This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. OK
Authored by:

How to fix a phone that won't charge properly

Update: two new tips added

Authored by: Scott Adam Gordon — 1 week ago

If your battery isn't charging properly, don't immediately assume your phone charger or your battery is broken. Based on personal experience, the problem – and solution – may be much simpler than you think. If your phone or tablet isn't charging properly or at all, take a look at these 12 ways to fix a phone that won't charge. 

Why a phone doesn't charge

The problem occurs in various degrees. Either your phone won't charge at all when it is plugged in, or it will only charge very slowly (sometimes barely faster than it is discharging). It’s a very common complaint, so here are a few solutions. 

androidpit samsung fast charger note 5
Most charging problems are related to your USB cable or charger, or even the port itself. / © ANDROIDPIT

1. Do-It-Yourself USB port fix

The quickest, easiest, and often most successful solution, is to do a little DIY repair on your actual hardware. The problem is 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, such as 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 10 this is all that is required.

motorola moto x usb
Check the 'tab' inside your device's USB port – the cable may not be making contact properly. / © ANDROIDPIT

2.  Remove lint, candy and dust

Do you keep your phone in the pocket of your jeans? If so, lint could be the culprit: we've lost track of the number of times the reason for unreliable USB charging turned out to be lint from the pocket of our Levis.

We've seen phones with charging ports choked with chocolate after they were chucked in a handbag alongside a packet of sweets. A can of compressed air can blow out the offending irritants and get your USB connection back to normal. 

lg g4 samsung galaxy s5 usb
Clear any gunk that might be clogging your phone's ports. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. Switch cables

The flimsiest part of a charger is the cable, not the adapter that plugs into the wall socket. Apple users are particularly vulnerable here because Apple's proprietary (and expensive) Lightning cables appear to have a life expectancy of around 15 minutes. But all cables have a tough life, and endless flexing and curling can take its toll. Substituting a random USB cable for the one that came with your phone is another shortcut to an unenjoyable charging experience.

The easiest way to diagnose a faulty cable is to try a different one and see if that works properly with your device. If it does, you know the original cable was at fault. If it doesn't, that's another potential villain we've ruled out.

androidpit USB 1
Cables are easily damaged. Apple Lightning ones especially so. / © ANDROIDPIT

4. Diagnose a dodgy adapter

If the cable doesn't seem to be the problem, check the wall plug adapter – especially if it's one where the charging cable can be removed. We've encountered issues in multiple chargers where the USB port becomes a little loose after endlessly plugging in and unplugging the cable.

Also check whether the same charger/cable combination works on a different device because this will help you eliminate the possibility that it is your device at fault, rather than the cable or charger. You should also make sure there isn't a problem with your wall socket.

motorola quick charger 6
Make sure there isn't a problem with the adapter. / © ANDROIDPIT

5. Remember – safety first

Don't charge your phone near water or in excessively hot or humid conditions. Also, if you're replacing a charger or cable, be wary: the internet is stuffed with reports of cheap third-party chargers that went bang in the middle of the night or turned smartphones into toast. As with any electrical equipment, make sure that anything you buy complies with all the relevant safety standards. 

To give you an idea of how much energy is stored in your battery, check this video out (but don't try it at home).

A previous version of this article warned users of charging devices overnight, but I want to clarify that this is not because you can overcharge your device. Modern smartphones have measures in place to prevent damage when batteries continue to be charged at 100 percent capacity. 

That said, charging a battery does generate heat and, if a smartphone is in a tight space – like under a pillow or inside a case – there is a chance it could become too hot. Essentially, if you're going to charge your phone overnight, just make sure it's out in a safe place.  

6. Replace the battery

Batteries don't last forever, and after a couple of years they start to struggle to hold a charge. The more often you discharge and recharge them, the sooner they'll need replacing. If your battery's busted after just six months, it's probably faulty and you should make a warranty claim for a free replacement, but if the battery's older than two years, it's probably approaching the end of its lifespan.

Some defective batteries are easy to spot because they start to bulge or leak fluid. If nothing like that is obvious from the outside, remove your device's cover and inspect the battery (if you can; some devices have sealed battery compartments).

