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iPhone or iPad not charging? Here's how to fix it!

iPhone 11 Pro Apple Pride logo
iPhone 11 Pro Apple Pride logo (Image credit: Lory Gil / iMore)

If you can't charge your iPhone or iPad, whether it's the latest iPhone 12 or iPad Pro, or an older iPhone 6s or iPad Air, there's a lot you can try on your own before contacting Apple for help. Sure, sometimes it's a hardware problem with the Lightning or USB-C connector or the battery, but often enough it's a software issue that a few simple steps can fix.

If so, follow along and we'll get you back up and battery running in no time!

1. Force a restart

If your iPhone or iPad won't charge, one of the first and easiest things to try is a forced restart. Make all the "reboot Windows" jokes you want but sometimes bad bits get stuck and need to be flushed out. Follow these instructions to force a reboot, or even reset your iPhone.

2. Switch outlets or ports

Funny as it sounds, sometimes outlets or USB ports just don't work. That's especially true if you're plugging into a wall or computer you've never plugged into before. It can also happen if an electrical or other problem occurs in your regular outlet or port.

So, make sure you try plugging into a different outlet or USB port and see if your iPhone or iPad starts to charge. If it does, you're good. If not, keep reading.

3. Switch cables

Like outlets, cables can fail. Sometimes they get chewed up by the wear and tear of travel or even household life. Other times, especially for third party cables, defects catch up with them. If there's no problem with the iPhone or iPad, and no problem with the power source, you need to check the cable in-between.

Try a different cable. If you don't have one handy, try one from a family member, friend, schoolmate, colleague, or even one from a store in the mall. Just get your hands on a cable or two other than your regular and see how goes. If it works, awesome. If not, keep reading.

4. Restore in iTunes

After trying the easy fixes, it's time to try the harder ones. In this case, restoring your iPhone or iPad in Finder (on your Mac) or iTunes (on Windows and older Macs. A computer-based restore is a safer bet than iCloud because it actually offloads, re-installs, and reloads your data rather than doing everything in-place and on your device. That can sometimes shake loose bad bits that even a forced restart or iCloud restore can't. If you use an encrypted backup, it'll even restore your passwords so you can get back up and running faster.

You'll need to back up your device to your Mac, then erase it, then restore it.

5. Contact Apple

Sometimes a problem really is a problem. Like any physical connector, the Lightning or 30-pin Dock port is subject to both wear-and-tear and electrical failure. There could also be an issue with your battery. If you have AppleCare+, don't walk, run to get it fixed. If you don't, get an estimate and weigh the cost of repair against the cost of upgrading to a new device.

If you don't live close to an Apple Store, you can call 1-800-MY-APPLE in order to set up a mail-in repair. If you don't have AppleCare, you may have to pay for the call, but it's less of a waste than having a dead iPhone or iPad.

Your fixes?

It doesn't matter if your iPhone is older, or the best iPhone you can buy right now, problems can still arise. If you had an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad that you couldn't charge, and one of the above fixes worked for you, let me know! If something else worked, let me know that as well!

