iPhone Won’t Turn On: Here’s What to Do

With how often we use our iPhones throughout the day, having an iPhone that won’t turn on can be terrifying, especially if you aren’t a super-savvy tech savant. There are several reasons why your iPhone may be unresponsive. So whether you’re just getting a frozen screen, having it become stuck when you turn it on, or simply finding out that it doesn’t respond when you use the touchscreen, it’s important to determine the exact underpinning cause. Let’s dive in and take a look at how to troubleshoot an iPhone that won’t turn on.

Why won’t my iPhone turn on?

When an iPhone won’t turn on, there are many likely scenarios that could be causing it to be unresponsive. These are:

  • There is an issue with your iPhone’s software. The most common scenario is that the iPhone’s software has become frozen or outdated. This issue means that the phone may indeed be turned on but will either persistently have a blank, black screen or will appear to not move past the initial loading screen – it gets stuck.
  • There is an issue with the hardware. In some cases, your iPhone truly won’t turn on, despite your best efforts. This indicates a problem with a physical part of the phone, usually the charging cable or port.
  • The iPhone battery is empty. Although it’s a little embarrassing, sometimes we don’t notice the battery draining throughout the day, and the phone dies. You can quickly verify an empty battery with a reliable power source.
iPhone won't turn on if the battery is empty

What to do if your iPhone won’t turn on

The troubleshooting step that you take is dependent on whether your iPhone won’t turn on because of an empty battery, because of an issue with the iPhone’s software, or because there is a serious issue with the iPhone’s hardware – water damage, broken charging port, etc.

1. Perform a hard reset in case of a system crash (Software freeze)

First and foremost, you’ll want to try performing a hard reset on your iPhone. It will not affect any of the data on your phone and will help resolve most issues. However, the method varies depending on which version of iPhone you have.

Hard reset on different models to fix an iPhone that won't turn on
  • For the iPhone 8 or later:
    1. Briefly push and release the volume up button, followed by the volume down button.
    2. Push and hold the side power button until the Apple logo appears on your screen.
  • For the iPhone 7 or 7+:
    1. Simultaneously, push and hold the side power and volume down buttons until the Apple logo appears on your screen.
  • For the iPhone 6s or earlier and iPhone SE (1st gen.)
    1. Simultaneously, push and hold the side/top power and home buttons until the Apple logo appears on your screen.

2. Plug in your iPhone to see if it will charge up

While this can be a little embarrassing, it’s possible that your phone has just died, and you didn’t notice, hence why it’s being unresponsive. If your iPhone won’t turn on, grab your charging cable and plug it into your laptop or wall charger. Wait for at least 30-minutes to ensure that it has a sufficient charge to turn on, or wait until it’s fully charged, which takes 2-4 hours. If the problem was just a low battery, your iPhone should turn on after being charged.

3. Borrow a different charging cable to test issues with the original cable.

After charging your iPhone, if it still won’t turn on, the next step is to test for issues with your lightning cable. Having debris in the USB end, having bite marks from animals, stress from bending, or exposed wires can all cause connection problems. 

To check to see if the issue is with your original lightning cable, you will want to:

  1. Check it for physical damage, like wire fraying or splitting. 
Fraying charging cable
  1. Try a different cable that you’ve borrowed. 

If the phone charges up and becomes responsive when using someone else’s cable, then you know that the problem of your unresponsive iPhone lies with your original cable. If your iPhone won’t turn on after receiving sufficient time to charge with a new cable, then you’ll need to move on to the next steps below. Keep in mind that any knock-off lightning cables or alternative brands may also cause problems with charging.  

4. Check to see if the iPhone is recognized by your iTunes and update it.

iPhone Recognized in iTunes

iTunes is a great tool for diagnosing problems as long as you know what to look for.

  1. Start by connecting your iPhone to your computer using your lightning cable. Make sure to borrow a different lightning cable if yours isn’t working.
  2. If you are using a mac running macOS Catalina, open Finder. For an earlier version of macOS, or if you’re using a Windows PC, open iTunes.
  3. You should be able to see the name of your iPhone on the left-hand side of either program. If you don’t, this indicates a connectivity problem and could point toward a hardware issue with either your lightning cable or iPhone.
  4. If you see your iPhone’s name, follow the steps for performing a hard reset (method 1). This should place your iPhone into recovery mode, which you should see on the phone’s screen. It will simply say “recovery mode” on your iPhone’s screen.
  5. On your computer, a message should appear asking you to update or restore your iPhone. Click the Update button. It will re-download your iPhone’s software and shouldn’t affect your data. Keep in mind that recovery mode only lasts for 15 minutes, so if updating takes longer than that, the process may need to be repeated. If this happens to you, your iPhone will go back to the state it was in prior, and you’ll need to re-enter recovery mode to continue updating.

5. Use iTunes to factory reset your iPhone in case of firmware problems.

When all else has failed, it comes time to eliminate any possibility that the phone’s software is the cause of your issue.

Warning: Remember to make a backup of your data before proceeding, as this will wipe your iPhone clean.

You can factory reset your iPhone via iTunes as long as iTunes can recognize the phone (the screen can remain unresponsive, and the backup will still work via iTunes).

  1. Follow the same steps as in method 4 to connect your iPhone to your computer and place it in recovery mode.
Recovery mode on iPhone and iPad can help with turning it on
  1. When the message asking you to update or restore your iPhone appears, click the restore button. If you are prompted to, select any and all options to delete data.

If you complete this step and are still experiencing the same issue, this is a clear indication of a hardware issue that will need to be repaired. 

On the other hand, if this solves the problem, restoring your backup to your iPhone may bring back the issue as well. Not all data is stored in a backup, so you can try restoring it, but be prepared to wipe your iPhone again.

6. Check for signs of physical damage.

When software has been ruled out as the cause of the problem, that only leaves hardware in its place. Spots to check are your screen, charging port, and power button. Any physical problems should be addressed by an Apple service technician in order to be properly corrected.


If you have an iPhone that won’t turn on, there are a few troubleshooting steps that you can take to try and fix it. We’ve outlined these steps above, so just follow along with this blog post to see if any of the steps work to get your unresponsive iPhone up and running again. If these troubleshooting steps don’t work for you, you can always take your iPhone to an Apple Store or call Apple’s tech support for further help. If any of these steps have helped you, let us know in the comments below.

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