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Is your iPhone not charging? Here's what to do

Pro tip — if there's smoke coming out the phone, that's usually not a good sign.
By
July 18, 2022

If your iPhone isn’t charging when you plug it in, then you have a big problem. Hopefully, it is one on a small list of minor fixable things, but if you’re unlucky, it could be something as major and expensive as a faulty battery needing to be replaced by Apple. Here is that checklist of possibilities to work through if your iPhone refuses to juice up.

Read more: The best Apple iPhone chargers

QUICK ANSWER

If your iPhone isn't charging when you connect the charging cable, it could be anything from a faulty cable or plug, an outdated phone, or a blocked charging port. On the more serious end of the spectrum, your device could have a faulty battery or be able to die completely.


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Possible reasons for your iPhone not charging

Belkin BoostCharge 15W Fast Wireless Charger Pad press image

Before we get into the solutions, let’s look at the possible reasons.

Your charging cable and/or plug are damaged

This is naturally the first thing that springs to mind when your iPhone is not charging. It could be a basic case of the cable having a split, or the cable having accumulated heat damage from the electricity flowing through it. The plug’s prongs could also be bent if you’re pushing the plug into the socket, or pulling it out, at the wrong angle. If you charge your phone often, cables and plugs tend not to have a very long shelf life.

There is a loose connection somewhere between the cable, plug, and plug socket

If the cable and/or plug are damaged somehow, then there could also be a loose connection somewhere. Perhaps the plug is not fitting snugly into the socket and is jiggling about. Or the Lightning cable is not attached properly to the plug. Whatever it is, this will mean that the electric charge is not getting through completely, or at all.

Your phone doesn’t support wireless charging

Wireless charging pads are very popular at the moment, but if you have an iPhone older than the 8 series, then it will be incompatible with a wireless charging pad. The charging pad would make a good drinks coaster, though (if you don’t plug it in, that is.)

The Lightning port on the iPhone has dust, debris, and other crud clogging it

If you’re in the habit of putting your phone into your pocket, then it is common for dust, debris, skin, and other crud from the pocket to get stuck inside the iPhone’s charging port. When it gets clogged up, this is obviously going to affect the charge flow.

Optimized Battery Charging stops the charging at 80%

When Apple brought out iOS 13, they introduced something called Optimized Battery Charging. This is designed to increase the lifespan of the phone battery by stopping the charge at 80% and then waiting for you to start using it. By understanding your daily usage routine, it learns when you need it the most and will charge past 80% during those times.

You’re charging a phone on a computer that is in sleep or hibernation mode

If you have connected your phone to a desktop computer to be charged, then it won’t do anything if that desktop computer is in sleep or hibernation mode. You go into the desktop computer’s settings and always have the display awake. The downside of this, of course, is that it is going to consume more power, having to constantly stay awake.

Your phone needs to be updated

If you have a phone running an old version of iOS, then that may be the reason for your iPhone not charging. A rather basic simplistic sounding reason, but often it can come down to something as easy as this.

Your phone needs to be repaired

If you’re really unlucky, then your battery is on the fritz, or another internal hardware program is stopping the charge from getting through. Apple can fix these issues, but if Lady Luck is not on your side, you may need to consider buying a new phone. That original 2007 iPhone may now have seen better days and needs to go up to smartphone heaven.

How to fix your iPhone not charging

Let’s now go on the offensive and give you some solutions to fixing your iPhone charging problem.

Check your cable and plug

Apple USB C to Lightning Cable

Take your Lightning charging cable and unwind it to full length. Now slowly run your fingers along the cable, checking for splits in the coating. Then check the charging sockets — is there any damage? Is anything burnt or deformed? Is the cable itself brown from electricity burning through it? These are all signs that the cable has been damaged and degraded, and needs to be replaced.

You can easily pick up a new cable from an Apple store or the Apple website. Apple endorses a couple of third-party options — namely Belkin and Mophie — but in general, try to avoid third-party cables. There have been documented instances in the past of cheap Asian knockoff cables causing iPhones to overheat, set on fire, and in some cases, explode.

Restart the phone

restart iphone

If your cable looks fine, then try restarting the iPhone and see if that nudges things along a bit. If you’re not in the habit of restarting your phone (and who is these days?), then a simple restart can often work wonders.

However, it goes without saying that if the battery is completely dead, then this isn’t an option. You shouldn’t even consider it if the battery is 5% or lower. You may not get it back on again.

