There are many things that can go wrong to cause your iPhone to crash, and most of the time issues arise for no reason and with no explanation. Depending on the underlying cause, the fix could be a simple restart or something a little more complicated.
We’ve looked at some common iPhone, iPad, and iOS problems and included a few things you can do to try and resolve them. Remember that new issues crop up on a regular basis, and more widespread issues are best solved by updating your iPhone since Apple usually provides a fix.
My iPhone is Slow
Often one of the precursors to a crash, sluggish performance can often be fixed by clearing your iPhone’s memory. Killing apps won’t help here — iOS automatically freezes background apps so they do not take up unnecessary memory or keep running in the background when you’re done with them. Killing iPhone apps via the app switcher is just one bad iOS habit you should break today.
To all iphone users. clear RAM memory: hold lock button 'til power off screen appears then hold home button 'til it returns to home screen.
— Mark (@kickasstorRenz) December 8, 2015
You can do this by switching your device on and off, but before you go that far you can try refreshing your memory by holding the power button until you see “Slide to power off” then holding the Home button for a few seconds. Your iPhone will return you to the home screen, and though your apps will still be in the app switcher in the order that you last used them, they will reload when you use them.
If your device is low on storage, you might find that creating some free space yields better performance. This is a good tactic for speeding up specific apps — for example, less photos and videos should mean a more responsive Photos app. Switching to iCloud Photo Library and storing your originals in the cloud should help in this department. You can check on your current storage situation under Settings > General > Usage > Storage & iCloud Usage.
If you’re still running iOS 8, you should definitely consider upgrading to iOS 9 if your device supports it. The update features a lot of behind-the-scenes upgrades that improved performance across the board, even on older devices. This isn’t always the case with OS upgrades — the jump from iOS 6 to 7 was particularly painful for iPhone 4 users, as an example.
If you do have a particularly old device, you should take your device’s age and hardware into consideration when faced with a slow and unresponsive OS. Apple provides good support for older devices, but iOS is built with newer models in mind.
My iPhone Crashed! Now What?
Occasionally iOS will become completely unresponsive — nothing you can do will bring it back, even hammering the home button or trying to power it down. In this case you can force the device to restart by holding the power and home buttons until you see the Apple logo appear on screen. Release and let your device restart as normal.
You probably won’t have to do this very often; iOS usually restarts itself when it runs into issues.
My iPhone Crashes Repeatedly
An iPhone that crashes repeatedly is a little trickier to diagnose, as the issue could be related to a more serious problem with iOS or the hardware within your device. Unfortunately it’s not possible to diagnose any such problems themselves using purpose built-tools, something Android users can do with a few purpose-built apps. Apple limits their diagnostic tools to members of the Global Service Exchange platform, which allows companies to manage their own device repairs and services.
Just like a slow iPhone, killing apps won’t help and clearing space will probably only go so far. Updating iOS via Settings > General > Software Update is the best way to resolve known issues, and may yield substantial stability improvements depending on how behind you are in terms of updates.
If you’re up to date on iOS, your next port of call should be backing up and restoring your device from within iTunes on a Mac or Windows PC. Connect your device to your computer using a Lightning cable, select it within iTunes, and then on the Summary tab, click Back Up Now to create a local backup. You may be given the option to transfer purchases, which will make local copies of your apps too (a good idea).
Once you have a backup, pick the Restore option on the Summary tab — you’ll also need to disable Find my iPhone under Settings > iCloud before iTunes will let you reinstall iOS.
If you’re still having issues (one or two crashes every day without fail) then consider taking your device to Apple for repair, particularly if you’re still under warranty or AppleCare. Even if your device isn’t under warranty, you should be able to make a free Genius Bar appointment and have Apple run diagnostics on your device to ascertain whether or not the hardware is to blame. You’ll only get charged if you agree to repairs and surrender your device.
A Third-Party App Keeps Crashing
Before shooting the developer an angry email, there are a few things you can do to resolve app crashes on your side. If an app becomes completely unresponsive, then your best bet is to kill it using the app switcher: double click the home button, scroll to the app in question and flick up towards the top of the screen until the app disappears completely. You can now try restarting it again.
