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10 annoying iPhone SE problems and how to fix them

Kyree Leary
iphone se problems

Jessica Lee Star / Digital Trends

The iPhone SE takes the power of the iPhone 6S and places it into a smaller, more compact body that’s reminiscent of the iPhone 5. Despite merging an older design with newer hardware, the SE is a competent smartphone, and a great entry point for those new — or returning — to Apple’s iOS. Find out what it can do with our bite-sized iPhone SE tips and tricks. However, not everyone has had a frustration-free experience with their device. Here are some common problems SE users have reported having, and the various workarounds and fixes for them.

Problems with iTunes connection, battery, yellow screen, and more

Problem: Won’t connect to iTunes

Some iPhone SE owners have reported being unable to connect to iTunes with the smartphone, or that iTunes doesn’t recognize it. Users are getting the message, “The iPhone cannot be used because it requires a newer version of iTunes. Go to www.itunes.com to download the latest version of iTunes.” This was first reported on last April, and has persisted until now.

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure you’re using the latest version of iTunes: 12.5.5 at the time of writing. Apple added sync support for the iPhone SE and iPad Pro starting with iTunes version 12.5.4. Windows users need to have Windows 7 or later to use the latest version of iTunes, while Mac users need to have OS X version 10.8.5 or later.
  • If the problem persists after updating iTunes, Apple has a helpful guide explaining what to do in the event that iTunes doesn’t recognize your iOS device.
  • If neither of the above options resolve the issue, you may have to reset your iPhone SE to its factory settings, meaning you’ll have to re-sync the device and all of your data. Make sure you back up everything on your iPhone first, then go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings and see if that helps.
  • Your final option is to contact Apple directly to see if they have any other solutions.

Issue: Battery drain

Many iPhone SE owners have found that their batteries are draining quicker than expected, or they’re simply disappointed by how long the battery lasts.

Potential solutions:

  • Look at your Battery Usage to see which apps are draining your power the most in Settings > Battery. Change your settings for apps that are the biggest culprits, such as apps working in the background. Tapping on Battery Usage will reveal how long apps have been used and how long they’ve been active in the background.
  • Consider enabling Low Power Mode in Settings > Battery. It turns off certain features like mail fetch, background app refresh, and automatic downloads. Tap Settings > General > Background App Refresh if you only want to adjust the app refresh settings.
  • Location Services uses GPS and Bluetooth to determine your approximate location. If you don’t need this, toggle it off by going to Settings > Privacy.
  • Back up precious files and reset your iPhone SE to its factory settings, then set it up like a new phone without restoring via a backup. If battery life is better, restore using your backup. If the problem comes back, you may need to forgo using that backup or delete third-party apps.
  • Take a look at these additional tips for saving/extending battery life.
  • If none of the aforementioned suggestions resolve the issue, contact Apple Support, go to an Apple Store, or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to seek a replacement phone or repair.

Issue: Yellow screen

Some users noticed that their iPhone SE displays are slightly yellower than other iPhone models, instead of the usual white. In other cases, the yellow tint is only around the edges of the display.

Potential solutions:

  • Check your Night Shift settings in Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift, to see if the feature has been enabled. The recently implemented feature changes the color of the display to give it a warmer hue once the sun goes down. Messing with the color temperature slider at the bottom may do away with the yellowing, or could be the cause.
  • Older iPhone models such as the iPhone 5 had a similar problem that people reported running into. In most cases, it was a matter of the adhesive used for the digitizer during the phone’s production, and while it was drying, it would produce the yellow tint. If the iPhone SE problem is anything like the iPhone 5 problem, then the glue should dry within a week, thereby doing away with the yellow color.
  • If the yellowing persists after following the potential solutions outlined above, contact Apple or your carrier, or schedule an appointment with an Apple Authorized Service Provider to either get the phone repaired or replaced.

Problem: Voice Control activates on its own

Some iPhone SE owners on the Apple Discussion forums are saying voice control activates on its own, and at seemingly random times, prompting some to want to disable it. The problem occurs the most while listening to music or internet radio. Note: Voice control is not the same thing as Siri. In fact, if you’re using Siri, you can’t use voice control.

Potential solutions:

  • You can turn off voice control. You first need to set a passcode. Following that, go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Voice Dial and toggle Voice Dial off.
  • Consider switching to Siri. Go to Settings > General > Siri and tap the Siri toggle to turn the assistant on. While on this screen, you can also turn on “Hey Siri” if you haven’t already, which will allow you to use Siri without pressing the Home button.
  • If you’re set on using voice control, a factory reset may be your final solution, aside from taking it to an Apple Store or affiliate retailer to get a replacement. First, back up everything on your iPhone SE, and then restore it to its factory settings.

