What causes iPhone to be stuck in recovery mode?

Having an iPhone stuck in recovery mode can be very frustrating. Recovery mode is an operating mode that iPhones enter when there is a major software malfunction that prevents the device from booting up normally. While recovery mode allows you to restore your iPhone, it also means you can’t use it as usual until the restore process is completed. There are several potential causes for an iPhone being stuck in recovery mode. In this article, we’ll go over the most common reasons this happens and how to fix an iPhone stuck in recovery mode.

What is recovery mode?

Recovery mode is an operating state that iPhones enter as a failsafe when there is a major software issue preventing the device from booting up normally. It is initiated by connecting the iPhone to a computer via a USB cable and then holding down the Home button while turning on the device.

The iPhone screen will be completely black other than an image of the iTunes or Finder logo and a charging cable. This indicates the phone is in recovery mode and ready to be restored using a computer. Recovery mode allows you to wipe the device and reinstall a clean version of iOS to hopefully resolve whatever software problem was occurring.

Main causes of an iPhone being stuck in recovery mode

There are several potential issues that can cause an iPhone to get stuck in recovery mode during startup:

Attempted iOS update failed

One of the most common reasons an iPhone ends up in recovery mode is because an iOS update failed to install properly. Installing an iOS update can sometimes go wrong, resulting in crashes, freezes, or the device getting stuck at the Apple logo screen.

To protect user data, the iPhone will automatically enter recovery mode in this situation so that the update can be restored via iTunes or Finder on a computer. Simply connecting to a computer and restoring should resolve the issue in most cases.

Corrupt system files

Corrupted system files are another culprit that can trigger an iPhone to enter recovery mode. The iOS operating system has many important system files and processes that must function properly for the device to work.

If some critical system files become damaged or corrupted, the iPhone may not be able to complete the boot up process and will enter recovery mode instead. Restoring the device should overwrite any corrupted files with a fresh install.

Buggy iOS update

In some cases, an iOS update itself contains bugs that affect system stability on certain devices. A recent iOS update may inadvertently be clashing with certain hardware or software configurations on your iPhone.

The phone will be unable to finish booting up normally and restart itself into recovery mode. Doing a restore and rolling back to a previous iOS version is recommended if a system update seems to have triggered the recovery mode issue.

Hardware failure

Hardware failures or damage can also potentially trigger an iPhone to enter recovery mode during startup. Issues with components like the logic board, battery, or storage can prevent the device from booting up properly.

The iPhone will attempt to enter recovery mode so that the software can be restored before resolving any hardware-related problems. If restoring does not work, there is likely a hardware fault that will need to be repaired.

Accidental button hold

It’s also possible for an iPhone to be forced into recovery mode accidentally by the user. Holding down the Home button while turning on the device will manually trigger recovery mode.

If you did this unintentionally while powering on your iPhone, it will appear stuck in recovery mode. Simply exit recovery mode and restart the phone as normal to resolve it. No restore is needed unless the device continues having startup problems.

How to fix an iPhone stuck in recovery mode

If your iPhone enters recovery mode and becomes unresponsive, here are the steps to try and fix it:

Force restart the iPhone

First, attempt force restarting the iPhone by quickly pressing and releasing the Volume Up button, then quickly pressing and releasing the Volume Down button, then press and hold the Side button until the Apple logo appears.

This will hard reboot the device and exit recovery mode. If the phone is able to start up normally after the force restart, the recovery mode issue was likely just temporary.

Restore using iTunes or Finder

If force restarting does not work, connect the iPhone to a computer and open iTunes or Finder. Both platforms will recognize the device is in recovery mode and prompt you to restore it.

This will wipe the device and reinstall a clean, stable version of iOS, potentially resolving any underlying software issues that were preventing startup.

Update or restore to latest iOS

Make sure to fully update the iPhone to the absolute latest version of iOS after restoring. If the device was stuck on an outdated version with bugs, updating to the newest iOS can correct stability issues.

You can also try restoring to the latest iOS before restoring your data and apps as one more troubleshooting step. This ensures any software incompatibility is resolved.

Try DFU mode restore

DFU (Device Firmware Update) mode is an even lower-level recovery state you can force an iPhone into for restoring as a last resort. To enter DFU mode, connect the iPhone to a computer while powered off.

Then hold the Power button for 3 seconds, release it, then hold the Home button for another 10 seconds. Release the Home button while continuing to hold the Power button for 5 more seconds. The device will enter DFU mode allowing a deep system restore.

Contact Apple support

If you have attempted all other troubleshooting steps and the iPhone remains stuck in recovery mode, it will need to be inspected by Apple support or an authorized service provider. Hardware issues with the logic board, connectors or storage often require service or replacement.

