iPhone 3GS randomly shuts off and won't stay on until plugged in

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by m4r10l1m, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. m4r10l1m macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2011
    The specificness and uniqueness of my problem has made it difficult to find a solution through searches so now I have to create my own post on the problem:

    My iPhone 3GS that I got from a third party has had the problem of randomly shutting off at any given moment. I could be in the middle of a text, a call, or listening to music and it'll just shut off.

    Now here's the unique part. When I go to turn it back on, the apple loading screen pops up but it takes somewhere from 3-5 minutes for it to boot up. Then the lock screen with the time and whatnot shows up. From this point on, my iPhone has a chance to shut itself back down and I have to repeat the process over and over again. Most of the time the lock screen flashes and then goes straight to black (shut down) but sometimes I can make it a few menus before it shuts itself down.

    The only surefire way to keep the iPhone on is to plug it into a charger of any sort. I'm fairly certain it isn't a battery charge issue because this happens at any % of power and sometimes my iPhone can use up all of its charge and not have this happen while other times I can be at 90-100% and it could randomly shut itself down.

    My question is, has anyone else had this problem before? I'm hoping the fix isn't a hardware issue because this thing isn't under any warranties. Also, this problem has persisted through multiple firmwares so it isn't a firmware issue.
  2. pbw313, Jan 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011

    pbw313 macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2007
    I have a similar problem with my 3GS. It started a few months ago but happened very rarely. Now it will shut down almost every time I use GPS (especially with 3G instead of WiFi). Once it shuts down, it will either take a long time to restart or won't complete a restart (until I plug it in). It doesn't matter if I have a full charge. I suspect my problem is related to a malfunctioning battery. Performing a task that requires a higher current drain will cause it to shut down. The weird thing is that my phone is 18 months old but can still hold a full charge over a day's use. If the phone has some kind of overheating sensor, then I suppose that could also be the problem (but I doubt it since I can't get it to fail when plugged).

    My workaround is to use a battery pack case but I'm going to try a DIY battery replacement. I'll post again once I get around to it.

    [Edit: P.S. I ruled out software since 1) it started happening in early Nov 2010 and I've updated software a few times since then and 2) I did a complete factory restore and could cause it to fail by using GPS over 3G with Maps (nothing else installed). It seems like I need to be outdoors and walk around - maybe the GPS powers off after a bit if you're indoors.]
  3. sargepepper macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2007
    iPhone 3GS shuts off suddenly

    I have a similar problem. I am using a factory unlocked phone bought on a visit to Thailand - no locking phones to carriers there :). The phone is out of warranty.
    This started about 3 weeks ago, and has been driving me batty. In the beginning, it seemed to only happen when my phone was at the %60-%70 battery level. Recently it has gotten worse, and the phone has shut down when I am at %80 battery.
    I visited a Genius bar and followed their suggestion to restore the phone as new, this did not help.
    Another Genius bar visit had the 'genius' tell me he could replace the phone for $200, but it would be an AT&T locked phone. I really do not want to spend $200, or be forced to jailbreak/unlock the phone to use it (I'm on T-Mobile USA).

    Any suggestions are very welcome, thank you.
  4. pbw313 macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2007
    My issue was solved after installing a new battery from iFixit.com. I was a tiny bit skeptical since the original battery was still holding a full day's charge just fine. But there are no more shutdowns with the new battery.

    I highly recommend the battery from iFixit since it appears to be the exact same model as the original battery and the site provides good instructions.
  5. JamesMB macrumors 68000


    Jan 2, 2011
    I assume that you have tried clearing your multitask apps. Some of those apps run in the background, and use memory, which can cause a reboot, as soon as you try to open another memory intensive app. A reboot will not clear them, you have to do it manually.
  6. everythingMac74 macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2011
    random shutdowns

    I've been having the identical issue to the initially posted item. My iPhone 3gs had been working phenomenally for the first 18 months I've had it (since new). Upon returning from vacation I noticed battery life decrease exponentially one day. I thought perhaps it was because the phone had been charging on 220v. while in Australia. At any rate, the battery has sucked since, tried all the firmware upgrades, resets, no dice.
    So now the phone not only loses power quickly but it randomly shuts off. It was dying at 40 - 50% for a while, then it would die at 60%. Now it dies at any given time without warning. 90%, 80%, whenever. Sometimes it will boot back up, with the Apple logo appearing endlessly. Other times the logo comes up but the phone doesn't reboot, just goes dead. Then it will show the icon saying connect to power. Once connected to power and attaining enough juice to turn back on (usually a few minutes) then the phone comes back on at the point percentage where it had died, be it 10 or 90%.
    I think I'm going to go the "iFixit" route and see if that does the trick. The problem is becoming an all-consuming nuisance.
  7. jamesbell macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2011
    i phone shuts off suddenly

