What to do if your iPhone screen stops responding
There are several possible reasons why an iPhone screen may become unresponsive or stop working properly.
Software issues like a buggy iOS update or app crashing can cause the screen to freeze and be unresponsive to touch (Apple Support). Restarting the iPhone or updating the software usually resolves software-related screen issues.
Hardware damage is another common cause of iPhone screen problems. Cracked screens, water damage, or a faulty digitizer can prevent the screen from responding to touch inputs (MakeUseOf). Physical damage requires hardware repair or replacement.
Older iPhones may also have screen issues due to normal wear and tear over time. Connector problems or degraded touch sensors can lead to intermittent screen responsiveness.
Identifying the underlying cause is important when troubleshooting an unresponsive iPhone screen. Software issues may be fixable without data loss, while hardware damage often requires professional repair or replacement.
Try restarting your iPhone
One of the first things to try when your iPhone screen is unresponsive is to force restart the device. This can help reset any software issues causing the problem. To force restart an iPhone 8 or later model, quickly press and release the volume up button, quickly press and release the volume down button, then press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears.
For older iPhone models like the iPhone 7, press and hold both the side/power button and the home button together until the screen turns black and the Apple logo appears. This will force the device to restart and boot back up (source).
A force restart is different than the standard restart process and should be used when the screen is completely frozen. It will reboot the device even if the power and home buttons are unresponsive.
Check if your iPhone needs charging
An unresponsive iPhone screen can often be a sign that your device’s battery is running low and needs to be recharged. If your iPhone screen stops responding to touches and won’t turn on, first connect it to a charger and let it charge for at least 10-15 minutes.
Low battery state can prevent an iPhone from powering on its screen or accepting touch inputs. Fully charging the battery may help get the screen working again so you can access and unlock your device without data loss.
Use the original charging cable and adapter that came with your iPhone for the fastest charging speed. An aftermarket or worn-out charger may not provide sufficient power delivery to start up a phone with critically drained battery.
Keep the iPhone connected to power for up to an hour or longer if the battery was fully depleted. If the screen still does not come on after extended charging, then the unresponsive state is likely due to other factors besides just battery level.
As a precaution, before charging an unresponsive iPhone, inspect the charging port for any debris like lint or dirt that could obstruct power delivery and data connectivity. Use a wooden or plastic toothpick to gently remove any noticeable obstructions.
Update or restore iPhone software
Updating or restoring your iPhone software can often resolve any software issues that may be causing problems with your iPhone screen being unresponsive. Apple periodically releases software updates that include bug fixes and improvements for iOS. Updating to the latest iOS version can potentially fix software bugs causing the issue.
You can update your iPhone software by going to Settings > General > Software Update and tapping “Download and Install.” Make sure your iPhone is connected to WiFi and plugged into power during the update process. The update may take some time to download and install.
If updating does not fix the problem, you can try restoring your iPhone software which will completely erase your device and install the latest iOS version. Before restoring, it’s important to back up your iPhone so you don’t lose your data. To restore, connect your iPhone to a computer and open iTunes or Finder. Then select your device and click “Restore.” Your iPhone will be wiped and restored to factory settings with the latest iOS version installed.
Restoring your iPhone software can potentially fix any software bugs causing the screen to become unresponsive without losing your data as long as you have a backup. If the screen is still having issues after updating and restoring iOS, the problem may be hardware-related.
Examine iPhone for Physical Damage
One of the most common causes of an unresponsive iPhone screen is physical damage to the device. According to one source, “Accidental drops or impacts can result in visible cracks or a completely shattered screen, which can in turn lead to an unresponsive display” (Common iPhone Screen Issues and How to Fix Them).
Cracked or shattered screens prevent the digitizer underneath from properly registering touch inputs, making the display appear unresponsive. Water damage can also cause issues if moisture seeps into internal components like the display connector or logic board (Most Common Causes for iPhone Screen Problem).
Carefully inspect your iPhone for any visible cracks, fractures, missing glass, distorted/discolored areas, or evidence of water exposure. While a damaged screen itself may still show an image, the touch input will likely be compromised. Trying to use moisture indicators inside the SIM card slot can also check for water damage.
If physical or liquid damage is present, you may need the screen repaired or replaced to restore full functionality. Otherwise, the issue likely lies in software or other hardware components instead.
