Closeup of a person plugging a USB cord into a smartphone.

Is your iPhone or Android smartphone not charging when you plug it in? Worried it might be the end for your beloved gadget? Run through our checklist of troubleshooting tips to get to the bottom of the issue.

Check the Charging Port

Your smartphone’s charging port can quickly fill up with dust, lint, and other debris. If the contacts inside the port become obstructed, the smartphone may not be able to charge properly since it cannot complete the necessary circuit.

Take a flashlight and inspect the charging port closely. You can then use a pointy object like a wooden toothpick to clear out anything you find. Frequently plugging in a charging cable can cause the debris to become compacted, so you may need to repeat the process a few times to clean it out completely.

Cleaning an iPhone's Lightning port
Tim Brookes / How-To Geek

Using a metal object (like a paperclip or SIM tool) may damage the contacts inside the charging port, so be careful if you decide to go that route. A wooden toothpick is much safer since it won’t scratch the contacts (and damage any coating), but you’ll also have to be careful not to snap it inside the port.

You should also be vigilant for signs of damage inside the charging port. It can be hard to know what you’re looking for, but bent pins and corrosion should be pretty obvious.

RELATED: How to Clean Your iPhone's Charging Port

Try Another Cable or Adapter

If your charging port is clean and there are no obvious signs of damage, turn your attention instead to your charging cable. Check the cable for signs of fraying, and look at the contacts near the connection point too. You may be able to scrape any gunk off the end of the cable, but frays and other damage are a sign that you should replace the cable outright.

Just because a cable seems to be intact, doesn’t mean it’s not to blame. If something has gone wrong inside the cable because it’s old or sustained damage through pinching, it could affect the cable’s ability to carry a charge. It’s always worth replacing the cable to eliminate one possible cause.

It’s also possible for the USB adapter to fail, so consider swapping that out too. You don’t need to use the same adapter either, just about anything with a USB port should work including a laptop, smart TV, or even your car.

If you find that the adapter is to blame, consider replacing it with one that supports fast charging. If you have a spare wireless charger around the house, you could try charging using that too.

Restart Your Device

Sometimes software issues can interfere with your smartphone’s ability to charge. If in doubt, turn it off and turn it back on again. Modern smartphones have fairly sophisticated charging circuitry, which allows them to safely use more powerful chargers than those that came in the box (particularly for fast charging purposes).

Android Power Off Menu Option

Since this is controlled by software, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that restarting your device could solve the issue. Learn how to restart your iPhone or restart an Android smartphone.

Wireless Charger Not Working?

Physical connections are prone to all sorts of problems like debris and damaged connectors. Wireless chargers may seem like a better alternative, but even they can encounter problems. The first thing to do is to check that your wireless charger is definitely plugged in, particularly if there is no LED indicator.

wireless charger
Nor Gal/Shutterstock

Just like wired charging, your wireless charger requires a cable and USB adapter to work. You should try swapping these out to make sure that they aren’t the reason for your problem. If you’re using a case with your smartphone, consider removing it to test the connection.

If you’re still not having any joy, consider testing your smartphone using a standard charging cable. If nothing works there may be a problem with the charging circuit inside of your smartphone, which will require a more drastic fix.

Could It Be Water Damage?

Most high-end smartphones now have some basic water resistance, often at a depth of about 1 meter for around 30 minutes. Going deeper than the rated depth places greater pressure on your device’s seals, with an increased risk of water ingress. It’s also possible for the water seals to fail altogether. It’s another reason that backing up your iPhone or Android smartphone is essential.

Saltwater poses another threat since the salt can rapidly corrode the charging contacts inside the port on the bottom of your device. You may even find salt residue inside the charging port, which can also interfere when charging your device. You may be able to clean corrosion with a pencil eraser or using white vinegar. It’s a good idea to rinse your device in freshwater after exposing it to saltwater.

Water damage caused by liquid entering your device may very well affect charging, and will likely not be as easy to fix. You can try taking your device to a repair shop for inspection where you can get an idea of the costs involved in fixing your smartphone. In many cases, a new smartphone will be the more cost-effective route.

Getting the Best Charger

If you need to replace your charger for whatever reason, consider getting the best charger you can currently afford. Gallium Nitride chargers are smaller and more efficient, which is why we feature them heavily on our best phone charger roundup.

The Best Phone Chargers of 2023

TECKNET 65W Three-Port Charger
Best Overall Charger
TECKNET 65W Three-Port Charger
Apple 20W Power Adapter
Best iPhone/iPad Charger
Apple 20W Power Adapter
Amazon Basics 100W Four-Port GaN Wall Charger
Best Wall Charger
Amazon Basics 100W Four-Port GaN Wall Charger
Anker PowerWave 10W Qi-Certified Charger
Best Wireless Charger
Anker PowerWave 10W Qi-Certified Charger
Best Car Charger
Techsmarter 11-Port Charging Station
Best Charging Station
Techsmarter 11-Port Charging Station
Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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