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How to fix an unresponsive iPhone touchscreen

The touchscreen is your primary means of control over your iPhone, and if it doesn't work, your phone doesn't work. However, while an unresponsive touchscreen — any touchscreen that either doesn't respond at all to your taps or that responds only occasionally — can be frustrating and alarming, there are a number of simple fixes you can try to get it up and running again. We run through them in this article, which explains how to fix an unresponsive iPhone touchscreen. So, whether a simple restart or the nuclear option of contacting Apple is needed, here's how to fix an unresponsive iPhone touchscreen.




30 minutes

What You Need

  • Apple iPhone

  • Windows or Mac computer

  • Lightning cable

An iPhone lying on a wooden table.

Restart your iPhone

The first thing to try should be obvious: Restart your iPhone.

Try restarting it normally by simultaneously holding the Side button and Volume up/down button on the iPhone X and later models (hold only the Side/top button on the iPhone SE (2022)/iPhone 8 and earlier models). If your touchscreen is still responsive enough to swipe the Slide to power off slider, swipe it. Then, hold the Side button (or Top button) until it boots up again.

Of course, you may find that your touchscreen is so unresponsive that you can't even shut your iPhone down normally. In this case, try a force restart.

Here's how you do this on an iPhone 8 and later models (including the iPhone SE (2022)): Press and quickly release the Volume up button, press and quickly release the Volume down button, and then hold the Side button until the Apple logo appears.

For the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: Press and hold the Side button and Volume down button until the Apple logo appears.

For the iPhone 6S and earlier: Press and hold the Home button and Top/side button until the Apple logo makes its appearance.

In most cases, restarting your iPhone will fix an unresponsive touchscreen, so this should be the first thing you try before attempting anything else.

Check your screen protector

Screen protectors are usually very thin these days, but in certain rare cases, they may be the reason why your iPhone touchscreen isn't working. As such, you should check to see whether your screen protector has been applied properly to your iPhone's touchscreen. If it hasn't, try removing and reapplying it or reapplying a new protector if you have one available.

Even if your screen protector has been applied properly, try removing it. It may be the case that, for whatever reason, it's been interfering with how your touchscreen operates. If your iPhone's touchscreen does begin working properly after removing it, you may want to consider either forgoing a screen protector or buying a new (possibly thinner) one.

Clean the screen

Dirt, dust, or moisture can interfere with how the iPhone's capacitative touchscreen works. As such, anyone facing an unresponsive screen should try cleaning it. Use a dry microfiber cloth and gently wipe the screen from top to bottom until it looks more or less spotless. If it still continues to play up, try one of the possible solutions below.

Disconnect Lightning and USB-C accessories

While this may apply only in a minority of cases, it's worth disconnecting any Lightning or USB-C accessories you may have connected to your iPhone. If your device's touchscreen begins working after any such accessory is removed, then it may be the accessory that's causing the touchscreen issue. Try replacing it with an alternative to see if things improve.

How to fix an unresponsive iPhone touchscreen by updating your iPhone.

Update your iPhone

Assuming that you've tried the steps above and your iPhone touchscreen still isn't responding, you should next try updating your iPhone by connecting it to your computer. You won't be able to update it normally (due to the unresponsive touchscreen) and will instead have to put it into Recovery Mode before updating.

Here's what you have to do:

Step 1: Connect your device to your computer. If you're running MacOS Catalina 10.15 (or higher), launch Finder. If you're running MacOS Mojave 10.14 (or earlier) — or Windows (on a PC) — launch iTunes.

Step 2: If you have an iPhone 8 or later, press and quickly release the Volume up button, press and quickly release the Volume down button, and then press the Side button until the Recovery Mode screen appears. For the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, hold the Top/side button and Volume down button simultaneously until the Recovery Mode screen appears. For the iPhone 6S or earlier, press and hold the Home button and the Top/side button.

Step 3: A window will appear on your computer, giving you the option to restore or update your iPhone. Click Update.

Factory reset your iPhone

Updating your iPhone should resolve any software-related issues that may be causing your iPhone's touchscreen to freeze. However, if it still doesn't work, it may possibly be worth performing a factory reset on your iPhone.

If your iPhone's touchscreen is completely unresponsive, you won't be able to back it up before performing a factory reset. Neither backing up via the iPhone itself nor via a computer will be possible since even connecting it as normal to a computer requires you to tap Trust on your iPhone.

Nonetheless, you may still want to go ahead and perform a factory reset without an up-to-date backup. To do this, follow the three steps outlined in the section above, but in this case, click Restore at the end of the process rather than Update.

Contact Apple

Factory resetting your iPhone may be a heavy-handed option, so it could be worth contacting Apple Support instead. This is likely a safer final resort than factory resetting your iPhone since Apple may be able to fix the issue — which could be hardware-related — without having to erase your iPhone's memory.

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