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Common iPhone 11 problems and how to fix them

The iPhone 11 is joining the ranks of older phones, now two generations behind the current iPhone 13. Nonetheless, the iPhone 11 is and will remain a terrific, modern smartphone with plenty of life for years to come. That’s why owners of Apple’s 2019 iPhone 11iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max are committed to solving any lingering problems related to their phone.

Fortunately, the initial functional problems with iPhone 11 were common to most other Apple smartphones that year: They were linked mostly to Apple’s problematic iOS 13. With the much smoother release of iOS 14 and similar ease of use with the current iOS 15, many of the pressing issues faded away for most owners. Some lingering problems may persist, and here is what you can do about them.

Problem: Face ID

If you’re having problems with the iPhone 11’s Face ID unlock feature, here’s what to do.

Possible solutions:

Make sure your iPhone 11 is running the latest version of iOS 14 or iOS 15. That should quickly clear everything up. If it does not, then do the following.

Tap Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Then, make sure that Face ID is set up on your phone and that all of the features you’re trying to use Face ID with are enabled. If you’re having issues using your face to unlock your phone, make sure you’re looking directly at the screen and that the room is light enough so that the camera can detect your face. Try bringing the iPhone 11 closer to your face or position it more at face level. Make sure there’s no dirt, dust, or debris blocking the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera.

If you often change your appearance, consider adding an alternate appearance to Face ID. Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode >Set Up an Alternate Appearance.

Problem: Data connection

If service is spotty or you’re repeatedly unable to connect to your network, here’s how to handle it.

Possible solutions:

The first thing to do is restart your phone and turn on Airplane Mode on for 30 seconds before turning it off. If that doesn’t solve the problem, check your service provider for outages at Down Detector or look for reports on local social media.

In iOS 15, you can toggle Cellular Data and/or LTE off and on.

  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap Cellular.
  • Tap Cellular Data Options.
  • Tap Voice & Data > LTE.
  • Switch to 3G and then back to LTE.

You can also toggle Cellular Data off and on. Go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data. Toggle it off and then back on.

Problem: Wi-Fi connection

If you are having problems connecting to Wi-Fi, or your connection repeatedly drops or is slow, there are a few things you can do before you lay hands on your phone.

Possible solutions:

First, make sure your Wi-Fi is working correctly or reset your router to make sure. If you’re connected to your network, unplug the router for a minute, plug it back in, and reconnect. If your home Wi-Fi is OK, then pick up your phone and make sure you have your Wi-Fi password on hand before you get started.

Go to Settings > Wi-Fi.
Tap the info circle.
Tap Forget This Network and try to reconnect. You’ll need to re-input your password.

Or try resetting your network via Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset Network Settings.

Problem: Wireless charging

Issues with dysfunctional wireless charging are fairly widespread. Some customers with Qi wireless chargers report that after they place certain iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max models on the charger, the iPhone may recognize it as a charger, but will not actually charge, and may even become hot to the touch.

Possible solutions:

If this is still an issue, you can continue to charge your phone with a wired connection. Make sure to update your iPhone’s OS with the stable iOS 15. Mechanical maneuvers include a power-off reset/restart, which did solve the issue for some people.

  • Press and release volume up.
  • Press and release volume down.
  • Hold the power button and wait until the Apple logo appears.

If you use a case that stores credit cards or security passes, remove them before charging your phone or just remove the case altogether before charging.

Problem: Activation

Activation issues are common when you try to get a new phone up and running for the first time, regardless of the model, and the iPhone 11 is no different.

Possible solutions:

If you’re having problems activating the iPhone 11, first make sure that all systems are up and running by checking Apple’s System Status page . If something is not toggled green, wait until all systems are running and try again. If it’s green and still not operative, make sure your phone has a SIM card inserted. If you can switch the SIM card from your old phone into your new one, try that first. If you get a No SIM or Invalid SIM error message, Apple suggests the following steps.

  • Make sure your wireless plan is operational.
  • Update your handset to the latest iOS version — which is iOS 15 — and restart.
  • Go to Settings > General > Software Update. If an update is available, you’ll see a prompt to select OK or Update, or Install Now (with 50% or more battery or plugged in).
  • Remove your SIM card from the tray and then put it back. The tray should close securely. Only use the tray that comes with your current phone.
  • Try a different SIM card. You can get one at your carrier’s retail outlet or ask your carrier to test your phone with a different card. Replace your current SIM card with a new one, if necessary.

Problem: Volume, audio, and sound

If you experience problems with any aspect of audio function, there are various remedies you can try.

