iPhone White Screen / Sleep State Problem

I ditched my Blackberry Curve and picked up an black 16 gigabyte 3g iPhone last week.  It had been a great experience so far, with only a handful of complaints.

[Note: Since this entry was written, I have been releasing iPhone applications to the iTunes store.  You may be interested in checking out our iPhone and iPod Touch Applications. -rob]

Yesterday, however I had a serious problem with the phone.  I was at Rock the Bells in Mansfield, MA and reached for my phone only to find that it had a solid white screen.  It would not respond to the sleep or home button.  I tried the hard restart (reset), and it would go blank, then if I did it again, flash the white briefly.  I did the hard restart (10 seconds home and sleep) a few more times and got to the Apple logo.

iPhone White Screen / Sleep State Problem

The device then boot up normally to the home screen, however the moment it went to sleep it would not come back to life.  It would just be a dead screen.  I could get it to come back to the home screen again by doing multiple hard restarts (not every one was successful in getting to the Apple loading screen, sometimes holding the two buttons only resulted in a vibration) but even then it required multiple attempts. If I missed the home screen and it went to sleep then the process had to be repeated.

When I got home I plugged the device in and even though the screen was blank, my PC and iTunes would make the device vibrate briefly and see the device as working.  However, no combination of hard resets and plugging it into the USB would get things ‘back to normal.’  I should note that I did have enough power in the phone during the course of this white screen / sleep problem.  I could tell because on occasion when it would get to the home screen, it would show I had battery power left.

I went ahead and tried a restore of the device to factory settings, since iTunes was seeing it fine.  Then I went ahead and restored my backup.  Same problems, sleep state problem, white screen problem.  My final measure was to do yet another complete factory restore and see how the phone operated, i.e. was there something wrong with my previous settings such that it was causing the operational problems?

No.  Same problems.  I took it into the Apple store on Boylston downtown Boston this morning and a person at the Genius Counter replaced after a I provided a brief description. The Genius Counter technician did not spend any time troubleshooting / verifying them.  This leads me to believe that this could be a common enough problem that it is occurring in other phones i.e. a white screen / sleep state nonresponsive.

Gliph digital identity and privacy protection

I asked what might have been the problem and he seemed firm that it was a hardware issue and did not express any surprise.  He suggested that possibly there was something going wrong with the screen power.  I wasn’t going to argue with him, because I really just wanted to get my iPhone working again and was happy to have a brand new replacement.  But the glitched confused me because it seemed intermittent.  Why would the iPhone occassionally operate fine after boot but only then become unresponsive after sleep.

Another clue was that the tech also suggested that I set up the iPhone as a new phone rather than restore my backup, ‘just to be sure.’  This means that the tech felt there might have been something that had simply gone wrong in my backup.  I’d like to say that this was some variant of the “white screen of death” or some type of bug in the 2.0 firmware, but unfortunatly all I can do is speculate.

Perhaps the symptoms I described represent an unofficial known issue.  If it has been recognized as such a problem and is grounds for immediate replacement.  Or, perhaps Apple is just taking a pretty wide ranging returns.  I am a brand new Apple customer and the support experience was a good one.

I did do a fair amount of searching the web for solutions and troubleshooting prior to taking the phone in to an Apple store.  I found both this Howard’s Forums thread and this Apple Support Forum thread that described white screen problems that were different from mine.

You should know that when you swap out your iPhone for a new oneyou must set up your voicemail again.  I lost all of my old voicemails and had to re-record my greeting.  This is sort of a bummer.  Fortunately, my SMS messages and iPhone photos were a part of the iPhone backup, so all of those conversations were retained.

All audio and video files had to be re-synced and for whatever reason the restore removed a few of the iPhone applications I had installed, Google, Facebook and in my library.  A few applications were also not uninstalledremained including AIM and Tap Tap.  iTunes actually issued a warning dialog that Tap Tap could not be uninstalled / removed properly and gave a hex identifier for the error.

