Often I will realise my iPhone or iPad is about to run out of battery, run around the house looking for a charging cable and plug, and get back just in time to see the screen go black and the little spinner appear.

If I plug it into a wall socket it takes about 3-5 minutes (it shows the red battery with power symbol below) to turn back on, but if I plug it into my laptop it understandably takes longer.

Occasionally once it has finally powered back up the battery percent will be more than 1%. Why hasn't it turned on ASAP?

Also if I plug the cable in less than a few second after the screen goes to the spinner, why does it take so long? It just had enough power to function fully, and now I've given it all the power from my socket, how can those few seconds make such a difference?

More importantly is there anyway to try and force the device to come back on quicker? (e.g. If your phone is dead and you plug it in because you need to phone 911) it would be nice to know even if there is way to force it to turn on only to the emergency phone screen, and not the full functionality?

5 Answers 5


Like you said in a comment, it's more a software limitation. Even though there's probably some hardware safeguard.

If you plug your iPhone a millisecond before it reaches the shutdown limit, then, no harm done, it doesn't need to shut down, power is there to keep the phone running and recharge the battery.

If you plug you phone after the shutdown limit, then the limitation is in place to ensure things will go well the next time you power it up. If it allowed to power up the phone any time, then what if it is unplugged while booting. There wouldn't be enough juice for the phone to be fully back on and it would shutdown while booting.

That's something that could damage the phone or the OS.

So to ensure that this wouldn't happen, Apple probably put the arbitrary 5% limit.

  • 1
    There is a workaround, however, if you're in a real hurry. Plug the phone in for 1-2 minutes, and if it hasn't turned on, unplug it for 20 seconds or so, and then plug in again. 9 times out of 10 it'll fire up straight away in my experience...
    – awidgery
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 16:33
  • It will never damage the OS to do so. That part is incorrect.
    – Wyatt Ward
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 21:00
  • 1
    I used to work at AppleCare. This is actually one of the only ways to easily damage the OS. Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 17:29

This is because any type of rechargable battery needs a small amount of juice to recharge. If you drain the battery completely, it will not be able to charge again. This is true of lithium or regular rechargable batteries. The delay is there to ensure you don't damage the battery. If you were to completely drain regular rechargable batteries and put them in a device that runs on a tiny amount of juice until there is absolutely no charge, they would fail to recharge as well. In fact, I've had this happen. The reason why the delay is so long is because if you were to turn the device back on with a very small charge and ran software (say a 3d game) that uses a lot of power, your device may drain too fast to maintain positive charge and not be able to charge any longer.

  • Wonder why Android never had this problem and turns on immediately
    – Sergey Sob
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 12:02

Well, I can only answer part of your question, and that's the "Also if I plug the cable in less than a few second after the screen goes to the spinner, why does it take so long?" part: When it reaches the "spinner" screen, it's already begun the shutdown process. It's not like it's an OK-you-really-need-to-plug-me-in-now-this-is-your-last-chance screen. When it finishes shutting down, then it needs to charge to 5%. Then, you can turn it on.

  • What I meant was if I plug the cable in a millisecond after the spinner appears I have to wait 5 minutes, if I plug it in a millisecond before it would have appeared I can carry on using the device? How can there have been such a power loss in such as short time?
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 22:12
  • 2
    Same concept as a hibernating laptop - once the shutdown starts it won't stop for love nor money. Or power, in this case. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 22:14
  • @iampearce Excellent response! XD
    – Tuesday
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 1:14

The reason this takes some extra time is that your iOS device will not turn back on from dying completely because it must charge up to 5% first. This is normal. There is no way I am aware of to disable this function.

  • 1
    That sounds like a software limit rather than just a lack of power?
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 22:07
  • From what I understand, it is a firmware configuration. Even if it has just started the shut down process, getting power is not going to halt the shutdown process. Once those commands have been fed to the kernel, there's no stopping it. There may be some kind of jailbreak tweak for this, but I doubt it.
    – Matt Love
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 22:36

Plug it into your computer and restore it. Another factor for it freezing could be because it has too much info to run at the same time. In other words it has too little memory left to process (which may not be the case - just a possibility). Don't worry. Sometimes things just need to be restored occasionally.

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