Updated on 04-08-2014 by AJ Dellinger: We’ve added four more common iPhone 5S problems to our original list, along with potential solutions or workarounds for each one.
What do you do if you have an iPhone 5S problem and you want it fixed right now? You don’t want to go to an Apple Store unless you really have to, the support forums are difficult to search, and your go-to family or friend tech geek is otherwise engaged. Fear not. We’re here to help, and hopefully we can get your smartphone back to its best, or at least point you in the right direction.
Bug: Blue screen of death
Some people have run into a dreaded blue screen of death bug which seems to be related to specific apps. If you are using Pages, Keynote, or Numbers and you are in a document editing, then pressing the Home button can cause the iPhone 5S to crash to a blue screen, which is generally followed by a reboot. Some people are reporting this issue with other apps as well, and in severe cases it is causing a reboot loop. There’s a theory that the iPhone 5S is afflicted because it has a 64-bit processor trying to run 32-bit software (it’s the first 64-bit phone). Developers are already updating apps to work with the new processor more fluidly and Apple will likely release an update to fix it at some point, but in the meantime there’s no solution, only workarounds that have worked for some people.
(Editor’s Note by Jeffrey Van Camp: Our iPhone 5S here at DT has rebooted randomly a few times since we got it in September, but we have not experienced a blue screen of death. Apps do crash more frequently, but these are usually apps that haven’t been updated to iOS 7.)
- Always make sure you back out of documents before tapping that Home button.
- Disable iCloud sync for the iWork apps by going to Settings > iCloud > Documents & Data, and sliding Pages, Keynote, and Numbers to off.
- Try to use apps that have been updated to take advantage of iOS 7. Apple has not updated Pages, Keynote, or Numbers. You can tell
- If the problems are constant, or frequent to the point of impeding your experience, please contact Apple customer service.
Glitch: Faulty sensors
A lot of people are reporting that the sensors in the iPhone 5S are wildly inaccurate. We mentioned in our iOS 7 tips that you can access a spirit level (Apple calls it an inclinometer) by swiping left in the Compass app, but it turns out that it’s not working correctly. In fact, the compass, accelerometer, and gyroscope have also been malfunctioning for some people. The level of fault varies, but it does seem to be an issue that’s specific to the iPhone 5S.
(Editor’s Note by Jeffrey Van Camp: We have not had trouble with the sensors on our iPhone 5S, though we do experience occasional ticks in the parallax effect on the home screen, which moves the background of the phone to produce a 3D effect.)
Your only option right now is to take the iPhone 5S back to the Apple Store and ask for a replacement, but be warned, many customers who have done exactly that are reporting that their replacement iPhone 5S has the same issues. It’s not clear if this is a hardware or software fault. If it is software-related, we expect an update to fix it, but until Apple acknowledges the issue, it’s a mystery.
Annoyance: Noisy and rattling buttons
A lot of people have been complaining about the Home button clicking loudly and the Power button rattling when the iPhone 5S is shaken. People who went to get replacements, or tested other iPhone 5S handsets, found the exact same rattle and click was present. It’s just the way they’re constructed. Some people have reported a louder thudding rattle which could be caused by a loose battery.
(Editor’s Note by Jeffrey Van Camp: From our experience using the iPhone 5S, the Touch ID Home button may have a slightly louder click and the power button does rattle if you put your ear up to the phone and shake, but these problems didn’t bother us. In fact, I never noticed them until I read that others were annoyed by it. As for the battery issue, we have not encountered it, but it is not normal and would be a serious problem.)
- Your only real option here is to take your iPhone 5S into an Apple Store and show them. If it is a loose battery then they’ll be able to fix it, if not then you may have to learn to live with the ‘noise.’
Glitch: The 5-second typing lag
Some people have complained of a typing lag after updating to iOS 7.1, with each letter taking about five seconds to show up on screen.
- Resetting the phone by holding down the sleep/wake and home buttons would usually do the trick. If it doesn’t, go to Settings>General>Reset>Reset Keyboard Dictionary
Problem: iMessage not working
Apple’s messaging feature has long been a source of frustration, with complaints mostly concentrated on its inability to recognize non-Apple devices. With the iPhone 5S, the feature has actually gotten worse, which is actually a surprising development considering how buggy it was in the first place. Aside from vanishing text messages, a number of people have reported that they have been unable to send iMessages.
- If you’re an iMessage loyalist, you can restart your phone and hope for the best. If not, we would advise you to cut your losses and just send regular text messages. The answer to your problems can be found at Settings>General>Reset>Reset Network Settings.
Problem: Can’t use personal hotspots
- If your phone has this issue, we’re afraid to say that you’re out of luck. Currently, there is no fix available. Apple’s support staff and carriers around the world seem to have a problem pinning down the source of the malfunction, and have instead resorted to passing the blame on each other.
Bug: Touch ID not working for iTunes purchases
Apple was quick to address this issue with a bug fix. The problem was that the iPhone 5S would not accept the user’s fingerprint to authenticate an iTunes purchase and would insist on them entering their password.
(Editor’s Note by Jeffrey Van Camp: On our iPhone 5S unit, we do have to enter a password every 5-10 purchases. This is annoying, but appears to be intended for security purposes. Hopefully Apple will lax up on passwords more in the future.)
- This was fixed in the 7.0.1 update. Make sure you have it by going to Settings > General > Software Update on your iPhone 5S. You can also hook up your iPhone 5S to your computer and check under Devices in iTunes and then tap Check for Update.
Annoying: iBeacon continues working
The iPhone 5S’ iBeacon is a location feature that alerts apps when you approach or leave a location. The problem with it is it continues working even after you’ve closed an iBeacon-enabled app, which may be annoying if you don’t like being tracked.
- There doesn’t seem to be any workaround for disabling iBeacon. If you want to shut it down, you’ll have to turn off location services on your phone altogether.
Glitch: Overheating and battery drain
A few people have reported their iPhone 5S overheating. This is usually related to the battery and goes hand-in-hand with rapid battery drain. In rare cases it could be caused by a hardware fault, but it’s more likely to be iOS 7 and/or a specific app. There are a couple of things worth trying to identify and fix the issue.
- Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button to reboot your iPhone 5S and then pay close attention to what you are doing when it next overheats. You might be able to identify the app or service causing the problem. You could also try an app like System Activity Monitor ($2) to see if you can find the culprit.
- Backup and restore your iPhone 5S and then be choosy about what you reinstall on it.
- If you still can’t find the problem then head to an Apple Store to make sure there’s no hardware fault.
Problem: Microphone not working
A lot of people have run into issues with the microphone not picking up their voice clearly. They can’t record voice notes in a specific app, or they can’t be heard during calls. There are a couple of possible causes for this.
- Make sure that you have removed the protective film from the screen.
- If the problem is with a specific app then make sure it has permission to use the microphone in Settings > Privacy > Microphone.
- It’s possible that your case is interfering with the noise cancelation feature. Try using the iPhone 5S with the case off, or head into Settings > General > Accessibility and turn Phone Noise Cancelation off to see if it makes a difference.
- If your problem persists, contact Apple customer service.
That’s it for iPhone 5S problems and fixes right now, but we will update this article with new issues and solutions as they arise. Please share your own experiences in the comments. If you didn’t find your issue here then remember to check our iOS 7 problems roundup before you go.
Article originally published 10-12-2013