iPhone or iPad won't turn on? Here's how to fix it!

Ipad Pro 2020 Camera Bump Vs Iphone 11 Iphone 11 Pro Hero
Ipad Pro 2020 Camera Bump Vs Iphone 11 Iphone 11 Pro Hero (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

So, disaster has struck: your iPhone won't turn on! You've checked that the battery isn't depleted, you've tried all sorts of button combinations, and it still won't work. But before you give up and call Apple for help, there are things you can do; steps you can take. While it's true that hardware fails, it's more likely to be some kind of software glitch for which you'll need to find a workaround.

So, follow along and we'll try to get you back up and functional in no time!

1. Plug in

Yes, I know, you're sure it's not the battery and you're sure you're charged up, but let's make double-triple sure. Maybe something caused your battery to drain faster than you expected, or maybe your charger or cable wasn't working, so it's worth checking.

Grab your Lightning connector (or USB-C cable, for an iPad Air or iPad Pro) — preferably a different one than you used before — plug into an outlet or USB port, and leave it for at least an hour. If that works — if it boots up and starts working — great. If not, keep going!

2. Hard reset

iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Karen Freeman / iMore)

If your iPhone or iPad won't turn on, one of the first and easiest things to try is a hard reset. Whether it's really not turning on or it's just frozen on a black screen, or it really hasn't booted, a reset can help. Yes, it's the old "reboot Windows" solution, and it's silly, but it works. Sometimes bad bits get stuck and need to be flushed out.

Of course, how to reset your iPhone or iPad depends on what model you have, so you'll need to follow those specific instructions.

3. Restore

How to back up your iPhone or iPad (Image credit: Joseph Keller/iMore)

After trying the easy fixes, it's time to try the harder ones. In this case, restoring your iPhone or iPad in iTunes. iTunes is a safer bet than iCloud because it actually offloads, re-installs, and reloads your data rather than doing everything in-place and on your device. That can sometimes shake loose bad bits that even a hard reset or iCloud restore can't.

Your iPhone or iPad will have to be functional to restore — even if it's not booting directly — but plugging into iTunes should answer that question almost immediately.

4. Contact Apple

Real talk: Sometimes a problem is really a problem. Electronics can fail, and they can fail at any time. If you have AppleCare+, make a Genius Bar appointment at the Apple Store or call Apple at 1-800-MY-APPLE to set up a mail-in repair. If you don't have AppleCare, you may have to pay for the visit or call, but it's less of a waste than having a dead iPhone or iPad.

Your fixes?

If you had an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad that won't start up, and one of the above fixes worked for you, let me know! If something else worked, let me know that as well!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Hammer and duct tape. sent via Tandy color computer
  • Get a Surface Pro Posted from my Nexus 6P
  • Never underestimate the very last resort - recovery mode (press and hold the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button at the same time. As soon as the screen goes black release the Sleep/Wake button. Continue holding the Home button until you see the Connect to iTunes screen). And start praying :)
    Then for Windows connect to a 32-bit machine with iTunes (I don't know why - but I have saved a few friends iPads / iPhones and 64-bit is not as reliable), and restore. Good luck!
  • Thank you shinyplastic, you just saved me a visit to the Apple store on my weekend. My SE was dead and now is alive again
  • Could some explain to me what a bad bit is?
    I agree maybe a bit could be bad but wouldn't something a bit higher in the OS cause a lockup, like some badly written app that makes the phone crash? Sent from the iMore App
  • Had a 5S go black. Surge protector bad. I never plug straight into the wall. Even a restore did not work. Lighting storm most likely the fault. I was asleep, and did not notice until I took it out of the charger. Fix, new phone, new better surge proctor. Sent from the iMore App
  • Not the best article to read before switching, but I suppose it's better to read it now than right after. And it's good information to know. I know what to do if it's an Android phone, and it's more or less the same steps, with a little variance accounting for different hardware and software. So, thanks for the article. If there's one thing my six years with the little green robot has taught me, it's that for any firmware change, read everything at least three times. Once and twice aren't enough. And going from Android to iOS is pretty much the biggest change you can make when it comes to smartphones. So I'm just trying to read what I can and take it all in, so when I jump, I know what my rope's made of, and how far down it is if I fall.
  • Yeah, electronics are electronics. Even if there's only 0.001% chance of something going wrong, given a billion devices, that's still real people who'll need real help. We have tons of help for switching here: http://www.imore.com/switch-iphone
  • Never had any issues with any of my iPhones not turning on unlike my old Nexus 6 (I don't want to talk about it). Sent from the iMore App
  • My iPod Touch 5 literally just died. I can't turn it on, computer won't detect it and it won't turn on when it's connected to a computer regardless with it being stuck on Apple logo. And then reboots Apple logo and it reboots again. #TeamSpaceGray 6sPlus
  • My iPod touch 5th gen would go dark every couple of months. Can't figure out why??? But a hard reset would always bring it back to life. That was with iOS 7.1 through iOS 9.1. Now I have an iPod touch 6th gen on iOS 9.3.1 on iOS 9.2 it went dark and I had to hard reset it to wake it up. I wish I knew what causes this. Hasn't happened on my 6+ or my iPad. Sent from the iMore App