Finally, I did have a look at the iPhone crash recovery logs directory to look for any evidence of the problem I had all day yesterday.  Interestingly, there are no logs from July 26th, the day where the white screen / dead sleepstate problem occurred.  There are logs from when I tried syncing after midnight from Mediaserverd and MobileSafari.  I don’t see anything that suggests tracking of all the hard restarts I attempted throughout yesterday afteroon.  The last crash had bug_id 115.

If you have had a similar problem, feel free to post in the comments to share with the web.

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268 thoughts on “iPhone White Screen / Sleep State Problem

  1. Having the same problem but so far nothing I’ve tried will get rid of the WSOD.

    if you are worried about getting your data off your dead iphone get the utility DiskAid.

    I’m double hosed because I’m in Thailand and can’t deal with apple and a new phone (if that’s what I need for a few more weeks).


  2. Im having the same problem now, but my phone works fine when i dont lock it or let it go to sleep…I dont understand, i need to go to the apple store but im afraid they wont replace it and me left with no iphone 3GS.. That would suck. Ive tried the reset button but it doesnt get rid of the white screen when i lock it or it goes to sleep so i have to leave it alone and make sure it stays on and that only waste my batery. What should i do!?!??! What can i do?!??!

  3. Ive had the same issue as most the people on this forum the diffrence is that my Iphone is jailbroke and i bought it from a friend in highschool and sortly after getting the phone i start having this white screen of death issue

    I can hard reset it to get it out but once it goes into standby its done… its shows a white screen and it wont respond the homebutton or anything for that matter.

    So far ive tried resseting it multiple times and it always does the same thing… so i try connecting it to itunes to see if i can reset it and it just completely locks up itunes and i cant do anything only progress ive made is getting to reset and be able to work the phone untill it goes into standby. Im needing help badly if any ideas arrise, if you find this page post some helpful ideas/comments

    Oh i almost forgot the phone has been completely redone screen battery circuitry and still nothing spent close to 632$ trying to fix this thing if i cant then i guess ill have to get a andriod or something but i really dont want to if i dont have to.

  4. I found an iPhone on the side of the road. It had been out in the rain for a little while but looked okay. I followed directions to open up the phone and dried out the small amount of condensation that was inside. I left it for a day and then plugged it in to give it a little bit of power. However, i got a grayish white screen. It was very confusing and I had no clue what to do. Seeing as the phone is not mine i really shouldn’t care…. but I found it next to a bottle of vodka, so the original owner probably wasn’t very responsible.

  5. I have an iphone 3gs. I usually carry it around in my pockets. For the past few days, I’ve experienced the white screen flashing while I’m using the phone and when not. It would just go into the apple logo and reboot on its own. Today, i was working outside in the heat, took out my phone to check for messages and it was on the white screen. This time is stayed on it for a while and then turned blank.(off). So i tried pressing the sleep button and nothing. Tried both the home and sleep, nothing. I thought it wouldn’t work at all. Then, I went home late at night and opened it and checked if there was something wrong, and didn’t notice anything. I put it back and plugged it in the charger. I pressed the sleep button for 10 secs and then the home button, and nothing. I put it down still plugged in and instantly the apple logo comes up. I wait a minute and vibrates. Then the phone boots up. Its working, but with bugs. Scrolling is a bit laggy. Buttons on SBS settings not working fully. NOTE:my iphone is jailbroken.

  6. I’ve had this same problem intermittently for a couple of weeks now. The first time my screen froze with lines and striations across it like photoshop crashing. I’ve done all the restores and it’s still happening. One thing I noticed this last time (a few minutes ago) was that the phone thinks it’s working (as does iTunes).

    When I got the white screen I plugged into the computer. iTunes worked fine. The phone worked for a few seconds then turned white again (this time with blueish bars running top to bottom just off center and to the far right). I took a ‘screen shot’ by clicking home/on-off at the same time, then I plugged it back into the computer.

    The screen shot was of the actual iphone ‘desktop’ image i use – NOT the white screen. So the phone saw the correct desktop – only the screen was white.

