My iPhone went black and has a picture of a Lightning cable on the screen after trying to install iOS 10. What does that mean and what do I do?

If you were happily downloading the update to iOS 10 today when your dreams were crushed by a black screen with a Lightning cord connecting to an iTunes logo on it, you're not alone. Something has gone wrong during the installation process with iOS 10 and many of us are feeling the punch. Technically, this hasn't "bricked" your device. It just needs some special care and attention. We only mentioned "brick" because we know that's what a lot of you are thinking.

If you're iPhone or iPad looks like I described above, don't worry. There is a way to get you back to the way you were before. You just have to connect your device to iTunes.

What happened to my iPhone?

If your screen is all black with just an illustration of a Lightning cable plugging into the iTunes logo, it means your device is in Recovery Mode. It is oftentimes used when restoring an iPhone or iPad back to its factory settings.

What do I do to fix it?

The first thing you should do is connect your device to iTunes via your desktop or laptop computer. Plug the USB side of your Lightning cable into your computer and the Lightning side of the cable into your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. Wait about 30 seconds for iTunes to read your device.
  4. Click Update on your computer when prompted that, "There is a problem with the [device] that requires it to be updated or restored."
  5. Click Update again on your computer when prompted that, "If your [device] can't be updated, you will need to restore it to its factory settings."

  6. Wait for a few minutes while iTunes extracts the software from your device.
  7. Click Restore IF prompted that, "Your iPad can't be updated..." (you won't necessarily have to restore).

    Click Restore and Update to confirm that you want to restore your device to its factory settings.

This is one of those moments where I pull out my "I told you so" about backing up your iPhone or iPad before making any major software changes to your device.

It didn't work. What do I do now?

I had to retry the process a couple of times before I was able to get this fix to work. I received error code 4013 for anyone in a similar situation.

First, make sure iTunes is up to date. On Mac:

  1. Open the Mac App Store.
  2. Click on the Updates button. (You may be required to enter your Apple ID and password before you can check.)

    The Updates menu populates with a history of all the apps and system software you've already updated in the last month. Any new updates will appear at the top.

  3. Check to see if there is an update for iTunes.

  4. Click Update if iTunes needs to be updated.

After iTunes has been updated (if it wasn't already), Restart your computer.

After your computer has restarted, connect your device to iTunes again. If it worked:

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. Wait about 30 seconds for iTunes to read your device.
  4. When you see the software update, Click Next.
  5. Click Update when prompted that, "There is a problem with the [device] that requires it to be updated or restored."

Your device will begin downloading the software update. It will remain in recovery mode while the download is processing. You can check the status by clicking the Download button in the upper right corner of iTunes. It looks like a circle with an arrow pointing downward inside.

When the download is completed, click Update on the iTunes window under "[Device] Recovery Mode."

Your iPad will go into installation mode and you'll see "Updating iPad Software" at the top of the iTunes window.

If everything went smoothly, your device will update to iOS 10 with all of your previous settings and apps still intact. That's how it worked for me (even though I came across that "Restore" issue).

Not everyone will be so lucky. If you had to restore your iPad to its factory settings, you can get back much of your data by restoring from a backup.

Make sure your device's Find my iPhone/iPad feature is turned off. Then, connect to iTunes and select Restore Backup in iTunes on your computer.

What if that still doesn't work

At this point, if you've restarted your computer, updated iTunes, and connected your device to your computer and are still unable to complete the download and installation process, you'll have to contact Apple for assistance.