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How to fix a phone that won't charge properly

Kris Carlon
10

Some of you may have suffered from this problem and rushed out to buy a new charger when the solution was at hand with only a tiny bit of effort and only a little bit more know how. This has been one of our longest running forum topics, appearing over a year ago in answer to the problem that the Galaxy Nexus wouldn't charge. One of our industrious readers, Marchino, shared the first fix and has had pages of thanks dedicated to him ever since. Here's five tips to fix a phone that won't charge.

micro usb kabel
Most charging problems are related to your USB cable or charger, or even the port itself. / © AndroidPIT

The problem

Either your phone won't charge at all when it is plugged in, or the connection drops out or only charges very slowly, sometimes only just faster than your device's battery is discharging. This is actually a very common complaint, and one I suffered from with a device myself. There's a few things that could've gone wrong.

DIY USB port fix

The quickest and easiest, and often most successful, solution is simply to do a little DIY repair on your actual hardware. The problem is quite often that the metallic surface inside the USB port and the microUSB charger are not making good contact, either through a manufacturing defect or because of the continual plugging and unplugging of the charging cable. All you need to do is shut down your device, remove the battery if possible and use something small, like a toothpick, to 'lever up' the little tab inside the USB port on your smartphone or tablet. Do so very carefully and gently, then reinsert your battery and plug it in again. Nine times out of ten this is all that is required.

Micro USB
Check the 'tab' inside your device's USB port - the cable may not be making contact properly. / © Samsung, AndroidPIT

Switch cables

The flimsiest part of a charger is of course the cable, not the adapter that plugs into the wall socket. So if your device is having charging issues and the previous solution hasn't helped, you might have a faulty cable. Before you rush out to buy a replacement, just grab a spare USB cable from another device and try it instead. Quite often the cable will fray inside because it is constantly being curled up, stood on or whatever. Rather than buy a complete new charger you may only need a new cable. Likewise, if the cable doesn't seem to be the problem, check the wall plug adapter, that may be the issue instead. Also, check the same charger/cable combination on a different device and see if it works normally. iPhone users have their work cut out for them with the incredibly flimsy Lightning Port charger.

usb otg cable
You may only need to replace the USB cable, not the whole charger. / © fnac.com

Clean up your act

Sometimes the reason a device is not charging correctly is because there is something lodged in the port, or there is just a lot of debris blocking the connection. Pocket lint, dirt and other minute rubbish can get into all sorts of nooks and crannies on a smartphone, so take a look to make sure there isn't something lodged inside the microUSB port (or in the charging cable either). Of course, also make sure to never charge your phone near water or in excessively hot or humid conditions. Also, do not overcharge your device, charging overnight when your battery only needs 2-3 hours is a very bad idea and can lead to a battery exploding or damaging your phone.

s4 esploso
Dodgy manufacture, excessive charging, debris and a bad environment can cause problems. / © Sammy Hub

Replace the battery

If your device is old, or seems to be acting very strangely where the battery is concerned, you might have a defective battery. If your Android has a removable case, take the battery cover off and ensure the battery isn't bulging or otherwise deformed or leaking. If it is, remove it immediately and clean the area carefully to avoid corrosion. If your cover is non-removable, you can lay the phone on the table and try spinning it, if the battery is bulging it will spin (this could just be the design of the phone though too, so don't be alarmed). Replace the battery with a manufacturer original or respected third party power source. A new battery should last at lest two years before it needs to be replaced, although this depends on the number of charge and discharge cycles. If this seems necessary too soon, check your warranty, you may be eligible for a free replacement.

batt2
Manufacturer batteries or reliable third-party batteries are a safe bet. / © Android Central

Up against the wall

Charging from a wall socket is always going to charge faster than via PC or laptop. Likewise, the current is different, with a wall socket putting out potentially double the power of a laptop or computer. Of course, if you're using a different charger cable and adapter than the one the phone came with, it might also be the case that your charger is not sufficiently powerful for your device. For example, if you're using a charger that came with a Bluetooth headset it may simply not have the guts to be able to charge your phone. There might also be a problem with your wall socket, but that is much less likely. To charge faster, switch on airplane mode or turn your phone off.

LV1A0076
Your desktop or laptop can't charge your Android as fast as a wall socket./ © AndroidPIT

If all else fails, just double check that you actually have the power point switched on. That is the first thing they will ask you if you call your manufacturer for help, which might need to be your next step if none of these solutions have worked for you.

Have you suffered from a smartphone that won't charge? Was was the culprit and how did you fix it?

From the forum. Join the discussion now!

Comments

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  • Pteryx 3 months ago Link

    I have this a lot with my phone (Rugby Pro) I don't think it's the cable or port. In my case it seems to be the charger that came with the phone is faulty, but it's intermittent. I use the charger from my old Samsung (now my wife's)

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  • Pteryx 3 months ago Link

    There should be edit post on this app

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      Kris Carlon 2 months ago Link

      Hey Pteryx, I collapsed your previous comment, and thought I'd let you know that edit comments (and Facebook login) is coming in v2.2 of the app. v2.1 just went into its second public beta and is almost ready for standard release.

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  • wayne Winget 3 months ago Link

    I've had problems with a Nokia E7 phone. These micro USB connectors are flimsy, surface mounted devices. I believe that the problem I had was a poor solder joint to the board. If I stressed the connector toward the front side of the phone it would charge. Since this phone is a real pain to take apart my solution was to buy another phone, since Symbian devices are orphans or neglected relatives. I bought a ZTE V998 smart phone. The connect on it is tight and rigid.

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  • James Ahn 2 months ago Link

    Great info. One correction, I believe it's the current that is different between wall power and a computer USB Port, not the voltage which is always 5V. Btw can we get an article about super fast chargers? I heard they sell chargers that can charge your phone fully in minutes! Are they safe?

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      Kris Carlon 2 months ago Link

      Hey @James, I stand corrected! Made the change, cheers for that. That's a good idea on high-speed chargers, we might have to see if we can get some to test. I have never used one, but am pretty interested in the future of the supercapacitors we keep hearing about that can do it in a minute or so.

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  • Chris M. 2 months ago Link

    Has anyone seen a multiple USB charger that delivers 2 Amps to each of, say, 4 USB sockets? Or a mighty one of similar output that one could jam a USB splitter into?

    The charger that came with my Nexus 7 is now v-e-r-y slow. Brushing and tweaking ala the above has made no difference. Is this a rare occurrence with these (Asus) chargers?

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    • James Ahn 2 months ago Link

      Maybe the tablet has supersized mAh compared to phones. My wife complains her GS4 takes long to charge, but I remind her that thing has more capacity than say, my Nexus 4.

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  • Chris M. 2 months ago Link

    Yup, a Nexus has a big battery and it takes longer to charge than a phone does. My pont was just that it now takes much longer than it did when it was new and I was wondering if others experienced this too.
    I'm still hoping that someone has seen a multi socket, multi amp charger that can handle multiple big devices.

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  • Pteryx 2 months ago Link

    Thank you Kris Carlin ☺

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Which company used multi-window on smartphones first?