New iPhone 4 problem: Camera crashes, takes down FaceTime

FaceTime when the iPhone's camera doesn't work

FaceTime when the iPhone's camera doesn't work

You’ve heard about the yellow screen splotches and the wonky antenna that requires you to hold the new iPhone just right.

But now a new issue is coming to light: a faulty camera system that not only affects your ability to take pictures, it can foil your attempts to use FaceTime, the video chat feature that is the iPhone 4’s top talking point.

I ran into this issue over the weekend. Apple kindly sent me two iPhone 4s to test out. I’ve been trying to convince my wife that we need to upgrade our iPhone 3G’s to the new model, so I thought I’d show her how FaceTime works, figuring she’d be as wowed as I was when I tested it on a friend’s phone in the office.

But it didn’t work. While the phone I was using received my wife’s image, the small box that was supposed to display my image wasn’t showing anything. Meanwhile, on the phone my wife was using, she could only see her own image in the small box on her screen; she didn’t get any images from my phone.

FaceTime on the iPhone with the faulty camera; note the square that's supposd to show the forward-facing image

FaceTime on the iPhone with the faulty camera; note the square that's supposd to show the forward-facing image

I figured that I must have done something wrong or that there was a glitch, so I tried again. Same result. I tried turning off the phone and turning it on again. Same thing.

Wondering if there was something wrong with the camera on my phone, I called up the camera application. It seemed to work fine. I was able to take a few pictures. But when I tried to switch the in-use camera from the rear to the forward-facing one, the program locked up, showing an unchanging image.

I closed the program and tried to re-open it, but the virtual shutter refused to open. I couldn’t even use the rear-facing camera. The only way to get the camera working again was to turn off the iPhone (by holding down the power button for 5 seconds or so and sliding the slider to “power off” the device) and then restarting it.

It turns out that I’m not the only one that’s having trouble with the new iPhone’s camera. I’ve found four different discussions in Apple’s own support boards in which people have claimed having similar issues. It’s unclear yet how many iPhone 4s are affected by the problem and whether the camera problem is affecting FaceTime on other people’s phones.

The iPhone's camera app, locked and refusing to open.

The iPhone's camera app, locked and refusing to open.

An Apple representative I spoke with today said she was unaware of the issue.

Regardless, given the different issues that have come to light with the new iPhone 4, it sure looks like Apple’s quality control was asleep when the new gadget was being readied for store shelves.

How about you? Have you experienced this problem? If so, please let me know.


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  • Kiweron Le Tourneur

    Well i will be damed, I received my new iphone 4 on thursday 12th july, got to try it out on fri 13th, well what do you know, click on camera & the camera gets ready, shows a blurred image, then locks up & reboots itself, done restores & restore & as new phone, makes no difference, BBISH, NOT IMPRESSED AT ALL APPLEw will put all of my freinds off of getting one
    good marketing, poor quality control A disaster

  • Kiweron Le Tourneur

    sorry meant to say 12th August not july

  • Binaryspiral

    We’ve rolled out 25 iPhones (12 are iPhone 4) to our employees. I’ve had one experience the crashing camera feature. Apple decided it was a hardware failure.

    I’ve got a replacement en-route from Apple. Problem solved.

    Call 1-800-MYIPHONE or just go to

  • Suppp

    Same problem with me. Just got my iphone yesterday and every time I go into camera it freezes for 5 seconds then crashes and restarts the phone.

  • Michael

    I have the same problem with the camera application freezing up when I try to switch to the VGA camera. I have to re-boot the phone in order to get the camera to work at all. If I do not try to switch cameras, the camera application works fine.

  • no problems with iPhone 4 after new sim card. Received my iPhone in mail wed and had no problems until thursday afternoon – dropping calls. Went to ATT and got a new sim card and no problems since. However my wife has has dropped calls with hers. Similar issue with iPad – had problems with wifi, saw all the neg reports on the web, went to apple and they replaced it and no problems since. I think that putting out so many new devices so quickly to meet demand there are quality issues. So if yours doe doesn’t work, take it back.

