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The most common iOS 12 problems, and how to fix them

We are big fans of Apple’s iOS 12, and if you haven’t moved on to the (infamously buggy) iOS 13 or the upcoming iOS 14 beta, there’s still a lot to love about this iteration — and Apple continues to keep it updated. However, it’s not always perfect. Some people have reported issues with it, ranging from slight irritations to glitches to show-stopping bugs, which is why we’ve put together this guide — to find the biggest iOS 12 problems and try to identify a way to fix them, or at least work around them.

Problem: Dropping calls and failing cellular connectivity

There have been several threads at the Apple support forum about issues with cellular connectivity, and sometimes Wi-Fi as well. A lot of them seem to focus on the iPhone XR, but there are other models mentioned too. There’s likely more than one issue here, but the troubleshooting steps are the same.


  • Take a look in Settings > Cellular Data (or Mobile Data) and try turning off Wi-Fi Assist at the bottom and also Wi-Fi Calling if they’re switched on. This seems to have helped some people.

Possible fixes:

  • Sometimes a simple restart will help, so try turning your iPhone off and on again before you do anything else.
  • Open up Settings > General > About and, if you need to update, you should get a popup telling you that you can update your carrier settings or that a carrier update is available.
  • Check that your carrier settings are correct by looking in Settings > Cellular Data (or Mobile Data) > Cellular Data Options (or Mobile Data Options) > Cellular Network (or Mobile Data Network). You can Google the APN settings for your carrier or contact them directly and check that they’re correct. Just tap each field to edit, if they need to be changed. Note: You may not have the option to access or edit these settings — it depends on your carrier.
  • Try going to Settings > General > Reset and tap Reset Network Settings, then test to see if that helped.
  • If nothing has worked, then it’s time to contact your carrier.

Issue: iMessage combining threads from different contacts

We’ve seen a few threads at the Apple Support forum about iMessage combining conversation threads that come from different contacts. It seems to be merging conversations into a single thread, and replying to the thread sends the message to the last person who messaged you.

Potential solution:

  • It turns out that this is actually intended to be a feature in iOS 12 to create a unified message thread for contacts with multiple numbers or email addresses. The problem is that it is combining messages from anyone with the same Apple ID, assuming they are the same person, which is often not the case, as many people share Apple IDs. Apple reversed this automatic combining in iOS 12.1, so the easiest way to fix it is to update. Make sure your iPhone is charged up and connected to Wi-Fi and go to Settings > General > Software Update. It’s worth noting that the problem may reoccur unless everyone concerned in the message thread updates to iOS 12.1.


  • Make sure that everyone in the thread that’s merging is using a separate Apple ID.

Glitch: Phone app is freezing

We’ve seen some reports about the Phone app freezing up after people updated to iOS 12. The Phone app simply freezes and becomes unresponsive, even after people force quit and reload it.


  • Turning your iPhone off and on again seems to temporarily solve the issue, but the glitch may return.
  • Some people report that they can still make calls by using Siri.

Potential solutions:

  • Some people report that updating to iOS 12.1 resolved this issue. Try it via Settings > General > Software Update.
  • You may need to update via iTunes to resolve this issue. If the OTA update didn’t work for you, then try plugging into your computer or laptop and using the latest version of iTunes to update your iPhone. You can find full iOS update instructions here, just scroll down to the iTunes section and install the latest iOS 12.1.

Problem: Battery draining more rapidly

We’ve seen a few threads at the Apple Support forum about iPad and iPhone batteries draining faster than before after updating to iOS 12 and subsequent versions like iOS 12.3.1. This is a very common problem we always see cropping up after software updates.

Potential solutions:

  • Take a look in Settings > Battery and scroll down to see Battery usage by app. If there’s an obvious cause for the drain, check to see if there’s an update available for that app. You can check by opening the App Store and tapping Updates at the bottom. If there’s no update you might consider uninstalling the app and trying to find an alternative.
  • Check out how to save battery life on your iPhone for more tips.
  • As a last resort, you could try backing up and then factory resetting your iPhone.

Annoyance: Display colors look off

A number of users on Reddit have reported that after installing iOS 12, the display on their phones looks a little “off.” Colors look a little washed out, and it’s just not as vivid as it was before. It seems as though the issue affects the iPhone X the most. Speculation suggests that the issue has something to do with the new display profile in iOS on the iPhone X, but that’s far from a certainty.

