Sometimes an iPhone or iPad refuses to charge up its battery, even when plugged into a power source. You may find that the device buzzes and tells you it's charging, but the power level never increases; that it charges unreliably, requiring constant fiddling and balancing; that the Lightning cable feels loose and cannot sustain a proper connection; or that nothing happens whatsoever.
In this article we outline what you can do to fix an iPhone or iPad that 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 solutions work.
(If your device is charging, but you'd like to speed it up, have a look at How to fast-charge an iPhone instead. And if the battery doesn't last as long as you'd like even when fully charged, try How to improve iPhone battery life.)
- Obvious stuff first: make sure the cables and adapters are all plugged in firmly and the power outlet is working.
- If you're connecting to a computer, make sure it is on (and that it can charge your device). Try connecting to a different computer and see if that helps.
- 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 - and whether you're safer just buying a new one - in a separate article: How to fix a broken iPhone or iPad charger.)
- 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.
Before we get to the repairs 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. Just be careful, because the charging cable is prone to snapping off when too much pressure is placed on it.
- 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.
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.