  • Shaun

    I have had the same issue with the FaceTime camera. When I switch from the primary to the FT camera, it locks up, causing me to have to shut down and restart it. Primary camera has no issues, only when switching to the FT camera. Fix this bug Apple!!!

  • Kathy

    My new iPhone4 has a similar problem with Facetime. I try to Facetime with anyone that isn’t in the same room as me and the picture freezes as they answer. Then they can see and hear me, but I can’t hear them anymore and the face they made when answering the phone is frozen on the screen. I think my iPhone is going back to AT&T.

  • Tiffany

    My iPhone shuts down every time I attempt to open the camera. I guess I’ll be taking it back to the store.

  • Joel

    Sadly, I have had the iPhone4 camera bug since taking delivery in July. Even a time-consuming restore as new reboot doesn’t resolve the issue that is seemingly linked to possibly corrupt code driving the auto-focus system.

    Every attempt made to use the camera causes the entire OS to crash.

    You would think that by now Apple would be aware of the issue and fix it as part of a software update. Perhaps it means that the only fix is to swap the phone for a new one. I’m guessing that’s a one followed by lots of zeros.

  • Don

    I am in Europe and my wife is visiting in the states. We both have the Iphone4. The face time was working great for a week or so; however, for the past several days our phones are doing the exact same things that yours did. I can see myself in the upper corner and she says she can see and hear me; however, I can not hear hear and I just get a black screen.

  • Espen

    Hi! I bought a new iPhone 4 for a few days ago. At the beginning I used the camera, and the mobile just turned off and rebooth itself. I thougt it just was bad battery even its showed great battery in the battery messure thing (excuse me for bad english). And when i had charge the battery for a while it worked. And it work in few days. To day I usted the camera again, and the same problem was there. I charged the battery yesterday.

  • syrina

    Some of you guys are rediculous.. there are soooooooooooooo many problems with this phone.. i wasnt sure if i wanted it but i had the 3gs and the screen was cracked so i went in earlier today to get the IPHONE 4.. started using facetime.. froze on me several times.. reset the phone same thing.. i restarted it 4 times and kept trying.. after searching and reading some of these i went to use the camera.. FROZEN wont even ope the shutter.. so NOW i have to return it tomorrow .. so umm not just a few that are messed up but a TON..

  • David

    Just got the iPhone 4 yesterday. Shot photos and video, then decided to try out FaceTime. FaceTime allowed me to see my friend, but would not give me the option of broadcasting my own video. Tried rebooting and a reset. No luck. Soon discovered that camera and video function wouldn’t work either. Reset via iTunes and regained camera/video, but still no FaceTime video ability. What gives?

  • kiki

    face time actually freezes my MacBook whenever I switch from the front to the back camera on the iPhone. Hard reboot is the only remedy. Go Figure…

  • T Dawg


    Seemed to be off the original problem. I have identical problem with front camera. Back camera was working then when flip to the front camera , it froze the camera app and I wasnt able to use the back camera anymore as it didnt open the virtual shutter.

    I have a fix for this for the back camera..if you get to this stage..go to reset all settings did the job for me..the back camera was working fine again , able to take pictures and video but when trying to flip to front camera, it hung again and i just have to reboot my phone to get the back camera again.

    could be a memory issue with the front camera or it could be that the front camera is jus basically at fault.

    I will be honest and tell you guys that my iphone4 drank half a bottle of coke and then i rinsed under hot water to avoid the stickiness of the coke and then opened the back and buried it in rice to absorb all the moist. At this stage it was jus in constant state of asking to sync with itunes and did not power by itself.

    I kept getting an error 1611 …i replaced the battery and restored it and now everything is working fine apart from this camera issue. Back camera definitely works , both pics and video and normal and hdr modes. IT IS FLIPPING TO THE FRONT CAMERA that we are talking about that freezes. I got the back camera working again by resetting all the settings ie settings general reset.

    only thing not working now is front camera. i have read similar stories . i was going to take it to apple genius but i lost the bottom two screws when i replaced the battery so i m going to try get replacement screws and then take it to apple genius and act completely dumb and stupid and make a big fuss till they replace the phone.

