If you can't charge your iPhone or iPad, whether it's the latest iPhone 7 or iPad Pro, or an older iPhone 4 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 Dock 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. To force a restart:
- Press and hold down the Sleep/Wake button on the right side (iPhone 6 or later) or top (all other iPhones, iPods, and iPads) of your device.
- While continuing to hold the Sleep/Wake button, press and hold the Home button (iPhone 6s or older) or the Volume Down button (iPhone 7 or newer).
- Hold both buttons as the screen turns off, and keep holding them until the screen turns back on and displays the Apple logo.
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 iTunes. iTunes 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.
- Connect your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC via Lightning or 30-pin Dock connector.
- Click on the Device tab at the top left.
- Click on Backup.
- Wait for the backup to finish.
- Click on Restore
- Wait for the restore to finish.
When you're all done, try charging again. If it works, huzzah. If not, there's one last thing you can try...
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.
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!
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