Why is my iPhone screen black but the phone still works?

If your iPhone screen suddenly goes black but the phone still seems to work otherwise, it can be alarming. However, in many cases this issue can be fixed by troubleshooting some common causes.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the main reasons an iPhone screen may turn black while the phone remains functional. We’ll explore potential issues with the screen itself, software bugs, ribbon cables, sensors, power management, backlighting, and digitizer components. We’ll also discuss some steps you can try to troubleshoot the problem and determine whether your iPhone needs repair or replacement.

Faulty Screen

One of the most common reasons for a black but still working iPhone screen is a faulty OLED display (source). OLED displays can fail over time, especially when exposed to high temperatures or direct sunlight. The organic materials used in OLED displays degrade faster at high temperatures, which can lead to dark or black spots on the screen known as burn-in (source).

High temperatures, whether from leaving the iPhone in a hot car or under direct sunlight, can damage the OLED display and its connectors. The heat can warp the glass screen and melt internal components like the display connector cable. This kind of temperature damage usually appears suddenly after exposure to heat.

Direct impact to the screen from drops or accidents can also cause cracks or internal damage that makes the display go black. Cracked screens may still partially work, but the underlying OLED panel can become damaged from the impact, causing black or distorted areas.

Software Issue

A black screen can sometimes be caused by iOS software bugs, app conflicts, or a bad update rather than a hardware issue (Sources: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/254530956, https://discussions.apple.com/thread/255298097). Recent iOS updates like iOS 16 and 17 have introduced bugs that can lead to a black screen during or after the update process. Conflicts between apps, especially if you’ve recently installed a new app, could also cause system instability and black screen problems.

Troubleshooting software issues involves rebooting the iPhone, force quitting apps, uninstalling recently added apps, and checking for and installing the latest iOS updates. If a system update or new app seems to have triggered the issue, reverting to a previous iOS version or removing that app may resolve it. Back up the iPhone so data is not lost if forced to factory reset. Overall, identifying and resolving any iOS or app-related software bugs is the key to fixing black screens caused by bad code rather than hardware failure.

Ribbon Cable

The ribbon cable connects the iPhone’s display panel to the main logic board where the processor and other components are located. This thin, flat cable transmits data and power between these two key parts of the phone. If the ribbon cable becomes damaged or disconnected, it can cause the screen to go black while the rest of the phone remains operational.

One common cause of a black screen is that the ribbon cable has become loose or dirty, resulting in an intermittent connection. Opening and closing the phone can sometimes temporarily restore the connection. Repeatedly flexing the phone may also disrupt a dirty or worn ribbon cable over time. Reseating the cable or cleaning the connectors may resolve this issue. However, a damaged cable likely needs professional repair or replacement.

According to discussions on Apple’s support forums, impact damage is a frequent culprit when ribbon cables fail in iPhones. Dropping or bending the phone can stress the fragile cable and cause tears or complete breaks in the wiring inside.[1] Since the ribbon cable is integrated into the display assembly, replacing the entire screen is often required in cases of cable damage.

Proximity Sensor

The proximity sensor is located near the top of the screen above the receiver on iPhones. Its function is to detect when your face is close to the screen, such as during a phone call. When it senses your face is close, it turns off the screen to prevent accidental touches during the call. If the proximity sensor is dirty, damaged, or obstructed, it may not work properly and fail to turn the screen back on after you move the phone away from your face, resulting in a black screen.

Dirt, damage, or obstructions on the proximity sensor can prevent it from functioning normally. Dust, grease, or debris can block the sensor and stop it from detecting your face proximity. Cracked glass directly over the sensor can also impair its accuracy. Cases, screen protectors, or other objects stuck on the top edge of the phone near the earpiece can physically obstruct the sensor.[1][2]

Power Management

One cause of the iPhone screen going black while the phone is still working could be related to power management components like the battery or logic board (Apple Support).

If the battery has failed or is unable to provide sufficient power, it may cause the screen to turn off or go black even though the phone is still on. This is because the screen and backlight require significant power to function. A depleted or damaged battery may not be capable of delivering enough power.

Issues with the logic board, which controls power distribution, could also cause the screen to turn off due to lack of power. If the logic board is damaged or components related to power management have failed, the board may improperly regulate power to the screen while still allowing the phone to remain on.

In these cases, since the underlying issue is with the battery or logic board, the screen itself may be functional but is not receiving adequate power to turn on and display an image. Troubleshooting steps like a force restart could temporarily resolve it, but ultimately the battery or logic board would need to be repaired or replaced.


The backlight is the light source behind the LCD screen that illuminates it. It allows you to see the images and colors displayed on the screen (Source). The backlight consists of LED or CCFL tubes at the bottom or edges of the LCD panel. When the backlight fails or malfunctions, the screen will appear black or dim even though the display itself is working (Source).

Common backlight failure modes include:

  • Burned out LEDs or CCFL tubes
  • Faulty backlight driver board or fuses
  • Loose or damaged backlight cable connector
  • Screen damage blocking backlight output

Backlight issues tend to occur gradually over time as components wear out. Dropping or impacting the phone can also disrupt connections and cause sudden backlight failure. Replacing the backlight LED/CCFL strips or driver board may resolve the issue, but costs are often high compared to a full display assembly replacement.


The digitizer is a thin, transparent layer on top of the smartphone screen that detects touch input on the display. It has sensors to determine the exact location of a finger press or swipe gesture [1]. When the digitizer fails, it will cause the iPhone screen to go black and not respond to touch even though the phone is still working.

Some common failure modes of the digitizer include:

  • Damage from dropping or impact that cracks the digitizer layer
  • Faulty connection to the logic board from damaged or detached flex cables
  • Corrosion buildup on digitizer connectors from liquid damage
  • General wear and tear over time leading to dead spots and functionality issues

Since the digitizer failure does not affect the internal hardware, the phone will continue to function normally except for the black screen. Troubleshooting steps like force restarting will not resolve a digitizer issue. The only solution is to replace the faulty digitizer layer or the entire display assembly. This typically requires professional repair or replacement of the screen [2].


If your iPhone screen is black but the phone is still working, there are some troubleshooting steps you can try before taking it in for repair. Here are some common solutions for a black but responsive iPhone screen:

Force Restart
The first step is to force restart your iPhone by pressing and quickly releasing the Volume Up button, then pressing and quickly releasing the Volume Down button, then press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo (Source). This will restart your phone and can often resolve a black screen issue.

Reset Settings

Resetting your iPhone’s settings to default can also fix a black screen in some cases. Go to Settings > General > Reset and tap Reset All Settings. This preserves your data but resets system settings that may be causing issues (Source).

Clean Connectors
Another thing to try is cleaning the connectors between the screen and logic board. Use a soft brush or compressed air to gently clean out any dust or debris in the Lightning port or around the display connectors. This can fix connectivity issues leading to a black screen.

When to Repair/Replace

The cost to repair or replace an iPhone screen can vary greatly depending on the model, where you go, and whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. According to Apple, screen replacement at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider typically ranges from $129 to $279, not including tax. However, independent repair shops or DIY kits can cost much less.

Doing it yourself with a quality DIY kit can cost as little as $50-100 for most models, if you’re willing to take the time and risk potential damage. According to Simply Fixable, professional third-party repair shops charge $65 to $473 on average. High-end models like the iPhone X or newer can be on the higher end of this range.

In general, DIY repair is cheapest but has risks. Professional repair has more consistent quality but costs more. For simpler issues like a cracked screen, DIY can make sense if you’re careful. For more complex issues or very fragile glass, professional repair may be worth the extra cost.