My iPhone camera's not working: Why and what to do?

Have you ever been on vacation and stumbled upon what would be a perfect photo, but then you pull out your iPhone, and the camera just won’t work? While it’s easy to assume that any problems with your camera are a hardware issue that needs to be fixed, it could also be software that’s causing your issues. Keep reading, and we’ll go over some common iPhone camera problems and what you can do to try to fix them.

While you temporarily don’t have a camera, it’s a great time to look back at all the photos you’ve taken and sort them out. With an app like Gemini Photos, you can easily sift through similar photos, old screenshots, and other clutter to tidy up your library.

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iPhone’s back camera is a black screen

If you open up your Camera app and all you see is a black screen, here’s what might be causing that:

  • The Camera app is frozen.
  • There’s a bug in the user settings.
  • Some of the software is outdated.

How to fix iPhone’s back camera 

Try the following troubleshooting steps to help fix your iPhone’s back camera only showing a black screen.

Force quit the Camera app

  1. In the Camera app, swipe up and hold your finger on the screen until you see a preview of all the open apps. Note: If your iPhone has a home button, instead of swiping up, quickly press the home button twice.
  1. Swipe up on the Camera app, so that it disappears. 
Screenshots: How to force quit the iPhone Camera app when it's a black screen

Turn off VoiceOver features

Some users have reported that the VoiceOver feature can impact the Camera app. Here’s how to switch it off.

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver.
  2. Turn off VoiceOver.

Restart your phone

  1. Press and hold both the sleep/wake button and the volume up button until the slider appears on screen.
  2. Use the slider at the top of the screen to power off your phone.
  3. After your iPhone has powered off, hold down the sleep/wake button to turn it back on.

iPhone camera freezes or lags 

When it comes to freezing or lagging on your iPhone, it’s a good practice to try and identify if it’s one particular app (in this case, the Camera app), or if your iPhone is always slow regardless of what app is open. 

Some possible reasons why the Camera app could be freezing or lagging include:

  • A buggy app is running in the background.
  • Storage is running low on your phone.
  • iPhone is in Low Power Mode.
  • Your iOS is outdated.

How to fix the iPhone camera lag

If your Camera app is lagging, there are a few things you can try to fix the problem.

Force quit the Camera app

  1. In the Camera app, swipe up and hold your finger onscreen or press the home button twice, until you see a preview of all the open apps.
  2. Swipe up on the Camera app to force quit it.
  3. If the Camera is still lagging, repeat Step 1 and force quit your other apps.

Turn off Low Power Mode

Low Power Mode was designed to allow you to limit the performance of your phone in order to conserve battery charge. If it’s on, you’ll notice the battery icon in the top right will be yellow, instead of the typical green or red. 

To turn off Low Power Mode, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Battery.
  2. Toggle off the switch for Low Power Mode.

Free up some storage space

You might start to notice performance issues with your Camera app or across your phone if you’re running low on available storage. To check how much you can go to Storage > General > iPhone Storage.

If you’re low on space, a good place to start is your photo library. An app like Gemini Photos will help you quickly get rid of space wasters, like numerous similar photos, large old videos you don’t need anymore, blurry shots, and so on.

Update your iOS

Check to see if you’re running the latest iOS. Outdated software can cause your camera to act funny and lag. Here’s how you update your iOS:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Software Update.
  2. If there’s an update available, tap Download and Install.
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts.

iPhone’s front camera is not working 

If the front camera on your iPhone isn’t working, a couple of things that could be causing it are:

  • Something is blocking the front camera.
  • The camera app needs to be restarted.

How to fix iPhone’s front camera 

Like with the back camera, there are several possible fixes for your front camera issues.

Clear the camera

This may seem obvious, but make sure nothing is blocking the front camera. It’s common for cases or screen protectors to cover the camera inadvertently. Try removing those before jumping into any major troubleshooting.

Flip the camera

Sometimes the Camera app will freeze on one of the cameras and simply flipping the cameras will fix it.

  1. Open the Camera app.
  2. Tap the flip camera to the rear camera.
  3. Tap it again to flip it back to the front camera.

Test in another app 

Try using the front camera in another app such as FaceTime. If it works in another app, then you can try one of the following things:

  • Force quit the Camera app
  • Restart your iPhone
  • Erase and Restore your iPhone

iPhone camera’s flash is not working 

Sometimes the iPhone camera’s flash will not work for various reasons like:

  • The iPhone is overheating.
  • The LED on the iPhone has stopped working.
  • iPhone settings are preventing it from working.

How to fix iPhone camera flash not working

Before you take your iPhone to a repair shop, try these tricks to make sure the camera flash is actually not working. 

Test the LED

You can make sure the LED light on your iPhone camera is functioning properly by testing it with the flashlight function.

  1. Open Control Center by swiping down from the top right corner.
  2. Tap on the flashlight icon.

Check the Location Services setting

Some users have reported that disabling Location Services for the Camera app has made the flash start working again. It’s hard to see how the two could be connected, but you might as well try. To disable Location Services on your iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
  2. Tap Camera.
  3. Tap Never.
Screenshots: How to turn off Location Services for the iPhone Camera app

Restart your phone

  1. Press and hold both the sleep/wake button and the volume up button until the slider appears on screen.
  2. Use the slider at the top of the screen to power off.
  3. After your iPhone has powered off, hold down the sleep/wake button to turn it back on.

There are few things more frustrating than your iPhone camera not working when you need it the most. Hopefully, the steps mentioned in this article have helped fix the issues you’ve been having with your camera. If you're generally not happy with the native Camera app, try one of these third-party camera apps for iOS. And if you’re still running into problems, then there might be something wrong with the camera’s hardware. And in that case your best bet will be reaching out to Apple Support to see what repair options you have available.

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