Occasionally apps will crash immediately upon opening, and in this case killing the app is unlikely to resolve the issue. You can try putting your device into Airplane Mode (swipe up to reveal Control Center, then hit the airplane icon), then launching the app to see if the issue is limited to connectivity, web content, or a certain part of the app. Just turn Airplane Mode off to reconnect.
Though this might not solve the issue entirely, I recently encountered an issue on my partner’s iPhone with the iOS Reddit app Alien Blue (which was recently removed from the App Store with the release of the official Reddit-branded client). An advert on the front page was causing the app to repeatedly crash upon opening, but enabling Airplane Mode allowed her to navigate to another part of the app (a specific subreddit, for example), re-enable network access, and continue to browse.
Repeated app crashes may also be resolved upon restarting your device, so give that a go too. You should also probably check for updates via the Updates tab within the App Store app — you might also want to enable automatic updates if you haven’t already done so via Settings > iTunes & App Stores.
As a last resort you can try reinstalling the offending app. Keep in mind that by deleting an app, you will also delete any local data that the app has stored on your device, unless it’s synced to some sort of cloud device (apps like Evernote will be fine, but deleting a Shazam install where you haven’t signed up for an account will reset your tags). If you can’t find the app via the App Store (because it’s been removed) then head to Updates > Purchased and find the app there instead.
Safari Keeps Crashing
Apple’s own browser has recently come under fire for a number of issues, from crashes when accessing the address bar to seemingly random restarts. Apple is pretty good at fixing these issues via iOS updates, but websites like CrashSafari.com have turned breaking the browser into somewhat of a sport.
A past issue was caused by auto-suggestions, which you can disable under Settings > Safari > Safari Suggestions — but if this doesn’t fix your issue, you’re likely running an outdated version of iOS and should update your device via Settings > General > Software Update.
Another tip to resolve Safari frequently crashing is to clear your cache under Settings > Safari > Clear History, which is handy if you’re stuck on a website that’s repeatedly making your browser crash, and restarting Safari only loads the same web page again. Don’t forget the old “Airplane Mode trick” to disable connectivity, which will also allow you to purge any problematic tabs.
If you can’t solve the issue by clearing the cache or updating iOS, you might want to consider switching to a different browser, but keep in mind that web browsers on iOS all use the WebKit rendering engine in a Safari wrapper, so they’re likely prone to the same issues. Some websites may also have memory demands that your device cannot meet, causing a crash — so consider the age of your device also.
Another Core iOS App is Crashing
If you’ve tried killing the app, restarting your device, and you’re already running the latest version of iOS, you might have to restore your device from within iTunes — you can find details on how to do this under the “My Phone Crashes Repeatedly” section of this article above.
I have used this method in the past to resolve an issue I encountered with the Photos app, possibly as far back as iOS 5 or 6. Launching the app resulted in repeated crashes, and nothing I could do would resolve it. After backing up and restoring my device in iTunes, the app stopped crashing entirely.
Can’t Fix It?
If you’re encountering a problem with a third-party app and you’ve tried everything you can, it’s probably worth reaching out to the developer. Be sure to include your device information (iPhone, iPad, and so on), including age. While email works well for this, many developers (and individual apps) have dedicated social media accounts or subreddits where you may find others who have encountered the same issue.
Keep in mind that sometimes crashes go beyond what an app developer can account for. You can’t blame Tumblr developers if you’re following lots of artsy accounts that post nothing but 10MB GIFs and your iPhone 5 keeps crashing — in such cases, your own device’s age may be the main culprit.
For iOS issues, you’ll likely be left waiting for an update from Apple, but you can try reaching out for support too. You might want to head to Apple’s Support Communities and discuss the issue with other users.
What iOS issues have you encountered recently? We’ll try our best to help you out in the comments below.
Image Credit: man shouting on smartphone by Dean Drobot via Shutterstock