Phone frozen? How to reset an unresponsive iPhone

31 July 2014

Don’t freak out, there’s probably an easy fix if your phone has frozen. First thing’s first though, if it’s not turning on because you dropped it in water then stop right now. The last thing you want to do is turn on a phone that has just been wet. Head on over to our wet phone guide before you make any further moves.

If you’re suffering the more common, and less-dire problem of a phone that simply won’t acknowledge your commands then chances are you can fix it with a simple combination of button presses.

There are a few ways you can fix a frozen iPhone. You don’t have to totally reset your device, sometimes the answer is quick and easy.

Frozen apps

If your app becomes unresponsive, you can turn it off from the multitasking center. Double tap the Home button and swipe left or right until you’ve found the offending app. Swipe it upwards off the screen and it should close.

Totally frozen

If your iPhone has become so unresponsive that even the Home button does not work, you can force it to restart. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button at the top until a red slider appears. Slide it to power off the device.

Still frozen

As a last resort, you can try a more forceful approach. This should only be done if the previous method does not work, as it isn’t exactly great for your phone’s software.

Press and hold the top-side Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time. Hold for 10 seconds, or until the Apple logo appears.

This method can also be used if your device is not turning on, or not coming out of standby mode.


If it still isn’t turning on, there are a few remaining options:

  1. Charge your phone. Even if it had tonnes of battery life before it went blank, it may have been reporting how much charge it actually had incorrectly.
  2. Connect your iPhone to a computer and open iTunes. If it pops up as connected, click Restore on the Summary pane.
  3. Force it in to recovery mode. This is the last of the last resorts before you contact Apple for help. Turn your phone off and leave it for about 20 seconds before connecting it to a computer via USB while holding down the Home button .

Make sure you were holding it down when you connected it. When the Connect to iTunes Screen pops up release the Home button. Then use iTunes to restore your device. This will wipe the iPhone clean, but hopefully you’ve backed it up and can restore it through iTunes.

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