Taps on the screen go unnoticed. Panicked swipes aren't registered. Frantic button presses are ignored.
If your iPhone ($999 at Amazon) is stuck, frozen or otherwise unresponsive, a normal restart may not cure its ills. Your next step is a force restart. Fear not: This doesn't erase anything on your iPhone.
If you recently upgraded to an iPhone XR ($749 at Amazon) or XS, however, then you might have discovered that the old force restart method no longer works. And if you never knew or can't remember the old method, then let us review.
Force restart on an iPhone 7 (or earlier)
Press and hold both the home and the side (or top, depending on the model) buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo.
Force restart on an iPhone XR, XS, X or 8
Apple changed the way to make emergency calls starting with the iPhone X ($899 at Amazon) and iPhone 8 ($599 at Amazon). Because this maneuver involves pressing and holding the side button and one of the volume buttons, the force restart routine changed as a result. Force restarting an , , X or 8 is a three-button procedure:
- Press and release the volume up button.
- Press and release the volume down button.
- Press and hold the side button until the screen turns off and then turns back on. You can release the side button when the Apple logo appears.
Last option: Reinstall iOS
If your iPhone is really messed up and won't start up, you may need to reinstall its operating system. To do that, connect your iPhone to your computer and start iTunes. Next, perform a force restart of your iPhone but don't let go of the button(s) when the Apple logo appears. Instead, keep holding until you see the recovery mode screen -- the screen with the iTunes logo and Lightning connector.
When you see this screen on your iPhone, you should then see a window in iTunes on your computer to Restore or Update your iPhone. Click Update and iTunes will reinstall iOS -- and will do so without erasing your settings, apps and data.
If Update doesn't work, then you'll need to opt for Restore, which will erase all of your data and reinstall iOS and then prompt you to restore a backup in iTunes or iCloud that you hopefully created in the recent past.
Read more: How to back up your iPhone
Originally published on March 8, 2018.
Update, April 15, 2019: Adds details about iPhone XR