Sometimes iPhones and iPads simply refuse to charge up. If this has happened to you, a quick glance at Apple forums will show that you are far from alone.

Symptoms vary. In our experience, putting in the Lightning cable and attaching a charging plug often leads to a symphony of buzzing, but very little charging: it takes constant tweaking and balancing to get any charge at all. At others times nothing happens whatsoever, or it just feels like the cable doesn't work. So what gives? Read next: Complete guide to ports on Macs, iPhones and iPads

In this article we outline what you can do if your iPhone or iPad just won't charge, including the official advice from Apple, troubleshooting tips and a couple of temporary fixes we've found, and advice on how to get your device repaired if none of the fixes work. (See also: How to charge your iPhone (or iPad) faster.)

Troubleshooting tips

  • Obvious stuff first: make sure the cables and adaptors are all plugged in firmly and the power outlet is working.
  • If you're connecting to a computer, make sure that it is on (and that it can charge your device).
  • Unplug your device and check the Lightning port for debris. Give it a quick blow or use a compressed air blower.
  • One at a time, try using a different cable, power adapter and USB port to see if you can isolate the problem. (We talk about how to test each component of the charging system in a separate article: How to fix a broken iPhone or iPad or iPod charger, and when you're safer just buying a new one.)
  • If everything seems to be working, reconnect your device and wait for 30 minutes. If your device still doesn't charge, try to restart it while it's connected to power. If you can't restart, reset your device. You may then see an alert when you plug in your device, such as "This accessory is not supported by this device". In which case you know the problem is the charging equipment.
  • Your next step is to get in touch with Apple support.

How to fix an iPhone or iPad that won't charge its battery: Lightning port

Temporary fixes

But before we get to that stage - or while you wait for Apple support to provide a long-term solution - you may wish to try these short-term tips. They won't address underlying causes, but we've found that they can help to get a faulty iPhone to charge up.

  • Try gently balancing the phone on the connector while it charges. You have to be careful, because the charging cable is prone to snapping off when two much pressure is placed on it. But it does at least feel that it helps to place enough pressure on to the Lightning connector so that it is forced into the phone helps.
  • Weirdly, we have also found that using an old 30-pin iPhone cable with a Lightning adaptor works better than a standard Lightning cable.

This is not official advice, just our experience. And as with all hardware issues, it is unlikely to improve with time. You really need to get this problem solved. Read next: How to improve iPhone and iPad battery life

How to fix an iPhone or iPad that won't charge its battery: iPhone 7

Get Apple to fix the Lighting port

Trouble is, most of the initial support will follow the steps outlined above. Very quickly when you go into the - helpful - Apple online support program, you will be asked to send or take in your iPhone or iPad for a service. This is all to the good, but out of warranty we have heard of people being charged £200 for a repair for this problem.

Ideally at this stage your insurance will kick in. If you have bespoke phone insurance, or even a good quality of home and contents insurance, you may be able to claim the repair through your insurance.

If you're on a contract, it may be that your network provider will foot the cost of repair or replacement, even if it means signing up for a longer period. If not, you need to balance the cost of repair against the cost of a new phone. This isn't good news, but at £200 for repair you're probably better off buying a new handset. See also: Charging safety: Are cheap, non-Apple iPhone chargers safe?