    I have a similar problem. I am using a factory unlocked phone bought on a visit to Thailand - no locking phones to carriers there :). The phone is out of warranty.
  8. mustang1908 macrumors newbie

    Aug 10, 2011
    I have the exact same problem, described PERFECTLY by the original poster. The only interesting caveat with mine is that it ONLY started once I installed iOS 5. The problem started immediately after upgrading from iOS 4 to iOS 5. Prior to that, my 3GS was perfectly fine.

    I can't help but think that the problem is related to the well-known battery issues of iOS 5, but this thread also makes me think it's an issue of battery failure. Perhaps it's a combination of both? I'm worried that if I get a new phone, and I restore that phone using a backup from my current phone, I will still have battery issues.

    Any help would be appreciated!
  9. TomSevolSelena, Dec 1, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2011

    TomSevolSelena macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2011
    Yep...iOS 5 broke it

    The original poster (m4r10l1m) and the previous poster (mustang1908) both nailed it...I've been searching for others with this problem since the iOS 5 release.

    I can confirm that the 3GS does exactly what they described. This started happening right after the iOS 5 release and it was immediately obvious: it randomly powered off only a few hours after the update. Then a couple more times that day. And plenty of times since. (Every time it happens, I curse Apple and swear I'm buying that new Windows phone!)

    If it's hooked to an external power souce, stays on...no problem. Pull off the power source...and then even if the battery is at 99% power, it can happen(and has, several times). And the phone will only power back on if you hook it to an external source.

    NOTE: If you try to power it back on WITHOUT that external power source, it will fail, and then take several minutes to power on once you've hooked up the external power. I've found that if you do not try to power it back on immediately and instead wait until you've connected the external power source, it will then power back on immediately (within a minute).

    So basically, my phone can now kill me if I'm not careful. If I happen to need the iPhone at a critical time--such as finding a ticking time bomb and needing to call SWAT to help me defuse it :)--looks like there's a chance I'll be going out with a bang, unless one of these occurs:

    (1) I try the iFixIt.com suggestion from above and buy a new battery
    (2) I buy a new iPhone
    (3) Apple lets me revert to iOS 4 (*** the preferred solution ***)

    At the very least, knowing the significant changes in OS 5 vs 4, the Apple dev team should have allowed for the possibility of reverting to iOS 4 until iOS 5 had a consistent track record.

    Oh, and if you try to go to the Apple site for customer support on this topic, you have to pay for that support--if your 1 year support contract is up that is. Still, it should be free for this particular issue...since, having gotten suckered into the iOS 5 update...I now have a product that no longer works with any reliability, and can't be fixed without expense. They should cover the customer support on this with the billions they have in savings, instead of nickel-and-diming us at every turn.

    Just my 2 cents...but man that rant felt good!! Cheers
  10. mustang1908 macrumors newbie

    Aug 10, 2011
    Us 3GS iOS 5 types have to stick together! I too searched everywhere for awhile before finding this thread. Since then, a few others have popped up around the internet...which is kind of comforting.

    You point out the fact that not trying to power back on and reconnecting to power will immediately turn the phone back on. Trying to power it back on, however, strangely means that when you do plug it in it will take hours to come back on. Thank you for pointing this out, because I just realized that this has actually been happening with my phone too. As I type this I'm actually waiting for my phone to power back on...plugged it in about 2.5 hours ago. I guess I just need to avoid the temptation of powering it back on when it dies!
  11. dead76 macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2008
    Same here

    Yup, ever since I installed IOS 5, it has been happening on my 3gS. No matter what the % battery is. Then sometimes I get the the red warning screen when it comes back on, and then when I actually plug it in and get it to restart, its back to like 50%.

    Obviously a problem with how the battery power remaining is being sensed by the device or managed. I really hope that fix that was mentioned to be coming out to further fix the battery problems will help this. Hard to believe because they are still even selling the 3gs. Lame apple, real lame.

    Its planned obsolescence.

  12. Kashika macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2010
    I also have this problem. Sometimes when my iPhone is shut off and I try to turn it on it goes directly into recovery mode, asking to be plugged in into iTunes.
    Hard resetting from that screen a few times usually helps to restart it normally.