If the cover doesn't come off, you could try laying the device on its back and spinning it. A bulging battery will deform the case – you might not be able to see this bulge, but it might be enough to allow your phone to spin. If you suspect your battery might be swollen or leaking, get your phone to a repair shop and buy a reputable replacement.

ANDROIDPIT battery 1
If you are going to replace your battery, try to purchase an official one. / © ANDROIDPIT

7. Charge from the right source

Charging from a wall socket will always be faster than charging via PC or laptop, because computers' USB ports don't deliver very much power. A wall socket can deliver twice as much power as a USB port, and fast chargers it can deliver as much as five times the power – which means much, much faster charging. So if your phone is charging slowly and you're connected to a laptop: there's your problem. 

If your wall charger doesn't appear to be delivering the goods, check that it's appropriate for your device. A charger from another phone might not deliver the right amount of juice — for example, a charger for a Bluetooth headset won't put out as much power as one designed specifically for smartphones. In the case of recent high-end phones, you might have a phone that supports fast charging but a charger that doesn't deliver it. Read the fine-print.

android usb smartphone pc 2
Your desktop or laptop can't charge your Android as fast as a wall socket. / © ANDROIDPIT

8. Update or roll back

Software updates and new Android versions can wreak 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, whereas a two-year-old device can struggle when it gets updated.

If this happens to you and you can't troubleshoot the problem, consider rolling the device back to an earlier Android version, though be warned that this carries 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.

Similarly, sometimes device battery life can be significantly improved by an update, so if you think you might be way behind on your Android software version, head to Settings > About phone to check for an update.

Androidpit System update Nexus 6P 2
Keep your Android version up to date (or roll back to a previous version if really necessary). / © ANDROIDPIT

9. Switch it off

Using battery-intensive apps/features while you are charging your device will affect how quickly it gains battery life. If you are charging while Skyping somebody at 100 percent brightness, the device will naturally take longer to charge than it would with its screen, Wi-Fi and 4G turned off.

Switch the device to airplane mode, or off completely, when you are charging if you want to see the fastest energy injection. Think of it making your device take a power nap.

10. Calibrate your battery

Sometimes the battery level your device 'thinks' it's at is wrong. The effect of this is that your phone may function differently, including limiting performance before it needs to or taking an hour to chew through the last two percent of battery.

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

ANDROIDPIT battery 5
Battery calibration can be another effective means of fixing charge problems. / © ANDROIDPIT

11. Check your battery pack's voltage and amperage

This tip was pointed out in the comments below by Patrick and it can help you quickly identify a defective cable. Download the free Amperage app from the link below and open it. Now, connect your charger and the interface should go green and the text at the top should say "measuring". If you don't see this, or nothing happens, it means there is no current going to your device. 

Ampere Install on Google Play

If it identifies a current, the app will now show the charging statistics for that charger, including the minimum and maximum load levels (in milliamps), voltage and maximum current. This is also a great way to find out which of your chargers is performing best.

Try connecting the different charge packs you own, including portable battery packs, to see which has the highest maximum charge value, or the highest average (the app makes it fairly easy to get an idea of this). It's not an exact measurement but it's an indication if nothing else and the app is completely free. 

androidpit battery tips ampere
The number in the top middle represents the current charge speeds: the charger used in the left screenshot isn't going to charge a device as fast as the one used on the right. / © AndroidPIT

12. What about water damage?

A number of people in the comments asked about battery problems caused by water damage. If your phone fails to charge after falling in water you don't have many options: your best bet is to try and replace the battery – if that's even possible.

You should, however, try to prevent this from ever happening. Read our article explaining what to do when you drop your phone in water to find out the first steps you should take when trying to rescue it.  

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s7 water active
Dropped your phone in water? If the battery is removable, take it out immediately and pat it dry with a towel. / © AndroidPIT

If all else fails, double-check that you 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 has 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 mentioned here in the comments.

Originally from the UK, Scott graduated in Popular Music Studies at Newcastle University and attributes much of his success there to his beloved Samsung Galaxy S2. His current aim is to write cool things about Android. And he loves it.

