When an iPhone won’t charge, it’s a big deal. I’m a former Apple employee, and during my time in the Apple Store, fixing iPhone charging problems was a big part of my daily work. The good news is that the majority of iPhone charging problems can be fixed at home. In this article, I’ll show you how to fix an iPhone that won’t charge, step-by-step.
Table Of Contents
Know This Before You Begin
One of the most common questions Apple techs receive when an iPhone won’t charge is this: “If my iPhone won’t charge, do I need a new battery?”
In spite of what you’ll read on many websites, the answer to this question is no! There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to write this article.
As a former Apple tech with experience working with hundreds of iPhones that wouldn’t charge, I can tell you that replacing a battery is the absolute wrong thing to do.
The truth is that most of the time, it’s your iPhone’s software — not hardware — that’s preventing your iPhone from charging. If your iPhone won’t charge, 99% of the time, replacing the battery will have zero effect!
And, if there is a hardware problem, it’s much more likely that the issue is with the charging port itself — but we’re not there yet.
If you’d rather watch than read, our YouTube video will walk you through the fixes.
Wireless Charging: A Temporary Fix
While you work on fixing your iPhone, you may still be able to charge it wirelessly. Every iPhone since the iPhone 8 supports wireless charging with Qi-certified chargers. Place your iPhone on the center of a Qi wireless charger and see if starts charging.
If it does — that’s great! However, we still need to address the problem preventing your iPhone from charging with a wired connection.
If your iPhone won’t charge wirelessly either, follow the step-by-step guide below, or check out our other article on how to fix wireless charging problems.
How To Fix An iPhone That Won’t Charge
1. Hard Reset Your iPhone
Sometimes the solution is as simple as hard resetting your iPhone. That’s the first thing an Apple tech would do in the Apple Store, and it’s easy to do at home. Here’s how:
How To Hard Reset Your iPhone
|Phone||How To Hard Reset|
|iPhone 6S, SE, and older models||Press and hold the power button and the Home button together until the Apple logo appears on the screen, and then let go.|
|iPhone 7 and 7 Plus||Press and hold the power button and the volume down button together until the Apple logo appears on the screen, and then let go.|
|iPhone 8 & Newer||There are three steps: 1. Quickly press and release the volume up button. 2. Quickly press and release the volume down button. 3. Press and hold the power button (called the “side button” on iPhones with Face ID) until the Apple logo appears on the display, and then let go.|
Apple tech tip: The #1 mistake people make while trying to hard reset their iPhone is that they don’t hold the buttons down for long enough. On iPhone 8 or newer, however, make sure you are pressing the first two buttons very quickly and holding the power button down for a long time. Sometimes the process can take 20 seconds or more!
If that doesn’t work, don’t worry! We’ll dive into the hardware fixes in the next step.
2. 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! Apple will replace your lightning cable for free, as long as it’s in decent shape.
You can set up a return on Apple’s support website 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 make an appointment at the Genius Bar before you go in. That way, you won’t have to wait in line — at least not for long.
3rd-party cables can charge iPhone charging problems
One of the most common reasons why an iPhone won’t charge comes from low-quality, third-party iPhone charging 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.
If you’re looking for a high-quality replacement iPhone charging cable that’s more durable than Apple’s, check out our favorites on Amazon. These aren’t cheap gas station cables that are going to break in a week. I love the 6-foot Lightning cable because it’s long enough for me to be able to use my iPhone in bed.
The important thing to look for is a Made For iPhone (MFi) label on the box. MFi is essentially Apple’s seal of approval — it’s an accessory that meets Apple’s software and hardware requirements.
If you plug a non-MFi charging cable into your iPhone, you may see a message that says, “This accessory may not be supported.”
3. 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?
We’ll do the same thing we did when we inspected your Lightning cable. The simplest way to find out whether your charger is bad is to try another one. 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.
There are high-quality fast chargers out there, but you have to be careful
If you need a new charger, check out the chargers we recommend using the same link as above (for the cable). The maximum Apple-approved amperage for iPhone chargers is 2.1 amps. Unlike many third-party chargers that can damage your iPhone, these ones will charge your iPhone quickly and safely.
(The iPad charger is 2.1A and Apple says it’s OK for iPhones.)
Tip: 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. All the devices plugged into USB hubs (and keyboards) share a limited supply of power. I have personally seen iPhone charging problems occur because there wasn’t enough power to go around.
4. 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.
5. 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. When I worked for Apple, this is the first thing I’d try, even when the phone appeared to be damaged. There’s a small chance that a DFU restore will bring a non-functional iPhone back to life.
If it doesn’t work, come back here to learn about fixing a hardware problem.
6. Repair Your iPhone
If you go to an Apple Store to repair your iPhone and there has been liquid or physical damage to phone, 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. Get in touch with an Apple representative and see what they can do. If all they can do is replace your iPhone, you may want to consider visiting a local mom and pop repair shop.
iPhone Charging Again!
I hope your iPhone has sprung back to life and you’re on your way back to a full charge. I’d love to hear from you about your experiences fixing the iPhone charging problem, and I’m here to help along the way.
Thank you! The hard set worked and I didn’t have to spend any more than 5 minutes worrying. 🙂
Thank you hugely! I tried several of your recommendations and the toothbrush one solved it. Indeed, peering into the iPhone charging port, it seemed that there was buildup of some kind, probably lint accumulated from carrying the iPhone in my pocket. At any rate, a good brush cleared up the problem, thank you!
I am very careful after paying for a new battery and having the plug replaced. Only charge on my desk. Only use a factory cable. Never gets bumped or tugged. The plug port is clean inside. I figured the aftermarket ones damaged it last time so I threw them away. Now, less than 3 years later the plug barely connects, been that way for months. I baby the phone and it’s bad again? I hate to spend $30 parts and labor for a new one again. Why can’t they make a solid pin type connector which would be durable. If… Read more »
I am on my third cable. I noticed when I was holding my phone while plugged in I got a bunch of little shocks from it. I am charging my phone on a pad at present but it gets very hot and does not fully charge. I paid over $20 for my cables so not the cheap gas station one. The last cable stopped working after 3 days. Why would it just stop working?
Cleaning the charging port with a TePe brush worked for me. Thank you.
Does the DFU resent erase the entire phone? That’s where I’m at.
Can you recommend more chargers? None of those are available.
Tooth pick worked a treat!
HI! ive been suffering with this problem for a while and it really helped me, i honestly got so worried
So helpful, thank you. Solved my problem with the hard reset.
My battery is completely flat on my 6S, and I’ve tried all the things except a DFU restore. I’ve noticed recently that the phone sometimes gets hot on the lower half. It wouldn’t recharge on any cable a few weeks ago, for several days, but suddenly started to recharge again, and I’ve no idea why. Anyhow, now it’s not showing any sign of life. We’re miles away from an Apple store, frustratingly. Any ideas, other than the DFU restore? Thanks.
My phone (8+) will charge but only if I turn it off. That’s very inconvenient as I cannot use it until it is charged. This is a new problem. Any ideas? Thanks so much.
The toothbrush trick did it! This was a lifesaver on a business trip. Thank you.
GREAT SITE!! Clear instructions and so solution-oriented. Thanks!
Mine had something in my phone so it wasn’t charging asked my son what should I do and he said you have a charging dock don’t you. Duh thank god for sons like mine