iPhone or iPad fails to turn on - Possible recovery steps

iPhone or iPad that won't turn on

iPhone or iPad fails to turn on - Possible recovery steps

There are several basic steps you can take to resolve the issue with your iPhone or iPad.

Notes: This is a guide to those 'mysterious' situations where an iOS device refuses to turn on as a result of problems unknown. If your device is physically damaged then you need contact Apple.

Out of power - Battery

See if your device has simply run out of battery power. To ensure you've got enough power to switch on your iOS device, plug it into a wall charger and give it at least ten minutes to charge, before attempting to turn it on.

Side view of iPhone at charger port

There could be a problem with the A/C wall charger or the cable, so if charging is not having an effect you should try the same routine with a different plug, and with a borrowed or spare cable.

If you have given your iPhone or iPad a decent charge but it still fails to display anything, you are probably looking at a hardware problem such as a degraded lithium battery.

If on the other your device now switches on but doesn't get past the Apple boot logo, follow the steps below.

Attempt a Force-Restart

"Have you tried switching it off and on again?" might be a common enough phrase, but this principle is the default go-to for those stuck in a boot-loop.

A force-restart is often enough to fix a bricked device. The method you need to use to perform this depends on the iPhone (or iPad) you own.

Side view of iPhone showing right side button

Depending on the age of the device you may be able to force a restart by pressing and holding the home button and power button. If your device is new enough to have a software Home Button (iPhone 7/8 generations) the process is different and more complex -see below).

How to force-restart your iPhone 8

iPhone 8 force restart - 3 buttons

If you want to restart an iPhone 8 it's no longer as easy as it was in older models, and even more difficult than it was with the iPhone 7 generation. Apple has introduced a new, much more complicated, process.

This is what you need to do to force-restart your iPhone 8:

  1. Quickly press the release the volume up button
  2. Quickly press the release the volume down button
  3. Press and hold the Power button (on the other side) until you see the Apple logo
  4. Enter your passcode at start up, even if you usually use a fingerprint for ID

This should force your iPhone to restart.

How to force-restart an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus

iPhone 7 force restart - 2 buttons

The iPhone 7 and its Plus-sized sibling were the first iPhones not to feature a physical home button. Like the newer iPhone 8, the 7-generation has a software-based haptic button that senses a press and buzzes to simulate a click rather than physically pressing down - because it's software, if the device has frozen it isn't able to recognise that you are pressing the home button. This meant that Apple needed to invent a new way to force restart that didn't involve the Home Button.

Apple's method to force-restart the iPhone 7 is as follows: 

  1. Press the power/lock key on the right side of the phone
  2. At the same time press and holding the volume down key on the left
  3. Wait for the Apple logo to appear (you may see the Slide to Power Off slider, but keep holding the side buttons while the iPhone skips this step), the phone will then go through its startup sequence
  4. Enter your passcode at start up, even if you usually use a fingerprint for ID

Once you have rebooted, give the device a few minutes to switch on, then try using it normally. (To eliminate any battery-related problems, it's a good idea to perform the reset while the device is plugged into a power source.)

If your device switches on, but then instantly switches off or refuses to get past the Apple logo after 10 minutes, then you might need to restore it. See the next step to see how to perform a reset.

How to force-restart an iPad

Hard resetting your iPad will flush out the memory used by apps that run on the operating system. But not your data though, your data is safe-guarded. Thus, this technique allows your iPad to have a fresh start. Hard Reset forcefully restarts your iPad. You need to perform the following steps to hard reset your iPad and escape the frozen black screen.

  1. Press and hold the home button as well as on/off button simultaneously.
  2. Even after the slider appears, continue holding down the buttons until the screen goes black.
  3. When the apple logo appears, release the buttons and the iPad will restart normally.

iPad force restart - 2 buttons


If your iPhone turns on, but is having a lot of problems with iOS, you might need to restore it.

Plug it into your computer and open iTunes if it doesn't open automatically. Click the device's icon to open its summary page and hit 'Restore'. (It's recommended that you back up your iOS device before restoring it, but it's not required.)

iPad connected to Laptop via iTunes

Once the procedure is complete, iTunes will ask if you want to restore from a previous backup. If you don't have an old backup, you'll have to set up your device as new. The process can take several hours to complete, depending on the speed of your machines and the amount of data.

iTunes used to perform Restore Backup

DFU mode

DFU (Device Firmware Update) mode is used to update firmware and often enables you to fix a completely unresponsive iPhone or iPad, but should only be used in extreme situations.

DFU stands for Device Firmware Update, and it’s the deepest type of restore you can do on an iPhone.

Plug your device into your Mac (or PC), and open iTunes. Now Hold down the iOS device's power button for about three seconds, and swipe to power off when prompted.

Once the power-off process is complete, press and hold both the Home button and power buttons, and keep them held for 10 seconds. (You need to be fairly precise about this.) Then let go of the power button, but keep the Home button pressed.

If you've done this right, an alert will appear on your computer saying: "iTunes has detected an iPhone in recovery mode. You must restore this iPhone before it can be used with iTunes."

iPhone in Device Firmware Update mode

You should see that your iPhone / iPad is showing a fully black screen with no Apple logo or boot animation (DFU mode).

iPad showing a fully black screen with no Apple logo or boot animation in DFU mode

Even though the screen is black, that doesn’t mean the device can’t be interfaced with either iTunes. Remember that if you see the restore logo, iTunes logo, or any message on the iPhone screen, you are not in DFU mode but standard Recovery Mode. Again, DFU mode is signified by having a completely black screen on the device.

What is DFU mode?

DFU mode is a state that you can put your iPhone into where it can interface with iTunes but does not load the iPhone operating system or boot loader (this is what really differs DFU mode from recovery mode). DFU stands for Device Firmware Update. DFU mode can also be useful when attempting to rescue a non-responsive device that doesn't respond to other less drastic solutions.

(DFU is slightly different to the better-known Recovery Mode, whereby an iPhone is reset to factory settings but with the latest version of iOS.)

Try another PC

If you're unable to restore your device or enter DFU mode, it might be worth trying a different computer. Sometimes a conflict or driver problem prevents your computer from recognizing your iOS device.


If your iPhone is damaged in any way, and especially if it’s water-damaged, a DFU restore may break your iPhone. Example: A usable iPhone with minor problems can become completely unusable if a DFU restore fails because of water-damage.

Talk to Apple

If all else fails, book an appointment with Apple's support staff, who will be able to suggest solutions or offer a repair or a replacement.