    This morning my iPhone wouldn't turn on at all. Not even when plugged into the charger.
    Itunes could find it, but all it's data was ''other''. Letting iTunes restore it, turned on my iPhone so I unplugged it and it booted up normally.

    Weird stuff happens with ios 5.
  13. HellDiverUK macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2009
    Belfast, UK
    Really? You really think that? :rolleyes:

    It's more likely your battery is about to die. My 3GS was doing something similar, the battery was stuffed. Put a new battery in, and it's perfect now.
  14. donw35 macrumors regular


    Jul 3, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Same experience with my 3GS, new battery and all good, it's easy to do and lots of how to's on the net.
  15. mauporath macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2011
    Yes, same with me

    Same with me. After iOS 5 upgrate my 3gs started to turn off. I left my phone at a non official iPhone repair service about 1 month ago. Until now they were not able to dignose the problem. I hope to hear something from Apple...
  16. TomSevolSelena macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2011
    I think dead76 is right about the sensing of battery power...since it never does this when powered in, and since those above seemed to have fixed this by replacing the battery. (Which I'll try myself and then report back here.)

    I'd disagree on the planned obsolescence though (if that was really meant)...only because it seems like a terrible business move. If customers got any wind of it at all (which, I wouldn't expect something like that to remain a secret forever), we'd all up and quit Apple, wouldn't we? I definitely would.

  17. mohanloke macrumors newbie

    Jan 21, 2009
    I have similar problem. Right after upgrade to ios 5 my 3Gs keeps shutting off exactly as above description. I am hoping Apple will fix it in the next release of ios. I am not sure if I should change the battery and no guaranty the problem will be fixed if I replace the battery.
  18. Ksizzle9 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 15, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    I've got the almost exact same problem- and was literally 2 minutes away from starting a thread. My 3Gs runs amazing(still) on 5.0.1 jail broken and unlocked- running on family mobile from Wal mart. I just recently updated(bout 5 days ago) to anything past iOS 3.x lol. It's been sitting around viewing used occasionally for just a few minutes here and there. Since I've had the ip4, and now the 4S. Now, it runs great and never has ANY PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER....when plugged in or battery is at 99% or above. Now, it shuts off, and requires a hard reset. Mind u the battery is at 99% when it shuts off. When I finally get it back on, the battery is always at 58 or 69%. Every, single, time. I recently replaced the back of the Phone due to a crack, and didn't notice the problem then. Ordered a battery yesterday and going to try a replacement to see if that fixes. For the poster saying he wanted to try- go ahead- just make sure u follow ifixit- and keep track of your screws, and either have the apple specific screw driver, or the worlds smallest Phillips head, I think something like #00. Does anyone know if these problems are actually caused by the battery? The phone itself runs great as I said, just the afford times probs. it's a old bootrom 32GB 3GS on 5.0.1 and BB 6.15.00, never had problems before now. Although with some research, there are MASSIVE threads over at apple support communities, but none that I found have a definitive answer, any help is appreciated. I don't really want to use this as my daily driver, more of a home phone type solution as I can get unlimited minutes on family mobile for $25- and that's a helluva lot cheaper than anything else, plus my wifi is free actually where I live with 20mb speeds so data is no issue. Just want this fixed.

    Edit: seem to see where ppl say that new battery has fixed the problem. I ordered on that is due in 3-5 days, I'll report back with any good/bad news. Interesting point: my phone has went below 98% for the first time since fooling with it again, and no turn off(knocks on wood, last time I thought I had it, I opened my mouth to call my dad and tell him- the phone shut off when I said "hey dad- guess wh...."). Lol I'm not a young buck per say- my dad has helped me learn how to replace screens and batteries among other things(power buttons, home, volume, headphone jack) so he is now an iFool with the rest of us!!
  19. TomSevolSelena macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2011
    Tried new battery and didn't work, but...

    Ok guys, ordered a new battery from some place in California (don't have the name right now), and replaced it per one of the many demos on YouTube (which are all pretty accurate).

    Unfortunately, it must've been a bad battery...because the result was even worse. The phone wouldn't stay powered longer than 2 minutes--even when plugged in--before it just shut off completely. Couln't even restore the iPhone because of this (kept turning off in the middle of the restore).

    Assuming I'd messed up the installation of that battery, I reinstalled the original battery...and my iPhone went back to it's previous bad behavior that I posted above. So the battery I ordered must have been bad (they probably resold me someone else's bad battery). Anyway, be careful on who you order it from.

    So for now, I'm just keeping it powered with an external power source...and no issues.