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

79 Comments
  • Something you don't call out explicitly but... if an iPad is charging slowly make sure you're using the iPad brick, not an iPhone one. I've plugged into the iPhone brick occasionally and been annoyed at the slow charge before I realized what I did. Many people probably don't realize that the two bricks put out differing amounts of power.
  • @rickg1 Thank you so much for this advice. I rang the Apple store today and even they didn't ask me to check which brick I was using. It's so obvious when you know :)
  • It did not work
  • I have in trouble with my IPad 4. I tried quite a few things without success.
    I just realised that I have switch leader and socket.
    So I just swap again the leader it it was just OK
    So I think that the first thing to do when it doesn't charge ok is just getting a new charger and lead genuine apple that you can get less than 10 cuirs.
  • In some cases it's also good to restore the device as new, and see if the issue persists before restoring the backup. Some types of software glitches get saved in an iTunes backup, and come back when that backup is put back on a device. iCloud backups are a bit safer, but I've seen cases where they can get corrupted too. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've always believe this too but people always say no, backups don't contain iOS info, just app and personal. But I'm with you. I think backups can bring down existing issues. I have had time where a clean restore worked and bringing down my backup resurfaced the issue. Sent from the iMore App
  • Interesting. Both iPhones I have had ended up with dead, unable to charge batteries at just about the 24 month mark (like clockwork), yet my nearing two and a half year old iPad (3, if they called it such) is going strong as ever. I use it for hours every day and still really only need to charge it every other day usually. I am still impressed that I can fully charge it, unplug it, and when I come back 8-12 hours later, it's still at 100% being in standby.
  • I tried everything but it wouldn't charge but I think the problem is with the charger because sometimes it's broken from the inside so I bought a new charger and it worked :D
  • My IPad suddenly stopped charging and I tried the Hard Reset method you mentioned,and it started charging.Thanks so much.
  • Mine was not charging when it was on it charged only off I had the wrong ubs plug part not the cord wasn't enough power changed to a Duracell one and it was ok started to charge while on again. I think the one I had charges my galaxy note 4 don't use the cellphone ones.
  • I'm having the same problem. My iPad will only charge while powered off. I tried the hard reset and different outlet and I also bought a Duracell charger but nothing has worked so far.
  • ALWAYs use official Apple chargers......that's a very good way to further damage your device.
  • After reading several articles over the past few months, the most common solution seems to *Be Sure To Use a Genuine Apple USB to Lightening Cable*. Many, but not all aftermarket cables will generate the "Not Charging" message in the upper right corner of the iPad Air 2 display. Also, please avoid the five dollar charger/cable combos at the drug store etc. They are inferior, and can damage your iPad or iPhone. At worst, they can start a fire. After 25+ years in The Fire Service, I've lost count of the number of burned out apartments and homes I've seen because of all kinds of inferior electronic products. Bottom line-use only Apple or Apple certified products with your iPad/iPhone. I hope that this has been helpful.
  • Agreed!! NEVER use a third party charger on anything you value!!! Use OFFICIAL (NOT knock-offs from 7+11) when dealing with iDevices...they're VERY finicky that way and it could void your warranty if you have any left, and probably will. +1
  • Well the advice that you had gave me was great but it is still not working
  • Same and was hoping Apple support had some answers.
    Go to Melbourne basically and abruptly, which at absolute minimum to get to a service centre is a 9 hour trip not disregarding the cost and time.
    Crikey, would've thought you could post if for a new port/service.
    I guess buying a new one, except I have so much info on there!
  • From the earliest days after purchasing my iPad 2 I have had charging problems that suggest a loose connection. At first I thought I had just been sloppy in plugging it in, as I would wake up and find it had not charged, but it gradually got worse and now the only way I can get it to recognize the iPad charging cable is to put stress on it, like resting the iPad upright on the cable, and often then it takes jiggling to get it to get the charging icon to light up. Yesterday I went and bought a new cable and that did not change the problem. Any thoughts
  • Can someone help me out ? I have an iPad 2 been with it for 2 years but recently it only charges up to 59% no matter how many hours I keep it on charge . Don't know what to do about this ..
