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How to fix a phone that won't charge properly

Kris Carlon
62

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 is one of the most frequently occurring topics we come across within the Android community, and many times users are just frustrated with the poor battery life on their chosen device, rather than it being a serious issue. Regardless, if you’re having battery problems with your device, here is our guide for how 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

The problem occurs in various guises. Either your phone won't charge AT ALL when it is plugged in, or it only charges very slowly (sometimes barely faster than it is discharging). It’s a very common complaint, and one I’ve suffered from with devices myself, so here are a few solutions.

DIY USB port fix

The quickest, 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 surfaces 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. If your device is having charging issues and the previous solution didn’t work, you might have a faulty cable. Before you rush out to buy a replacement adapter, 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 etc.

If the cable doesn't seem to be the problem, check the wall plug adapter, that may be the issue instead. Also, ensure that the same charger/cable combination works on a different device as this will help you eliminate the possibility that it is your device, not the cable or charger. 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 bad idea that can lead to a battery exploding or damaging your phone. Your phone has a cut-off switch for your battery, but sometimes this doesn't work. I figure it's better to be safe than sorry. Or burnt to a crisp.

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

Replace the battery

If your device is old, and the battery is struggling to hold a charge, it may be nearing the end of its life span. A new battery should last around two years before it needs to be replaced, although this depends on the number of charge and discharge cycles. If it seems necessary to replace it sooner than that, check your warranty, you may be eligible for a free replacement.

If your device isn’t very old, you may just have a defective battery. Remove your handset’s battery cover 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 faulty it will spin (unless it has been specifically designed to be curved for a particular device/model).

If you decide the battery is damaged, replace it with a manufacturer original or a respected third-party unit. In our experience though, third-party batteries are often cheaper but more trouble than they are worth, and can even be damaging to your device, so use one at your own risk.

smartphone batteries lg samsung
If you are going to replace your battery, try to purchase an official one, even though you might be tempted by the larger capacities offered by third-party batteries. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

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

Update or rollback

Software updates and new Android versions can play havoc with your battery life, especially when upgrading an old device to current software. Newer devices are often optimized to take advantage of the latest software, packing bigger batteries and pre-optimized hardware, whereas your two-year old device can struggle when it makes the jump from behind the pack.

If this happens to you, consider rolling the device back to an earlier Android version (by searching for the appropriate APK file online), though be warned that this carries its own security risks. (The latest software versions are always recommended to keep your device protected, and while the risk of keeping your smartphone on an older version is often negligible, it’s worth noting all the same.)

Similarly, sometimes device battery life can be significantly improved thanks to an update, as recently seen with the Moto 360 smartwatch, so if you're way behind on your Android software version, head to the "about device" page in your settings and check for an update.

m8 update
With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Mobile network optimization, comes improved battery life. / © ANDROIDPIT

Switch it off

Using battery intensive apps/features while you are charging your device will affect how fast it gains battery life. If you are charging while Skyping somebody at full screen brightness, the device will naturally take longer to charge than if it is locked with Wi-Fi and 4G turned off. Better yet, switch the device onto airplane mode, or off completely, when you are charging if you want to see the fastest energy injection. Think of it as giving your device a power nap. Or a red bull. In the dark.

Calibrate your battery

Sometimes what your device “thinks” your battery life is, versus what it is in reality, can differ. The effect of this is that your phone may function differently based on the estimated battery life, like turning off before it is actually out of juice or taking an hour to chew through the last 2%.

We’ve already written an extensive guide on how to calibrate your smartphone battery on an Android device, so I won’t retype it all here, but this is a useful option to try before completely ditching your defunct power pack.

galaxy s4 mini 20
Battery calibration can be another effective means of fixing charge problems. © 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? What was the culprit and how did you fix it?

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Comments

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  • Pteryx 9 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 9 months ago Link

    There should be edit post on this app

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      Kris Carlon 8 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 9 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 8 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 8 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. 8 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 8 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. 8 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 8 months ago Link

    Thank you Kris Carlin ☺

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  • Angel Elizeche 5 months ago Link

    This was very helpful thank you!

