Many iPhone problems can result in an unresponsive device. The good news is that many of these problems can be solved without having to pay for repairs or a replacement.
The key to solving the riddle is diagnosing exactly what’s wrong. So let’s take a look at why your iPhone won’t turn on and what you can do about it.
Is It Hot?
Symptoms: Heat, obviously. You might also see a message displayed on your screen, but not always.
If you’ve ever left your iPhone in the sun on a hot day, then you may have experienced this before. Your device is designed to shut down when it gets too hot, suspending everything but the emergency call feature. Sometimes the device is completely unresponsive, with nothing on the screen at all.
Let your iPhone cool down in a dry, cool place out of the sun. Never try to cool your iPhone down too quickly by putting it in the freezer or in front of an air conditioner, since this can cause condensation to form which will damage the device.
Is the Battery Dead?
Symptoms: You’ll usually see the “insert lightning cable” message pop up when you try to turn it on, though not always.
This might sound like the most obvious choice when your iPhone won’t turn on, but in the interest of safety, it’s better to eliminate excessive heat as the cause before trying to charge your iPhone.
When you plug in a charger, you should see the “battery empty” graphic remain, while the arrow telling you to insert a lightning cable disappears. Sometimes it can take (what seems like) a long time for an iPhone to come back to life, sometimes it’s instantaneous.
Is It the Charger?
Symptoms: You might see the “insert lightning cable” message pop up, even after you have plugged it in.
Cables are not to be trusted, and that’s why you should always try a couple when you encounter charging problems. Don’t overlook wall chargers either, since they have a tendency to fail too. Make sure you’re using a high-quality and safe Lightning cable without frays or damage.
Does It Hang During Boot?
Symptoms: An Apple logo on-screen, possibly with a stuck progress bar.
Boot problems can often be symptomatic of bigger problems, but there are a few things you can try. The first thing to do is reset your phone, which can differ based on which model of iPhone you’re using. Not sure how? Check out this Apple Support document.
If your iPhone hung during an iOS upgrade, it’s still worth trying a reset. The installation can repair itself and complete without issue on a second attempt. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to give iTunes a shot.
Plug your iPhone into a Mac or PC running the latest version of iTunes. If iTunes recognises your iPhone, now might be a good time to make a backup: select your device, then on the Summary tab, click Back Up Now. Once the backup completes, try updating your phone’s software by clicking Update.
If you’re already using the latest version of iOS, hit Restore to reinstall it. You’ll be able to restore the backup you made once the procedure is complete.
iTunes won’t recognize your iPhone? It’s time to enter Recovery mode. Once you’ve done that, iTunes should recognise your iPhone and let you hit Restore to reinstall iOS, but you will lose anything you don’t have backed up!
Did You Damage It?
Symptoms: Flickering screens, cracked display, other obvious signs of damage.
If you recently damaged your iPhone and it won’t turn on, you may have killed it. This can include dropping it, getting it wet (or exceeding the water resistance), leaving it in a very hot or very cold environment for a long time, or letting your dog chew on it.
Repairs depend on the damage done. Water and static electricity can cause severe damage that usually requires a new phone. Broken screens can be replaced, but a device that won’t power on generally indicates there’s a problem with more than the display.
Is It Completely Dead?
Symptoms: Nothing, generally.
Did you throw an old iPhone in a drawer and now it won’t even charge? Devices that have been without power for some time can take up to 20 minutes to come back to life. Plug it in, make a coffee, drink the coffee, then check on it. If nothing happens at all, it might be time to visit a repair center.
Still nothing? Power problems can be linked to dud batteries, which is a relatively easy fix in the grand scheme of iPhone problems. You can pay Apple to do it (or use your warranty or AppleCare plan if you have one) or get it done for cheaper at a service center of your choosing. You could do it yourself, if you’re confident doing so!
Unfortunately you won’t know if it’s a simple battery problem until you replace it, and there’s always a chance that your efforts will be for nothing. Even if you’re getting work done at a service center, more extensive damage may not be worth it considering the price of a new device.
Raising the Dead
Any good repair center will be able to give you an idea about whether repairs are feasible when your iPhone won’t turn on. They’ll also tell you the cost before the work is carried out. Before you shell out a lot of money, consider the price of a replacement device and don’t forget to offset the money you can make from recycling your old one.
Did your iPhone come back to life? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.
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