If your iPhone is plugged in but not charging, you may be in panic mode. You love your phone, you’re way too reliant on it, and you don’t want to spend some serious cash on a new iPhone 6s. And heaven forbid you resort to purchasing a non-iPhone.
Fear not. I’ll walk you through some of the common reasons why an iPhone won’t charge and offer solutions to these problems. Hopefully, your iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, or iPhone 6 will only require a simple fix, and you’ll soon be using your phone incessantly and ignoring the outside world.
How Do You Know if Your iPhone Is Charging?
When your device is plugged into a power source, look at the battery icon in the status bar. If the iPhone is charging properly, there should be a lightning bolt next to the battery icon.
If there’s not, there's definitely a problem and your iPhone won't charge.
In this guide, I'll explain the most common reasons why an iPhone won't charge and offer solutions to each of these issues. These suggestions apply to every supported model (i.e. iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6S), but may or may not work for earlier models. Follow my prescribed steps to help get your phone charging again.
Common Problem 1: Your Software Crashed
This is a common problem for why your iPhone won't charge, but luckily, it’s not a huge deal. In this situation, it looks like your iPhone isn’t charging, but the screen is just staying blank because your software has crashed.
How to Fix It
Just do a hard reset by holding the power button and home button together. Keep holding them until the Apple logo appears and your phone reboots.
At this point, you should be able to see your phone charging, and all will be well again.
Common Problem 2: Your Charging Port Is Dirty or Obstructed
Take a close look at where the cable connects to your phone. If you want to take a really good look, use a flashlight. The port may be clogged with dust, lint, or other debris. Even something very small can prevent your cable from making a solid connection to your iPhone, thus causing your iPhone not charging problem.
Also, this is less common, but make sure there’s no debris on the plug of the cable where it connects to the port.
How to Fix It
Use a toothbrush (preferably not one you’re going to use in your mouth) to gently brush out the port. Toothbrushes work well because the bristles don’t conduct electricity. You can also purchase one of these special brushes to do the trick.
Once you’re done cleaning out the port, try charging again. Cross your fingers that you’ve fixed the problem and sanity has been restored.
Common Problem 3: Your Cable Is Busted
Inspect your cable thoroughly at both ends. Lightning cables (for iPhone 5 through 6s) and 30-pin connector cables (for iPhone 4S or earlier), are prone to fraying or getting torn. This is especially common if you get a low quality cable. If you get a super cheap non-Apple cable at a store or online, don’t be surprised if it’s not especially durable and makes your iPhone not charge.
To check to see if the problem is with your cable or charger, try using a different one, if you have one available. Or if you have another working iPhone on hand, see if your charger will work with a different phone.
How to Fix It
If your charger is broken, you’re going to need to replace the cable. If your iPhone is still under warranty, Apple may replace your cable free of charge. Set up an appointment at your local Genius Bar, or you can try to set up your cable exchange online.
If you need to purchase a new cable, here are certified 3-foot and 6-foot options. If you have an iPhone 4S or earlier model, check out this certified 30-pin connector cable.
Common Problem 4: Your Power Source Is No Good
There are many different ways to charge an iPhone: you can plug it into the wall, a car charger, laptop, or a speaker dock. There may be a problem in the wall outlet you’re using, or perhaps the USB port on your computer is the issue. Your iPhone won't charge if your power source is busted.
How to Fix It
Simply change the outlet or port your phone is plugged into. If this is the problem, you shouldn’t have any issues once you change your power source.
As an added bonus, if you move from a USB port to a wall outlet, your phone will usually charge faster. Not only will you no longer have an iPhone not charging problem, you'll super charge your phone!
Common Problem 5: Your Phone Was Damaged
If your iPhone has been severely damaged, it probably won’t charge. Maybe the hardware was damaged when you dropped your phone while you were running. Or perhaps your charging port sustained liquid damage when you dropped your phone in the sink.
How to Fix It
Well, there aren’t a ton of options other than replacing your phone if this is the problem for your iPhone not charging.
If you dropped your phone in water, you can try immediately drying the phone, removing the case, and placing the phone in a sealed bag of rice for at least 36 hours. If it still isn't working when you remove it from the bag, I’m sad to say that your phone has probably perished.
One additional option other than replacing the phone is using an iPhone repair company, like iResQ, especially if all that’s damaged is the charging port. Typically, you have to mail them your phone, but if they can successfully fix it, you can recover your data and won’t have to purchase a new phone. Hooray!
Troubleshooting Your iPhone Not Charging
If your iPhone won't charge, go through the following steps to diagnose and rectify the problem.
#1: Is Your Phone Plugged in Properly?
Often, the issue is as simple as not plugging in your phone correctly. Your charger may not be fully inserted into a plug or charging port. Make sure that both ends of the charger are properly connected.
#2: Is the Charging Port Dirty?
Check to see if there's any debris in your charging port. If so, you can use a toothbrush to remove it. After you're done cleaning the port, try charging your iPhone again.
#3: Try Rebooting the Phone
Your software may have crashed, and you can fix this by doing a hard reset. Just hold the home button and the power button until the Apple logo appears. Problem solved.
#4: Connect to a Different Power Source
If the problem is with your power source, all you have to do is use a different one. Plug your phone into a different plug or USB port.
#5: Is Your Cable Broken?
If you have an additional cable, try to charge your phone with it. If the new cable works, you've identified that the first cable is broken.
If you have an extra phone that charges with the original cable, you know the charger isn't the problem.
If you have a broken cable, it will have to be replaced.
#6: Is Your Phone Damaged?
If none of the previous steps works, your phone may be damaged. If it is, you can try salvaging it by using an iPhone repair company, but it's possible that your phone has gone to iPhone heaven and can't be fixed.
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Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.