Possible solutions:

  • Take your SIM card out of your phone and then replace it to solve the problem of a poorly positioned card.
  • Turn off Bluetooth to compare audio quality with or without it. If it improves, leave it off for your calls.
  • Make sure your microphone is clean, clear, and unobstructed.
  • Remove your case to investigate whether it’s causing volume obstruction.
  • If the above steps do not improve the audio, clear your phone’s cache memory by restarting it.
  • Do a hard factory reset via Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Erase all content and settings. Be sure to back up your data first.
  • If the mic is still causing problems, restore your phone from a backup.
iPhone 11 in the hand.
Corey Gaskin / Digital Trends

Problem: Overheating

A common complaint with various iPhone 11 units is that they get uncomfortably hot, especially while using resource-heavy features like GPS. This has owners concerned about the long-term effect on battery life.

Possible solutions:

  • Remove the case.
  • Keep your handset away from prolonged heat exposure (in a hot car, for example).
  • Games, especially AR games, can cause the device to heat up.
  • Maintain radio silence by putting the phone into Airplane Mode for a while. In the Control Center, tap the Airplane icon to shut off all GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular signals. Or individually disable Location Services, GPS, or Bluetooth — anything you don’t immediately need.
  • Wait to charge the device, as that can also heat up your phone.
  • Turn the iPhone off and do a hard restart. (Hit the volume up button, then the volume down button, then the power button. It will not ask if you want to power down, it just does it.)

If you’re still experiencing this issue, contact Apple Support for assistance.

Problem: Bluetooth connection

Some iPhone 11 owners noted problems in iOS 13 with connecting peripherals via Bluetooth. Those issues include anything from trouble pairing their phone to the car to maintaining a connection after the device has finally paired, to repeated connection and disconnection.

Possible solutions:

Before testing any of these suggestions, ensure that your iOS has been updated to the latest version available, such as iOS 15.

  • Go to Settings > Bluetooth and make sure that Bluetooth is on. If it’s disabled and you can’t enable it, restart your phone, and then try again to pair and connect.
  • Make sure that your Bluetooth accessory and device are in close proximity.
  • Turn your Bluetooth accessory off and on.
  • Make sure that your Bluetooth accessory is on and fully charged or connected to power. If your accessory uses batteries, replace them with fresh ones. If you’ve been able to connect in the past, unpair the accessory and put it back in discovery mode. Then try again to pair and connect.
  • If you can pair your accessory with devices other than your iPhone, unpair the accessory from the other devices and try again.
  • If none of the above steps work, contact Apple tech support or make an appointment with the Genius Bar.

You can also forget and then reconnect the problematic Bluetooth device.

  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap Bluetooth.
  • Select the Bluetooth connection having issues using the info circle.
  • Tap Forget this Device.
  • Try reconnecting.

If you still can’t connect, try resetting your phone’s network settings.

  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap General.
  • Tap Transfer or Reset iPhone.
  • Tap Reset.
  • Tap Reset Network Settings or Reset All Settings.

Problem: Poor battery life

iPhone 11 models have experienced a variety of battery problems over time. The iPhone 11 Pro Max, for example, has been associated with premature battery wear. In 2021, a bug affecting only iPhone 11 models also led to inaccurate battery reports on iOS and related problems.

Possible solutions:

Always go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health if you fear a battery issue. Here you can check out the current condition of your battery and see if there are any obvious issues. If you are experiencing significant battery loss, it’s a good idea to take/send your iPhone in for professional repair or replacement.

Fixes in iOS should also alleviate the problem. Ideally, you should upgrade to iOS 15. With iOS 14.5, a fix enabled the iOS to recalibrate the battery reporting function via the Battery Health section. It takes time, as the function needs a few weeks to properly measure and recalibrate the battery. If the recalibration finds the battery to be damaged, it will walk you through the steps for a full replacement.

Environmental shot of iPhone 11.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Problem: Storage space

The iPhone 11 can have up to 256GB of storage, but if you save a lot of files and apps to your phone then even this can become limiting. Fortunately, there are built-in ways to deal with low storage space.

Possible solutions:

In iOS 15, go to Settings > App Store > Offload Unused Apps to get rid of apps that have been inactive for a while, but keep their documents and data. Then, review each app to spot the ones taking up the most space. If you find an egregious offender, select it and view the options for clearing space. For the Music app, for example, you can choose to auto-delete any songs you previously downloaded for offline listening.

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Jackie Dove
Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app…
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