How do I fix my unresponsive iPhone screen?

Dealing with an unresponsive iPhone screen can be incredibly frustrating. However, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can try to get your iPhone’s touchscreen working again.

What causes an unresponsive iPhone screen?

There are several possible causes for an unresponsive iPhone screen:

  • Software issue – A bug or glitch in iOS can cause the screen to become unresponsive.
  • App issue – An app may be causing the unresponsiveness if it stops working properly.
  • Dirty screen – Dust, grime, or other debris on the screen can interfere with digitizer functionality.
  • Digitizer failure – The digitizer is the layer in the screen that detects touches. If it fails, taps won’t register.
  • LCD damage – If the LCD is cracked or broken, it can cause the screen to be unresponsive.
  • Flex cable damage – Ribbon cables connect the screen to the iPhone’s logic board. Damaged cables prevent touch signals.
  • Water damage – Liquid getting into the iPhone can short circuit digitizer/LCD connections.

Quick troubleshooting steps

If your iPhone screen is suddenly unresponsive, try these quick troubleshooting steps first:

  1. Force restart the iPhone by pressing and quickly releasing the Volume Up button, pressing and quickly releasing the Volume Down button, then pressing and holding the Side button until you see the Apple logo. This will restart the phone and reset any software issues.
  2. Check if the screen works in safe mode. To enter safe mode, force restart the iPhone then immediately press and hold the Volume Down button as the Apple logo appears. This disables all third-party apps that may be causing issues.
  3. Wipe the screen gently with a soft, dry microfiber cloth. Make sure there is no liquid or debris on the surface that could interfere with digitizer functionality.
  4. Update to the latest iOS software version. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to download and install updates that could fix software bugs causing the issue.
  5. Hard reset by holding the Side button and either Volume button for 10 seconds. Continue holding as the slider appears to power off. This resets settings and clears out any corrupt data that could be causing problems.

Check for physical damage

If quick troubleshooting doesn’t resolve your iPhone’s unresponsive screen, physically inspect the device for any damage that could be the underlying cause:

  • Examine the screen for cracks or broken glass. Any fractures can damage the digitizer layer and LCD display underneath, resulting in an unresponsive screen. Even small hairline cracks across the screen may disrupt touch sensitivity.
  • Check for flickering, distorted, or discolored visual artifacts on the screen when powered on. This usually indicates damage to the LCD display.
  • Look for signs of liquid damage like corroded ports or moisture in the SIM card slot. Liquid can short circuit internal components and render the screen unresponsive.
  • Try slightly flexing or twisting the iPhone chassis. If you see the display flicker or distort, it likely has a loose connection due to potential damage to the flexible cables.
  • Inspect the perimeter of the screen for dents or separation between the glass and iPhone frame. This can stretch or tear the digitizer flex cables routed around the edges.

Test with external display

To help determine if the problem is with the screen hardware itself or other internal components, connect the iPhone to an external monitor or TV:

  1. Use a Lightning cable to plug the iPhone into a powered external display.
  2. Navigate to Settings > General > CarPlay and switch on the Mirror CarPlay option if available.
  3. The iPhone screen should mirror to the external display. If the mirrored content shows properly, then the internal screen may have a hardware defect.
  4. You can also try tapping and interacting with the iPhone screen while mirrored. If taps still don’t register on the external display, then the digitizer is likely faulty.

Software and app fixes

If the screen responds normally when mirrored, try these software and app troubleshooting steps:

  • Force quit any frozen or glitched apps by double pressing the Home button and swiping up to close apps (iPhone 8 or earlier) or swiping up and holding to get app previews (iPhone X or later).
  • Restart the iPhone if closing apps doesn’t help. Press and hold the Side button and either Volume button for about 10 seconds to hard reset.
  • Boot into safe mode to check if a third-party app is the issue. Power off the iPhone, then turn it back on and immediately hold the Volume Down button until you see the home screen. This disables all third-party apps.
  • Delete recently installed apps or apps that you suspect may be problematic. Reinstall them one-by-one to pinpoint any specific apps causing conflicts.
  • Reset network settings under Settings > General > Reset. This clears up any network connection issues that could be interfering with proper software functioning.
  • Back up data and perform a factory reset to wipe the device completely clean. Restore from the backup to test if a clean iOS install resolves the unresponsive screen problems.
  • Update to the latest iOS version via Settings > General > Software Update. Major iOS updates can fix various system bugs.

Hardware and screen replacement

If you’ve exhausted all software troubleshooting without success, a hardware repair or replacement may be necessary. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Professional screen repair: Mobile repair shops can diagnose the specific hardware fault and replace only the damaged components. For example, just swapping out the faulty digitizer instead of the entire display assembly. Professional microsoldering may be required.
  • iPhone display assembly replacement: Order a new screen assembly with digitizer and LCD pre-installed. Carefully open up the iPhone, disconnect and remove the old display, then install the replacement. Make sure to transfer any front sensors.
  • Out-of-warranty service from Apple: Apple support can replace the faulty hardware if you’re no longer under warranty. The cost will depend on the damage and components that need replacing.
  • AppleCare+ screen repair: If you’re still covered under AppleCare+ protection, you’ll only need to pay a service fee. Schedule a Genius Bar appointment or mail-in repair.
  • Full device replacement: For extensive water damage or other major defects, replacing the entire iPhone may be more cost-effective than component-level repairs.


A few key troubleshooting steps can help resolve most cases of an unresponsive iPhone screen:

  • Force restart and boot into safe mode
  • Wipe the screen, check for damage, and test with external display
  • Update iOS software, delete problematic apps, and reset settings
  • Professional repair or screen assembly replacement if hardware is faulty

Identifying whether software glitches or physical damage is the underlying cause will point you in the right direction to restore full touchscreen functionality. For hardware issues beyond DIY fixes, leveraging Apple’s repair services or a reputable mobile repair shop can get your iPhone working good as new.