Unfortunately, as of right now it doesn’t seem as though there is a fix to this issue. It’s possible that Apple will fix the problem in a future iOS update.


  • Check in Settings > General > Accessibility to make sure that Increase Contrast is turned off.

Problem: Bluetooth not working

After updating, some people are noting that the Bluetooth icon has disappeared from the status bar. While that’s not an issue in and of itself, others report that Bluetooth simply isn’t working on iOS 12.

Potential solutions:

  • Go to Settings > Bluetooth and toggle Bluetooth off, then on again.
  • If that doesn’t work, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings, then try to connect afresh. Note that this will also require you to set up your Wi-Fi connections again.
  • Try removing old Bluetooth profiles from the device you’re connecting to, check that the firmware is up to date, and make sure you’re entering pairing mode correctly.

Glitch: Apps crashing more than usual

There have been a few reports suggesting that the update to iOS 12 is causing some apps to crash a lot more than usual. The issue could be due to several reasons. For example, the apps in question may not have been properly tested or updated to work with iOS 12.

Potential solution:

  • Open the App Store and press Updates from the menu bar. Update any apps that have available updates.
  • Force quit the app, then relaunch it.
  • Restart your iPhone.
  • Try uninstalling any problem apps and then reinstalling them.

Glitch: Group FaceTime isn’t available or working properly

Some of the iOS 12 updates in 2019 included serious Facetime issues, including a bug that let people eavesdrop. Much of this has been taken care of, but the 2020 updates still include some FaceTime issues.

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure you have the latest update. Apple blocked Group FaceTime from working for a while, and unless you have newer iOS 12 updates, it is probably disabled for you.
  • Remember, everyone else in a Group needs to have the latest update, too.
  • Shut down FaceTime entirely and restart it.
  • If FaceTime is freezing or crashing, try a full power down and restart of your iPhone to see if this helps the situation.

Glitch: Touch ID isn’t working

Some of the latest iOS 12 updates may have an effect on Touch ID. If your Touch ID suddenly stops working, don’t worry: Sign in with your passcode, and try these solutions to make sure everything is working properly.

Potential solutions:

  • First, go through the basics. Is your phone on? Does your battery have power? Is the Touch ID button covered by oils, residue, or grime that needs to be cleaned off? Are your fingers wet?
  • If none of the basics work, it’s time to redo your fingerprints. Go into iOS Settings, and enter the Touch ID & Passcode section. You may have to log in again at this point for security reasons. In the new window, you’ll see the fingerprint profiles on your device (usually just one for most iPhone users). Select your profile and choose to Delete Fingerprint. You will then need to add a new fingerprint, which of course can be the same as the old one. This tends to solve Touch ID issues.
  • If nothing is working, it could be a hardware issue (did your phone recently get wet?) and you should probably arrange to take it into an Apple Store.

Problem: iOS 12 gets stuck in landscape mode

When shifting your phone, you may notice that it gets stuck in landscape mode (such as while taking a photo) and refuses to go back into portrait mode. It’s a problem that’s grown more common with the latest versions of iOS 12, but fortunately, the fix should be pretty easy.

Potential solutions:

  • Turn your phone off and back on. Just going to the lock screen is usually enough.
  • Power down and fully restart.
  • Sometimes this problem can be caused by iOS’s visual effects. If it keeps happening, head to your Settings, go to General, and go to the Accessibility section. Here, look for an option that says Reduce Motion. Make sure this is turned off, and see if that helps.

Problem: The latest iOS 12 update won’t work

Another recent problem that users have been experiencing is a problem with installing the latest 2020 iOS 12 updates. When this happens, people try to install an update and it freezes or crashes their iPhone. They may also get a notification that an error occurred while trying to install the update, or the update may simply never seem to end.

Potential solutions:

  • Perform a hard reset. There’s really no other way to get out of an update that’s frozen, and a reboot can help iOS clean out the cobwebs and install the new version properly. For most iOS 12-era iPhones, you can do a hard reset by holding down the Home button and the Power button together for several seconds, until your screen goes black and the iPhone starts rebooting.
  • Check to make sure your Wi-Fi internet connection is working.
  • Plug your iPhone into a charger and try again.

Hopefully, your iOS 12 problem is solved and your iPhone or iPad is back to normal. Now you can learn how to get the most out of it with our handy iOS 12 tips and tricks.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Hill
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Simon Hill is an experienced technology journalist and editor who loves all things tech. He is currently the Associate Mobile…
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