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How to fix an Apple iPhone XS Max to gets stuck on recovery mode, unable to restore [Troubleshooting Guide]

When a device suddenly gets stuck or frozen, it won’t be able to respond to input commands unless the system is rebooted. Aside from memory-related issues, a device can also get stuck when some apps go rogue or when the system is struck by some bugs or malwares. In smartphones that support external storage, a corrupted SD card is also among the culprits. This however, shouldn’t be the case with iOS devices as they don’t have SD card support. But then again, this doesn’t denote that iOS devices are free from having such flaws.

In fact, many iPhone owners have encountered the same troubles from unresponsive and stuck displays following a new update or app installation. Tackled in this context is a relevant issue affecting Apple’s new flagship iPhone XS Max. Read on to find out what possibly causes a powerful iOS device could suddenly get stuck on recovery mode.

Before anything else, if you have other issues with your device, try to browse through our troubleshooting page as we’ve already addressed several issues with this device. Odds are that we’ve already published a post that tackles similar problems. Try finding issues that have similar symptoms with what you currently have and feel free to use the solutions we’ve suggested. If they don’t work for you or if you still need our help, then fill up our questionnaire and hit submit to contact us.

How to troubleshoot iPhone XS Max that’s stuck on Recovery Mode

Before troubleshooting your iPhone XS Max, reboot (power cycle) your computer. Doing so will clear out any corrupted cache or errant programs that might have interrupted the restore process and caused iTunes to fail. If you’re running some security software like firewall or antivirus on your computer, try to disable them while attempting to restore your iPhone in iTunes. Also end all background programs to prevent any of them from interfering with iTunes during the system restore. Once you’ve done all that, reattempt to connect your iOS device and then perform a recovery mode restore again to see if it works. Otherwise, you may resort to these subsequent workarounds. If possible, attempt to back up important files from your iPhone before performing any of these methods to prevent permanent data loss.

First solution: Force restart.

A force restart works the same the usual iPhone reboot or soft reset but carried out using the hardware keys. Generally, a force restart is used to reboot a frozen or unresponsive iPhone without affecting any saved information from the internal memory. It works by forcibly clearing corrupted data and errant apps that might have caused other services or iOS itself to fail and crash. If this is the first recovery mode restore attempt you’ve done and then end up with a stuck iPhone, then it’s possible that something had interrupted the restore process. And because of that, some apps or system data might been corrupted. Hence, if you haven’t already, follow these steps to force restart your iPhone XS Max:

  1. Press and quickly release the Volume Up button.
  2. Then press and quickly release the Volume Down button.
  3. Finally, press and hold the Side/Power button until the Apple logo appears.

If the phone managed to boot up and is working properly after a force restart, retry restoring it in recovery mode through iTunes with these steps:

  1. Connect your iPhone XS Max to your computer using the Apple-supplied USB/Lightning cable.
  2. While it’s connected, press and quickly release the Volume Up button.
  3. Then quick press and release the Volume Down button.
  4. Next, press and hold the Side/Power button and continue to hold as it restarts. Don’t release the Side/Power button when the Apple logo appears as you need to put the device in a recovery state.
  5. Release the Side/Power button when you see the Connect to iTunes logo on the screen.
  6. On your computer, navigate to iTunes then you should see a message saying that your connected iOS device is in recovery mode and prompts options to update or restore.
  7. Select the Restore option to wipe everything from the phone system and then restore iOS through iTunes.

It usually takes 15 minutes for the recovery mode restore to complete. Just wait until it’s finished and by then you can disconnect your iPhone from the computer. If the restoration progress isn’t completed after 15 minutes, your device will exit recovery mode. Should that happens, just wait until all file downloads are finished and then try restoring iOS in DFU mode.

Second solution: DFU mode restore.

Device Firmware Update or DFU mode is considered as the deepest type of system restore done on an iPhone. It can potentially resolve more complicated system issues from major system data corruption, tough bugs and malware. This method wipes your iPhone system completely as it attempts to fix each and every broken data segments. While the chance of obtaining solution from a DFU mode restore is higher, there is also a risk of bricking the device especially when the process isn’t completed. Hence, performing a DFU mode restore isn’t recommended if the iPhone has obtained liquid or physical damage. One of the common factors that can cause the DFU mode to fail is hardware damage, particularly liquid damage. If you’re certain that your iPhone doesn’t have any sort of damage and you’re willing to take chances at restoring in DFU mode, then you may refer to these steps:

  1. Connect your iPhone XS Max to the computer using the Apple-supplied Lightning cable or USB cable.
  2. While your device is connected, quickly press and release the Volume Up button, then quickly press and release the Volume Down button.
  3. Then press and hold the Side/Power button until the screen becomes black.
  4. As soon as your iPhone screen turns black, press and hold the Volume Down button while continuing to hold the Side/Power button.
  5. After 5 seconds, let go of the Side/Power button but keep holding down the Volume Down button until your iPhone shows up in iTunes.
  6. Release the Volume Down button as soon as it appears in iTunes.
  7. Your device should now enter DFU mode.

At this point, you can proceed and retry restoring your iPhone. Simply follow the onscreen instructions to carry out a DFU mode restore on your iPhone XS Max through iTunes.

Other options

These are two more options left for you to consider if all the prior solutions failed to fix the problem.

  • Repair software using iOS repair/recovery tools. Aside from iTunes, you can also try using other iOS recovery and repair software that’s compatible with your iPhone XS Max. Similar to iTunes, these tools can be downloaded and installed on a Windows or Mac computer for iOS file management, software update, and system repair. You may resort to any of these tools should you wish to troubleshoot further. Just pick the software that’s highly credible and effective. Reading prior reviews can make you decide on which tool to use. And to avoid having troubles on system conflicts, be sure to read and review the minimum system requirements before downloading the software on your computer.
  • Service. If your iPhone XS Max is still unable to restore and remains stuck on recovery mode after exhausting all applicable solutions, then you should already consider asking for a technician’s aid. Unfortunately, nothing more can be done to fix the problem on your end. Your device might have acquired some sort of physical or liquid damage, which needs physical repair. Having said that, take your iPhone to the nearest Apple-authorized service center in your area for thorough hardware check-up. You may also consider giving your device carrier a call beforehand to avail for warranties.

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If you need more help with the use of certain functions and features of the Apple iPhone XS Max smartphone, feel free to visit our Tutorial Page. There you can find a list of how-to contents, step-by-step tutorials, as well as answers to FAQs regarding iPhone XS Max. If you have other concerns or encountered some troubles while using the phone, you can reach us through this form. Just be sure to tell us more details of the problem or device issue(s) you may have and we will be more than happy to assist you further.

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