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Published on: 08.24.2023, Updated on: 09.22.2023

iPhone Black Screen of Death: Why It Happens and How to Fix


If your iPhone is stuck on a black screen, it could signal a serious issue. You've spent good money on your iPhone and might be worried that it's dead, but the good news is there are several ways to fix this problem.

We're going to dive deeper than most tech websites and delve into the reasons why your iPhone might be showing a black screen, how the problem could have happened, and solutions to get it working again.

Key Takeaways

  • The iPhone black screen of death isn't always as bad as it sounds
  • In many cases, there are quick, easy solutions.
  • Drops and water exposure can cause iPhone screen of death problems.
  • A failed iOS update can cause black screen errors.

What is the iPhone Black Screen of Death?

iPhone Black Screen of Death


The black screen of death is a common phrase used to describe when your iPhone display stays black or has black lines. Your iPhone might not turn on, or it could look like it's off even when you've switched it on. An Apple logo or spinning wheel could appear over a black screen.

There are various reasons why this can happen and different solutions to solve the problem. Despite the ominous term, "black screen of death," your iPhone might be 100% okay. If it's a software issue, the fix is often quick and easy. A device that's physically damaged will need repair.

Read on to find out what's causing the black display, why that happened, and how to get your iPhone working normally again.

My iPhone screen is black but the phone is on

It's very confusing to see your iPhone's screen is black when you know it's on. It might make sounds, vibrations, or interact with connected devices. That isn't common, but it does happen.

Why your iPhone is stuck on black even when it's on?

If the display remains black, an app or even the iPhone's operating system might be confused. Apple does a great job of verifying the quality or apps in the App Store but a bug in the app or in iOS could result in the screen going blank. It's not always the fault of the software. Random glitches can happen to any modern technology, for example, when a cosmic ray penetrates the case and strikes a memory chip.

An Apple support document states that the iPhone has safeguards built in to protect the electronics. If your iPhone overheats or was left in a hot area and its internal temperature climbs too high, the screen may dim or go black to help reduce the temperature.

Of course, a black screen can also be caused by a hardware problem. If the screen or display hardware is damaged, it can stop working, partially or entirely. Intermittent issues that happen occasionally but aren't consistent are particularly hard to diagnose.

If you notice some pattern to the flaw, something on the screen, or a particular time when it's more likely to happen, that can help identify the problem and solve it.

How to fix an iPhone that's on but shows only black?

When you run across a significant iPhone problem, restarting is a good idea. It's remarkable how many issues are solved simply by clearing everything in temporary memory and starting over.

If you don't know how to restart it, you can find the instructions below. If a restart doesn't solve the problem, keep reading to check if any of the other problems or solutions below help.

If overheating is the problem, move your iPhone to a cooler area. If it's charging, unplug it and allow it to cool. If you're using a third-party charger, make sure it's compatible with your device.

If you can see your iPhone has physical damage, know it was exposed to water, or are certain this is a hardware issue, you might need to replace the screen or the display electronics to get it working again.

We explain how to find out if a hardware problem is fixable below.

iPhone screen goes black randomly

iPhone screen goes black randomly


When your iPhone screen goes black randomly, it could be any of the issues mentioned above. Unpredictable problems are, unfortunately, the hardest to solve.

Why does your iPhone screen go black randomly?

Overheating could be the reason, or a particular app could have a glitch that appears in certain circumstances. A hardware flaw can be intermittent also.

How to fix the iPhone screen that goes black randomly?

The solution is to try to recall what you were doing when the problem occurred. Then check the list of issues on this page to find the closest match and the solution.

iPhone black screen & spinning wheel or Apple logo

An iPhone shows a spinning wheel or the Apple logo on a black screen when it's restarting or powering on. If something goes wrong, a frozen screen is possible. If your iPhone seems stuck in this state for longer than expected, you might need to use the recovery tool to fix it.

Why an iPhone gets stuck during restart?

Your iPhone might get stuck during restart if you installed a recent software update to a new version of iOS. An update that didn't download correctly could cause this problem. There might also be some hardware issue that affects the startup process. A damaged iPhone can malfunction in many ways. It's easy to find out if it's a software or hardware problem by connecting to a computer.

Connect a computer to fix iPhone restart problems

Using the Lightning cable that came with your iPhone, connect it to a Mac or Windows PC. Windows computers will need to download iTunes if it isn't already installed. If you use a third-party USB cable, it might not work. Apple devices are very picky about such details.

Please note this next step is a factory reset so you'll lose all files, media, and preference settings if you take this step to try to solve the screen of death problem.

Then try restarting the iPhone again, but instead of waiting for the Apple logo, you'll see a recovery mode screen. On your computer, you'll see the option to Update or Restore. Choose Update.

Your computer will provide on-screen instructions to guide you through this process. Apple's support document provides more detail if needed.

iPhone has black screen but makes sound, rings or vibrates

Your iPhone will enter sleep mode when you aren't interacting with the screen, turning the display black to extend battery life. Music will continue to play while your device sleeps. When calls, messages, and notifications come in, your iPhone will still ring and vibrate, even in sleep mode.

What to do if the iPhone has black screen but makes sound, rings or vibrates?

If that's the case, the solution is to simply wake your iPhone by touching the screen or tapping the wake button on the right side. If that helped, count yourself lucky. That's the easiest way to correct what might look like the black screen of death but is not.