    I would much like to be able to fix the phone myself so if i have future problems i can deal with it straight away rather than having to go to apple which is not easy as i am currently in a small city in norway that doesnt really have a genius bar so i have to wait till i go back home to london to do this.

  • Marlon

    I just bought the iPod 4 and in a couple of weeks this exact thing happened to me. I thought it was something that I did but after rebooting and setting the unit to factory settings and even restoring through iTunes I knew it was a defect.

  • Torrent

    The problem with front camera is hardware. I repaired it by soldering responsible microprocessor…

  • Vivian

    My daughter, grandchildren & myself have i4 phones. We were so eager to get these phones – to afford these phones we sold our 3gs’s. We all regret getting the i4’s. We have Have experienced every problem listed here. My front camera does not work at all. Use at minimum double minutes every month due to dropped calls. Truly disappointed.

  • Roberto

    My iPhone front camera also not work. I openthe back one and. Went i trait. To open frece i dont know why i do like 100 resultes and still. Also. If you using the flash. Is. Like to brigth. And. The picture. Loocks. Dark some body can hel fix this.

  • Spencer

    Ha ha mine crashes all the time – in camera, in maps, even crashed looking at this website. T mobile can have it back. I am trying desperately to stick with apple but it seems to get harder.

  • stefaan

    yep got just the same problem. it looks like it’s a hardware problem. the front camera worked whet i ticked it softly with my nail. then it froze again.
    by the way, its amazing hardcore fans start to defend ‘their’ brand when you say something doesn’t work on a mac.
    dear fans, try to imagine the frustration when one of the main new features does not work on your brand new toy… apple clearly had a problem on quality control. i’m bringing it in. and than I have to wait for 2 weeks or so. great!

  • scgrl13

    If you are having the problem where your facetime freezes when either you or the person you are talking to swaps the camera angle, try this fix. I can’t take credit for it but it works!

    “Great news! I found this fix so I can’t take the credit. First go to settings. Then go to Phone. Where it says FaceTime tap it so it turns off, then retap it to turn it back on. Then press the button on the bottom of the iphone to go back to the home screen. Next, Press that same button along with the top power button until you see the silver apple. Only let go when you see the apple, because there is an option to turn off the iphone by sliding the bar, so just hold the two buttons. The iphone will basically hard reboot. Dont worry you wont lose anything. Then it will start up by itself. Next, make a call and try it. It will be fixed.”

  • Same problem with the camera, the shutter closed and that’s the way it has been since it happened, going to Apple today to replace it. Would you believe that this is the second one within two weeks that I have had to take back!! The first one’s touch screen didn’t work and now the camera doesn’t work! What a piece of S*#t phone, but my girlfriend likes the IPhone and just keeps getting it replaced.

  • Amanda

    I am having the EXACT same problem right now with my iPhone. It has worked before with facetime, and the back camera WAS working, but now it won’t even open the shutter and Facetime I see the blank square and the other person sees a black screen.

    What to do?

    Tried restarting… several times…Not working.

  • Ashish kc

    I have iphone 4 and when I use camera it works but as soon as I try to switch to front face camera the application is locked and it refuses to open!!!! any solution??? plz help…

  • Machelle

    I’ve used the facetime and LOVED it every since I first got my IPhone 4 and never had and issue untile today (April 24,2011)!! I was having a conversation and then all of a sudden these weird lines came across the screen! I ended the call and shut my phone all the way down but it still didn’t work. I then went to take a photo of my daughter and I, that’s when I noticed that it affected my camera as well. I have tried everything to fix the problem and as of yet can not get it to work!!! Considering tomorrow is Easter I will probably have to take it in to Verizon on Monday!!

