Cydia logo at the head of the article I thought that it is talking about new upcoming jailbreak hahaha

  • Bradley Hines

    I thought it was the power + bottom volume. It might be that too though… I haven’t been jailbroken since iOS 8 :/// I didn’t jailbreak iOS 9 early on because of how buggy iOS was. I simply wanted a cleaner iOS but I regret it now.

    • Chris

      Nope, just need to hold down the volume up button from when the Apple logo appears until the lock screen.

      • a.trevy

        for some reason my iPhone went into a boot loop after using icleaner, ive tried using this method but nothing has worked so far, can anyone help?

      • Chris

        Generally speaking, if you’re stuck in a boot loop it’s because a core system action is failing to be completed. The only way I know to fix it is by restoring iOS which means losing your jailbreak.

      • Aleese

        Thanks! I tried putting my phone in recovery mode but iTunes didn’t recognize it. Now I just put it into DFU mode, my laptop recognizes it but iTunes still doesn’t.

  • Zach Rosenfeldt

    This isn’t safe mode, this is “no substrate mode.” I know I’m splitting hairs here but safe mode is actually a separate thing.

    • Chris

      Correct, saurik even corrected this 2 years ago, below is an excerpt of his comment on reddit.

      Safe Mode is a mode that loads safe extensions, including Mobile Safety, which provides a user interface in SpringBoard to exit Safe Mode, as well as enhance the safety of Safe Mode by making some minor modifications to SpringBoard to avoid other things that are dangerous. If a safe extension crashes, then Substrate shifts to Dead Mode, where it loads no extensions.

  • KinkyNothing

    I used to enjoy jailbreaking. Heck, I still do. But I very much prefer stock iOS nowadays. Guess I ‘ve “matured”

    • Rahimo

      I think that you was drunk when you wrote this comment !! hahaha

      • KinkyNothing

        Hahaha indeed I was drunk! But I meant it 😛

  • Anon

    Back in January my iPhone got into a boot loop, probably due to a jailbreak tweak bug. I booted into “No Substrate Mode” and I think I removed the bug and restarted my phone. It has been working fine.

    But since I booted into “No Substrate Mode” until now, my iTunes can never detect my iPhone, thus I haven’t backed up my iPhone since and it’s concerning me.

    Any ideas on how to fix it?

    • angel

      Hello, could you please help me? I don’t understand what a tweak is and how to find it to fix my phone? thank you!

  • Anon

    Back in January my iPhone got into a boot loop, probably due to a jailbreak tweak bug. I booted into “No Substrate Mode” and I think I removed the bug and restarted my phone. It has been working fine.

    But since I booted into “No Substrate Mode” until now, my iTunes can never detect my iPhone, thus I haven’t backed up my iPhone since and it’s concerning me.

    Any ideas on how to fix it?

    • Frodo

      You cannot restore from iTunes after a jailbreak is what I know. Once the license is gone from Apple, if your device gets bricked, it’s dead and useless unless you can find some sort of super-smart guy that knows and will fix jailbreak problems.

  • I am

    I had SIMILAR issue. Some of the iOS apps had started crashing and phone was really useless that way, couldn’t use quite a few apps that kept crashing or not open at all.

    I decided to do “Erase all content and settings” thinking this way it will go back to clean iOS without needing to upgrade my iOS.

    THAT’S when the boot loop started. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work in that scenario, ended up having to lose jailbreak and upgrade to the latest version of iOS.

  • Alif Asyraf

    im using pangu jailbreak for ios 9.3, and i installed activator tweak which causing a bootloop to my phone, I tried to use this method, since this version of jailbreak is semi-untethered, after boot to the lock screen, i cant even enter cydia, how am i supposed to delete the tweak?? please help me

    • Gregory Barker

      I have the same problem here. My phone works in stock ios but i can’t boot into jailbreak mode now even after opening the pangu app. I spent an entire day trying to fix it but then i just decided to restore and re-jailbreak… But now it’s happened again! Im in a bootloop and i didn’t even install anything! I think it’s an internal problem with the pangu semi-untether.

      • Lergan Reshardz

        same problem here, any ideas people?

      • kawsar786

        open the the PANGU APP, hold the VOLUME UP button and dont let go , tap
        START, to re enable jailbreak while holding volume up key then lock your
        screen while still holding volume up button then the iphone wil
        respring into safemode when on the unlocked screen let go of the volume
        button unlock as normal, know you should be able to go into cydia
        without crashing then uninstall the tweak thats causing the loop, hope
        this helps

    • Quentin Carr

      Mine too same problem

      • kawsar786

        open the the PANGU APP, hold the VOLUME UP button and dont let go , tap
        START, to re enable jailbreak while holding volume up key then lock your
        screen while still holding volume up button then the iphone wil
        respring into safemode when on the unlocked screen let go of the volume
        button unlock as normal, know you should be able to go into cydia
        without crashing then uninstall the tweak thats causing the loop,

    • dk

      Same here!!!!

    • RML

      I’m having this same problem. This is so frustrating because I don’t even know which tweak caused the problem.

      • kawsar786

        open the the PANGU APP, hold the VOLUME UP button and dont let go , tap
        START, to re enable jailbreak while holding volume up key then lock your
        screen while still holding volume up button then the iphone wil
        respring into safemode when on the unlocked screen let go of the volume
        button unlock as normal, know you should be able to go into cydia
        without crashing then uninstall the tweak thats causing the loop, hope
        this helps

    • Kev

      did you find a solution?? coz im having the same problem too. but the tweak i installed to cause the boot loop was the lock+HTML4.

      • kawsar786

        open the the PANGU APP, hold the VOLUME UP button and dont let go , tap
        START, to re enable jailbreak while holding volume up key then lock your
        screen while still holding volume up button then the iphone wil
        respring into safemode when on the unlocked screen let go of the volume
        button unlock as normal, know you should be able to go into cydia
        without crashing then uninstall the tweak thats causing the loop,

    • kawsar786

      open the the PANGU APP, hold the VOLUME UP button and dont let go , tap
      START, to re enable jailbreak while holding volume up key then lock your
      screen while still holding volume up button then the iphone wil
      respring into safemode when on the unlocked screen let go of the volume
      button unlock as normal, know you should be able to go into cydia
      without crashing then uninstall the tweak thats causing the loop,

  • Kev

    After doing this, cydia just crashes for me. How am i supposed to uninstall the tweak if i cant even open cydia???? What do i do?

    • kawsar786

      open the the PANGU APP, hold the VOLUME UP button and dont let go , tap START, to re enable jailbreak while holding volume up key then lock your screen while still holding volume up button then the iphone wil respring into safemode when on the unlocked screen let go of the volume button unlock as normal, know you should be able to go into cydia without crashing then uninstall the tweak thats causing the loop, hope this helps