How to prevent iPhone from getting stuck in recovery mode

While recovery mode can help resolve iOS crashes, freezes and other software issues, it’s best to avoid the problem in the first place when possible. Here are some tips to prevent your iPhone from getting stuck in recovery mode:

Keep your iPhone updated

Always keep your iPhone’s operating system updated by promptly installing the latest iOS versions when they are released. iOS updates contain bug fixes and performance improvements that patch stability issues. Outdated iOS versions are more prone to problems that can trigger recovery mode.

Back up data regularly

Frequently back up important iPhone data like photos, messages and documents to iCloud and/or iTunes. That way, if you ever do need to restore your device from recovery mode and wipe it, you can easily restore your data afterwards. A current backup prevents data loss.

Avoid interruptions during iOS updates

Be sure to only install iOS updates when you have ample time and battery life. Never attempt an update if your iPhone is low on storage or battery, as interruptions can corrupt system files and cause the update to fail. Always install updates through a stable WiFi connection for reliability.

Don’t force power off during freezing/crashing

If apps or iOS begin crashing or freezing, avoid force powering off the iPhone. Let the device try to resolve the issue on its own, as force shutting down can make software problems worse and increase the chance of getting stuck in recovery mode.

Handle iPhone with care

Avoid exposing your iPhone to situations where it may sustain hardware damage like drops, water contact or extreme heat. Hardware problems are one of the primary causes of recovery mode issues, so keeping your device in good physical condition reduces risk.

Understanding iPhone error codes

When an iPhone enters recovery mode, you may see a specific error code displayed on the screen. These error codes can provide more clues as to what specifically triggered the recovery mode state.

Here are some of the most common recovery mode error codes and what they indicate:

Error 1 Indicates a hardware issue
Error 2 Baseband (modem) failure
Error 3 Unable to load bootrom
Error 4 Device signature mismatch
Error 6 Bad power state
Error 10 Bad CPU subtype
Error 11 Unable to load iBoot
Error 12 Unable to load LLB
Error 13 User cancelled restore
Error 14 Other general hardware failure

Hardware-related error codes like 1, 2, 3 and 14 will generally require Apple service to diagnose and replace any defective components. Software errors may be repairable by restoring, updating and possibly even rolling back or downgrading iOS.

Frequently asked questions about iPhone recovery mode

Here are answers to some common questions related to iPhone recovery mode issues:

Why does my iPhone say it’s in recovery mode but the screen is black?

The iPhone will show a black screen in recovery mode except for a “Connect to iTunes” logo. If you don’t see this logo, force restart the device and try putting it into recovery mode again while connected to a computer.

How can I tell if my iPhone is stuck in recovery mode or turned off?

If the iPhone shows the iTunes/Finder logo and a charging cable graphic, it is in recovery mode. If the screen is completely black, it is simply powered off. Force restart it by pressing Volume Up, Volume Down then holding the Side button.

Why does my iPhone keep entering recovery mode every time I restart it?

This recurring recovery mode issue is generally caused by serious software corruption or underlying hardware damage. Restore the device and update iOS. If recovery mode persists, have Apple diagnose and service the iPhone.

My iPhone is stuck in a boot loop between Apple logo and recovery mode. What should I do?

Try force restarting the device then letting the battery drain completely before restarting it. If this boot loop persists, the iPhone has severe software damage and will need to be wiped and restored in recovery mode or DFU mode.

I restored my iPhone but it won’t turn on and still shows the Connect to iTunes screen. How can I get it to turn on?

If an iPhone remains in recovery mode even after restoring, this indicates a hardware issue is preventing startup. Contact Apple Support and request inspection/repair to identify and replace the faulty hardware component(s).


Recovery mode is an important failsafe that allows you to restore an iPhone when major software issues occur. However, it can be worrying if your device gets stuck in recovery mode and won’t restart normally.

The most common causes include interrupted iOS updates, corrupted system files, buggy iOS versions, hardware damage, and accidental Home button holds. To resolve a stuck recovery mode state, force restart the iPhone and then restore and update iOS. For recurring issues, contact Apple Support to diagnose and service internal hardware faults.

Regularly backing up your iPhone data, keeping iOS updated, avoiding force reboots during crashes, and preventing hardware damage are key ways to avoid your iPhone getting stuck in recovery mode. Understanding the different error codes displayed can also help pinpoint the exact cause of the problem for repair.

While an iPhone stuck in recovery mode can be frustrating, the recovery feature is designed as a protective measure against catastrophic software failure. By determining the underlying cause and following the appropriate troubleshooting steps, you can safely return your iPhone to normal operation.