iPhone 4: Camera Shutter Won’t Open

As you may have seen on my brief iPhone 4 review, I ran into a little problem with the iPhone’s camera shutter not opening. After a lot of investigation, I tried several methods to try and remedy the problem; I would recommend trying these steps (in order) if you run into the same issue:

  1. Force Quitting the Camera App: Open the camera app, then hold the “lock/hold” button on the iPhone until you see “slide to power off.” Release the hold button, then hold the home button until the app quits. Try opening the camera app again to see if the shutter opens.
  2. Quitting All Running Apps: Some people have said that this could be related to a memory issue. Double-tap the home button to bring up the multi-tasking bar. Tap and hold one of the running apps; this should bring up red-minus symbols on all of the running apps. Tap the minus symbols for all of the running applications. Once this is done, try running the camera app again.
  3. Hard-Reset: Similar to fixing the slow-down issues on the iPhone 3G, you can try a hard (or double-hard) reset. Press and hold the hold and home buttons until the phone powers off. Turn the phone back on and see if this rids of the issue.
  4. Restore: Another likely possibility is that preferences may have gotten corrupted on the phone. Plug your iPhone into your computer, and do a restore from iTunes. When prompted, do not restore from a backup, but instead set the device up as a new phone. Once the process is complete, try running the camera app yet again.

Update: Commenter Gillian found a workaround (below). If this works for you, then it is probably a software problem and will probably be corrected in 4.1.

If this works for you, then it is definitely a software problem, and will probably be fixed in 4.1.

If none of these solve your problem, you are most likely out of luck (which is what happened to me). Time to call Apple (1-800-MY-APPLE).

A few tips, though:

  • Be sure to tell them that you have tried all of the above steps; most of these are what they would recommend anyway.
  • They will probably give you two or three options to choose from:
    • Setup an appointment at your nearest Apple Store, then go in for an exchange.
    • Send in your iPhone, then have Apple send you a new one in a few days.
    • Have Apple send you a new iPhone first, then you send your iPhone back in the same box. There is a catch to this one, however. If you do not have Apple Care, there is a $29.99 shipping and handling fee. If you do have Apple Care, there is no fee. In both cases, you will have a $599 hold on your credit card until they get the old device back.
  • If you are in a situation similar to me, where you don’t have an Apple Store close by, can’t be without the phone for a few days (e.g. you need it for work), and don’t have the money to purchase Apple Care or pay to have the unit shipped, there is a possible solution: ask for the call to be elevated to a higher-level Apple Support Representative. They can often waive any fees (you’ll still need the hold on your card, though), and your phone will probably be to you within a few days.

Good luck, and I hope this helps.


55 Responses

  1. Gillian says:

    I found a workaround, not a solution. I made a video showing how to do it and attached the YouTube link to this reply.

  2. brandon says:

    Gillian: excellent! Now, does this let you switch cameras (can you still use the front-facing camera)? Also, do you have to do this every time, or does it fix it for a while?

  3. iWyre says:

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  4. […] tip to Brandon Martinez]TUAWiPhone 4 camera won't open? Try these steps originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog […]

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  7. […] tip to Brandon Martinez]TUAWiPhone 4 camera won't open? Try these steps originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog […]

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  12. Mike C says:

    I had the same problem but I fix it by disabling and enabling the camera feature under restriction . To do this tap on Settings. Then tap on general and go down to Restriction. It will then ask you to create a passcode. Create one then turn off the camera feature (note this will turn off face time). Once you turn it off click the home button. Notice the the camera icon disappeared. Now tap on Setting and turn on camera and face time. Exit by clicking the home button. Now you should see the camera icon. Tap it and wait a few second then rotate the phone to landscape and upside down wait a few second rotate it back. Hold it for a min or so then bingo your shutter should open. Hope this help.

  13. Luis says:

    try to reset all settings a couple of times, this works in my case.
    tab setting, general, reset, reset all settings. Good Luck guys

  14. David says:

    I had the “shutter won’t open” problem, and tried everything. I finally bought a replacement rear-facing camera part and some iPhone tools, replaced the camera – and it’s working again! It took a little patience, but not more than 20 minutes and was pretty to do. There are numerous guides available on the web that describe how to replace the camera.