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  • Robert Vega 5 months ago Link

    I've got this problem since yesterday when i was in my car, i plugged in the car and i saw that it was discharging faster than it was charging, so then i came back to my house and i plugged in the wall, it wasn't charging. Then i went to my computer and plugged there, it charged very slow, but there was no other place, neither the car or the wall were charging, and i tried everything you wrote, nothing helped, i even delete everything, and was the same problem, now it just charge with my pc, can you please help me, i have a brand new galaxy note 3. Please help!!! I dont want to leave my pc always on with my phone charging.

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      Kris Carlon 5 months ago Link

      Are you using the same USB cable for the car, wall and computer? Or are they all different cables? Have you taken a look at the tabs in the microUSB port?

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      • Jason Kersey 4 weeks ago Link

        Im having the same issue as Robert Vega and I have a Note 3...it was working perfectly and just randomly stopped. and will now only charge very slowly through the computer but will only hold whatever charge is has when plugged into the wall. Im using the same cord that ive had. The rapid verizon charger with the six foot cord. I dont know what else to do . Im going to try the tips you stated and see if that does anything

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    • Jason Kersey 1 month ago Link

      Have you figured out a fix to this issue? Mine started doing the same thing today....

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  • lance christ 5 months ago Link

    this problem is happening to me now this is the second time the first time I took my phone (htc evo 4g) to the store and they said they fixed the usb port. now when I charge it the notification light or the lightning symbol that appears on the battery icon that show that it is charging usually don't appear. its like my phone charges when it feels like it. sometimes it will just say discharging but I will admit I used to sleep with my phone charging overnight almost everyday. don't know if its the usb port or battery someone help please

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  • Kris 4 months ago Link

    I've been having a charging problem with my Samsung Galaxy3 for a while now. It seems like it's discharging the charge faster than it's taking it in. I have tried different cables as well as all of the solutions listed above. I even went out and bought a Duracell charging pad so I could try and charge it wirelessly. When I use that, it will start charging, and then it will vibrate to let me know that it has yet again stopped charging. I have tried a couple different places using the wireless charging pad, so I know it's not the wireless connection either. I have even changed the battery. Still doesn't want to charge. So very frustrating. If you could help me figure out why I'm having such charging problems, I'd be so grateful. As would my phone, seeing as how I'm now just barely holding myself back from running it over with my car :)

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  • Johanne Danielsen 4 months ago Link

    My phone hasn't been charging for some days, and I was quite upset. Ran into this article, did a little DIY USB Port Fix with a nail file, and Voila!, it is now charging again. Thank you very much!

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      Kris Carlon 4 months ago Link

      You are totally welcome. Happy to help. DIY rules!

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  • Luke Sullivan 4 months ago Link

    I have a tablet and can't get the case of what do I do?

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      Kris Carlon 4 months ago Link

      You don't need to remove the case to do the USB port trick in this tutorial. Is that what you mean?

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      • Kacee 3 months ago Link

        Oh ok Kris. I think I get what you mean. My phone is charging again now. I hope it stays that way. Thanks.

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  • Riley Papaleo 4 months ago Link

    Hello, I have the nexus 4 and it hasnt been charging for the past week, I have tried using different cords ports and the charger its self and nothing seems to wor, is it possible to get battery or charging port on the phone fixed/replaced?

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      Kris Carlon 4 months ago Link

      So it's been dead the whole time? That's a problem. If none of the above tips have helped you might need to take it to a service center or repair man. It's possible there's a loose connection somewhere or the battery has just died completely, but that would require an expert to resolve.

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    • Debbie clarke 1 month ago Link

      Hi my nexus 4 did the exact same thing looked on the net for a tutorial on how to take the back off and remove the battery and put it back in and it worked perfect so I would try that

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  • Wes M 4 months ago Link

    Hello, my Android phone is not charging. However, it indicates that it is charging even with the charger disconnected. I tried the above listed suggestions, including cleaning and removing the battery. Can you think of any other suggestions?

    Thanks

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      Kris Carlon 4 months ago Link

      When you say it indicates that it is charging do you mean the LED lights up or the little charge icon on the system bar shows it is charging? You could try recalibrating the battery with an app called Battery Calibration (by NéMa), but it requires root permissions.

