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Your iPhone won't turn on? Here's how you can try to fix it

Sometimes an iPhone is actually working, just not showing anything onscreen.
By
January 30, 2024

As smartphones go, your phone failing to turn on is pretty much the nightmare scenario short of someone raiding all your personal and financial info. Things may not be as dire as they seem however — in this guide, we’ll cover steps you can try to resurrect an iPhone that won’t power up.

Why won’t my iPhone turn on?

iPhone 14 Pro showing cameras placed on a couch
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

There are a variety of possible reasons. Yes, as you might be worried, physical damage could be one of them — a hard drop for instance may have caused a wire/cable disconnection, or outright broken a key component like the display or logic board. Short exposure to liquids shouldn’t usually be an issue, given that newer models have an IP68 water resistance rating, but dunking your iPhone in salt water or a chlorinated pool could spell disaster.

Other reasons can include overheating, freezing temperatures, inherent defects, or simply low power. There’s also the possibility that your iPhone actually is turning on, but it’s encountering a software or display issue that’s keeping the screen black or stuck at a logo.

How to fix an iPhone that won’t turn on

We suggest running through these troubleshooting steps in order unless a particular one jumps out at you. We’ve arranged this list to be diagnostic, with potentially easy fixes first, and the most complicated and/or drastic ones saved for last.

  • Look for outward-facing signs of internal damage. Cracked glass or a dent in the metal chassis doesn’t necessarily mean internal damage, but it could, so bear that in mind when trying other troubleshooting steps. Something automatically serious is if you see signs of liquid ingress, like water seeping out of ports or buttons, or drops trapped behind your display. That probably means the sealing was broken, in which case you’ll need to take your iPhone in for repairs or replacement, probably at high cost if you don’t have AppleCare Plus. Similarly, if your iPhone is bulging, that could mean its battery is inflated and you’ll need a new one as soon as possible to prevent a fire.
  • Try a force restart. It could be that your iPhone is actually working normally except for a temporary glitch keeping the screen black, in which case a force restart might do the trick. On most models (that is, from the iPhone 8 onwards), tap the volume up button followed by the volume down button, then hold down the side button until you see an Apple logo. That should take about 10 seconds. If you don’t see anything after 15-20 seconds, you’ll want to try the restart again or move on to another step.
  • Leave it plugged in for an extended period of time. If you haven’t touched your iPhone in a while or you were using it to reverse-charge an accessory like an Apple Watch, power drain is a distinct possibility. Apple recommends leaving a dead iPhone plugged in for hour to give it enough of a base charge. If it turns on after that but the battery meter is still in the red, you’re in a better position, but you should stay plugged in and find a faster wired charger if you can. You’ll want one rated for at least 20W, preferably 25W or higher if you’re using a Pro device.
  • Check that your iPhone is capable of charging. If the last step didn’t work, it could be that your iPhone’s USB-C or Lightning port is damaged or clogged with debris. We’ve got a guide to cleaning USB-C ports, but you should also inspect your cable, charger, and/or wall outlet. With any of these, if you see any scorch marks or other signs of severe physical damage (like a torn cable), stop using that gear immediately. It may not only be failing to charge but pose a fire hazard.
  • Make sure your iPhone isn’t too hot or too cold. The iPhone 15 for example is rated to operate in temperatures between 32 and 95F, or about 0 to 35C. If you’re outside of that range or sitting at one of the extremes for too long, your iPhone may be forced to power down until temperatures have mellowed out. Do what you can to help — use shade and a fan if your iPhone was baking in the Texas sun, or take it indoors if it was freezing in an Alberta winter. With cold, a wrap like a scarf or towel may help.
  • Try using Recovery Mode. If your iPhone has made it to an Apple logo but won’t get any further, it’s time to use Recovery Mode. Plug your iPhone into your computer. Mac users should open Finder and select their iPhone — Windows users need to open iTunes instead. Next, perform a force restart on your iPhone (using instructions in the second step), which should pop up a special Recovery Mode graphic. Back on your computer, try clicking Update. If that doesn’t work you’ll be prompted to choose Restore, reverting your phone back to factory defaults except for downloading the latest version of iOS.
  • Try Device Firmware Update (DFU) Mode. This is similar to Recover Mode, but can potentially work on an iPhone with a black screen. Once you’ve connected to iPhone to a computer and opened Finder (on a Mac) or iTunes (on a Windows PC), tap the volume down button followed by the volume up button, then press and hold the side button. While still holding it, press and hold volume down. Let go of the side button after 5 seconds, but keep holding volume down. If you’re lucky, your iPhone will appear in Finder or iTunes, at which point you can release all buttons. Follow onscreen prompts. After that you’ll need to force restart your iPhone (using instructions in the second step), then restore from a backup or set your iPhone up as new.
  • Contact Apple Support. It’s unlikely Apple Support staff will be able to suggest any methods we haven’t, but they can at least help arrange repairs or a service appointment.

FAQs

Your best bet is an Apple Store or an authorized third-party repair shop, since you’ll be covered under your AppleCare warranty (if it’s still valid) and they’ll have access to Apple parts, training, equipment, and support. The latter group includes some third-party retailers, such as Best Buy, but check before taking your iPhone in.

Unauthorized shops may be able help, but they’re usually only prepared to deal with simple iPhone issues, and their service may void your warranty. There’s also a strong chance they won’t have compatible parts in stock, so you may not save any time or money versus finding an authorized repair outfit.

Apple does have a Self Service Repair program in some countries, but odds are the cost won’t be any better than paying a technician when all is said and done.

The answer to this depends on the specific kind of damage, but if you fall outside of AppleCare coverage, if it could easily cost hundreds of dollars if the problem is severe enough to prevent an iPhone from turning on.

The standard version of AppleCare normally only covers defects, but when that triggers, any repairs or replacements are free. AppleCare Plus includes discounted fees for accident repair — in the US that’s $29 to fix screen or back glass damage, and $99 for everything else.

Yes. The cost depends on your exact device, but for any iPhone 15, Apple normally charges $99.

We say normally because a battery swap could be covered for free under AppleCare if it’s necessary for repairs. If you have AppleCare Plus, the company additionally offers free swaps when your battery falls under 80% of its original capacity.

Honestly, we wouldn’t bother trying in most cases. You almost certainly won’t find replacement parts, and even if they’re available, the cost and difficulty involved will likely make it simpler to buy a replacement. You can find new chargers that exceed the iPhone’s specs for less than $40.

The one exception is debris. Soiled prongs or a clogged USB-C port could prevent a charger from working, so it’s worth (delicately) cleaning them before giving up on a charger completely. Avoid using any soap, sharp objects, or harsh chemicals.