You plug your iPhone into the wall or your computer, and your iPhone won’t charge. When an iPhone isn’t charging, there’s a problem with one of the four things involved with charging your iPhone:
- The wall adapter or power source
- The Lightning cable (the USB cable that charges your iPhone)
- The charging port on the bottom of your iPhone
- Your iPhone’s software
In this article, I’ll start by clearing up some very important misinformation about what causes iPhone not to charge and show you how to diagnose and fix the reason why your iPhone won’t charge.
Table Of Contents: How To Fix An iPhone That Won’t Charge
What You Need To Know: If My iPhone Won’t Charge, Do I Need A New Battery? No!
I’ve seen plenty of misinformation on other websites about how handle an iPhone that won’t charge. One article recommends replacing your iPhone’s battery if it won’t charge, and as a former Apple technician, I can tell you that this is absolutely incorrect advice. Here’s why:
Most of the time, it’s your iPhone’s software — not hardware — that’s preventing your iPhone from charging! I’ll show you how to find out in step 1.
When you plug your iPhone into a power source, you’re not hooking it up directly to the battery. Think about it — you’re connecting a cable to a port on the bottom of your iPhone, and even the charging port isn’t directly connected to the battery. When you plug in your iPhone, its software decides whether or not to charge the battery.
If your iPhone won’t charge, replacing the battery inside of your iPhone will most likely have zero effect! If there is a hardware problem that is causing your iPhone battery to not charge, it is much more likely that the problem is with your charging port, not the iPhone battery itself.
First, We Need To Determine Whether Your iPhone Won’t Charge Because Of A Simple Software Problem
A all-too-common Genius Bar appointment went like this: A customer would bring in their iPhone and explain that they have been trying to charge their iPhone all night but that their phone was still dead. They plugged their iPhone into the wall, into their car, switched out cables, but their iPhone’s screen was still black. “See?”, they’d say. “My iPhone won’t charge!” Let’s get to the fixes:
iPhone Won’t Charge? Here’s The Fix!
Hard Reset Your iPhone
The customer would hand me their iPhone and I’d do the first thing every Apple tech does — a hard reset. To hard reset your iPhone, press and hold the power button and the volume down button together (iPhone 7 and newer) or the power button and the Home button together (iPhone 6S and older) for what may seem like a long time — sometimes up to 20 seconds. Keep holding until the Apple logo appears on your iPhone’s screen, and then let go.
If that doesn’t work, don’t worry! We’ll talk about the hardware fixes in the next step, but first, let’s learn what really happened to our customer in the Apple Store.
So What Really Happened At The Genius Bar?
Even though it looked like the customer’s iPhone wouldn’t charge, what actually happened is that their iPhone’s software had crashed in the background when the screen was off. In other words, their iPhone wouldn’t charge because the phone was still on!
Remember, it’s your iPhone’s software that recognizes that it’s connected to power and the software that begins the charging process. If you’ve determined that it’s not a software problem on your iPhone, it’s time to dive into the hardware fixes. Here we go:
Check Your Lightning Cable For Damage
Take a very close look at both ends of the USB cable you use to charge your iPhone. Apple’s lightning cables are prone to fraying, especially at the end that connects to your iPhone. If you see visible signs of wear, it might be time for a new cable.
How can I tell whether my lightning cable is the reason why my iPhone won’t charge?
If there is no visible damage to the outside of the cable, try plugging your iPhone into a USB port on your computer to charge instead of using the wall adapter that came with your iPhone. If you already charge your iPhone using your computer, try using the wall adapter. If it works in one place and not the other, your cable isn’t the issue.
This might seem obvious, but sometimes the best way to determine whether you have a “bad cable” is to try charging your iPhone using a friend’s cable. If your iPhone suddenly springs back to life after you plug it in, you’ve identified the reason why your iPhone won’t charge — a faulty cable.
Don’t forget about your iPhone’s warranty!
If your iPhone is still under warranty, the USB cable (and everything else in the iPhone box) is covered under your iPhone’s warranty too! Apple will replace your lightning cable for free as long as it hasn’t been destroyed.
You can set up a return online at getsupport.apple.com or call your local Apple Store to make an appointment with the Genius Bar. If you decide to go to the Apple Store, it’s always a good idea to have an appointment at the Genius Bar before you go in so you don’t have to wait in line.
The problem with non-Apple cables
One of the most common reasons why an iPhone won’t charge comes from low-quality 3rd-party iPhone charger cables that people buy in gas stations. Yes, Apple cables are expensive, but in my experience, those $5 knockoffs never hold up like the real thing. There are good ones out there — you just have to know which ones to choose.
