Last Updated on May 2, 2019 by Husain Parvez
Everything You Need to Know When Your iPhone Won’t Charge
An issue many devoted Apple users face is that as if out of nowhere their iPhone won’t charge. This can be really annoying as it leaves you at the mercy of your remaining battery life as your once, trusty device is now something you need to constantly fiddle with, so that you can keep it powered.
Rest assured though; this is a common problem that many users have faced, so there are plenty of solutions out there when you are trying in vain to top up your iPhone charge.
To get things started let’s take a look at a few of the common reasons why you may be struggling with why your iPhone won’t charge, and why the cause will likely be something other than a broken or dead battery.
The top 4 reasons your iPhone won’t charge
#1 Check your lightning cable.
The lightning cable is the rather cool name Apple use for your iPhone’s power cable. They’re a lot more robust and easy to use compared to the old multi-pin connectors that came before them, but that doesn’t mean you should completely rule them out as the source of the problem.
The two main areas to check are the gold electrical contacts on the end of the lightning connector and the cable. If we start with the electrical contacts; you’re looking for any cracks, bends, or deep scratches.
With millions of us taking our chargers with us on the move it’s not uncommon for them to get stepped on or crushed. Plus, if you have pets then the day will likely come when you find your connector has been the victim of a thorough chewing!
Give the connector an inspection and remember that any damage will make it more difficult for the contacts to touch the matching parts on your iPhone’s socket.
Next, you need to take a look along the length of the cable. You’re looking for any splits or pinches in the line. The danger here is that the inner parts of the cable may have short-circuited which would mean that no power is getting to your iPhone battery.
#2 Can’t Charge iPhone? Check the Power Outlet!
This may seem too simple to be worth trying, but the simple things will fix so many issues they’re never worth passing over. First, you will need to check the wall plug that your lightning cable fits into. Check that the USB connection connects firmly, as over time they can work loose.
To check the wall socket itself it is always worth plugging in a second device. If it begins to charge, then you know that the fault lies somewhere else.
#3 Check the bottom of your iPhone
Your phone spends a significant portion of its life deep in your pocket. Your pockets will contain little bits of lint and fluff that make no difference to items like your keys or your wallet, but your iPhone is a little bit more sensitive.
The power socket on the bottom of the iPhone will only be covered if you have made a point of adding a specific type of case. That makes it the ideal place for all manner of small pieces of debris to gather. As the weeks and months go by the buildup will become such that it forms an impenetrable barrier between the gold contacts on the lightning connector and the contacts inside the iPhone’s socket.
If you notice that you can charge your iPhone by moving the lightning connector around once it’s plugged in, then there is a very high likelihood that this is the source of those charging woes.
Don’t worry though because cleaning is simple and you certainly won’t need to form an orderly queue at the Genius Bar to get your iPhone back up and running. We’ll talk you through an easy way to clean it out below in our handy fixes section…
#4 Software. Software. Software.
We can all get our heads around issues with hardware because it’s relatively straightforward to swap bits in and out, cross reference as you go, and determine where the fault lies. Where so many of us hit a stumbling block is when it comes to software.
Something you may not be aware of is that when you plug in your iPhone, it runs a piece of software that decides whether it should start charging. With all manner of software and app updates bombarding your iPhone night and day it wouldn’t be too surprising if it needed the occasional reset to knock itself out of its unintended confused state.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the fixes that are on offer when your iPhone won’t charge…
The Fixes for When Your iPhone Won’t Charge
Fix 1: The hard reset
This first fix may sound a little bit daunting and technically demanding but don’t worry. Fortunately, as with almost everything they do Apple has made this easy and straightforward.
We mentioned above that the software is what actually allows your iPhone to begin receiving a charge. That may sound like an over-engineered feature, but it prevents your iPhone being overcharged and the resulting damage to the battery that this would cause.
Nine times out of 10 when you approach the Genius Bar with your seemingly dead iPhone, they’ll perform a hard reset that brings it back to life right then and there.
Fortunately doing one yourself at home is super simple. All you need to do is hold down the power button until you see the Apple logo display on your screen; everything else should be black. (Please note if you have the iPhone 8 or later you’ll need to quickly toggle the volume up and then down before engaging the power button.)
After a couple of minutes, your iPhone will boot back up and ask you to enter your passcode to resume normal operation. That is precisely the same as selecting ‘Shutdown’ on your old desktop PC. It gives your iPhone a little break; this enables it to process any loose ends from updates and hanging operations.
If your iPhone won’t charge, then this simple trick should be your first port of call.
Fix 2: The lightning cable
We mentioned a little bit earlier about why apparently cosmetic damage to your lightning cable can result in all manner of charging difficulties.
On the face of it, the only solution here is to buy a new lightning cable and hope for the best. But when you investigate your options a little further, there are many more avenues open to you than may first appear.
The first thing to say is that you need to swap lightning cables and see if the charging issues go away. If they do, then you know where the fault lies. Rather than paying out for a new cable from Apple why not borrow one from a friend or family member for a quick test? Straight away this will save you the price of a cable and the time it takes for it to arrive.
Remember Your Warranty!
Next, you want to figure out why it has failed. If it is obvious from the cosmetic appearance of the cable that it has been roughly handled, then you will have little option but to consider buying a replacement cable. If however there is no apparent physical damage but the issue goes away when using your friend’s cable then Apple Support should be your next port of call.