    This means, for better or worse, it’s a monitor issue. Bad graphics card or wiring. I’ve had my phone past the warranty so I hope they’ll give me a new one.

  7. my phone’s having the same problem. it started yesterday afternoon and my friend told me that it was normal, if i’d give it some time it’ll return back to normal but last night i tried to reboot it and it came back but whenever i lock it, it shows the stupid white screen. now my phone’s battery is dead and i came upon this post. i’ll try syncing it but if that doesn’t work, i’ll go to a tech.

  8. dear Friends, ( sleep state problem )

    I had the same problem last night.my Iphone4 gone to sleep. no response , blank screen . it did not accept any command. then i plugged on to the charger for almost 2 hours then it came to life.I think i made a mistake to switch from blackburry to I Iphone (igone).

  9. Same problem with my 3g iPhone … Just started yesterday. Phone functions correctly … As I know where all the buttons are, and although I cannot see them, I am able to answer and use my phone. The hard boots only worked the first time. Subsequent attempts have failed. Fortunately, this is my 23rd month with AT&T so I was going to switch to a Verizon 4g later this month anyway.

  10. I have the same problem right now, although when it goes into sleep state, for some reason it uses enormous amounts of battery; i have just woken up, around 10AM and taken my phone off charge, it seemed to come on last night and last through the night, although this morning it turned itself off. Just came on the computer and hooked my phone up, it came back on and i now have 80% battery [lost 20% within space of an hour]

    Hopefully my phone will last me throughout the day as i am going out and wont have any means of contacting people for transport. Will be going to talk to apple soon enough.

    My white screen is not only a white screen but has an embossed gray border a couple of millimetres from the edge of the phone all way around, and sometimes it comes up with white screen but a the screen is covered in vertical coloured lines; don’t know what this is because of though.

  11. I dropped my Iphone 3G and it all went blank white i didn’t know what to do asked my oldest daughters what to do they didn’t know i got worried but then until
    I got the phone repair shop i did i just went and they finally fixed it!YEY!!!

  12. Okay so here’s the deal. I’ve had my iPhone for quite some time now, and I love it. Yesterday I went to the movies and sent my last text to a firend then pressed the lock screen. Upon coming out I tried to use my phone but the screen went white. I did a hard reset and everything was fine,until I put it into sleep mode. When it comes out of sleep mode it’s a white screen. I have a 3GS with 5.0.1 on it. I’ve restored it and everything, but no matter what I do if I lock the screen then click the lock screen again it goes to white screen I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING!!! it’s driving me insane! Someone help!!

  13. Thank u sooooooooo much! I had a heart attack when my iphone went on that damn white screen! i did wat #5 did (hold the sleep/wake and home button together several times until i got the apple logo) then i immediately connected it to itunes and it worked.. =D

  14. i went just to get a new screen becausue the other one had cracked so as they took it out and put the new one in it turned on but all i got was the ‘white screen of death’ i am only 15 years old and wanted an iphone since i was 6 i have had it for about 8 months now and this is how i get paid with dissapointment and there is no way on earth i am getting a BLACKBERRY
    also i got to level 71 on jetpack joyride now i have to do that all over again.
    I depend on my iphone for most thing; browsing for answers, music, games to suit boredom, and impressing my friends with it but now all there is….is the red ring off death with an apple device
    :( sad face

  15. i’ve try many things from hard reset, restore and everything else, but still not working well. My iphone screen still white. maybe it’s lcd is broken down…

  16. me and my friend was just walking in the rain.i pulled my phone out of my jacket pocket and my phone had a bright’ish white screen with thin black lines going horizontal and vertical.when i got home my mum and dad checked it out and it ended up pouring with water ‘just from the rain’.however i have recently got it working and it has done it again so i dont know what to do as i got it for my birthday from my mum and i dont know where from . my mum has said she will sort it but i have had to give he £65 :( guted ! . just wondering if you know how much it will cost and is it the same problem.
    many thanks
    sophie , aged 15

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