Know your iPhone is on, you keep getting texts, but you just can't see them? Noticing that your iPhone has a dim glow, but nothing else on screen? All is not lost, chances are your phone just needs a DIY attitude and some know-how to get up and running again.
Before undertaking any of the more time consuming solutions below, these are a few fundamentals to give a go.
- Perform a force restart. This could clear any minor software hiccups.
- Plug your device in. It may have dimmed the display due to low battery levels.
- Relocate to a space with lower ambient light to verify the display is actually black rather than at minimum brightness.
It is rare for an iPhone to develop issues producing an image because of a software issue. But an iPhone in Direct Firmware Upgrade mode, or DFU mode, manifests with no image on screen, only backlight may be on.
- Connect the iPhone to a computer to see if it can be recognized. If it is in DFU mode, iTunes or Finder will indicate that there is an issue with the device, but it will only offer a restore option. Update will be grayed out.
- Click restore to reinstall the firmware and Operating System. This will erase all the data on your device. Be sure you have a backup before processing a restore.
- If restore fails with an error message, document it. Now might be a good time to visit the Answers forum, where you can get more personalized help. Be sure to mention the error message in your question!
Especially after a hefty drop, the connection between the board and the screen can sever. Break out the tool set, open up your phone and reseat any display related connectors. Reference the iPhone Guides page to learn how to open your specific model.
Ambient Light Sensor
Along with the front facing camera, a host of other sensors populate the top edge of the display. The Ambient Light Sensor, or ALS, is responsible for setting the screen’s auto brightness. The screen may not be black, just dim.
- You can verify your sensor is faulty by turning auto brightness on and covering the top portion of the phone with your hand. If the brightness changes, the ALS is working properly.
- This sensor assembly, which often contains the front facing camera, can be replaced independent of the display , if you find it is malfunctioning.
- Reference the iPhone Guides page to learn how to replace the front camera assembly for your specific model.
Although most display failures seem obvious, even without visible damage, the display may not work properly due to something amiss internally.
- Look closely at your display for signs of breakage. Changing your viewing angle may help catch small hairline cracks.
- Use a paperclip to eject the SIM tray. Shine a light into the slot to check the liquid contact indicator—it will be pink or red if it has touched liquid. This sticker is on the underside of the display, so it can be tricky to spot.
- Check internal cables for signs of tears or other damage. Have a look at the iFixit Display Replacement Guide for your iPhone to determine which cables are related to screen function.
- If you find damage, or software fixes have not made a difference, replace the display.
Damaged Backlight Components
On iPhones with LCD type displays (iPhone 8, 8 Plus and earlier, all iPhone SE models, iPhone XR and iPhone 11), the screen's ability to illuminate is separate from its ability to produce an image.
Check to see if there is an image on your display when shining a flashlight at it. This is best done during boot, when the Apple logo is on screen, due to the high contrast.
- If your backlight is out without any previous repair work, or signs of liquid damage, a new display is the likeliest cure.
- Already changed the display, or the issue occurred after a repair? Forgetting to unplug the battery before replacing parts can cause this issue. Check for signs of heat on the board, especially around the display connectors. It may have melted the foam sticker, charred the board itself, or smell burnt.
- If so, this issue is a prime candidate for finding someone who can microsolder, since it will require replacing parts on the board itself. Any good board repair shop will have experience in backlight issues.
- If you cannot find a shop to do this work, or you cannot do it yourself, replacing the logic board is your only option.
The logic board is the hub for the vast majority of an iPhone's functionality. Any number of the small components on the board may have failed or become damaged, and is a safe assumption of cause if nothing else on this page has worked.
- Check for obvious signs of a board issue - burned or cracked components, liquid residue, corrosion or bend. If there are signs of liquid the iPhone Liquid Damage Guide might help.
- Replacing the logic board is often the most practical solution for a DIYer in this position.