iPhone Volume Buttons Not Working

iPhone Volume Buttons Not Working

Alisha C and 2 contributors
Last updated on

In my estimation, there is little more frustrating than pressing a button, expecting something to happen, but it never does. It’s lead to many a mangled video game controller, phone or other electronic device. Believe it or not, repeated and forceful use of the buttons does not make them function any better, even if it’s cathartic to mash them into oblivion. Don’t injure yourself, or your phone. Keep reading to restore function to your volume buttons.

  • Verify this issue isn’t No Sound. Pressing the volume buttons won’t do any good if sound is not functional.
  • Restart your iPhone. Depending on the model this may not be possible if both of your buttons are not working properly.
  • Update your phone.
  • Use of assistive touch can be a reasonable work around. This can be enabled under Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch. This enables a configurable menu to appear on screen. Pressing Customize Top Menu in these settings will allow you to add or remove any functions that might be helpful here, volume up and down buttons included.
  • Remove your case. If your case has stretched or shifted during use, the button cutouts may no longer be aligned properly.

Causes

1

Although “sound” on an iPhone seems simple, it is actually a conglomeration of several different settings. Each audio related function in the phone has its own correlated setting (ie. phone call, media, ringer, etc…).

  • Ensure that changing volume settings with buttons is enabled. Under Settings > Sound the “Change With Buttons” setting is hiding. Toggle it on to permit ringer volume to be modified with buttons.
  • Verify that the Silent/Ringer toggle switch is set to ring (hint: silent is orange). The position of this switch overrides all other ringer settings.
  • Is Do Not Disturb on? This would also override volume settings for incoming communications. On newer versions of iOS, Do Not Disturb has been replaced by Focus.
  • Check that the volume level for the sound setting you're missing is set to the expected level. Volume controls are context sensitive and adjust the volume for the current function. For a quick look at the current volume level, use Control Center.
  • Reset all settings to revert any settings which may have been enabled. The prompt to do this is located at Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings. Note: Be ''''mindful not to click Erase All Content and Settings, that will also delete your personal data, not just changes made to configuration.
2

Any software which contains errors can cause an iPhone to act as though the home button is not responsive.

  1. See if you can use the buttons in any context. Try to turn up or down volume using a different app, or in a different function.
  2. If the buttons work in other functions, open the App Switcher and close the problematic app.
  3. Reopen the affected app and try to recreate the issue. If it reoccurs, check the App Store for updates and install them. Uninstall and reinstall the app if no updates are present.
  4. If they are also unresponsive in other functions, this is more likely a hardware issue, but you can update your phone using a computer to be certain.
  5. To rule out software entirely, be sure you have a current backup, and restore your phone via a computer to ensure a fresh copy of the Operating System is used. This will delete all data on the phone. Try without restoring your back up at first to keep testing limited to a bare OS.
3

Buttons are magnets for debris. Eventually enough may collect to cause interference with the buttons depressing properly.

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  • Check the button’s movement, is it depressing, or clicking when you press it?
  • If it is not clicking when pushed, make sure the buttons are not deformed in any way. A dent in the wrong place can cause a button to stick in one position. This calls for a replacement of the buttons themselves.
  • In the absence of damage, turn it off and clean any debris around the buttons with a toothpick. A cotton swab and ispropyl alcohol can assist in persistent crud and help loosen any that may have worked its way under the button.
  • If they still seem stuck, internal cleaning or inspection is necessary, The buttons are visible mounted into the housing. Physical debris may also be lodged here, preventing proper function.
4

An unfortunate part of the design for most models is the volume buttons are a part of a cable assembly which carries the signal for all the iPhone buttons. This means the cables are often long, thin and follow inconvenient paths along the phone’s interior. They can be damaged by liquid contact, or torn by shattered glass or attempted repairs.

  • Perform a visual inspection of the cables. Most of these issues arise from underlying damage visible to the naked eye. Tears, creases or signs of liquid should send up red flags.
  • Verify connectors are intact and free of damage or corrosion.
  • Even in the absence of visual damage, replacing the cables for these buttons is a reasonable step.
5

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. But due to Touch ID pairing, replacing the board will break fingerprint reading functionality in all cases and home button function as well in the iPhone 7 and newer.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the board itself can be repaired. However, it requires specialized tools and microsoldering know-how. This is not something most people can do themselves, but many independent repair shops can do it for you! Ask around to find a board level repair specialists near you.

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