  15. […] the device. Turn it back on and see if you can take a picture. More on the next page. [Hat tip to Brandon Martinez] 3. The simplest thing to do is just relaunch the application itself. I found that 90% of the […]

  16. Seyyed Mohammad says:

    Hello.I have iPhone second camera not open.I bring my iPhone to setting factory but my problem not solved.what do I do?

  17. Jakehipper1 says:

    I replaced my front screen and the back camera worked but when i changed to the front it closed now it has stayed closed ever since, I’ve tried everything

  18. Jason says:

    Dear All
    I have had my Iphone 4 since 1 month n since last week the Carma shutter wont open .. But every time i m on WIFI the Carma works just fine ,, What should i do i have tried everything on different sites but still dose-not work , Pls note I am from BANGLADESH n donot have an AUTHORIZED APPLE STORE here need help pls ,,,

  19. Eric says:

    Excellent, worked for me on my old 3G. I did the double hard reset. Thanks, Eric in Aberdeen

  20. David Simonjan says:

     Hello all, I’ve replaced multiple iPhone 3 and 4 screens myself and have recently found that iPhone 4 ones sometimes present the mentioned problem. If you have found that the link has NOT fallen off when compared to another iPhone, then you may want to try this.

    Don’t shun this method straight away. Most of you will look at it and think it’s just a normal reset but I found it works where even a full hard reset has not.

    Make sure the iPhone is connected to a Mains Supply Charger. This is important.
    Turn off the iPhone.
    Once it is switched off, keep hold of the Home Button.
    After 10 seconds of holding, power it up using the Standby button (no need to hold the standby button BUT KEEP HOLDING the Home Button).
    Keep holding the Home Button until the iPhone has shown the Homescreen and only once it asks you to ‘Slide to Unlock’ will you let go.

    This has worked for me on 5 occasions now so it is definitely worth a go. It’s mainly for the people with the experience in this to know that they have done everything with great caution and have not snapped/forced/torn etc any components or their counterparts.

    Thank you.


    • Kristina says:

      Thanks, this is the only method that worked for me!!!!!!

      • Nadine says:

        Thank you SO much, this is the only method that worked for me!! I got my iPhone a few days ago and the shutter wouldn’t open. I managed to get the front camera working somehow but the rear camera just wouldn’t work…this totally worked though so thank you!!

  21. Sue says:

    Thanks the ‘force quit’ worked ;-) x

  22. The Reset all settings method is worked for me. But there is a few steps, that you should check to get this to work.
    First make sure, this is because software problem not hardware, you
    can check if this a soft or hard problem by using other camera apps
    (using instagram) to check if it work.
    If the camera work in other apps. Then the reset all setting will do fine.
    If not working in other camera apps. You should go to apple. You
    waste your time by reset, hard reset, turn camera on 10minute,etc.

  23. Eliz. D. says:

    God bless you. Option one worked for me.  Aren’t you something.

  24. Marion says:

    ok, i tried everything except the restore incase i lost data…… this is what i did.  The camera wouldnt open BUT when i flick over to video, it still doesnt work, HOWEVER, i can choose to make the flick over to the front camera mode……once your in front camera mode,,,,even though you cant see anything,, then flick back into photo mode and it uses your front camera instead of back,,,,,, if that makes any sense at all.

  25. Benzema says:

    option 4 sorted me out!!!but im not sure whether to try the front cam again…fear/factor!

  26. Heather says:

    The hard reset worked for me.

  27. Out of luck, and no way I could call apple since it’s a 3GS..
    Thanks for the post anyways :)

  28. Shake81 says:

    My phone was propped up against a mirror because I was trying to record something. Well the phone fell while on the camera screen and when I tried to open the app again it got stuck and the shutter wouldn’t open. Other apps that used the camera worked but the ios one didn’t. All that to say that resetting yhe settings worked for me! My phone is jailbroken with tons of apps and tweaks and those were all fine. Just remember to back up your phone before resetting it.

  29. Kathy King says:

    the first solution worked!

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