How to Fix an Apple iPhone That Is Locked Up

By Elizabeth Smith

A locked-up iPhone doesn't usually require a support call.
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The Apple iPhone's touchscreen display makes for convenient operation, but when it locks up, it prevents access to the phone's features. If your iPhone has become momentarily unresponsive, it may be indicative of a minor software glitch or a more serious hardware issue. By following standard troubleshooting steps, you may be able to fix the problem and get your iPhone up and running again.

Restarting the Phone

If the touchscreen isn't responding normally, the first action Apple suggests is a simple restart. Locate the Sleep/Wake button at the top of the phone and hold it down until a slider appears on the screen. Tap your finger on the slider and drag it across the screen to power the phone down. After the phone shuts down completely, push the Sleep/Wake button again, holding it down until you see the Apple logo on the screen.

Rebooting an Unresponsive Phone

If your iPhone is frozen completely, it may not respond to a standard restart. In that case, you should perform a hard reset on the phone. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time, releasing them only when the Apple logo appears. The iPhone may take a while to boot from the logo screen; this is normal and is not a cause for concern. A hard reset does not affect the data on your iPhone.

Verifying Power Supply

Occasionally, a low battery can cause your iPhone to lock up when it doesn't have the power to complete all of the most recent commands. An iPhone with a very low battery may also fail to respond to a restart or a hard reset. Plug the phone into a charger and wait at least 20 minutes. According to Apple, a battery that is nearly dead can cause the screen to stay blank, even when it is plugged in.

Solving Passcode-Related Lockups

If your iPhone is set to use a passcode and the wrong code is entered six times, the phone will lock up as a security measure and display a message that says "iPhone is disabled." Apple suggests that you immediately connect your iPhone to your computer, open iTunes and sync the phone. In the backup section, deselect the box next to "Encrypt iPhone backup" and then restore the device from your most recent backup. You will lose any data that you have added since the last backup. If iTunes requests a passcode or if you have not synced the device with a computer, you will need to erase your phone to unlock it. You can use your most recent iCloud backup to restore some of your data.