  • you took the words right of my mouth….you said it perfectly and exactly how i would say it…i am having the exact same problem. my new iphone4’s for me and my wife are terrible…i wish i would have never bought them. apple needs to send everyone that bought the new iphone4’s brand new ones that all have been tested to work correctly and take these piece of junks back and stop putting their customers through this crap. we all paid alot of money for our phones and shouldn’t have to continue to put up with all these problems. enough is enough. this is rediculous. i say all millions of us sue APPLE and see if that gets a response out of them.

  • TajOOOO

    my iphone shutter wont open and I JUST GOT IT YESTERDAY!!! WTH! i tried evrything and i mean EVRYTHING and it still refuses and when it did ope the shutter tht is it freezes -.-

  • Michael

    My phone will restart when I open my camera after about two seconds and my FaceTime app has disappeared I can’t even find it on my phone anymore. It’s wierd because I have had my phone for about seven months now and it started about the sixth month.

  • Vegas Josh

    For the last 2 weeks my phone has been resetting itself constantly. They told me to go and get a new sim card and that would fix everything. However, 2 days later, the phone started crashing again. Now, every time that I open the camera or try to do face time, it turns the phone off. Right now I am on my 20+ attempt to reset the phone and restore it. It says it can’t restore itself due to an “unknown error.” I have had the iPhone 3, 3G, 3GS and now the iPhone 4. I have had the Apple care on all of them, however I’ve never had any problems. SO, I guess I will get to use it now and hopefully they won’t fight me.

  • Lauren

    I have had my iPhone 4 for a year and the FaceTime and camera worked fine.
    Then yesterday I tried to open the camera app and the shutter refuses to open and the slider bar keeps flickering between video and camera and nothing I do (not even rebooting the phone) will get the shutter to open… pretty much the exact same problem as you!!
    I hope Apple does something about this

  • Kicker

    My camera on my iphone4 is now acting up. Facetime is okay but when I use the camera, the shutter does not open and it shuts down. I deleted a lot of photos thinking this was the problem at first. what should I do?

  • hugh

    when using facetime everything works fine while using the rear facing camera. when using the front facing camera, i can’t see the little screen showing what the camera is seeing. only a “screen shot” of the last frame on the rear facing camera before it switched. the other person can see what i’m shooting with the forward camera, i just can’t see. the other issue is when i hold the camera vertical, it’s all fine, but when i turn the phone sideways to get the wider shot, the video of the person that i’m talking to reverts to the wider frame, but then turns sideways, so i’m looking at them in a sort of vertical letterbox format with them on their side.

  • deekay

    my i phone is stuck in tutorial mode and it speaks about everything i touch on the screen…..heeeeeeeelp!!!!

  • Ruben

    I just got the iPhone 4s and my wife has iPhone 4
    At hone we tried the face rime and had no problem using it or taking pictures with the camera. I’m working out of town and have not gotten face time to work at all.
    I’m in a hotel and trying to use their wi-fi
    As face time request to use wi-fi
    So don’t know what the problem is???

  • Cindy

    New iphone 4s….exact same problem. Face Time doesn’t work correctly. Camera takes pictures fine, and shows them on the camera page. But when you go to PHOTOS, it’s empty. However, if I go to SETTINGS, GENERAL, ABOUT, it shows that I have lots of pictures and videos. I just can’t see them or upload them! AAARRRGH!

  • Vassilis Papadopoulos


  • Manish

    Oh Yeah, iPhone4S camera sucks. It works fine sometime, but most of the time when I actually need it to catch a moment, it freezes/crashes.
    Most of the time it freezes in shutter close but sometimes even after you
    see first image on the screen (still not operational).

    When I slide from still to video or vice verse, same result. This is after
    I take a few shot or video but when I do the switch.

    Also, the picture taken on iPhone, viewed on iPhone are awesome.
    But dang! transfer it on computer and take a look at it on computer.
    Completely sucky out of focus picture, upload to facebook and look at
    completely ridiculous no focus picture.

    Steve Copy Doctor has done it again!