High quality, less-expensive cables do exist!
If you’re looking for a high-quality replacement iPhone charging cable at less than half the cost of Apple’s, my favorite is this high-quality, less-expensive 6-foot lightning cable made by Amazon as part of their AmazonBasics product line. I love it because it’s long enough for me to be able to use my iPhone in bed.
Try A Different iPhone Charger
Do you charge your iPhone by plugging it into the wall, using a car charger, in a speaker dock, in your laptop, or some other way? There are a lot of different ways to charge an iPhone.
Remember that it’s your iPhone software that says ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to charging when your iPhone connects to an accessory. If the software detects power fluctuations, it will prevent your iPhone from charging as a protective measure.
How can I tell whether my charger is the reason why my iPhone won’t charge?
Just like we did when we inspected your USB cable, the simplest way to find out whether your charger is bad is to try another one — but make sure you try more than one because chargers can be very finicky.
If your iPhone won’t charge with the wall adapter, try plugging it into a USB port on your computer. If it won’t charge in the computer, try plugging it into the wall — or try a different USB port on the computer. If your iPhone charges with one adapter and not the other, then your charger is the problem.
Hint: If you’re trying to charge using an Apple keyboard or USB hub, try plugging your iPhone directly into one of your computer’s USB ports to charge your iPhone. USB hubs (and keyboards) have a limited supply of power that is shared across all of the devices that are plugged into them, and I have personally seen issues where iPhones won’t charge because there isn’t enough power to go around.
Brush The Gunk Out Of Your iPhone’s Charging Port
Use a flashlight and take a close look at the charging port in the bottom of your iPhone. If you see any debris or gunk in there, it might be preventing the lightning cable from making a solid connection to your iPhone. There are lots of connectors down there (the lightning cable has 9), and if the wrong one is blocked off, your iPhone won’t charge at all.
If you find lint, gunk, or other debris in the charging port of your iPhone, it’s time to brush it out. You need something that won’t conduct an electric charge or damage the electronics in the bottom of your iPhone. Here’s the trick:
Grab a toothbrush (one you’ve never used before) and gently brush out your iPhone’s charging port. When I was at Apple, we used fancy anti-static brushes to do this (which you can get on Amazon for next to nothing), but toothbrushes work just as well.
Dealing with liquid damage
One of the most common reasons why an iPhone won’t charge is liquid damage. Liquid damage can short out the connections in the charging port of your iPhone cause all sorts of problems with your iPhone. Even if you’ve dried out the port and brushed out the gunk, sometimes the damage has already been done.
Put Your iPhone Into DFU Mode And Restore
Even if your iPhone won’t charge, a DFU restore may still work! You’ve eliminated the possibility of a simple software problem and taken a look at your USB cable, charger, and the iPhone itself, so it’s time for a last-ditch effort — the DFU restore. A DFU restore is a special kind of restore (when you restore your iPhone, you erase everything on it and restore it to factory settings) that can solve severe software issues — if they exist.
Check out my article about how to DFU restore an iPhone to learn how to put your iPhone into DFU mode, and cross your fingers before you try. If you do need to get your iPhone repaired, I will say that as an Apple tech, even if an iPhone appeared to be damaged, this is the first thing I’d try because sometimes it works. If it doesn’t work, come back here to learn about some great repair options you may not be aware of.
Repair Your iPhone
If you go to an Apple Store to repair your iPhone and there has been liquid damage to your charging port, the only option they can offer is to replace your entire iPhone. If you don’t have AppleCare+, this can get expensive, fast. If you had pictures, videos, or other personal information on your iPhone and your iPhone won’t charge, Apple will say they’re gone forever. Fortunately, there are other options:
If you need to fix your iPhone today, CellSavers is a great, affordable, in-person repair service that will meet you at home or a location of your choice in as little as 30 minutes. They offer a lifetime warranty on parts and labor, and you only pay after the repair is completed. Another great option is iResq.com, a high-quality mail-in repair service that often costs a lot less than Apple.
Both services offer the option to repair your iPhone’s charging port and other small components, so there’s a chance you’ll be able to recover your data and save money too!
Your iPhone Is Charging Again
I hope your iPhone has suddenly sprung back to life and you’re on your way back to a full charge. It can be very frustrating when an iPhone won’t charge, especially if it happens without any warning. I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with fixing your iPhone and I’ll be around to help along the way.
All the best,