Problem: Clicking noise coming from Home button

This is not the sound the Home button usually makes when being pressed, but rather a more audible sound that can be heard when the button rises after being pushed down. For some, the sounds vary, and may even sound like rattling.

Potential solutions:

  • Clean the area around the Home button. It’s possible a sticky substance or a smaller object found its way into the iPhone and is causing the noise.
  • It’s far more likely that this is a hardware issue that may require the device to be opened up and inspected. In that case, reach out to Apple Support, make a trip to an Apple Store, or seek out an Apple Authorized Service Provider to repair or replace your iPhone.

Problems with vibrate, iTunes sync, contact images, and more

Annoyance: iPhone SE won’t stop vibrating

A small number of iPhone SE owners have reported that their phone vibrates constantly, regardless of setting preferences. Turning off Vibration (Settings > General > Accessibility > Vibration) and performing a forced restart has not fixed the issue.

Potential solutions:

  • An app running in the background could be causing the issue. Bring up the app switcher — double-click the Home button — and swipe up to close any apps that are still running.
  • If you’re not using iOS 10.2.1, or any recent version of iOS 10, try updating your software to see if it fixes the problem.
  • You can try restoring your phone from a backup made before the vibration issue started. If the problem doesn’t occur after you restore the backup, an app or update could’ve been behind the issue.
  • Perform a factory reset and restore your phone, or set it up like a new device.
  • Reach out to Apple Support. You phone may need repairs, or a replacement headset.

Problem: iTunes won’t sync photos with iPhone SE

A few iPhone SE owners have recently run into an issue in which iTunes fails to sync photos with their iPhone. The desktop app informs users that it “cannot sync photos to the ‘iPhone SE’ because your Photos Library is not yet available. Please try again later.”

Temporary solutions:

  • Uninstalling and reinstalling iTunes has been said to work for a while. Sadly, the problem can come right back. Be sure to make a backup of your library before uninstalling the program.

Workarounds:

  • It’s not ideal, but you can always manually add photos to your phone, just as you would music or videos.

Potential solutions:

  • Restart both your phone and your computer, then try syncing again.
  • Make sure you’re using the latest versions of iOS and iTunes.
  • This Apple Support page has a list of steps that may help.
  • While your iPhone is connected to iTunes, go to Photos > General and ensure your Photo Library is set to be your system photo library. If it isn’t, click Use as system photo library. This Apple Support page may be of some use, too, if you’re a Mac user.

Glitch: Missing contact images

Another recently reported problem is that some iPhone SE owners no longer have contact photos. These usually appear at the top of the page when you’re looking at a conversation with a contact. For many, the loss of images occurred after updating to iOS 10.2.1.

Potential solutions:

  • Restart your phone.
  • Make sure none of the images used for your contacts have been deleted by accident.
  • Try removing the contact image and re-adding it.
  • Go to Settings > Messages and toggle on Show Contact Photos.
  • If you’re using Display Zoom, the feature will automatically remove any contact images. Switch back to standard view by going to Settings > Display & Brightness. Then, scroll down to Display Zoom > View > Standard.
  • You can always try performing a factory reset, then restoring your phone from a backup.

Issue: Wi-Fi turns off when phone is locked

This is different from the typical Wi-Fi issue most people run into, in which their phone suffers from poor or nonexistent connectivity. Instead, a few people have experienced a problem that causes Wi-Fi to turn off when the SE is locked or put to sleep.

Potential solutions:

  • Restart your phone and router.
  • Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. Afterward, re-connect to your Wi-Fi network.
  • One user on the iMore forums noticed they were having a similar problem when they got a new router that was using the same network password and login code to connect to their new modem. They suggested that a similar scenario could be confusing the SE. To fix the issue, they changed their aforementioned passwords and codes.
  • Try performing a factory reset.

Annoyance: Camera doesn’t preserve camera app settings

The iPhone’s camera app is capable of saving the last camera mode you used, but some users have noticed that this continues to happen, even if you’ve set the app to reset to the default camera mode (Photo) when you launch the app.

Official solution:

  • The camera app will revert to the default camera mode after about a minute. If you continue to adjust the app’s Preserve Settings during that time (Settings > Photos & Camera > Preserve Settings), it will not automatically reset.

This article was originally published on December 25, 2016, and updated on March 16 by Kyree Leary to include problems related to iTunes, the camera app, contact images, and Wi-Fi.