  • new battery, try a hard reset after you back it up of course and reset the entire thing, if that doesn't work it's time for a new battery.
  • Hi Julius, I know this is an old post but I was hoping u found a solution and could maybe help me... When I charge my iPad it says 100%... But then when it gets to 60% it dies. Twice this week I've had it die to the point where I couldn't recharge it. 1st time I managed to get it started again... This time nothing's working. What did u do to fix ur issue?
  • I've been charging my ipad mini and yet it stay on 99% it wont run to 100% what should i do
  • (I know this message was from 9 months ago, but if anyone has the same question ...)
    Apple said that's normal for your device to read anywhere from 95% to 100% when it's charged. It has to do with keeping the battery in top condition. Source: http://www.zdnet.com/article/why-the-new-ipad-battery-meter-is-behaving-...
  • I've had this problem with my ipad mini as well! What I have done is unplugged it if it has been sitting at 99% for a while then I plug it back in again and in a short time it reaches 100%!
  • Charge it with power off. That's VERY common they don't reach 100% because there's stuff running when charging unless turned off. IF it is turned off your batter is starting to show signs of wear but 1% isn't likely to be a concern at this point. I have one that charges only to about 65% and it's fine. It'll just need a new battery sooner or later, it's very common as batteries are used.....
  • Hi Everybody, my ipad Air suddenly stopped charging I tried above mentioned hard reset method it started charging .... thank you so much
  • Hellow there the first method did helped me.thanks a lot
  • My iPad says its charging but it stayed on 2% for. A LONG TIME. Please help.
  • My iphone 4 is charging very slow. Lightning bolt sign is also not showing up, neither by wall charger nor by Laptop USB port phone don't even recognised by windows/Itunes. I'm done with Dock connector cleaning ,replacing original cord, reinstalling drivers but no use. Anybody can help me plz!!
    PS my 3gs is working normal with same chord and even being recognised by itunes and windows.
  • I Pad would not show charging; black in battery symbol. Had 3 usb adaptors and 2 cables-tried every combo. Finally, frustrated I borrowed my friends set up and bingo-full charging and green battery. Ends up, I had 2 bad cables. One cable was spare I hardly ever used but new cable and same usb adapters and everything worked. Whats the odds of 2 bad cables, with little use. Also, sprayed electronic cleaner for port and cables-helped one time before.
  • Anyone ever have issues with those generic chargers that say "accessory is not compatible" or something along those lines? Pisses me off. I got buy a $5 charger at 7-11. Works 10% of the time MAYBE
  • Get an Apple certified MFi charger and you'll be fine
  • And of course my usual response. They could make a better product. It's hard to believe all of the dollars that go into development that this problem hasn't been fixed by now. Literally every apple product I have ever had had this problem charging, iphone, ipad, you name it. To me this is just a strategy to keep consumers handing over their hard earned cash more often. Just like HP and their crappy printers with irreplaceable parts forcing me to junk a perfectly good printer forcing me to HAVE to buy another one. Apple is the same way. If people would quit going out and buying the newest apple products as soon as they come out like obedient little consumer slaves and start demanding these faulty items be replaced for free then Apple wouldn't be so cocky and might actually care about making quality products. I'm really starting to get sick of technology already.
  • We've seen the error message for accessory not compatible appear on OEM cables. Its due to internals losing some connection after bending many times. It happens on cheap cables even quicker. We've also seen there are great cables out there that are made with high quality materials and are not affected buy the frustrating error messages. Even cables longer than the standard 3m are available error-free. The secret is to make sure they didn't cut corners when they made the cable.
  • Hi. How to make a hard reset,if IPAD is completely dead?
  • I need help . So a day ago I plugged in my iPod and went to sleep but the next day then my charging hadn't gone up at all and it still won't even when it's plugged in. The weirdest part is it doesn't go down either
  • My iPhone 6 won't charge please help. I don't know what to do help
  • I've been having the same problem, have you tried getting a clean (preferably new and unused and dry) and gently brushing the charging port? It works for me nearly 100% of the time.
    Good luck,
    Fellow IPhone 6 user.
  • Thanks for the reset info, it worked for my ipad mini