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  • Wes M 4 months ago Link

    Kris, yes, the charge icon is showing that the phone is charging. I will take it by the T-Mobile store after work. Thank you for the quick response.

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      Kris Carlon 4 months ago Link

      Hmm, that might be the best option, let us know what they do to fix it!

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  • Charlotte Kelley 3 months ago Link

    Hi there, I've just ran into this problem last night, it only charged up to 80 something percent which was enough to get me through the day but now it won't charge at all, I've tired several different cords and nothing. I tried the cleaning thing and still nothing. Kind of freaking out, I need my phone!

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      Kris Carlon 3 months ago Link

      Hi @Charlotte, unfortunately when it gets to that stage it's possibly time for a new battery or professional advice. I'd say try another battery, clean all the connectors and do the cable swap but it sounds like you've done all these things already. If the phone won't even power on I'm kind of out of solutions and you might need a technician with proper tools to isolate the problem.

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  • Kshitij More 3 months ago Link

    i have a s4 sometimes the battery charges fast amd sometimes it takes more than 4 hours to charge after i changed my battery the charging is good....

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  • Sean Stockemer 3 months ago Link

    No mention of software issues. I've had charging bugs in several custom ROMs that are only cured by powering down for a few minutes.

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  • liljom 3 months ago Link

    I used my Note 2's original charger a lot, and now they don't work together. The cable works with other phones, the phone works with other cables :) It seems the connecting points got used.

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      Kris Carlon 3 months ago Link

      ''Familiarity breeds contempt'', as they say ;D

      At least you have the option of switching them out and getting more life out of both with other devices/accessories. Nice detective work!

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  • Kacee 3 months ago Link

    My Samsung tablet 10.1 for a couple of days now restarts on it on several times a day. This started when I was watching a movie on it and the movie kept hanging/freezing up at certain parts til my tablet froze and that's how the auto restart issue began. I have deleted the movie and a few apps to free up space but yet the issue persists.

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      Sanjai Joseph 3 months ago Link

      go to recovery and clear cache then data/factory reset. this will solve the issue..

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  • esraa ismail 3 months ago Link

    i have about 6 chargers in home they all charged my mobile very well befora i update my s3 to the version 4.3 then they all didnt charge my mobile fast it could take about 6 hours to charge completely without using it ... then i returned the version 4.1.2 but stil no charger charges my mobile except one ...all these chargers charges all other devices very well but mine only one can charge it
    so the proplem is not with the chargers or the usb port ... any help

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  • Duane Ruggier 2 months ago Link

    Minor problem. My phone will only charge at times when using a charging block. It consistently works when plugged into my computer. I am using the same USB cable and i've used many different charging blocks, including ones i've purchased from Verizon.

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  • Magali Gloutnay 2 months ago Link

    Thank you!!!
    DIY USB port fix - It worked!

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  • Fawad Samoo 2 months ago Link

    Hello Everyone I m so sad Bcz My Prestigo Multipad 8 Tablet is taking too long To Charge Often 14 Hours, I dont understand whats Problem, it Normally charges in 5 hours Completely, but from past 2 days It become too too Slow, I m Very Depressed abt that, I Did Cleaned My tablet Usb Port, I changed my Cable and also charger of my another mobile, but still it is Very slow, plz plz help now tell me what should i do,, Thanx in Advance

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  • Mandy Huddlestun-Meeks 2 months ago Link

    thank you thank you thank you thank you

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    • Fawad Samoo 2 months ago Link

      How Did u do that Mandy. Plz Tell me How ur Phone/tablet Charged normally..? plz

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  • Dillon Carriker 2 months ago Link

    Ok so how do I level the tab on a Galaxy s4

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  • bea camba 2 months ago Link

    My aunt's Samsung Grand hasn't been a year old. She has barely used it and she won't even notice for a day when the battery gets depleted. When that happens, it won't charge again unless I remove and replace the battery. Should I just tell her to avoid letting the battery get to 0% or is there another solution?

