Apple's iPhone and iPad chargers quite often break or stop working - but then, they do take a battering over the years. From travel damage to constant plugging and unplugging, it's no surprise to find that iPhone, iPad and iPod chargers sometimes break.

What should you do if you've got a broken Apple charger? Well, you could just go to the Apple Store and buy a new charger or cable, but that costs money. (And more money than you might expect.)

So in this article we're going to talk about ways to be sure you really need to replace your Apple adapter before paying out for a new charger unit.

How to check if your charger is working

There are two parts to an iPhone, iPad, and iPod charger: the Apple Power Adapter (the plug bit) and the Lightning to USB cable (or 30-pin cable if you've got one of the older iOS devices with the larger, Dock-style cable). The adapter plugs into the wall, and the Lightning cable plugs into the adapter at one end and the iPad, iPhone or iPod at the other.

If everything is plugged in and nothing happens - i.e. the device doesn't start charging - there are a few things to test. Essentially you're going to try swapping out each part of the system, one at a time, to see which one is at fault.

  1. Is the wall socket faulty? Keep everything else the same but try using a different wall plug.
  2. Is the iPhone or iPad faulty? Try charging up another iOS device (or other compatible USB device) with the same cable, adapter and plug socket. If the device is the problem, check our guide to fixing an iPhone or iPad that won't charge.
  3. Is the cable faulty? You could try using a different cable if you've got one (but keeping the same device, adapter and plug socket). If not, you could instead use the same cable to plug your iPhone or iPad into your Mac (ie, remove the plug and adapter from the equation entirely). See if the Mac is able to see the device and sync with it - if it can, the cable is working.
  4. If you've not been able to confirm that the fault lies with the wall socket, the iPhone or iPad, or the cable, then it's pretty much guaranteed to be the power adapter - but if you're lucky enough to have a spare (or are able to borrow one from a friend) you can confirm this by keeping the same wall socket, cable and iOS device but using a different power adapter.

Following these steps should enable you to establish which element is at fault, and therefore which one needs to be fixed or replaced. In the rest of the article we will discuss steps to take if the cable or the power adapter are broken.

How to repair a broken cable

Unfortunately Apple's Lightning cables, and before them the older 30-pin connectors, do tend to fray and weaken at the point where the port meets the cable. It seems that the cable just gets twisted here, and over time the plastic coating wears out. In our case we twisted gaffer tape around the top to reinforce it.

If it's starting to weaken and wear away then a similar pre-emptive measure may help to ensure that it lasts a bit longer before giving way. But if you've got to the point where the cable stops working, more drastic measures may be required. 

It is possible to repair the wiring of a Lightning to USB cable if you're a dab hand with a soldering iron. This YouTube video by tech expert Abdul Moiz Farooq walks you through the process.

It's not a particularly easy process, however, and we'd be tempted to just pay the £19 to replace the Lightning to USB cable (you can spend an extra £10 and get the 2-metre version instead of 1-metre). If you're worried that it's just going to break again, we'd recommend looking at our round-up of the best Lightning cables for alternatives.

How to repair a broken Apple Power Adapter

If the adapter is at fault, you're probably better off buying a replacement. Unless you really know what you're doing, we do not advise you to open up and repair the Apple Power Adapter.

A new model is available from the Apple Store for £19. We advise you to get the Apple 12W USB Power Adapter (this is the model that ships with the iPad), as many recent iPhone models can use this to charge faster than the Apple 5W Power Adapter which ships with the iPhone.

It's largely impossible to repair the Apple USB Power Adapter without breaking the insides, because of the amount of glue in the (extremely compact) interior.