    I did go ahead and replace it with a Windows Phone 7 (Samsung Focus Flash)...which, fyi, is not a bad OS, but not quite as robust on the Podcast management. The default maps app is much better than the default google maps app on the iPhone. But the best thing about it...I can count on making a call in an emergency, where my iPhone could (as I've jested earlier) possibly put me at risk since it could crash anytime when not externally powered.

    I'm using the iPhone as an iPod now (need it for Audible.com in particular, since it's not available yet on WP7). I may try again to order an iPhone battery from a reputable vendor...and if so, will report back with the results.

    Apple really needs to check their quality control...the battery-management code is clearly bugged. Some aspect of the battery monitoring is causing it hit code that just crashes the phone. I've no confidence in their developers right now, and am therefore putting off buying an iPad 2.

  20. rhysc macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2012
    Just bought a iPhone 3gs from a friend at work. Worked fine for two days. This morning it decided to turn off. When I tried to restart it the apple logo appeared for a min or so then turned off again. I plugged it into the PC via USB, started the phone - it worked fine. I thought it must be the battery BUT I tried the phone in Airplane mode and the phone stays on and doesn't shut down, if I turn airplane mode off the phone shuts down again?!

    Really annoying. I have the same problem as you, you could try the airplane mode and see if the phone stays on, if it does that leads me to believe it isnt the battery?
  21. TomSevolSelena macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2011
    Does it in Airplane Mode too

    rhysc...yes, it does do it in Airplane mode too, but it happens much less frequently. Basically, I've found that the more Apple-specific apps you're running in the background (i.e., messaging, calling, listening/watching something in iTunes, etc.)....especially when connected to 3G and Wi-fi...the more likely the phone will shut off sooner rather than later.

    My best guess at this point is that each time the battery ticks down (from 100% to 99%, 99% to 98%, etc.), it provides an opportunity for iOS 5 to crash the phone. It also seems to be related to the number of apps truly multi-tasking in the background (again...messaging, calling, "iTuning"). So if whatever you're doing drains the battery slowly (such as being in Airplane Mode)...and you're not running too much stuff in the background...then there's much less opportunity for the crash to occur.

    I remember going a day or 2 without it crashing while in Airplane mode (kept in Airplane mode the whole time)...thinking I'd discovered that is was either 3G or WiFi that was causing the crash. But no...it did eventually crash. I also found out that day that the iPhone 3G does NOT make a good frisbee...especially when chucking it across the room in anger.

    Is anyone else noticing this as well? (Not the frisbee part...but the part about the battery tickdown and background tasking?)

  22. Exosteeve macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2012
    My 3GS have similar problems.

    It started when I changed the glass. I not satisfied of my job so I ordered an already assembled glass on frame. The first glass was working perfectly except for the ear speaker. With the new glass the ear speaker was working well.

    Now, I barely ear in the ear speaker, the screen don't turn off when I talk (I start the handfree thing everytime *%?&*?&), the silent mode doesn't work and the iphone randonly crash and AS SOON as I remove the glass, it work again immediatly.

    When it crash...holding the ON/OFF button and home button DOESNT WORK!


    Thank you guys!
  23. Kashika macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2010
    I have the same issue. Since the iOs5 update too.

    Is there anyone that can confirm that a new, good working battery fixes this problem? My iPhone still holds a full charge, even though it's about 2 years old now. So the battery shouldn't be the problem I think.
  24. thecat1111 macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2012
    SAME PROBLEM!iPhone turns itself off and on continuously!

    since yesterday have been experiencing the same problem. the game i play on my phone was running slow, so thought i'd switch the phone off and back on, and since then if its switched on, it will turn off and back on, stays swiched on for about 20sec,then switches off and so on...until i turn the phone off completely. left it switched off through the night hoping the problem will stop, but as soon as i turned the phone on in the morning, it started again. pluged in into my laptop to connect it to iTunes, hoping i could reset the phone or the phone would sync and start working, but the phone just continued switching off and on while connected to laptop. its really annying. i got the phone as a present and hav no warranty on it, so i guess im stuffed. tried to reset the phone by holding the power and main button for 10secs(as recommended on apple support) but no success, the phone just carries on doing the same thing. its extremelly frustrating! seems like new phones dont last longer than 18months! dont know what to do as im not in a position to pay for a repair. going to take it to 02guru tomorrow and hope they can help. but from reading these posts, it sounds like its a very common problem and not that easily fixable. its really disappointing. will look in iFix.com as recommended above and see if i can find a solution. wish i kept my old phones, they just seemed to work without problems.
  25. Exosteeve macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2012
    Nobody can help us? Everyone just tell his problem...

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