Use VoiceOver to unlock iPhone
One option to unlock your iPhone when the screen is unresponsive is to use VoiceOver. VoiceOver is an accessibility feature that reads text and screen elements out loud. With VoiceOver enabled, you can navigate your iPhone and enter your passcode using voice commands.
To enable VoiceOver when your screen is unresponsive:
- Press and hold the Home button to activate Siri.
- Say “Turn on VoiceOver.” Siri will enable VoiceOver.
- Once VoiceOver is on, use voice commands like “tap” and “double tap” to navigate the passcode screen. VoiceOver will read out text on each part of the screen.
- When you reach the passcode entry, dictate your passcode digits one by one for VoiceOver to enter.
VoiceOver allows you to unlock your iPhone and access its contents even if you can’t physically see or touch the screen. Just be sure to speak your passcode clearly and deliberately for VoiceOver to recognize. You can disable VoiceOver later once your screen is repaired. For more guidance, see this tutorial from Coolmuster.
Back up your iPhone data
It is extremely important to back up your iPhone data before attempting any repairs or troubleshooting on an unresponsive device. According to Apple Support, backing up your device is a crucial first step to protect your data in case issues arise during the repair process.
Backing up ensures you have a copy of your data like photos, messages, contacts, and other information in case something goes wrong with the repair. As noted on the Apple discussions forum, backing up before service is strongly recommended even for basic repairs, as there is always a risk of data loss.
There are a few options to back up an iPhone depending on if you can access the device or not. If your screen is unresponsive but you can still connect to a computer, you can back up locally through iTunes. You can also use iCloud backups over WiFi if available. Otherwise, your best option is to take the iPhone to an Apple store for assistance backing up before you attempt any DIY fixes.
Taking this preventative step gives you peace of mind that your data is protected. Then you can troubleshoot the unresponsive screen without worrying about permanent data loss.
Get professional repair services
Taking your iPhone to a professional repair shop is often the best solution if you need to recover data from an iPhone with an unresponsive screen. Repair shops have the tools, parts, and expertise to fix iPhone screens and retrieve data. According to iMobie, professional iOS data recovery services can extract data from damaged and non-working iPhones.
When you take your iPhone to a repair shop, technicians can first attempt to fix the screen. Once the screen is working again, they can then access your iPhone normally to back up and transfer your data. If the screen cannot be repaired, professionals have data recovery tools that can pull data from the iPhone’s storage even with a broken screen.
The advantages of professional repair include recovering data without losing anything, getting your iPhone screen fixed, and having the work done by experts with the proper tools and experience. Just be prepared to pay higher costs for these premium services.
Replace broken screen yourself
If your iPhone screen is physically cracked or broken, replacing the screen yourself can allow you to regain access without losing data. According to discussions on Apple forums, screen replacements do not affect the internal memory where data is stored, so you can safely swap out a damaged screen without data loss.
To replace an iPhone screen yourself, you’ll need a replacement screen kit with the proper tools and components. iFixit provides detailed, step-by-step repair guides to walk you through the process for your specific iPhone model (cite: https://www.ifixit.com/Device/iPhone). Carefully follow each instruction to detach the broken screen and attach the replacement. This DIY approach allows you to fix the physical screen issue without handing your device over to a repair shop or compromising your data.
When done properly, a DIY iPhone screen replacement can restore functionality without deleting messages, photos, notes, and other important user information that lives on internally. Just be sure to use a high-quality replacement kit and take time to carefully complete each repair step.
Recover data from unresponsive iPhone
If your iPhone is completely unresponsive with a broken or damaged screen, you can still recover your data using third-party software designed for data recovery. One highly recommended software is PhoneRescue for iOS. This software allows you to recover data from iPhones even with completely broken screens.
To use PhoneRescue to recover data from an unresponsive iPhone with a broken screen:
- Download and install PhoneRescue on your computer.
- Connect your unresponsive iPhone to the computer using a USB cable.
- Open PhoneRescue and it will recognize your connected iPhone.
- PhoneRescue will scan your iPhone and display all recoverable data.
- Preview your data and select the items you want to recover.
- Choose where to save the recovered data on your computer.
With PhoneRescue, you can recover data like contacts, messages, photos, notes, and more without needing to unlock or interact with your iPhone. The software bypasses the lock screen and accesses your data directly. This provides a way to recover your valuable information even if your iPhone screen is fully non-functional.