My iPhone Screen Won't Rotate. How Do I Fix It?

iPhone screen rotation lock
image credit: Cultura/Chad Springer/Getty Images

One of the really cool things about the iPhone and iPod touch is that the screen can reorient itself based on how you're holding the device. You've probably made this happen without even meaning to. If you turn your iPhone on its side, the screen adjusts to display wide rather than tall.

But sometimes, when you turn your iPhone or iPod touch, the screen doesn't rotate to match it. This can be frustrating or make your device difficult to use.

It may even make you think your phone is broken. There are a couple of reasons why the screen might not rotate and they're not all signs of trouble.

Screen Rotation Could Be Locked

The iPhone includes a setting called Screen Rotation Lock. As you've probably guessed based on the name, it prevents your iPhone or iPod touch from rotating its screen no matter how you turn the device.

To check whether screen rotation lock is turned on, look in the top right corner of the screen next to the battery indicator for an icon that looks like an arrow curving around a lock. If you see that icon, screen rotation lock is turned on.

To turn rotation lock off, follow these steps:

  1. In iOS 7 or higher, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center. The icon at the far right on the top row—the lock and arrow icon—is highlighted to indicate that it's turned on
  2. Tap that icon to turn off rotation lock
  1. When you're done, press the home button or swipe down to close Control Center and you'll be back to your homescreen.

With that done, try rotating your iPhone again. The screen should rotate with you this time. If it doesn't, there's something else to consider.

On older versions of the iOS, rotation lock is found in the Fast App Switcher, which you can open by double-clicking the Home button and then swiping left to right.

Some Apps Can't Rotate

While many apps support screen rotation, not all of them do. The home screen on the most iPhone and iPod touch models can't rotate (though it can on the iPhone 6, 6S, and 7 Plus) and some apps are designed to only work in one orientation.

If you turn your device and the screen doesn't reorient, check to see whether the orientation lock is enabled. If it's not enabled, the app probably is designed not to rotate.

Your Accelerometer Could Be Broken

If the app you're using definitely supports screen rotation and the orientation lock on your device is definitely off, but the screen still isn't rotating, there could be another problem. There may be a problem with your device's hardware.

The screen rotation feature is controlled by the accelerometer in the the device—a sensor that tracks the device's movement. If the accelerometer is broken, it won't be able to track movement and won't know when to rotate the screen. If you suspect a hardware problem with your phone, make an appointment at the Apple Store to have it checked out.

Screen Rotation Lock on the iPad

While the iPad runs the same operating system as the iPhone and iPod touch, its screen rotation works a little differently on some models.

For one, the home screen on all models can rotate. For another, the setting is controlled a bit differently.

In the Settings app, tap General and you'll find a setting called Use Side Switch to: which lets you choose whether the small switch on the side above the volume buttons controls the mute feature or the rotation lock. That option is available on all iPad models except the iPad Air 2 and newer, iPad mini 4 and newer, and iPad Pro. On those models, use Control Center as described earlier in the article.

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