  • Spill

    I’m a technician who works on iPhones. I’ve repaired upwards of 1000 3g/s’s and hundreds of 4/s’s. The biggest problem I’ve run into is the front camera not working. After hours and hours of research I have not found a solution. If there out of warranty your out of luck. If there under warranty, nomatter if damaged or water sensors tripped, that can be fixed.
    To all the “Apple is King” folks, I wonder if you have an answer to this fact. The least compatible OSs to the iphone, are the Apple OSs.
    I have a few people who have macs that, upon connection to their iphone, They need to upgrade there OS or Itunes or both and are then stopped by a message saying that something else is not upgradable. My own roomates MAC, purchased in 2008 is to far out of date to work with a 3g. She uses one of my old windows laptops, from 2003.

  • I got my 4S about three weeks ago and replacing my 3G that got completely unusable after the 4.0 upgrade … Apple should keep some of their engineers using their older phones (so the know the pain they inflict to others with each new release)

    But coming back to my 4S issue … this is the second time it happens. I use the phone for a week or so, and everything seem to work fine I even have a facetime teleconference via Skype for almost an hour pretty cool. And suddenly when attempting to use the Camera App it freezes on the Shutter image … no matter what you do, it finally reboots and you see the familiar swirl … that will stay there until the phone runs out of batteries.

    Last time it happen, I have just synched and it was with a full battery and took the whole night to drain (getting pretty hot in the process) happily is winter, cant imagine what could happen on a hot day 🙁 … now this morning 8:00AM attempted to open the camera and it happen again …. locked until 10:45 when it ran out of battery … luckily this time I haven’t charged last night.

    Anyone having the same issue …?

  • amy

    I started having problems with my camera today. I was trying to change it to the forward-facing camera and it locked up on me and the screen went black. I could still open the Camera Roll and toggle between picture and video, but nothing else worked. I tried closing the camera app, but when I reopened it, it’s only the closed-shutter on the screen. I’ve tried to restart the phone, but that didnt work either. I’ve done some looking online and read that for many other people with this same problem, a complete reset didn’t work either. (I have the iPhone 4, not the 4s)

  • anon.

    i got my iphone 4 a little less than two weeks ago, and this happens. I’ve restarted it, rebooted it, deleted all my pictures, i did absolutely everything, and i still have no camera. 🙁 any advice?

  • Morgan

    My phone just did the same thin yesterday my camera wouldn’t open at all unles my phone was locked and I double clicked then it glitches wih yellow and red do we turn our phones into apple and get a new one !?

  • Alf

    Have had the same issue as others. My screen goes black and grey and pink lines appear on the screen and all I can see is the outline of my face and is very shadowy. Did a soft reset, didn’t resolve issue, then did a total restore and still no change. I know have no choice but to return to store and get it replaced. I have iPhone 4S 16GB. Disappointing as this is a brand new iPhone and have only had it for less than a month. No doubt this is affecting Apple’s position as a leader in phone and camera technology.

  • Carol

    My Facetime freezes and disconnects the call everytime I try to use it on my Iphone4s! Haven’t had trouble with taking pics yet but can’t use facetime 🙁

  • Gerrit

    My iPone 4 was working perfectly until I upgraded to 5ois, now the camera “looses” the images after taking photos and videos.
    Rebooting not helpful.
    Any suggestions?

  • Trevor

    After having the iphone 4s for 3 months i have had this error twice now. While using the camera my phone freezes and completely locks up, no buttons work at all. The phone then goes into shutdown mode after a few minutes but freezes during this and I have to wait for the battery to die. Once the battery dies I charge the phone and it boots up normally after it reaches its 5% battery threshold.

  • Zeny

    I have the same problem just last night. I was going through my pics and editing when the camera turns black. I found this blog on how to fix this issue, thanks.

  • Matheus

    I have the same problem, but my cam is closed even if I reboot my IPhone, I know my normal cam is ok, but as I can’t flip it, I can’t use it :S