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How to fix a phone that won't charge properly

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 2 months ago

Some of you may have suffered from a phone that won't charge properly and rushed out to buy a new charger to fix it. If you’re having battery problems with your device, such as not charging, here is our guide for how to fix it and get your battery working properly again.

androidpit big battery teaser
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. / ©

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.

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, 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 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.

Try these steps on how to fix a phone that won't charge first before replacing the battery.

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 properly? Let us know if you've found a fix that we haven't got.

Kris Carlon comes to the AndroidPIT Editorial Team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He joined the Android community while resurfacing in civilization back in 2010 and has never looked back, using technology to replace his actual presence in other people's lives ever since. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.


Write new comment:
  • Shane 1 week ago Link to comment

    Hello Everyone.

    Why on earth are people sticking TOOTHPICKS....MONEY/PAPER CLIPS and anything FOREIGN just to hold the charger in place. You do more long term damage to your charging port then actually solving the issues short term.
    Get to your nearest reliable trusworthy phone repair centre and get your phone sorted out......BEST LONG TERM SOLUTION.....CHEERS ALL.

  • Kevin J. Winstrom 1 week ago Link to comment

    Well thanks a lot. I followed your first suggestion, and instead of my Samsung charging slowly, now it won't charge at all. Your advice killed my phone.

    • Shane 1 week ago Link to comment

      Hi Kevin..
      i was having the same problem....till i came across a product for about $1 that holds the charger firmly in place. You can email for more information

  • Kelley Woodruff 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    also, what does it mean to "lever up" a tab in my USB port?

  • Kelley Woodruff 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    I levered up my tab inside my USB port & it still didn't work, what else can I do to fix my phone so it can charge?

  • Jared Bergsma 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    Did all that. Just to discover the extention cord wasint pluged in

  • Ian Soulia 1 month ago Link to comment

    i did exactly what you said, bending the port slightly upwards. Well, now it's completely broken. Thanks.

    • good manners 2 weeks ago Link to comment

      well moron, he didn't say to bend the port upwards he said to lever it up and be extremely careful and gentle. don't blame others for your ineptitude.
      it actually worked for me

    • Lucuis Smhs 1 week ago Link to comment

      It worked for me as well, mainly because i didn't use enough force to destroy it.

  • Shivam Madoo 1 month ago Link to comment

    OK I have a blu life 8 and I realise the problem with my phone as to why it isn't taking charge which is that the tab in my USB port is down and I used a toothpick as u told me but its still down . I want to know how to keep the tab in my USB port up

  • Charge my phone 2 months ago Link to comment

    Secure phone charging stations |

    Keep your guests CHARGED, Connected and Engaged
    Decrease guest demand for provision of extra outlets or charging cables. Increase staff productivity and eliminate any of the potential liability (theft or damage) that you assume when you babysit a guest's phone.

  • Elif Atılgan 2 months ago Link to comment

    Hey, i have General Mobile Discovery and i've been suffering from the charging issue. It sometimes charge but when it doesn't there is no way that i can charge it. my mom has same phone with me so i tested problem is not in the cable or my battery or my phone's USB port. We have sended it for repair but they said ''nothing is wrong just buy a new charger'' so we did. But it's not fixed, still. So i have a question,what the hell is going on with my smart -not that smart- phone

  • Roger 2 months ago Link to comment

    My Sony Xperia Z will not charge at all. It did charge but overnight wouldn't charge at all. How can I fix this problem.

  • Andy Cook 2 months ago Link to comment

    Cheers!! You helped me fix my phone :) Peace x

  • Peace3477 2 months ago Link to comment

    I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 Active At&T but being used on Straighttalk. My phone was charging properly until I got a virus on the phone. I removed the virus, dumped the phone back to factory, and had no issues till after that. Now my phone will only charge when turned completely off. It doesnt charge at all whenever it is turned on and pulled in. When it is turned off, it will charge but it doesnt register the charge. The phone turns on and off and the battery meter flashes like it is refreshing. My charging indicator light no longer comes on. I took it to a repair guy(supposedly) who looked at it for about 30 seconds, didnt turn it off or on, didnt try to charge it, and just told me I needed a new battery. Of course he offered to order one for me(I declined). Ordered a new battery, turned the phone off and charged the battery to 100%. This was yesterday. I left the phone off the charger all night and it stayed charged to about 60% without it being used until 8 this morning. I plugged it into the charger and it wouldnt charge. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Noam Gonopolski 2 months ago Link to comment

      Hey. I have a very very similar problem. And I didn't come up with a solution yet. I hope you did though and I would love it if you share any information on it. I hardly come here so it would be very easy if you write me on Skype.
      login: anbor7257

  • Luka Sunjic 3 months ago Link to comment

    Thank you!

  • ange 3 months ago Link to comment

    Although some of these helped in other occasions, this time it didn't. I got to my wits ends and figured banging it against a book might help. It did! After not being able to charge it at all, I charged it and it worked. So, when in doubt, BANG IT OUT

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