Does your iPhone seem stuck in purgatory? Staring at a stubborn Apple logo or a progress bar that doesn’t seem to move? You’re not alone. Here are some things you can try to fix your unresponsive device.
Hold on tight if it’s an update
Sometimes your iPhone seems stuck when applying an update, especially for major updates pushed from one iOS version to another. The progress bar that appears during installation seems to be moving at an icy pace, to the point where you’re staring at the screen, looking for the slightest sign of movement.
If your iPhone seems stuck applying an update, Apple’s official advice is to “make sure the progress bar on your iPhone screen hasn’t moved for at least an hour” before taking matters into your own hands take. Leave your iPhone to its chores and make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Come back later and check.
The company then advises that you use recovery mode to salvage your device, instructions are further down this page. Before doing that, you should try hard resetting your device. After all, what have you got to lose?
Force restart your iPhone
Force restarting your iPhone is the first thing you should try whether your iPhone is stuck during an update, cold boot or restarts because you wished to restart. It’s also worth trying if your device seems stuck in a boot loop where the Apple logo periodically disappears for a few seconds when the device tries to restart.
The advice on how to force restart an iPhone may differ depending on the model. For the latest models (iPhone 8 and later), follow the steps below:
- Briefly press the “Volume Up” button on the side of the device.
- Briefly press the “Volume Down” button on the side of the device.
- Press and hold the “Side” button on the opposite side of the device until you see an Apple logo, then release.
Do you have an older device? Read our full instructions on how to force restart all iPhone models.
Update or restore your iPhone in recovery mode
Recovery mode lets you update or restore your device’s software to (hopefully) fix your problem. To do this, you need a Mac or PC with iTunes compatible with the version of iOS you currently have installed.
First, connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC. The steps to put your device into recovery mode are very similar to a forced restart (above), but instead of releasing power when you see the Apple logo, hold it down. The instructions are slightly different for iPhone 6 and earlier, which you can find in our guide to entering recovery mode with your iPhone.
If all goes well, your iPhone should indicate that you’ve entered recovery mode. On macOS 10.15 Catalina or later, open Finder and click your iPhone in the sidebar. On macOS 10.14 and earlier or Windows, open iTunes and click on your iPhone.
You should have two options: “Update” (or “Check for Update”) and “Restore”. Use “Update” to try to update your device and keep all the data on it. Click “Restore” to erase your device which will lose all data. You will have the option to restore from an iCloud or local backup when this is complete.
TIED TOGETHER: How to put your iPhone or iPad in recovery mode
Repair firmware in DFU mode
DFU stands for “Device Firmware Update” and refers to an advanced, low-level recovery mode. In fact, if you enter DFU mode, your iPhone iOS will not load at all, giving you the opportunity to restore the operating system completely. Essentially, you wipe the board clean to fix your problem.
You should use DFU mode if nothing has worked so far, but be aware that you will lose everything on your device in the process. You need a Mac or PC with iTunes to restore iOS, similar to how recovery mode works.
Just like forcing restarts and entering recovery mode, entering DFU mode is different depending on the iPhone model. On modern devices like iPhone 8 and later (including iPhone 13):
- First, connect your iPhone to the Mac or PC you will be using to restore it, running Finder (macOS 10.15 and higher) or iTunes (macOS 10.14 and Windows).
- Press and hold the side button for three seconds.
- While still holding the side button, press and hold the volume down button for 10 seconds.
- Release the side button while continuing to hold the volume down button for five seconds.
You should see a black screen and your device should now be recognized in Finder or iTunes. From here you can “restore” your device using your Mac or PC. If you have an older device, you need to follow other instructions to put your device in DFU mode.
If you see the Apple logo or a “Plug into iTunes” screen, you’ve done something wrong. Force reset your device and try again, and keep trying until you get it right
Bring your iPhone to Apple
If you’ve tried everything (or haven’t found the timing to enter DFU mode) and nothing has worked, you can always try bringing your iPhone to Apple. This is especially true if your device is under warranty or covered by AppleCare.
Even if your device is no longer covered, you may still be able to get a solution by visiting an Apple Retail Store or Authorized Service Center. Apple can resolve the issue by restoring your device from the Store. They may run diagnostics on your device to find out what’s wrong and give you the option to get your iPhone repaired.
You will not be charged unless you specifically authorize Apple to repair your device. Small repairs such as replacing the battery can be worthwhile in order to be able to use your device for a few more years. More complicated repairs are likely to cost you a lot more, and at that point the money might be better spent on a more recent model.
Prevent the problem from reoccurring
How you prevent this from happening again ultimately depends on what caused it in the first place. If you’ve enrolled your iPhone in the Apple Software Preview program, using pre-release software may be to blame. You can avoid this by exiting the iOS beta program and only using stable versions in the future.
If you were able to fix your problem with a forced restart, be aware that the problem may appear again. You may need to use recovery mode or DFU mode for a more permanent solution.
Also, there is nothing stopping you from going to an Apple Store and explaining the problem. Apple can run a variety of diagnostics on your device and alert you to any issues lurking beneath the surface that you may not be aware of.
But if there’s one thing to take away from this experience, it’s the importance of having a backup.
The importance of backups
Problems like this can happen at any time and can be caused by software or hardware. If you prefer to take the manual backup way, you can back up your iPhone to Mac or Windows PC using Finder or iTunes.
Alternatively, iCloud offers a set-and-forget backup solution. You may need to purchase additional iCloud storage and use services like iCloud Photo Library to ensure your media is safe.