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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFt0b-CfVrQ&feature=youtu.be [/update]

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.