How to recover an unresponsive iPhone

Learn to recover an unresponsive iPhone with a step-by-step guide, including using Finder on your Apple device to restore your phone and manage data loss risks effectively.

How to recover an unresponsive iPhone
Photo by Ben Kolde / Unsplash

How to recover an unresponsive iPhone

If your iPhone is unresponsive, you've tried hard resetting it and still haven't had any luck. I have a last-resort iPhone recovery method for you. 

Note this will erase and restore your phone, so you can lose data or application configurations.

What you will need to recover your iPhone:

  1. USB-C cable or lighting cable
  2. Apple laptop or desktop computer

Steps to Recover your iPhone

  1. Next, open Finder on your Apple Laptop or Desktop.
  2. Plug-in the USB cable first into your Apple Laptop or Desktop

A pop-up will quickly flash on your Laptop or Desktop, prompting you to allow the iPhone to be connected. I had to unplug/plug in the cable several times as the pop-up quickly disappeared.

MacOS Finder

Once the Finder is connected to the iPhone, go to the bottom right of the Finder screen and select "Locations." Here, find your iPhone name connected and click on the name of your iPhone.

Now, the Finer window displays your iPhone management. Here, click the "Restore iPhone" button. It will take about 20 Minutes to restore and then another 20-30 minutes after the restore to sync your photos, apps, etc., on the freshly installed phone from your latest backup.

MacOS Finder to restore iPhone

iPhone 17.4.1 Turned my phone into a brick

How often do you look at your phone and have a pending iOS update? It is becoming much more common. Another day, another iPhone iOS update. 

This week was another update when the iOS 17.4.1 pop-up across my screen. 

I planned my phone's downtime during dinner, thinking it would be no problem. I was eating a lovely dinner at home with the family. After dinner, I meandered to my phone to check the status. The default Welcome Message was displayed on the phone, cycling through the various hello messages in different languages.

I grabbed my phone and swiped up, and nothing...and that's when my heart sank to the floor, knowing that this was bad, and instantly locked out of all my work applications two-factor authentication. 

The display was unresponsive to any gestures, but the buttons on the side of the phone were working. I tried a hard reset by pressing the volume up, the volume down, and then the power button for 20 seconds. Still no luck, I tried multiple times to be sure out of desperation but still nada.

That's when I discovered the iPhone Recovery option, which saved the day. I still lost access to some Two-Factor apps that were not synced, but it was much better than having to replace my iPhone. Hope this helps you make a bad situation better.

FAQ Section for "How to Recover an Unresponsive iPhone"

  1. What should I do if my iPhone becomes unresponsive?
    Start by performing a force restart on your device, which doesn't erase your content.
  2. How can I use Finder to restore my unresponsive iPhone?
    Connect your iPhone to a Mac, open Finder, select your device, and choose 'Restore iPhone'.
  3. Is there a risk of losing data when restoring an iPhone?
    Yes, restoring your iPhone to factory settings will erase all data, so ensure you have backups.
  4. Can I restore my iPhone without using a computer?
    You can try recovering via iCloud without a computer if your device has been backed up previously.

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