Why Isn’t My iPhone Charging?

IPhone does not load icon and screen

You plug in your iPhone or put it on a wireless charger to charge the battery, come back later, and it hasn’t charged. What happened? Many things can go wrong. Let’s take a look at some of the most common charging issues on iPhone and what you can do about it.

General troubleshooting advice

Apple Lightning to USB cable

One of the most basic troubleshooting techniques is called “swapping with known good parts.” Take an accessory that you think will not work and replace it in your configuration with an identical part that is new or already known to work.

Do you have a loading problem? Replace your old cable with a new one. If the charging process works with the new cable, the problem was the old cable.

You can reproduce the process with all the components of the configuration, including the iPhone itself (borrow a friend’s iPhone and see if it recharges using your charger) and whatever the USB power source you are using. Try another wall adapter, USB hub, computer USB port, or a different outlet.

Beyond this basic technique, here is a more in-depth look at some of the other things you can try.

Restart your iPhone

Apple iPhone software is sometimes confused about charging operations due to programming errors or bugs. Sometimes this software freezes and does not work properly. The best way to temporarily resolve this issue is to restart your phone.

On iPhone X or iPhone 11, press and hold the side button and one of the volume rocker buttons at the same time until the “Slide to Power Off” screen appears. Release the buttons and slide your finger across the screen to turn off the phone.

On iPhone 8 or earlier, press and hold the side button until the “Slide to Power Off” screen appears. Release the side button and slide your finger across the screen to turn off the phone.

On iPhone SE, 5 or earlier, press and hold the top button until the “Slide to Power Off” screen appears. Release the button and slide your finger across the screen to turn off the phone.

Apple iOS slide to turn off

Once the screen goes black, press and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo in the middle of the screen.

Once the phone has finished booting, try to charge the phone and see if it works.

After rebooting, it’s a good idea to see if there are any updates available for your IPhone operating system (called iOS) which could solve the charging problem. To do this, see the step below.

Update your iPhone OS

The software that controls the charge on your iPhone may contain errors. Sometimes Apple detects these errors and fixes them with updates.

There is a catch: your iPhone battery must be at 60% or more for the update. Apple demands it because if your battery dies during the update, it can ruin your phone.

If you agree on battery life, here’s how to update your iPhone: go to Settings> General> Software Update to see if an iOS software update is available. If so, update, wait for the phone to restart, and then try to charge the phone again.

Screenshot of iOS update to 13.1.2

Check your Lightning cable

If restarting and updating your phone hasn’t helped, it’s time to start looking for potential hardware problems.

Apple has a special brand name for the charging connector at the bottom of the iPhone: Lightning. Take a look at your Lightning to USB charging cable at both ends.

Are the cable connectors frayed or broken?
Are there exposed wires coming out of the plastic insulation anywhere along the cable?
Is the cable bent or bent at an acute angle?
Frayed Apple Lightning CableBenj Edwards

If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, recycle broken cable with other electronic waste and buy a new one.

When the wires inside the Lightning cable break, it interrupts the charging circuit and will prevent the iPhone from charging properly. This is a common problem with Lightning charging cables made by Apple, which are made of a flexible type of rubberized plastic that breaks over time.

Also look at the gold contacts on the Lightning connector on the cable. Are they dirty or discolored? If so, you can rub a common pencil eraser over them to clean up the debris. The eraser is sufficiently abrasive to remove dirt without damaging the metal contacts. Be sure to clean any piece of eraser before inserting the connector into an iPhone for testing.

Dirty Apple Lightning connectorBenj Edwards

Check your iPhone’s Lightning connector

Lint and pocket dust often accumulate in the Lightning port on the bottom of an iPhone during daily use, especially if the phone is frequently stored in a pants pocket. Lint builds up and physically prevents the Lightning cable from fully inserting and making a solid connection.

Photo of an iPhone with a Lightning portApple Inc.

It is possible to remove the fluff from the Lightning connector of your iPhone with a small non-metallic object such as a wooden or plastic toothpick. This technique works well, but it is somewhat risky and could eventually damage the small connector pins inside the iPhone. If you’re worried, take the iPhone to an Apple Store for repair.

Do not spray compressed air into the Lightning connector to remove lint. It will push dust and lint further into the phone. Blowing dust into the phone could trap it in the camera and create blurry photos.

Check your charging adapter or USB power source

IPhone and iPad chargers

IPhones need a certain amount of energy from a USB source to charge in a reasonable amount of time (a few hours). The most reliable power source is the wall adapter supplied by Apple.

To become more technical, an iPhone charger must provide at least 1 amp (“A” or “Amps” for short) of current to effectively charge an iPhone. Many USB ports on older computers, keyboards, hubs, or chargers don’t provide enough current (many provide 0.5 A or less, also called 500 mA), so iPhones connected to these sources will charge very slowly. If the iPhone screen is on or the iPhone is in use while connected to one of these low current sources, it may not be providing enough power to charge the drums.

The charger included with an iPad works well for charging an iPhone – in fact, it will even charge an iPhone faster than the original Apple iPhone charger. This is because the iPad wall adapter produces 2.1 amps of current, which is higher than most iPhone chargers. The electronics inside the iPhone know how to handle the extra power, so in general, users don’t have to worry about overcharging the iPhone from a USB power source.

Check your wireless charging device

Every iPhone since 2017 (including iPhone 8 and iPhone X) supports wireless charging. To use wireless charging, you must have a special wireless charging stand or surface designed to work with the Qi wireless charging standard.

This can be a great temporary workaround for charging your iPhone if you’re having trouble charging with a Lightning cable and have a wireless charging device.

Photo of an Otterbox wireless iPhone chargerApple Inc.

To charge properly with a wireless cradle or base, your iPhone must be centered in the middle of the charging area, which may vary depending on the device.

If wireless charging does not work, try charging it with a USB to Lightning cable (see sections above) or with another wireless charger.

If all else fails

If none of the above tips help, it’s time to Contact Apple Support or make an appointment for technical support in an Apple Store. Good luck – I hope you understand.

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