214 comments

Write new comment:
  • t md 1 day ago Link to comment

    I am confused by the comment about the USB not being able to supply as much as a wall socket. My phone charger is rated (on the original samsung charger) at 5V 0.7A. But my car USB port can supply 2.4A at 5V per port. However, when I use the phone (sat nav running) on the car port, the battery discharges faster. A 1 hour journey drops the battery from 100% to 60%. I have downloaded one of the amp meter apps (the recommended one is incompatible with my samsung ace 4) so I will check this is actually happening. My battery is only 18 months old but has never lasted more than 2 days, normally needs charging every night.

  • did anyone have this problem like me? after i plugged my phone to my pc. my phone shut down by it self and after that. it is having a problem charging. my phone not charging anymore. Can anyone help me with this problem pls save my phone...

  • Wow that video is scary.

  • Very informative! Good one Androidpit.

  • Good information,it's useful! Thanks!

  • why are you posting the same post again and again

  • storm 1 week ago Link to comment

    I've had the lint and lose contacts before.

  • I noticed my android was dying a lot more than it normally did in the past couple of weeks so I decided to try carrying around a power bank! the best one I bought was the beauty bank from Fifth and Ninth!!

  • Thank you so much the first solution was the answer 2 my problem... Now I don't have 2 buy a new phone.. Thanks again so much 4 your help

  • God bless you. The first solution worked for me. I was prepared to go to AT&T on Tuesday to see if it was the battery or the software/hardware that was the culprit, but it was neither! You have saved me time, money, and frustration. Thank you.

  • Thank you! These steps saved the phone and my sanity. It was the worn, dirty terminal that was the culprit.

    • I found that there is no problem with a charger either battery problem is with the cable. Now I'm using another USB cable and working fine. Anyways thank you. He is now restricted from using my charger

  • I have Lenova a7000 mobile which usually takes 2 hours to charge 100% but yesterday after a full night charge in switched off it only gets 40%. Is it bcoz of battery or charger because for two weeks my friend use my charger for his phone (Sony)
    Give me an solution

    • I found that there is no problem with a charger either battery problem is with the cable. Now I'm using another USB cable and working fine

  • Well my phone does charge but sometimes when it's on the charger it will stop charging I take the charger out and I put it back in and it still won't charge so I went down stairs and got the back up charger for my Kyocera Android and used that charger and it still didn't work Ive used different outlets and it just did the same thing it usually takes like 3 minutes for it to start acting up. Can anybody help me to find out what is going on with my phone my parents said it could be overheated and sometimes it won't charge is that correct please anybody I need some help! It's charging now but it's going to act up again

  • Mike 1 month ago Link to comment

    I recently purchases the Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro and haven't been able to get a proper charge to switch on.
    Does anyone know if it has a protective tab on the battery that needs to be removed so it can charge. I was told being a non removable battery it probably wouldn't. Unfortunately the place i bought it cant understand my question and haven't been able to answer so im hoping someone here knows.
    A technician checked it and said it is charging at 8 milliamps per hour instead of the expected 1000 for the battery size.

  • I found out what happen to my phone.. My unit is My Phone Aqua Cyclone.. PhiIippine brand.. I figured out what happen.. I always using my phone and always in my pocket then suddenly when i charge it.. It wont charge.. I turned off my phone and charge it again.. Then it charge.. I try to on and charged it again and it wont turn the charging indicator on.. Then i turn it off again and remove my battery.. Then i clean the charging pin or the usb socket for charging.. Carefully Cleaning with small and thin stick or toothpick.. Then back may battery and turn it on.. Then it charge.. It works.. My usb socket(charging pin) is filling with some dirt in it.. Thats the cause.. So the pin is loose contact with the charger.. Now i use my phone again smoothly.. Thanks.. I hope it works for you..

  • I have a Samsung note 5 and I replaced my battery because I dropped it in the toilet but now the new battery just stays at 1& what should I do?????

  • My s3 mini won't charge at all I've tried everyone's charger what do I do

  • Julie A 1 month ago Link to comment

    With me, my phone will not charge while I am using it on charge. When I leave it alone, then it will charge, but painfully slower than usual. I've tried turning it off and on again, resetting, deleting recently downloaded apps, removing and putting the battery back in, and switching the charge cables. Nothing works. Someone help!

    BTW My phone is a Samsung 5.

Show all comments

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. More info

Got it!