  • Wohay! Step 1 worked wonders for me. Saw the apple sign... And I did have to press the two buttons really hard for about 30-60seconds. Almost gave up and was gonna go to the next step. And lo and behold it was on again and the charge was actually 89%! Thank you. Was thinking that we may need a trip to the shop or the iPad may have done it's time as a lot of stuff start to end the life after two years!
  • my ipad air has been great
    now it is on 2% and will not charge has been on all night
    will not regnize the plug in it
    and keeps flashing on and off i have a document that is very important to me on it
    what are your susgestions
  • My Ipad Air 2 went into a loop - charging up to 2% then restarting, showing the Apple sign, the battery the 2% and doing this over and over.
    Your suggestion of a hard reset worked after several attempts. Thanks a lot.
    Are there any precautions to take to prevent this in the future?
    What I do think is that while the Air 2 is a great machine, it is a bad purchase. It is consstructed in a way that makes any repairs both difficult and expensive.
  • Thanks for the information. On the IPAD when I simply back it up to iTunes on my Mac the iPad begins to recharge. Thought that fixed the problem yesterday but same thing happened today. So today after reading this thread I have performed the backup and restore and will see if that process fixes the problem.
  • Hi,
    I discovered that my iPad Air wasn't charging due to a bad/dead power adapter. When I switched it out for one I use to charge my iPad3, it charges with no problem. Thanks for the heads up on the other possibilities that could have caused the issue.
  • My iPad Air2 (just over one year old) suddenly died last Friday. Could not reset or charge. Went to Apple. They tried everything; no luck. They declared it d-e-a-d. Went home and looked into what I would buy as a replacement. Sunday morning, suddenly it came back to life!!! What gives? Anyone else experiencing a similar situation?
  • Gee, thanks. I Would have never thought of these steps on my own. Is this a tutorial for complete idiots?
  • i cant get my apple desktop to recognize my ipod in itunes
  • My iPad of 2 years was not charging suddenly, so I searched, and found this site. Yessssss! Now I know what a 'brick' is, and I was trying that too (had not been using it to charge, but even that wasn't working!), but the hard reset was magic. Ya think I would have figured that out for all my experience? I'm back in business. Thanks!
  • Help my iPad 6 will not charge ... Stays at 2% when plugged in and keeps acting like it is trying to do a reset with the apple on the screen . Have tried different chargers that work fine with my iPhone's ... Help
  • Hard reset would keep apps a plus .. but since u can re-download them from Apple (may always be good a a fresh start" i would favor a "factory reset" over a "hard reset" just because its a clean slate..... the hard reset is mostly "maybie" it would fix vs a factory reset 90% better, but that's just me.... and of course Restore would always work. if not hardware problem.
  • As dumb as this sounds, but I've had it happen that my iPhone would not charge because the cord would not fit properly. So, I took a safety pin and gently moved it through the port on the iPhone and a bunch of pocket lint came out. Ha ha. Once I cleaned it out, cord fits perfect again and all is good with the world. Sent from the iMore App
  • Clean out your lightning port. I've seen many people with pocket lint stuffed inside the port and the cable won't fit properly Sent from the iMore App
  • I concur with cleaning out your lightning port, especially on the phone (because of pocket lint). I used a toothpick (gently!) and dug out quite a bit of lint, and it started charging again. The same thing on the headphone port (the remote controls on the earbuds had appear to stop working, although I could hear everything fine). The headphone jack wasn't fully seating properly (due to the lint); cleaning it out, and now the remote controls work again as well.
  • look out for dust or LINT deposit in the charging slot. Most of the time it breaks the contact with the charger and the phone. Do clean the charging slot of your phone.
  • Yes, indeed. Had this on my wife's iPhone 6. It had a plug of lint that prevented the Lightning cord from fully engaging. Sent from the iMore App
  • I only ever had this issue with a refurbished 5C I bought of eBay before I got my 6s Plus and since then, I've had no issues with my phone not charging and have since sold my 5C. Sent from the iMore App
  • Two things. 1. Check for dirt, or lent in the port. Carefully clean out taking care not to bend the prongs. 2. Always plug the charger into a decent surge protector, never straight into the wall. Carry one with you when you travel. They come in many sizes. Sent from the iMore App
  • Brand new IPad Pro 9 inch (< 1 month old) so dirty ports very unlikely. I did notice the port was always tight. Rebooting the device fixed it this time. But not very satisfying. Especially since I charged it overnight (I thought) for a day long event only to find it had not charged.
