Bottom line: sometimes your iPhone doesn’t work as expected or doesn’t work at all. There are often simple little fixes you can make. Less often, it will be a serious problem that will require professional repair. If your iPhone is not working, here is a summary of the most basic steps you can take.
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Restart a problem app
Applications can get confused and not behave the way they should. For example, on my iPad, the Weather Channel app sometimes doesn’t update and keeps showing the temperature and forecast from the last time I used it several hours before. The simple solution is to exit the application and start it again. Double tap the Home button to open the running app carousel, then swipe up on the problematic app to exit. Then tap on the app icon to restart it.
Restart your iPhone
As with a desktop computer, at some point your iPhone may stop working properly. And just like with a desktop computer, the first thing you should try is restarting your iPhone. Press and hold the Sleep / Wake button until you get a message asking if you want to turn it off. Slide the button to confirm that you want to do so. It will take a minute to shut down. When you’re done, briefly press and hold the Sleep / Wake button as you normally would to turn on your iPhone.
“Force restart” your iPhone
The first iPhone I owned froze a few days after receiving it. He did not respond to any touch or pressure. But having been a Mac user for years, I sensed that it was simply a matter of forcing it to restart. If your iPhone freezes and is unresponsive, press and hold the Sleep / Wake and Home buttons until your iPhone shuts down and then restarts. (Of course, the first thing to do obviously when your iPhone is unresponsive is to make sure the battery is charged by plugging it in for half an hour and then trying again.)
Connect to iTunes if your iPhone gets stuck during startup
If you rebooted your iPhone and it gets stuck during the process, with the Apple logo on the screen for a long time, you will need to connect it to a desktop computer that has the free iTunes software installed and booted. Once you’re connected, do a force reboot as described above. However, do not release the sleep / wake and home buttons when you see the Apple logo. Instead, wait until you see the Recovery Mode screen. Then choose the Update option, and iTunes will try to reinstall iOS, but without erasing your data. If it takes more than 15 minutes, you may need to try a second time to force restart while connected to iTunes.
Download the latest version of iOS
Another important basic step if your iPhone is misbehaving is to download the latest version of iOS. Sometimes the behavior you are seeing is a known issue and Apple will have released a fix. Go to Settings> General> Software Update. If an update has been issued, you will see an indication that it is available.
Reset all settings
If your iPhone is slow and / or seems to have multiple issues, another option is Reset All Settings. Go to Settings> General> Reset> Reset all settings. This clears all the settings, thus removing anything that might be problematic, but retains your data.
Reset and restore from a backup
In the worst case, if nothing else works and your iPhone is unusable, you may need to reset your iPhone to its factory settings and then restore from a backup (here’s how to backup your iPhone). First, determine if you have a current backup by going to Settings> iCloud> Storage> Manage Storage, and then tapping on a device listed under Backups to see the date of your last backup. Hopefully it is quite current. Then go to Settings> General> Reset and tap on “Erase all content and settings”. Then proceed to “Choose Backup” and select from the list of backups available in iCloud.
Activate airplane mode when a connection error occurs
Sometimes your iPhone won’t be able to connect to your mobile data service or a Wi-Fi router. Often the solution simply involves activating airplane mode for 30 seconds to disconnect from wireless services, and then turning it off. This will make your iPhone forget the old connection and create a new one. To activate airplane mode, swipe up the Control Panel from the bottom of the home screen and tap the airplane icon. You can also try removing and then reinserting your iPhone’s SIM card.
Try “Forget this network” for Wi-Fi problems
If you have Wi-Fi issues and toggling airplane mode doesn’t work, go to Settings> Wi-Fi and select the particular network. Then tap Forget this network. Then try reconnecting and logging in again.
Try “Renew Lease” for Wi-Fi issues
My desktop computer usually doesn’t connect to the internet at least a couple of times a day, but I can get it working again right away by renewing the assigned IP number. You can also renew your iPhone lease. Go to Settings> Wi-Fi and tap the “i” to the right of the name of the network you are connected to. Then tap Renew Lease.
Reset network settings
Another option if you have connection problems is to try resetting your network settings. This resets your Wi-Fi networks and passwords and your cellular settings (as well as your VPN and APN settings). Go to Settings> General> Reset> Reset Network Settings.
Check battery usage if you have excessive battery drain
If your battery drains faster than normal, there are a couple of things you can try. A simple first step is to restart your iPhone, which can often fix the problem. The next step would be to go to Settings> Battery to see the details of which apps are using your battery. It not only shows the apps that you have been actively using, but also how much power the apps using the battery in the background are consuming. If an application consumes a lot of power in the background, you may want to disable “background application update” by going to General> Background application update and disabling this feature, or disabling it for specific applications. In extreme cases, you may want to try resetting all settings or even do a reset and restore.