Common Reasons for an iPhone Screen to Go Dark

By Todd Bowerman

IOS 7 has familiar iPhone features, but in different places.
i Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Apple’s iPhone smartphone uses a glass touchscreen as its primary user interface. Almost every activity on the iPhone is conducted through taps, swipes, and pinches. If your iPhone screen goes dark, you may have trouble making out text on the screen and conducting your daily smartphone business. A dark screen sometimes indicates a hardware problem, but this is not always the case.

Brightness Settings

The most likely culprit when it comes to a dark iPhone screen is the phone’s brightness setting. Adjust this by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to open the quick access panel and moving the brightness slider with your finger. Slide all the way to the right to make the iPhone’s screen as bright as possible. Swipe down to close the quick access panel when you are finished.


The iPhone comes equipped with an auto-brightness feature that automatically adjusts the screen’s brightness depending on the level of ambient light. If you find that your iPhone screen is too dark in bright areas or that you are having trouble seeing the screen, disabling auto-brightness is a possible fix. Tap the “Settings” icon, select “Wallpapers and Brightness,” and turn “Auto-Brightness” to the off position.

Screen Failure

If brightness adjustments do not improve your iPhone screen’s visibility, you may be dealing with a faulty or broken screen. Screen failures on the iPhone are not necessarily all-or-nothing -- it is possible for only parts of the screen to fail, which will leave it darker than usual or cause it to flicker between display modes. If you believe your iPhone’s screen has failed, you may need to take it in for repair.


Before you write your iPhone screen off as a loss, there are a couple of troubleshooting steps worth taking. First, try a soft reset of your phone by holding the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons until the phone restarts. If this doesn’t solve the problem, try a full iPhone restore. Connect the iPhone to your computer and back it up with iTunes, and then use the “Restore” button to reformat the iPhone and return it to its factory settings. You can then re-sync your backed-up user data. If neither of these solutions helps, the screen will need professional help.