How to Force Restart iPhone and Enter Recovery Mode

By | December 9, 2021

There are now two distinct iPhone families, and two different ways of performing some of the most basic tasks. Inputs like taking a screenshot or restarting your device are a bit different on the latest models.

In 2016 Apple dropped the mechanical home button in favor of a capacitive touch panel. Fewer moving parts mean a more reliable device, but since the new iPhone’s home button is software dependent, it’s no longer used to hard reset your device.

So let’s see how to force restart every iPhone, and how to enter recovery mode to reinstall iOS.

Recovery Mode and Recovery Mode 101

Hopefully you won’t have to painstakingly reset your iPhone, but sometimes things do go wrong.

When your device becomes completely unresponsive, you can choose between waiting for the battery to drain and initiating a hard reset. A hard reset is basically the same as pulling the power plug, forcing your iPhone to shut down and start again.

Recovery mode takes this one step further, putting your device into a state where you can reinstall iOS by connecting your iPhone to a computer running iTunes. If your iPhone refuses to boot or crashes on startup, you will need to put the device into recovery mode (below) to save it.

Note that when you reinstall iOS, you will lose all data on your iPhone. This isn’t a problem if you make regular backups, which you can do using iCloud or locally in iTunes. Unfortunately, you can’t back up your device in recovery mode, as iTunes will only offer to restore the firmware.

Thus, if you’re stuck with an iPhone that won’t boot and you don’t have a backup, there’s nothing you can do to save your data.

For iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus

The iPhone X is Apple’s top-tier iPhone, noted for its inclusion of Face ID facial recognition technology and a dramatic redesign that makes the entire front of the device serve as a display. The iPhone 8 was released at the same time but lacked Face ID.

Notes: You should perform this key combination fairly quickly.

How to Restart iPhone X/8

  • Press and then release the volume up button.
  • Immediately press and then release the volume down button.
  • Hold down the side button until you see the Apple logo.

How to Enter iPhone X/8 Into Recovery Mode

  • Connect your iPhone to the computer and launch iTunes.
  • Press and then release the volume up button.
  • Immediately press and then release the volume down button.
  • Hold down the side button, and don’t let go when you see the Apple logo.
  • Keep holding it until you see the Recovery Mode screen.

For iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

Both the iPhone 7 and the larger Plus model were released in September 2016, and the first iPhones lacked a mechanical home button. This required Apple to change this shortcut for the first time since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

How to Restart iPhone 7 / Plus

  • Press and hold the side button and volume down button at the same time.
  • Release the buttons after 10 seconds when you see the Apple logo.

How to Enter iPhone 7/Plus into Recovery Mode

  • Connect your iPhone to the computer and launch iTunes.
  • Press and hold the side button and volume down button at the same time.
  • Keep holding the button even when you see the Apple logo.
  • Release both buttons when you see the Recovery Mode screen.

For iPhone 6s or Earlier

Released in 2015, the iPhone 6s was Apple’s last iPhone with a mechanical home button. The following suggestions are good for any iPhone that came before the iPhone 6s including the Plus and iPhone SE models.

How to Restart iPhone 6s or Earlier

  • Press and hold the home and lock buttons (the lock button is on the side on iPhone 6 or later, or on top of the device on iPhone 5s and earlier).
  • Release the buttons after 10 seconds when you see the Apple logo.

How to Enter iPhone 6s or Earlier into Recovery Mode

  • Connect your iPhone to the computer and launch iTunes.
  • Press and hold the home and lock buttons (the lock button is on the side on iPhone 6 or later, or on top of the device on iPhone 5s and earlier).
  • Keep holding the buttons even when you see the Apple logo.
  • Release both buttons when you see the Recovery Mode screen.

Ready to Restore Your iPhone

When you put your device into recovery mode, you have 15 minutes to start reinstalling iOS before your device automatically exits Recovery Mode. You will have to repeat the combination of keystrokes to return it to Recovery Mode if this happens.

Your device won’t show up normally in iTunes while in Recovery Mode, and you’ll see an error message like the one above. You can always choose to update the firmware, or simply rollback the existing version.

After your iPhone reboots as usual, you will need to sign in with your credentials to remove Apple Activation Lock. This is also why you shouldn’t buy an iPhone if the seller refuses to open it in front of you.

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