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How to fix a phone that won't charge properly

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 1 month 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 10 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. Do not overcharge your device; charging overnight when your battery only needs two or three hours is a bad idea, and can lead to a battery exploding or damaging your phone. While your phone has a cut-off switch for your battery, sometimes this doesn't work (you might remember all those exploding battery stories back in 2013). It's better to be safe than sorry. Or burnt to a crisp.

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).

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.

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Battery calibration can be another effective means of fixing charge problems. / © 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 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 mentioned here in the comments.

Kris is a former AndroidPIT Editor who came to the team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.

182 comments

Write new comment:
  • My phone is getting charged if i use a power bank but, it gets discharged when i use a wall socket. It also gets discharged real quick these days, what could be the problem ?

  • I got a cheap wall adapter and when my Samsung avant is charging, it freezes the screen. My phone is about 1.5 years old now. It's a cheap phone too. Ah well, its a phone. Kris is cute.

  • It was very helpful!!Thanks!!

  • Sound interesting! Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful post. Some times we are facing this problem with our phn. But with this article we got lots of point which helps us a lot.

  • I have the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, and it just won't charge at all, I've tried everything, and its a uni-body so makes it hard to take out battery

  • None of these worked to get my Huewai Y536A1 a.k.a. Ascend? a.k.a. Tribute? Fusion? So many nka's for one phone? Which is the correct model?
    I LOVE Android OS, wouldn't think of having any other. But I've never had a charge port issue . I don't believe it's the OS but I'm lost. Any other ideas?
    Thanks

  • NO MORE

  • Wish I had read this earlier!

  • Alex W. 1 month ago Link to comment

    I really appreciate the useful articles which you keep publishing. Instead of posting zillions of gossip articles like what the next upcoming phone might look like, you actually provide very useful tips on apps and hardware. Great stuff! Eventhough I don't need it right now, I might do in the future.

  • anshul 1 month ago Link to comment

    Informative article. Thanks!

  • Mark G. 1 month ago Link to comment

    My old faithful Galaxy S3 started to succumb to old age. Her battery would take 24/36 hrs to full capacity whilst switched off, then would discharge very quickly (1/3hrs). If I charged whilst using the phone it would not be enough causing it to discharge quicker than it could be charged.

    I bought a new battery - no improvement.
    I fiddled with the micro USB port - no improvement.

    Though I bought a 3.0A charger with a decent made usb cable (AWG 24C/24D,proper braided and shielded) and it works, woop woop!

    It now charges to 100% in a decent time and more importantly keeps its charge whilst using the phone at the same time.

    She has now been brought out of retirement and is being used as a home security cam (via Alfred - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ivuu)
    She's having a quiet life in retirement but still able to contribute.

    With the right care my old faithful S3 will be working for years to come.

    Peace ✌

  • john G 1 month ago Link to comment

    Solution 1 do work with me THANKS

  • My Samsung Galaxy Legend wont charge. At all. Please help. It wont even turn on. It doesnt have water in it or anything, it just stopped charging. Should I get another battery or?

    • Mark G. 1 month ago Link to comment

      Hi, I would recommend that you purchase a new genuine battery - if that doesn't work I'd purchase a 3A charger with a decent cable. The charging system should only draw the required amount of power.

  • It keeps saying "the connected charger will take longer to charge" to charge faster, use the original charger and cable that were provided with this phone" and it just doesn't charge at all like it keeps charging and then not charging and then it doesn't even charge period just drains battery.

    • Mark G. 1 month ago Link to comment

      Hi, again I would recommend that you purchase a 3A charger with a decent cable. It is generally recommended that you keep to the original charger & cable, but I've found with older devices the charging system isn't able to draw enough power. Especially when the battery is +2 years old.

      Peace ✌

  • As a tech-savvy person, I find it embarrassing and absolutely hilARious that what I need to do was blow in my phone's socket to fix it.

  • So I tried the "lifting the tab" method and I plugged in my phone to the charger and the LED light flashed red for a second and now nothing. Does that just mean my phone's uber dead or do I need to take my phone in? It hasn't been charging right for quite some time now. My phone will go days on end with being dead because it won't charge right. I'm not sure if it's the charger or the port that's wrong. Any advice??

  • That lever up worked

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