Take it off the wireless charger and attach a Lightning cable

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Charging Lightning Cable
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Wireless charging pads are only for the iPhone 8 and above. So if you have an older iPhone, it isn’t going to work. Take it off the wireless pad and attach it to a wired Lightning cable. Even if you do have an iPhone 8 or older, trying a Lightning cable and plugging it into the wall socket is worth a go. Maybe the wireless charging pad is not working?

Clean the Lightning port on the iPhone

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Lightning Cable.jpg
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Put your hand into the pocket where you normally put your phone. Scrunch your hand up and bring it out again. What’s in your hand? Skin? Dust? Lint? Other debris? Now imagine that stuff getting into the charging port of your phone and getting stuck there. Then you’re sticking a charging cable in on top of that, pushing the crap in even further and completely blocking the hole altogether.

First, shake your iPhone and see if you can get any of it to simply fall out on its own. Then blow into the socket and try to get as much as you can out. You can also use a toothpick to probe around very gently and see if you can dislodge anything. Then get a can of compressed air and blast that socket to get the rest.

Then maybe wash your jeans?

Check the computer status if you’re charging from there

You can charge your iPhone from a desktop computer, but that computer needs to stay awake during the whole process. Once it goes to sleep or hibernation mode, then it shuts down the charging as well. That makes sense. It can’t sleep and charge at the same time.

macos battery

So you need to go into your desktop PC’s settings and disable sleep and hibernation mode. At least until the charging is finished. It’s not recommended to keep sleep and hibernation mode disabled permanently as this can damage your PC’s overall longevity. On a Mac, go to System Updates–>Battery–>Power Adaptor and slide the Turn display off after bar all the way to Never. Also, deselect Prevent your Mac from automatically sleeping when the display is off.

Check for iOS software updates

ios software update

This is a very easy one to check and an easy win. On the iPhone, go to Settings–>General–>Software Update. If there are any available system updates, install them immediately. These are not optional, and Apple doesn’t make them for fun. They’re there to protect you and keep your phone stable. Use them!

Reset and restore your iPhone

The last drastic option before making an appointment to see Apple is to completely erase the phone back to factory settings. It’s possible that a setting somewhere is messing with your phone, and you’re never going to find it unless you erase and reset the whole device.

You could theoretically install an iCloud backup onto the phone afterward, but one thing to think about is that you may very well be reinstalling the bug back onto the phone, putting you back at square one. So maybe consider abandoning your backups and starting the phone afresh? Obviously, back up things like your photos, videos, contacts, calendar, and emails first to an external source.

Take the phone to an Apple store for maintenance

Apple support

If all of the previous suggestions didn’t work, then you most likely have a hardware problem. This means going to an Apple store or licensed Apple repair shop to get the device looked at. They can crack open the iPhone, diagnose the issue, and, if necessary, change the battery. But they also very well also tell you that your device has reached the end of its life and you need to consider upgrading to a new iPhone model.


Read more: Apple iPhone 14 — everything we know so far

FAQs

There have been many documented cases in the past of third-party chargers causing the iPhone to catch fire and explode. For that reason, Apple recommends you buy an approved charger from the Apple.com website. As well as their own chargers, they also sell a few third-party alternatives, such as Belkin and Mophie.

Being a device with electricity flowing through it, it’s natural for the iPhone to get hot while it’s charging. But if it becomes too hot, then that is a sign of overheating, which can seriously damage the iPhone battery or even make it explode. Take it off the charger immediately.

Optimized Battery Charging is a feature introduced with iOS 13. Its purpose is to slow the rate your battery ages by reducing the time your iPhone spends fully charged. The phone tries to understand your daily charging routine, so it stops charging at 80% and then waits until you need your device before continuing to charge further.

Wireless charging only works with iPhone 8 and above. Anything older than iPhone 8 is not compatible.

Go to Settings–>General–>Software Update. Any available iOS updates can be found here.

It all depends on what iPhone model you have. iPhone 8 and above usually involves holding the volume down button and side button simultaneously until the restart option appears on-screen. When it does appear, swipe right on the slide to power off bar.

If your phone is under warranty, and the cause of the problem is not your fault, then you will likely not face a bill. If the phone is out of warranty and/or the problem is one of your own making, then you will likely be charged for any repairs. In that scenario, you would have to decide if the repair costs are justified.

To check your iPhone’s exact battery percentage, you can swipe down on the right side of the screen, or view battery percentage as a widget in the Control Center.