iPhone Troubleshooting: How to Fix Common iPhone Problems

August 31, 2018

11:31 am

Don’t you just hate it when your iPhone starts acting up? We do, too. That’s why we’ve put together this essential guide to help you fix all the common (and some less common) iPhone issues.

These fixes will be quicker than going to an Apple Store and waiting for a Genius Bar appointment, and it won’t cost you a dime.

In this guide we’ll look at, and tell you how to fix the following iPhone problems:

…and, if your problem is that you don’t know which iPhone to buy, read our handy guide to the Apple iPhone range.

iPhone Won’t Connect to WiFi

iPhone troubleshooting forget wifi

The Problem: Your iPhone won’t connect to a public or private WiFi network.

The Fix: Swipe up to reveal the iPhone’s control centre and tap the WiFi button, wait a few seconds and turn it back on.

This will disconnect you from all WiFi networks and then begin reconnecting.

If this doesn’t work, try the same, but with Airplane Mode.

If the problem persists, head into the phone settings and forget the network Settings > WiFi then tap the network you’re trying to connect to.

Tap Forget This Network. If none of these work, it’s likely a problem with the WiFi network, not your phone. Try resetting the router.

iPhone Freezes

The Problem: Your iPhone grinds to a halt in the middle of tasks, leaving you unable to interact with the phone.

The Fix: Try a force restart. This will shutdown your iPhone, ending all ongoing tasks. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t lose any data like photos or contacts, although you might end up losing the email you were in the middle of writing.

The force restart process differs depending on which iPhone you have:

  • iPhone 6 or older: Hold down the Home button and the Power/ Top button until the Apple logo appears.
  • iPhone 7/7 Plus: Hold the Volume Down button and the Power button (right hand side) until the Apple logo appears.
  • iPhone 8/ 8 Plus and iPhone X: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, press and hold the Power button (right hand side) until the Apple logo appears.
iPhone Troubleshooting force restart

Credit: Apple

If the problem continues, check if there’s a software update available – if so, install it. If it persists further, try factory resetting your iPhone, making sure you backup any data before you do.

iPhone Won’t Update

iphone troubleshooting update ios

The Problem: Your iPhone won’t update to the newest version of iOS.

The Fix: Connect your phone to a PC or Mac and conduct a force restart as we mentioned above, this will put your iPhone into recovery mode.

You should then see an option to update it, tap to update the phone and once the update has completed, your phone should be working again.

If the update option doesn’t appear, you’ll have to restore your phone. This will remove all the data from your iPhone and restore it to its factory settings.

You will, however, get the latest software version and you’ll be able to restore your phone with backed-up content.

How to Recover Lost iPhone Data

The Problem: You’ve lost all the data previously held on your iPhone.

The Fix: Providing you have an iCloud backup, this should be straightforward. You’ll need to sync your phone to iCloud – iPhones do this automatically at night when locked and charging.

If you’re missing content you expect to be there, and it isn’t on your iCloud backup, you’re probably out of luck. You could try taking it to an Apple Store, but we can’t promise they’d be able to get anything back.

iPhone Overheating

The Problem: On a sunny day, if you leave your iPhone in the sun too long, you’ll see a warning telling you that your phone is too hot and it needs to cool down before you can use it again.

The Fix: Please, don’t put it in the fridge or freezer. Remove the case (if you have one) and keep it out of direct sunlight, then simply wait and it should cool down. It can be a good idea to switch on Airplane Mode while waiting for it too cool

You may, alternatively, find that your iPhone is frequently running hot, though not giving you the warning message mentioned above.

The Fix: This happens to a lot of electronic devices over time, from phones to laptops and games consoles. There’s rarely a quick fix, as the problems are often hardware related – an aging processor or battery, for example. But, these are some of the things you can do to alleviate the issue.

  • Remove the case: The more surface area of the phone is exposed, the easier it will be for it to regulate its temperature.
  • Check the holes: clear dirt, fluff or debris from the charging point or headphone jack.
  • Turn off Bluetooth and background app refreshing: The less tasks you processor is having to manage, the cooler it will stay
  • Take a break from games: Sad to say, but you might have to park your mobile gaming for the meanwhile, especially if you play graphically-intensive or AR games, such as Pokemon Go.
  • Turn off location settings: This will stop apps accessing bluetooth, GPS, or Wifi networks to ascertain your location. It’s often best to put apps on the “While using” setting, so you don’t lose functionality when you’re actually using the app.
  • Only charge your phone when it’s cool: Charging the battery causes it to heat up, and charging it while hot only exacerbates the issue.

If your phone is still running too hot, your best bet is to take it to an Apple Store and get a diagnosis on the device or simply buy a new one.

iPhone Battery Drains Too Quickly

iPhone Troubleshooting battery life problems

The Problem: Your iPhone runs out of battery too quickly.

