The Home button on my iPhone 4 is broken - it's stopped working, anyway. You have to press the Home button three or four times, very hard, to get it to respond at all. Any advice, or a fix you can recommend?
iPhone (and iPad) Home buttons do go wrong from time to time, often (frustratingly) a year or so after the warranty runs out. Apple may be able to repair the hardware (for a price), but there's a neat workaround built into iOS that you may not be aware of.
How to fix a broken iPhone Home button: Hardware repair
First of all, the full repair option. Check out our iPhone warranty guide to see what your rights are - if the problem arose after you dropped the iPhone in water, for example, your warranty may be invalid. Make an appointment with Apple and find out if you're covered, or how much the repair is likely to cost if it's not.
Can you repair the device yourself? You can give it a try, but unless you're a confident tech hobbyist we wouldn't recommend it - since for one thing it's likely to invalidate your warranty, and may worsen the problem instead of fixing it. And as we will see shortly, there is a workaround that means a dodgy Home button needn't kill your iPhone experience.
How to fix a broken iPhone Home button: the software solution
iOS has a neat feature that helps when hardware buttons stop working. Go to Settings, General and then scroll down to Accessibility. Under Physical & Motor, click AssistiveTouch, and then slide AssistiveTouch into the ON position.
A small circle inside a square will appear on your screen; this can be dragged around the screen to wherever you find it least disruptive. It will become opaque when pressed, then turn transparent a short while later.
If you press this circle it will offer you Voice Control, Home and Favourites options (Favourites allows you to save specific gestures and commands). You can also select Device, which takes you through to further options such as volume controls.
The 'dot' on your screen can be a little irritating, granted, but it may well be preferable to either shelling out for a costly repair or coping without a fully functional Home button. And if you're using an iPhone 4, it's possible you'll be upgrading to something newer in a few months. If you're interested in possible upgrade, take a look at our advice 'Should I buy an iPhone 5 or wait for iPhone 5S, iPhone 6?'
See also:The Complete Guide to the iPhone 5s & 5c is on-sale now. Click here for buying information.