iPhone or Android phone won't charge? Here's how to fix it

Get to the bottom of your bunk battery.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Whether you're an avid Android user or a perennial iPhone purchaser, we can all agree on one thing: there's nothing quite as aggravating as a smartphone battery that won't charge. The good news, however, is that this is a relatively easy problem to troubleshoot.

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There are five elements of a successful phone-to-charge connection: the phone's software, the connection port, the charging cable, the power source, and the physical battery itself.

In order to fix your charging problem, you must first determine the source of your woes. Follow along as I break down the troubleshooting process in a step-by-step fashion.

1. Restart your iPhone or Android phone

I know, I know—it seems obvious. But the most obvious troubleshooting step is also the most important, in this case. Resetting your phone might clear any lingering processes that are interfering with your phone's software, including its ability to receive and hold a charge. Turn off your phone, turn it back on, and try again—if it's still failing to charge, move on to the next step.

An iPhone's Charging Port
Credit: Reviewed / Michael Desjardin

If your phone repeatedly charges on and off without staying fully connected, you probably have lint or dust in your charging port.

2. Check your phone's charging port for dust and debris

When you plug a charging cable into your phone, does it begin charging for a second, then stop, then start charging again? Are you constantly hunting for the exact amount of physical pressure you need to apply to the cable in order to maintain a charge? These are some of the tell-tale signs of a dusty charging port.

Because our phones spend most of the day in our pockets, purses, and bags, their charging ports are constantly exposed to dust, pocket lint, and other debris. If your phone refuses to continuously charge without the cable being adjusted constantly, you might want to clean the charging port.

I've found that the best tool for the job is a normal toothpick. As long as you're careful, a single toothpick will scrape out any lint or debris that might be stuck in the charging port. With any luck, this should be enough to get your phone charging again. If not, consider the cable itself.

3. Make sure the charging cable is in good condition

Whether you charge your Android phone with a USB cable or charge your iPhone with a Lightning cable, the disappointing truth is that charging cables aren't always as durable as they ought to be, especially given how frequently they're stowed away in briefcases and bags. If you've restarted your phone, cleared the port of any debris, and you're still experiencing charging problems, your cable might be the culprit.

Since Android phones typically rely on USB cables for juice, Android users might have an easier time narrowing down affordable options that meet their needs. iPhone users' options, however, are limited to Lightning cables.

A Lightning Cable Attached to an iPhone
Credit: Reviewed / TJ Donegan

Unfortunately, charging cables frequently succumb to wear and tear.

In our round-up of the best Lightning cables you can buy, we recommended the ultra-affordable AmazonBasics Lightning cable, due to its high value and the damage-prone nature of charging cables.

The bottom line? Whether you're shopping for a USB cable or a Lightning cable, the premium, top-shelf cables aren't always worth the cost.

4. Check the power source

If you're trying to charge your phone by plugging it into a laptop, battery pack, or a power brick plugged into a wall outlet, consider testing the power source with another device. A cable is more likely to break than a power source, but you'll want to rule out the source before determining that a battery replacement is in your near future.

5. If all else fails, you might need a new battery.

Well, shucks. This really stinks! If you've reached the end of this troubleshooting process and still can't charge your Android or iPhone, the only thing left to do is to seek professional assistance from the manufacturer or a reputable repair outlet.

Since very few Android phones and no iPhones offer a removable battery, the process of replacing one can be tricky—the last thing you want to do is void your phone's warranty or, worse, cause further damage to your phone.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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