Hardware iPhone

Why isn’t my iPhone charging?

Why isn't my iPhone charging?
Solve your charging woes with a humble toothpick

It’s 11.30pm and you desperately need to charge your iPhone for the tedious morning commute, but nothing’s happening. You try unplugging the Lightning cable and pushing it back into your phone’s port harder than before. Not a flicker. Increasingly irritated, you even try moving your charger to a different mains socket – in another room. The screen remains blacker than your mood. Finally, in a fit of rage, you swear at the iPhone and seriously consider flinging it out of the window. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

Internet forums are littered with plaintive posts with titles such as “Why’s my iPhone not working?!?” and “iPhone not charging”.  And I can speak from personal experience, having also fallen victim to the lack-of-juice problem last year with an aged iPhone 5C.

However, the culprits are about as mundane as it gets: fluff and dust. Unless you carry your device around in an airless vacuum, detritus will inevitably sneak from your pocket or handbag into the port, building up over months and years until the Lightning connector can no longer clip in securely. The older the iPhone, the more junk will gather inside its port. But how do you solve the problem without consulting an Apple Store “Genius”?

First, a little reconnaissance: use a torch or the flash of another phone to peer inside your iPhone’s port. You’ll quickly see a wad of impacted lint at the bottom, meaning that you can go ahead with the surgery. If it seems squeaky clean inside, the problem lies elsewhere: try a different Lightning cable, and if it’s still not working, make that journey to your local Apple Store.

One of the larger “lint balls” we’ve seen, courtesy of Aaron Gustafson

To dislodge the dirt, you’ll need a precision piece of equipment: a toothpick. If you don’t have one lying around, a cotton earbud will suffice – but NEVER use a metal object (such as a safety pin or hair clip) for the cleaning as this could damage the delicate interior of the port.

This may sound like overkill, but before you start rummaging around, it’s always worthwhile making sure that your most vital data is backed up to your computer or the cloud – something you should be doing anyway. Then, and this step is important, turn off your iPhone.

Once that’s done, gently run the toothpick along the bottom of the port and drag the fluff up to the surface, as if eating a snail in a French bistro. You will almost certainly be shocked by the sheer amount of muck you can scrape out, but we’re not judging. Repeat the process until everything’s out and, all being well, enjoy hassle-free charging.

Lead image by Ryan Morse

About the author

Max Figgett

Max has written for numerous websites and magazines over the years. Whether it’s about ancient hardware or software secrets, no Big Tech Question is too obscure for him to tackle.

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