Sleep mode is a great feature but it's a common issue that looks like a black screen error. An iPhone that makes sounds or vibrates but won't wake up has a bigger problem. See the section above about how to fix an iPhone that's on but only shows black.

iPhone screen goes black during a call

If your display goes black during a call, don't panic. It's normal to enter sleep mode if you haven't touched the display for a while. Simply wake your iPhone by tapping the screen or pressing the power button. If that doesn't work, you'll need to try the solutions above for an iPhone that's on but shows only black.

iPhone screen black or white horizontal lines

iPhone screen black or white white horizontal lines


Software glitches can cause horizontal lines on an iPhone. They might be black or white and are usually associated with a software problem. Lines of different colors can appear also.

How to fix the iPhone screen black or white horizontal lines issue?

MacRumors reported that Apple acknowledged this problem with the iPhone 14 Pro and stated it would be corrected with a software update. If you see unexpected lines on your screen, install any updates that are available.

If that doesn't solve the problem, try the screen of death fixes we describe to see if that helps. Lines on a display can also indicate a hardware component issue, but it's easiest to try the software solutions first.

iPhone screen black after dropping

Ceramic Shield makes modern iPhones much more durable, but the shock from a drop can damage electronic devices, even if everything looks okay. If your iPhone screen is black after a fall, it might need repair.

What to do if the iPhone screen is black after dropping?

Of course, try waking it first. If that doesn't work, hold down the side button to attempt to turn your iPhone on. If nothing happens, something could have broken or come loose inside. Check the section below to find out if the black screen is fixable.

Water damaged iPhone turns on but screen is black

Water damaged iPhone turns on but screen is black


If water gets inside the case of an electronic device, it's bad news. With a water resistance rating of IP67 or IP68, your iPhone can usually survive a splash, even a dunk into water. However, it's not waterproof.

Liquid can short circuit a phone, causing significant damage in a short amount of time. If your iPhone screen is black after receiving water damage, it will probably need repair.

What to do if the water damaged iPhone turns on but screen is black?

If it's still wet, don't press any buttons. Wipe off any water and place your iPhone in a dry area for at least a day before attempting to power it on. If it doesn't turn on or the screen remains black, see the section below about whether a black screen is fixable.

How to restart an iPhone?

A sequence of two button clicks and one hold can reboot your iPhone, giving it a fresh start without losing any data. Press and release the volume up button, then volume down button, and finally press and hold the right side button (also known as sleep/wake/power button).

Keep holding until you see the Apple logo appear on the display, then release the side button. It should only take a few seconds to see the Apple logo. If you've been holding the side button for more than 30 seconds, try again. If your iPhone still doesn't work, move on to another solution.

If you own an iPhone SE or model older than the iPhone 8, refer to Apple's restart instructions.

Is a black iPhone screen fixable?

If your iPhone has a hardware problem or a software issue you can't fix with the instructions above, you can find out if it's still under warranty with Apple's device coverage checker. A one-year, limited warranty is included when you buy a new iPhone. That can be extended with AppleCare.

Apple will repair or replace defective products for free, as long as the iPhone hasn't been damaged by water or suffered from an impact. You can also get help with software problems at an Apple Store.

Your warranty doesn't cover water damage or a cracked screen, so you might have to pay for repair. In case you don't want to pay for high costs at Apple services, there is still another option - reputable iPhone repair stores that are charging less for screen repair. Many problems that look like the black screen of death issue can be corrected.

All iPhone models can have a black screen issue. Particularly the latest iPhone models, like iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 can have this issue which is often reported by users, but they are all fixable.

Hardware-related black screen issues

The force of an impact could cause the screen to become disconnected, but it might work perfectly when plugged back in. A water-damaged display must be replaced. Drops, extreme heat, and water can cause various failures. Damaged backlighting will make the display dim or even black. A faulty battery might not supply enough power to the display. Logic board damage can cause intermittent problems.

How to check for hardware damage?

A cracked screen or dents on the body are signs that the device has suffered from impacts. The iPhone is strong but isn't impervious to drops, particularly if it lands on a hard surface.

If you drop your iPhone into water or it gets sprayed, liquid might get inside and short circuit components. You can check the water indicator by ejecting the SIM card tray and shining a light into the hole. If you see pink or red, that suggests liquid has gotten inside the device.

Repairing an iPhone

It isn't easy to repair an iPhone. You might be able to do it yourself, but some repairs are complex procedures. A technical expert will have specialized tools to do the job safely and recovery software that might prevent data loss.

We recommend you try restarting and, if you have backup files, do the recovery process to restore to factory settings. If that doesn't work, it might be time to find a professional repair service to fix your iPhone black screen of death error.



Author: Alan Truly

Linkedin: Alan Truly  | Twitter: @AceOfThumbs  |  Youtube: Alan Truly

Computing Writer

Alan is a Computing Writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech-enthusiast since his youth, Alan stays current on what is new and what is next. With over 30 years experience in computer, video and photo equipment, you can expect useful tips and insights in his writing. He has written for different websites, like Digital Trends, MuckRack, ScreenRant, Peta Pixel, Android PolicyMixed News. Alan has a degree in programming, many years focused on design, editing, and animation. A period of managing logistics and e-commerce operations for a mobile accessories company rounds out a diverse background. Alan is a true jack of all digital trades in this ever-changing computer-enriched world. To stay flexible in mind and in body, he practices yoga, light cardio, and eats a whole food diet, based on minimally processed plants.


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