Every iPhone or iPad owner uses a Lightning cable to charge their device on a near-daily basis. But sometimes, instead of the usual tone to confirm that charging has begun, your iPhone won’t charge.
After a few more tries plugging in the cable to no success, it’s time to look for a solution.
While being unable to charge your iOS device is definitely frustrating, you can take a number of different steps to help diagnose the issue and get everything back to normal. We’ll take a look at some of the best ways to solve the problem.
1. Force Restart Your Device
The first step you should take if your iOS device won’t charge is to do a force restart. This is is akin to pulling the plug and making the device start again. It’s also part of the process to enter recovery mode and reinstall iOS if necessary.
Depending on your device, there’s a specific way to force restart:
- With the iPhone 8/Plus or iPhone X: Press and quickly release the volume up button, then imediately do the same with the volume down button. Finally, hold the side button until you see the Apple logo.
- On the iPhone 7/Plus: Press and hold the side and volume down buttons until you see the Apple logo.
- For iPhone 6s and older users: Press and hold the home and lock buttons until the Apple logo appears.
After the restart completes, try charging with your Lightning cable again.
2. Use a Different Lightning Cable
Next, it’s time to take a closer look at your charging setup.
Make sure that your charging brick is firmly plugged into an electrical outlet. Then it’s time to examine the Lightning cable itself. The USB end of the cable must be completely inserted into the port of the charging brick or computer.
If all that checks out and you’re still not able to charge your device, try to find another charging brick and Lightning cable. Alternatively, if you charge using a USB port on your computer, switch to another port.
Apple’s official Lightning cable included with a new iPhone or iPad isn’t particularly well-made. It’s thus prone to a number of issues, including frayed ends that render the cable completely useless.
Replacing Apple’s Cable With a Third-Party Alternative
Even if you don’t have any current issue with Apple’s cable, it’s always a good idea to have a third-party Lighting cable replacement as a backup. Because Apple devices are so popular, other options offer unique features like a flat design that won’t twist or tangle.
Make sure that any third-party cable carries the MFi certified label. That designation is provided by Apple and lets you know that the cable shouldn’t cause any problems while charging your device.
It’s best to try a few different USB ports on your computer or charging bricks with the new cable. That’s also something you can try if your iPhone or iPad is charging more slowly than normal.
There’s another step to try if you have one of the newest iPhone models that support Qi wireless charging, like the iPhone X. If you have a wireless charger, try using that to juice up your device. If successful, that can help narrow down your issue to just the Lightning plug.
3. Clear Debris From the Lightning Port
If you’re still unable to charge your iPhone or iPad, flip your device over and take a look the Lightning port. Look for any debris, like pocket lint or other small bits of dirt or dust, in the port itself. If anything is visible, it’s time for a cleaning.
Most importantly, make sure you turn off the device’s power first. Try an old reliable staple—a cotton swab—and gently move it around the port to pick up any debris. Another option if you can see something still stuck in the port is to very gently use a toothpick to remove the obstruction.
Once nothing is visible, try charging your iPhone or iPad again.
4. Update iOS
A final step, if you have enough power remaining on your device, is to update iOS to the newest version available.
You can do this on an iPhone or iPad by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Making sure you’re running the newest version of iOS will help confirm there are no software issues causing the charging problem.
If All Else Fails…
After trying all these steps, it’s probably time to contact Apple about servicing your iPhone or iPad. Before doing that, make sure to check the warranty status of your device online.
Hopefully your device is under the standard one-year warranty, or still covered by AppleCare. There’s a good chance you’ll have little or no out-of-pocket cost for Apple to repair your device in this case.
You can then contact Apple Support online to start the repair process. You may need to send in your device. If you live near an Apple Store location, it may be quicker to make an appointment at a Genius Bar.
For older devices that aren’t covered by Apple’s warranty, another option is to look for a well-rated third-party repair center near you. Many times they can repair the charging issue for substantially less than going through Apple.
Hopefully, one of these steps can cure the problem and get your iPhone or iPad back to charging normally.
If you want to learn more about the technology powering your iPhone and pick up extra tips, make sure to take a look at our comprehensive iPhone battery guide.