  • Thank you for the help. I thought my one year old phone was completely dead. I tried more things to get the charge to work and it wouldn't. It would act like it was charging but didn't. I looked for more solutions and finally found your post. I also found a never used cable and did the iTunes backup/restore and now my phone is charging quickly. Thanks so much for the information
  • My iPad Air 2 no longer charges when powered through either of two aftermarket USB extension cables following an update to iOS 10. Plugging directly into an Apple AC adapter with an Apple USB/Lightning cable works. The extension cables worked before the update.
  • I am seeing the same thing except that my non-Apple cables still work, if plugged into Apple AC adapter.
  • Yes. After my upgrade, the aftermarket extension cord no longer works on my iPad Air 2. I I think I'll go back to android.
  • This started happening on my iPad Air 2 after the update to iOS 10. USB ports that used to charge (albeit more slowly) no longer do. Only thing that works now is the Apple AC adapter. It seems they changed the charging threshold. My third-party cables seem to work otherwise. Please fix it, Apple!
  • My iPod touch 5th gen started having issues charging a few months after I got it back in 2013. I knew immediately it was the Lightning cable, though. I made the mistake of folding it a certain way when it wasn't in use and the tip of it ended up getting a short. I got a replacement and have never had issues with it because I know better, lol.
  • I've had a few with lint in connection! Sent from the iMore App
  • My solution: Jailbreak this phone, install Cydia, install unauthorized lightning cable enabler tweak and enjoy the rest of my life.
  • I wouldn't recommend that. Apple purposely blocks unauthorized cables to ensure the safety of your device
  • My iPad and phone both work fine with a non OEM charger made by Zakix
  • ⬆️ Drank the Kool-Aid. More like they block it to ensure the necessity of their overpriced cable.
  • Takes toothpick and clean out the lightening port. Amazing the crud that gets in there. The girl at the Apple Store did this to mine and it worked like new. Now I know what to do to fix it. Sent from the iMore App
  • On more than one occasion our pets have chewed through our charging cables. If you have pets that like to chew a) keep them out of 'chewing distance' and b) always check your cables! :)
  • hi my ipad air wont charge
    i mean the light and the screen come on and its show thats its charging but it wont complete charging
    what i do
  • i try to restart it with low battery and now it wont finish charging at all.ANYONE GOT AN IDEA WHAT is the problem help pl
  • With the new upgrade, if you do not unlock the iphone or ipad it does not start charging...you must plug the lightning cable with your iphone unlocked...
    Crazy, but teh same happens with syncchronisation with computer...it will not start if you do not have it unlocked.
  • The first one worked for me. Thanks alot. I think that it was actually charging the whole time but it just wasn't showing the symbol (Lightning Bolt).
  • Clean connector end of FireWire . Maybe use a Qtip and some acetone or other high flash solvent. And also as mentioned in a previous comment clean the inside of the plug receiver with a toothpick to remove any lint.
  • what's the FireWire? not like in the ipad right?
  • I think he means lightning cable, not firewire.
  • Clean firewire contact ends with a Qtip and a high flash solvent such as acetone. As mentioned previously clean inside of plugin with a toothpick to remove any lint or other contaminants.
  • My life runs on Apple (6 Plus, MacBook Pro, iPad Air 2 and iPod. My iPad Air is two and a half years old and has worked fine until a few months ago. Suddenly the battery life started to decrease until it finally disappeared! During this period I noticed that the the battery charge percentage indicator became erratic. It would go from low to 100% in 15 minutes and the iPad would turn itself off when it was still more than 50%. My initial thought was that this was a software problem as I had downloaded many updates and a battery never degrades that quickly. Finally the iPad would not start at all and all I saw was the battery picture. Is it a battery problem? It had only been through 460 cycles so it shouldn't be. Then I did something out of pure frustration...I placed the unit on top of a warm radiator at home. Thought that if it were the battery, I had heard that heat sometimes revives dead batteries. Unbelievably, after two weeks of being dead, the unit turned itself on. It ran for 45 minutes (with almost everything turned off). Repeated the process and it started again. Gradually, the on-time increased. When I left it on the radiator it ran through a complete cycle in about two and a half hours, this time using emails and WiFi. If it can run for so long, it cannot be the battery. Any ideas? I have a appointment with the Apple store this Monday where I will tell this story and see what they say. As a novice I would guess it is a component problem such as a battery controller. Would appreciate any professional ideas.