Your iPhone is plugged in, but it’s not charging. Why won’t the iPhone charge? Is the iPhone broken? Is it time to freak out? Probably not, in fact there are some really common reasons an iPhone won’t charge, and most of the time it has nothing to do with the iPhone itself (unless it was damaged, but more on that in a moment).
How to Check if Your iPhone is Not Charging
First things first, how do you definitively know if an iPhone is charging the battery or not? When the device is plugged into a power source, look in the status bar for the battery icon. If there is a lightning bolt next to the battery icon, the iPhone is charging.
iPhone battery charging indicator
If the iPhone is plugged in and it’s not charging the battery whatsoever, and there is no lightning bolt next to the battery icon, read on for the likely reasons and how to fix it.
1: Check the iPhone Charging Port for Debris, Lint, Obstructions
One of the primary reasons an iPhone won’t charge is remarkably simple; the port on the iPhone is clogged with dust, debris, pocket lint, or some other obstruction. Something quite small can easily prevent a charging cable from fitting properly into the iPhone, so the very first thing you should do is check the charging port on the iPhone and look for any crud or build-up in there. See some lint or some other wad of gremlin or crud? Get it out of there, preferably with something like a Q-Tip, toothpick, or a dry toothbrush. If you have a can of air, blowing it in there can help too.
Check the port if iPhone is not charging
Once the charging port is cleared out, try charging it again. Seriously, junk in the port is common (that applies for Macs with MagSafe too) and it can prevent a device from syncing, charging, or getting any power at all. It probably works now, right? If not, keep reading.
1B: Wait, Check the Cables Plug End too!
Before moving beyond this one, be sure to check the plug end of the cable as well, sometimes it can accrue stuff on it that would prevent the connection from forming as well. Thanks to several commenters who pointed this out as a possible reason why a cable wouldn’t charge properly.
2: Change the Wall Outlet or USB Port Plugged Into
The next most common reason an iPhone won’t charge is because of where it’s actually plugged into. Sometimes the wall outlet itself isn’t working or the light switch is turned off, so if you’re using a wall charger then change the outlet.
If you’re charging the iPhone from a USB cable connected to a computer, sometimes the USB port on the computer itself is the problem. Try another USB port on the computer, PC or Mac doesn’t matter, that often fixes the issue too.
Oh, and another perk to using a wall outlet is that it usually charges the iPhone faster too. Sweet.
3: Check the USB Cable for Damage
Damage to the USB charging cable will prevent an iPhone from charging. This can be somewhat obvious in some situations, and if the cable is fraying or torn, well, there’s your problem. If your cable is damaged, you need a new USB cable to charge the iPhone, it’s that simple. Fortunately, you can get cheap Amazon Lightning USB cables that are certified and they work great and are quite durable.
* Another potential USB cable related issue that can make an iPhone not charge the battery are cheap knock-off cables that are low quality. You’ll usually encounter an error that the cable is not certified on the iPhone (or iPad) itself if this is what is causing the charging issue.
4: Reboot the iPhone
Rarely needed, but sometimes a simple reboot can resolve a software issue that basically refuses to acknowledge the device is charging. This is somewhat rare, but it can happen. So if you’ve tried all of the above and the iPhone battery is still not charging at all, force reboot the iPhone by holding down the Power button and Home button until you see the Apple logo, it may help.
5: The iPhone Was Damaged and Won’t Charge
If the iPhone has been severely damaged, it often won’t charge. Usually a simple screen crack won’t make a difference, but if the iPhone was run over by a dozen cars or fell out of a 50 story window, it’s probably toast and won’t charge because the hardware is damaged. Another very common reason for charging and power problems is water contact, or dropping an iPhone into liquid and not drying it out properly. If the iPhone has sustained excessive water damage and was not dried out properly and sufficiently, the iPhone battery is often destroyed, and other electrical components in the iPhone can also be damaged as well, which will completely prevent the iPhone from charging. Fortunately this is usually pretty easy to determine, because if your iPhone took a deep swim and it’s now not charging the battery, that’s almost certainly the reason why. Try drying it out for 72 hours or so in silica or rice, it could revive it, otherwise you may just need a new iPhone or hardware component to fix the problem. Often if an iPhone is physically damaged, either by blunt force or by liquid, the iPhone won’t even turn on or respond to normal fixes for that like leaving it plugged in for a while let alone charge when connected to a power source. If the iPhone is broken, well, you’ll need to take it in for service, or get a new one.
Those are the most common reasons an iPhone won’t charge when connected to a power source, so if the battery isn’t moving at all, you don’t see a charging indicator, and device isn’t working, try the above steps before going further. If you still encounter charging and power issues, it’s likely time to have an Apple Store or certified provider take a look at it.