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It’s a problem many of us have experienced at some point – at the end of a long day your phone is on the brink of dying. You get home, plug it in and… nothing happens. That can be frustrating enough, but trying to diagnose the issue can be even more so. 

There are a few problems that could be occurring – your device could be refusing to charge altogether, or it could simply be charging really slowly; sometimes so slowly that it’s actually using power faster than it’s gaining it. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, we’ve come up with a few ways to diagnose your battery woes and to help you fix the problem.

Should I leave my phone plugged in overnight?

Download Ampere

Ampere is a really great tool for checking if your phone is charging and how much it’s charging. It essentially identifies how much current is being drawn in from your device when it charges. Because of this, not only is the app great for seeing if your phone is charging at all, but also for seeing which charging method is the best.

If the number in the app shows up green, the device is charging, but if it’s an orange minus number, then your device is using power. Try using the app after you’ve completed each of the steps below and seeing what changes occur.

Try a different power source

It’s totally possible that your phone or charger isn’t actually the problem at all, but rather the power outlet you’re trying to charge from. If you’re trying to charge from the wall, try another socket or charging straight from your computer. If you’re charging from a USB port on your computer, switch to another port or try using a wall adapter. If your device starts charging when you change power sources, you’ve found the problem and you may need to look into hiring an electrician or getting your computer fixed.

Check the charging cable

USB Type-C cable

There are two components you should check before you start restarting devices and trying to fix USB sockets – the wall adapter and the charging cable. The charging cable is by far the most common charging problem, which makes sense – they endure a lot of unwrapping and rewrapping, flexing, and people trying to plug them in at weird angles. All of these things can damage the cable. 

Chances are you have a few charging cables lying around, so try switching out the cable for another to see if that helps. If you don’t have another cable to test out, you may want to borrow one before moving on to a more drastic step. 

Check the wall adapter

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The other component to check before you start messing around with your phone is the wall adapter. This is particularly true if you’re using an adapter where the cable can be removed. It’s certainly possible that the USB port on the adapter could have broken.

Like with the cable, the easiest way to check if the adapter is at fault is to simply try charging with a new adapter. However, if you don’t have access to another adapter you can also try plugging in to your computer. If it charges with the same phone and cable, chances are the adapter is at fault (although you might want to try multiple electrical outlets too!).

Turn your phone off

If you’re playing a graphic-intensive game while trying to charge your phone, it’s possible that your phone is using power faster than gaining it, making it seem like it’s not actually charging. If you turn your phone off while it’s charging (or at least turn the screen off), there’s little chance that you could be using power too quickly. Even simply switching over to airplane mode could seriously speed up your charging time.

Check the USB socket

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Once the cable and adapter have been ruled out as issues, it’s time to move on to the more technical stuff. Often the issue is the small metal connector in the USB port, which may be slightly bent in a way that means it doesn’t make proper contact with the charging cable.

To fix this, switch your phone off, and remove the battery if you can. Then take a pin or something similar in size and straighten the small tab inside the USB port on your phone. Make sure you’re not too rough with this process – you could end up doing more damage than good. Then, put your battery back in, power on your device, and try charging again.

Another possible issue could be something inside the USB port, like pocket lint. Getting a can of compressed air and blasting whatever is in the USB port out of there should fix the issue if that is indeed the issue.

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Replace the battery

If you’ve gotten to a point where your battery is dying, it might be time to think of buying a new phone. If that’s not an option, then replacing the battery may help.

Sometimes faulty batteries are easy to diagnose as they’ll leak battery fluid or start to bulge a little. Of course most of today’s phones don’t have removable batteries, so unless you have one of the few models that do – say something like the LG V20 – you’ll probably have to actually take the phone to a repair shop to see if they can look into the whole battery replacement situation for you. 


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Update or roll back your OS

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Changes to the software running on your device can have a bigger effect on the battery life than you might think. While newer versions of Android are generally optimized to save on battery life, phones that are a little older sometimes can’t deal with the new software and how it handles battery life.

If you find that the charging issue started around the same time as a software update, you may need to roll back to an older version of Android — although keep in mind that installing the latest operating system always keeps your device more secure. There are plenty of guides out there to help you roll back on your version of Android, and you may need some technical know-how.

Alternatively, if you’re running an older version of Android, it’s worth upgrading to see if that helps with the charging issues.

Have you tried any of these methods? Do you have any other suggestions that might help? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comments below!