If your iPhone is still under warranty, then it’s important to know that this doesn’t just cover the handset. No, it actually covers everything in the box! If your cable is under warranty and it’s not your fault that it has failed, Apple will likely replace it free of charge.
If however, you’re out of warranty there are a number of replacement options to consider. Apple branded cables tend to be the most expensive, but they’re also amongst the very best. Don’t be put off by the fact that your one just failed and opt for a substandard $5 cable. They tend to be cheaper for a very good reason, and you may well end up buying another replacement before you know it. If in doubt, stick with official products.
Fix 3: Let’s focus on your charger
We mentioned earlier that you can check your wall socket by seeing if it will charge a separate device which uses a different charger. The next question then is how do you tell if the charger itself is the issue.
Just to be clear, the charger we’re talking about here is the large wall plug that your lightning cable connects to using a USB connector. If you find that it will work sporadically when you move the USB connector around, then it is likely that the USB socket is damaged and you will need to purchase a new charger.
There is also the potential for the USB connector on the cable itself to be the cause of the charging issues. A simple way to rule this in or out is to connect it directly to the USB socket on your PC or laptop. If it starts charging and your iPhone displays as a recognized device that’s trying to communicate with your computer, then you can be sure that the issue lies with the USB socket on your charger.
As with coming to replace the lightning cable, it’s important to be aware of the drawbacks of a number of the cheaper options on the market. By all means, shop around for something that isn’t Apple if you’re annoyed that it has just failed on you. However, don’t necessarily go for the cheapest option on the market.
Read the reviews, ask on tech forums, and make an informed choice so that you end up spending your hard earned money on something that will stand the test of time.
And one last thing…Don’t forget to double check whether you’re still under warranty! If you are, then there’s every possibility that Apple will give you a like-for-like replacement free of charge!
Fix 4: Can’t charge battery…could it be the battery?!
If you’ve worked through our first 3-fixes and you’re still not up and running, you may start to think that your iPhone won’t charge because the battery has died. If you go to a third party phone repair store and they can’t get your iPhone operational with the hard reset we talked through in Fix-1, then there’s every chance they’ll try to charge you a large sum of money to investigate the battery.
What’s important to know here is that Apple’s batteries are incredibly robust and are very rarely the source of the problem. Also, turn your iPhone over and take a look at the back. There’s no simple way to slide the case off and access the battery like there was with the old style Nokia phones. That means that not only is the operation potentially quite costly; there’s also a lot that can go wrong.
Our advice here is to ignore talk of having the battery replaced or examined by a third party seller, and only suggest it as a last resort when you come to deal with Apple in person.
Fix 5: Get cleaning
A quick and simple solution that you should certainly try is to clean out your iPhone’s power socket. Remember how we said it could become stuffed full of all sorts of dust and fluff? Well, now you can show your device a little TLC and get it back to working and charging as it should!
The key here is not to use anything abrasive or any form of liquid. It may be tempting to go in there with the tip of your keys or a hair clip. Unfortunately, if you do the metal will merely scratch the delicate contacts inside the socket and cause you further charging issues.
As strange as it sounds, a toothbrush works as good as anything. Make sure it is new out of the packet so that you avoid the risk of water and moisture damaging the internal working of your device.
Visibility is Key
If this is indeed the source of your issues, you’ll be amazed at how much debris you end up removing. Remember that if you’ve had multiple attempts at charging it, then a significant amount of the fluff will be compacted near the bottom of the socket. Stand under a light and be patient; the sight of your iPhone charging just like it did the first time you took it out of the box will be well worth the wait!
Fix 6: The factory reset
Seen as a last-ditch option for many, this requires you to back up all of your iPhone’s data elsewhere before proceeding. The factory reset will wipe your iPhone right back to its first run settings. As such, you will have a phone that is identical in terms of its software, as the first day you took it out of the box.
While this approach has been known to solve a number of more exotic software bugs that prevent your iPhone from charging, I would exercise caution before proceeding.
If you have AppleCare+ (Apple’s own rolling maintenance and protection program), then I would suggest consulting with them directly before proceeding. That way if there’s something they can do to help you (sometimes they’ll even replace your iPhone right then and there,) then you’re saving yourself some headaches if something goes awry while wiping your device.
Backing up your photos and other data is critical here. If you have an iMac or MacBook, then the process is particularly simple as all you need to do is plug in your iPhone using your lightning cable and follow the import options in iTunes. Follow every step, and you’ll have the peace of mind that no matter what happens to your phone, you still have everything from it safe and sound somewhere else.
The factory rest options can be found under Settings > General > Reset. You’ll sometimes be asked whether you want to proceed which is handy as it makes it impossible to wipe your phone by mistake. Once complete it will operate as a brand new iPhone and greet you with the rather charming ‘Hello’ screen.
If you’ve tried everything on this list, then you’ve tried all of the common (and a number of not so common!) fixes and solutions to iPhones that no longer want to charge. It can be frustrating, but as with everything tech-related, there’ll be a reason why it’s happening.
I hope you’ve found this rundown useful and that you now have a clear idea of not only what fixed your iPhone, but why it worked!
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