The Fix: The obvious – though not particularly satisfying – fix is to reduce how much you use your phone. However, there are some tricks to help you eke out a bit more time from your phone:

  • Check the Battery Health: This is a new feature introduced in iOS 11. Head to Settings > Battery > Battery Health (Beta). It tells you how far your battery has degraded over time, and whether you need to change it. This is not Apple ‘planned obsolescence’, either. It’s an issue inherent to all lithium ion batteries.
  • Turn Bluetooth off: You need to head into the settings menu to do this, turning it off via the control centre doesn’t actually turn off Bluetooth.
  • Turn down screen brightness
  • Turn on lower power mode
  • Decrease the auto screen lock time
  • Turn off background app refresh: Head to Settings > General > Background app refresh.

iPhone won’t Charge

The Problem: When plugged in, the battery doesn’t charge up.

The Fix: Check your charging port for dust and debris (a safety pin or paperclip is good to do this with). If your phone still won’t charge, check your charging cable – does it work with other Apple devices? Does other stuff work in the same wall plug? Do other USB cables work in the USB plug?

If that doesn’t work, try a force restart. If that doesn’t fix it, try a factory reset. If you still can’t charge your phone, head down to an Apple Store.

iPhone Touchscreen Not Working

The Problem: Your phone’s screen has stopped responding, or it has frozen and is stuck on a black screen.

The Fix: The first thing you should do is try a force restart. We’ve detailed how to do that above (anchor link). If that doesn’t work, try charging the phone for up to an hour. If you still don’t see the charging screen, or you see the connect to power screen, try cleaning out charging point and headphone jack, check the USB cable and the wall plug.

If your screen is cracked and has stopped responding, it’s likely to be a hardware problem – meaning you’ll need a new screen. Apple is famously finicky with its warranties, so if they won’t fix it, try an authorised Apple reseller. They often fix screens for less than Apple, though you might lose some functionality (force touch, for example).

iPhone Won’t Turn On

The Problem: Your iPhone won’t turn on or it’s stuck on the logo screen.

The Fix: Try a force restart (anchor link). If that doesn’t work, try charging it for an hour – making sure you check that the USB cable and plug are working, as well as ensuring there’s no dust or debris in the phone’s charging port.

If it still won’t turn on, try taking it to an Apple store as it might be a hardware related issue, such as a completely failed battery.

iPhone is Slow

The Problem: Your iPhone seems to run really slowly, all the time.

The Fix: There are loads of ways to speed up your iPhone: Delete apps you don’t use, turn off background app refreshing, clear your the cache on the Safari web browser.

To see the full list of fixes, check out our Why is My Phone So Slow? Guide.

Forgotten iPhone Passcode

iPhone Troubleshooting forgotten iPhone passcode

The Problem: You just can’t remember your iPhone’s passcode, or a message is telling you that your iPhone has been disabled.

The Fix: There’s not much you can do here, other than restore your phone to its factory settings and erase all the data on it. You can, however, promptly restore the phone from a backup.

If you’ve previously synced it with iTunes, simply plug your phone into your PC or Mac and find the “Restore iPhone” button. Then follow instructions, and select “Restore from iTunes Backup”.

If you’ve not synced your phone with iTunes, you can restore from iCloud after putting your iPhone into recovery mode. Again, you’ll need to connect your phone to a PC or Mac then open iTunes – it doesn’t have to be your own computer, either.

While your device is connected, you’ll need to do a force restart, then, when you see the option to restore or update on the computer’s screen, choose restore. iTunes will download the software for your device, and you should be left with a functioning iPhone sans all your old data.

Can’t Back Up iPhone to iCloud

The Problem: Your iPhone won’t backup its data to the iCloud

The Fix: The first thing to do is check whether your iCloud storage limit is full. If it is, you might have to stop backing up or delete some data – photos typically take up a lot of room, and there might be some you don’t need, otherwise, games tend to backup data, as does the Mail app.

If you can’t trim your backup needs sufficiently, it might be worth upgrading your storage plan. For 99 cents a month, you can 50GB’s worth of iCloud storage – ten times the free amount. This small expense is genuinely worth it, and you’re unlikely to fill it up.

Before trying anything else, check if there’s an iOS update available. If that still doesn’t work, try resetting the network settings (this will reset wifi networks and passwords, as well as cellular and VPN settings) to do this, go to Settings > General > Reset (at the bottom of the page) > Reset Network Settings.

If this doesn’t work, try backing it up with iTunes, then deleting your old iCloud backup and then trying the backup again.

What if My iPhone Problem isn’t on Here?

If you can’t find the answer to your problem on here, a good place to start your troubleshooting is with a force restart. This will halt all current processes and will likely stop any sudden software issues you’ve encountered.

If the problem continues to persist, backing up your phone and resetting it to factory settings should stop any strange goings on.

However, if push really does come to shove, take it to an Apple store – but remember that hardware fixes can often be carried out by verified Apple Resellers for a lower price.

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Tom Fogden is a writer for with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media and website builders when he's not reviewing the latest phones, gadgets, or occasionally even technology books.