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  • Pat Clevenger 2 months ago Link

    I have an HTC Incredible, and for the last few months, it seems to just shut off when I'm running any app even if there is more than 80% charge left. Now, I'm having an issue getting it to charge. Could I need a new phone? I've had this one since Dec of 2012.

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  • Patrick John Malihan 2 months ago Link

    Wow! the toothpick thing actually works! I can't believe it! thanks :D

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  • Hilary Mc Loughlin 2 months ago Link

    Thanks so much for this - went to the local repair shop and they told me €200 to fix it- only bought the phone 6 months ago but can't find receipt cos we've just moved house. Tried the toothpick and eureka!! Very happy thanks

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  • Manoj Daftardar 2 months ago Link

    I was troubled with this problem for 3-4 days, your solution for uplifting of DIY USB port seems to have solved my headache. Thank you very for sharing the info.

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  • Alexis Monae 2 months ago Link

    Thank you sooooo sooo so much! All i needed to read was the first tip, and I didn't have to touch it much. Thank you, again! (: #satisfied

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  • Radoi Emanuel 2 months ago Link

    This post still helps me these days.
    I want to thank you...a lot!
    Great job with the site and the app. I really love them and I think AndroidPit is the only app I check at least twice a day.
    Thank you again and keep up the good work!

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  • Chirag Hasija 2 months ago Link

    The diy port fix was the best one. .It worked pretty well for me..thank you

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  • Saurabh Pandey 1 month ago Link

    Thanks for the wonderful post. I am facing a issue with Samsung Duos. It is charging when connected by a USB to the computer but when the same USB is connected in the wall power socket of the phone it doesn't charge. I have used different chargers for the phone and also different phones for charging on the same wall charging point but the same problem persists. Why is the phone only charging on the USB and not on the wall power even on a properly functioning wall point?

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  • Natalie Harcourt 1 month ago Link

    Im having problems with a htc wildfire s, I have tried new batteries, new chargers, new power sources and nothing is working please help

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  • Jamie Fogle 1 month ago Link

    I'm having problems with my Galaxy s3. It will only charge with a certain charger and i have to toy around with it in order for it to charge, it charges extremely slow and dies extremely quick. My husband went and bought a new charger, and the charger doesn't even charge my phone no matter what even i try playing around with the cord.
    WHAT COULD MY PROBLEM BE? My phone is a necessity and I cant keep having it plugged in 24/7 for it to die in an hour and I can't even touch it while its charging because the charger has to be a certain way.

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    • Muhd Aiman 1 month ago Link

      my guess that the phone's wiring is faulty. never charge it for more than 5 hours as ive heard that phones get easily overheat. i'd get it fix if warranty is available, else get a replacement.

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  • Muhd Aiman 1 month ago Link

    my phone could connect with any usb cable except one. and that one usb cable could also connect to any device except the phone; which is very weird. after reading this, I came to a conclusion that either (or even both) inner wirings/metal parts of it could be off due to wear and tear causing them not to connect properly. i somehow able to connect them if i insert it at a slight angle. i find this article very informative although i do not dare to mess with the inner parts to fix it.

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  • JD2408 1 month ago Link

    My Xiaomi Mi3 will not charge even though I tried all the methods. It does not charge even though it is off. Please help! My Mi3 is like my life. It now has 20% battery now. Plz tell me asap!

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  • Nat 4 weeks ago Link

    I went thru 5 Samsung Galaxy S (Blaze and Light) phones in 2.5 years. They all died because of this very problem. I did try to correct "little thing" inside charger several times but in the end it still would stop charging completely. My latest #6 phone is in the mail and I am thinking hard about how to avoid this problem again.

    I will try not to overcharge it (I usually always charge it when not using it).

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  • Criestal McStain 3 weeks ago Link

    my device is not charging and it is not turning on for almost a couple of days. what should i do with it? help me please.

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      Admin
      Kris Carlon 3 weeks ago Link

      Have you tried all the steps in the article already? if so, you need to take it to a repair shop because your battery is either completely dead (which is bad for your phone) or you have a hardware problem (which is even worse for your phone).

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  • Callum Whitehead 16 hours ago Link

    My phone (Samsung Galaxy Note 1) is stuck at 69% battery eventhough it would be on charge for long hours. What do I do?

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