iPhone 4/4S sticky home button fix..

Looking on the internet there’s quite a few instances of a ‘sticky home button’ with iPhones, and as with all such things, lots of solutions!  The home button is of course the staple control method so takes a lot of hammer in general use.  Mine had started to become quite unresponsive – albeit not all the time – but increasingly so.  An unresponsive home button renders an iPhone rather useless, so it’s a real frustration.

Well, there’s lots of methods out there – hard reboot your phone, restore your phone – open an app, hold down the power button etc etc – whilst clearly some folk claim to have results with these, I’m pretty convinced that the issue is a hardware rather than a software one.  Perhaps not-quite-robust-enough components in the button mechanism that have become worn over time.  So with that in mind there were a few other methods people mentioned.  The simplest being ‘press the button really hard’ – that worked for me at times, but not all that reliably.

So upon exploring the wonders of the Internet a few more physical solutions presented themselves, popping a charging lead in the phone and ‘wiggling it about a bit’ was one option, it didn’t seem to make a monumental difference.  Other people reported that tackling the dock port with a vacuum cleaner seemed to solve the issue as pocket lint and debris had clogged up in there – it is close to the button, after all.  Others tried an unused toothbrush to give the area a good clean, others still used electrical component cleaning type fluid – the latter seemed a bit risky!

As with so many things in life, the most obvious solution is sometimes the best.  A component of a device that gets used hundreds of times is bound to get worn out or perhaps misshapen.  If it’s a component you press, the direction of the misshaping is likely to correspond to that, isn’t it?  So if you can give the rear of the button a good shove, that will probably sort it.  That’s what I’ve just done – and it seems to have solved the problem in the short term.  I shall keep track of it over time and see if it lasts.

Two screws to remove here

To do this you need to get your grubby mits on a pentalobe screwdriver – I picked one up on eBay for a bargainous £1.39 including (signed for!!) postage.  Use this to (carefully) remove the two screws from the base of the iPhone either side of the dock port.  Obviously be carefully not to lose the screws, they’re pretty damn small – if you get a screwdriver like mine it will be magnetic which will help this.  Once the screws are out, slide the back panel upwards about 5mm and then it will lift away revealing the inners of your iPhone.

The backless iPhone - press down on the area behind where the home button is just above the dock port.

Fortunately that is the full extent of dismantling.  Place the phone screen down on a flat surface and press firmly but carefully on the area behind the home button, apply and withdraw pressure repeatedly and then test the button to see if it seems more responsive.  Once you’re happy, replace the backplate, slide it into place and reinsert and tighten up the screws – be careful not to over-tighten them as five-pronged screws are prone to burring.  And that’s it.  Sometimes the simplest solutions really are the best!

Since doing this it has made me realise how much I’ve become conditioned to it being unresponsive though, it’s feeling very much like the ‘new phone’ syndrome even though I’ve had this fella for some time.

Of course, if you’re still under warranty or have Apple Care or insurance through your phone company – or, indeed, just in general – it is probably worth pursuing a proper repair.  If there were an Apple Store in Nottingham I would certainly have considered making an appointment with a ‘Genius’ to resolve the issue, because it does appear to be a hardware failure, or at least a hardware failure in waiting.

But there isn’t an Apple Store in Nottingham, and I’m lazy!

PS: You could go several steps further and completely replace the home button on your iPhone with a new one – but having found this excellent and detailed guide it looked a little daunting to me.  I’m not prepared to completely dismantle my phone!

Categories: iPhone / iPad / Mac | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “iPhone 4/4S sticky home button fix..

  1. Four days after ‘doing the deed’, and so far so good – much more responsive home button akin to when I first got the phone.

    • A week and a bit later and there’s definitely an improvement over how it was, but there’ve been moments of intermittentness from the old home button. I guess if it is a hardware issue then it will gradually reoccur.

      Having followed the same process with a friend today he reported an immediate positive impact, so we shall see. We speculated whether we could find some kind of padding to put between the case and the rear of the battery to keep pressing the home button from behind.

      Could be a plan…

  2. Piet

    Slapping it on its arse worked for me, thanks

  3. Robert

    Thank you. After doing what you say, I inserted a piece of hard paper between the pressure point and back cover to ensure there no space for movement again. This worked well. Thank you

    • Great news :)

      Be careful with those pentalobe screws, I’ve managed to render mine a permanent feature of the phone now by shearing them :(

  4. DL

    Thanks so much.. this worked flawlessly. (So far…)

  5. Pingback: Where did you come from? | Alan Fisher

  6. Richard

    It also worked for me (packing inside phone behind home button)

  7. Clive B

    Good solution! I used one of those air duster cans that you can blow your biscuit crumbs out of your keyboard. Worked a treat!!!

  8. Geo

    WD40

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