The ultimate “phone is not charging” troubleshooting guide!
Nothing is more troubling for an Android smartphone user than when you plug your phone in to power to charge it… and absolutely nothing happens. And honestly, you wouldn’t bother to look online for a troubleshooting guide if the solution was obvious, would you?
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The problem with most guides you will find over the internet is that they are a bit haphazard in giving you solutions for your smartphone charging problems. And with the huge number of phone models in 2018, a solution that works for one phone might not quite work for another.
So we’re giving you a systematic approach to resolving a situation where your phone is not charging, and it’s not necessarily the battery that’s the culprit. Allow us to take you through the system below.
The System: Start Outside Your Phone and Work Your Way In
When your phone is not charging, there are a number of possible causes for this to happen. What we need is a systematic way of checking all the variables so that we can eliminate probable causes of the issue.
As with the image above, we recommend that you start checking the elements furthest away from the smartphone and work your way in, before you conclude that your phone’s battery has gone kaput.
There are a number of elements in the process of charging your phone. Starting from the furthest away from your smartphone, they are listed here:
- The power source – where your device is getting the electricity to charge the battery
- The charger head unit – the part of your charger that plugs into the wall socket
- The charging cable – the USB cable you use for charging your phone
- Smartphone charging port – the port on your phone where you connect the charging cable
- The smartphone’s software – apps and updates that may affect the charging process of your phone
- The smartphone’s battery – the battery which holds electrical charge to power your phone.
This system is the best way to make sure that you will not miss an element in your troubleshooting when your phone is not charging. The trick is to check these elements one by one, starting from the furthest away from your smartphone.
So let’s get at it. These steps should be quick enough so that you’ll get to the cause of why your phone’s battery is not charging in no time at all.
1. Check Your Power Source
This should be a quick enough check, as you need to make sure that the wall outlet or power strip that you’re plugging into is working as it should. Plugging in another electrical appliance on a particular wall socket or transferring from one socket of a power strip to another should do the job.
Special attention needs to be given when you’re plugging into a power source that is not directly to a wall outlet. This could be a power strip, a USB charging hub, a charging dock, or a USB port on your laptop/desktop.
USB Charging Hub
These are those charging hubs with multiple USB ports that you can plug your devices into, and you usually use these so that you can charge your devices all in one place.
The problem with these how these hubs are built is that most of the time, the more devices you plug in, the less power they can provide per device. If your phone is not charging via your hub, you can check by plugging your phone’s official charger into a wall socket.
Charging via Laptop or Desktop
I’m sure a lot of people already know that a laptop or desktop’s USB port will not provide as much power to your smartphone for charging as a charger plugged to a regular wall socket would.
But some of you might not know that, so we’re mentioning it just the same. You might need to charge as much as two or three times as long if you’re using your laptop or desktop to charge your smartphone.
2. Check Your Charger Head Unit
The next element on our list to check when your phone is having trouble charging – and you’re not quite sure what’s wrong – is the charger head unit. This is the part of your charger that plugs into the wall socket.
Unbeknownst to most users, these charger heads go through a lot of stress – they are dropped, kicked while plugged in, pulled and pushed in different directions. These can cause the charger’s plug blades to be bent and not have good contact with the wall socket.
If your charger’s plug blades are bent, you can gently coax them into the right shape using some pliers. Use a light touch when working on this, as you may break the charger altogether.
2.1 – Check the port where the charging cable connects to the charger head.
As you may have noticed, it is the parts that connect that usually cause problems in electrical connections. Your charging cable connects to the charger head in what usually is a USB-type connection.
Make sure that this connection is snug, and that the charging cable has good contact with the charger head. You can even clean out this port with a brush or a canister of compressed air if you notice some gunk inside the port.
2.2 – Swap charger heads to confirm that they’re working.
If these processes still don’t fix the issue, swap your charger head with another that you know to be working. If your phone starts charging on a new charger head, then you know what’s wrong.
3. Check Your Charging Cable
The charging cable is usually the part of the charging process that is made with the cheapest materials, in comparison to everything else your phone came with out of the box.
As you use it more and more, the cable gets bent, rolled, twisted and deformed in many ways. If your phone manufacturer gave you cheap cables – and some unfortunately do – this can mean that your cable might be broken, which is why your phone isn’t charging.
Check your cable for frayed or exposed innards, good signs that you might need a replacement. To check, use another cable that you know to be working – a spare cable if you have one, or a friend’s cable – to check if this is indeed the problem.
If your phone starts charging on a different cable, then you now know the cause of your Android phone not charging.
4. Check Your Smartphone’s Charging Port
You might not be aware of this, but charging port of your smartphone – that is, the port where your charging cable connects with your phone – is a magnet for all the gunk that you have inside your pockets or bags.
When this port is usually exposed to dust, so detritus is bound to collect in this port over time. But when you put your phone inside your pocket (like you usually would), or put the phone inside your bag together with food or other items, this is just more gunk that could make its home in your smartphone’s charging port.
So take time to regularly check or clean out this port. You can blow into the charging port to clear the area of a little dirt and pocket lint that might have collected there.
For charging ports that require a bit more effort in cleaning, you can use an unused and DRY toothbrush to clean out the port. Fold out the edge of a paper clip to pick out sticky flotsam inside the port, but make sure the phone is turned off when you do this.
Lastly, compressed air can also be used to blow into the port so that the port is dry and clean. A dirty port will prevent you charging cable from making proper contact, so your Android phone won’t charge properly.
5. Check Your Phone’s Software for Issues
If you’ve gotten this far and still have not solved your phone’s charging issue, then things will start to get a little bit more technical, complicated, and a bit more difficult. But this guide will walk you through this challenging part as well.
There are some apps and software issues on your phone that might prevent it from charging correctly. Run through this mini-list and see if there are fixes for you.
Fully Drained Battery
If your Android smartphone was fully drained of battery power down to zero, the operating system won’t show the charging symbol until it has enough power to do so. That might take a few minutes of being plugged in, so sit tight and wait a while.
Gaming While Charging
If you’re playing a high-resource, high-graphics app or playing a game while charging, there might be a slim chance that your Android won’t charge.
This is because you might be using more power from the battery than what’s being given by the charger. Close the app and check if you’re able to charge when the app is not running.
Clearing the Smartphone’s Cache
Sometimes, a misbehaving app could be the source of your charging issue. It would not be immediately clear why or how the app is causing this trouble, but here’s a handy fix – clear your device’s storage cache.
Clearing your phone’s cache might be a Hail Mary shot at this point, but if you’re thinking that an app could be causing this, clearing the cache might also delete the glitch, along with all the unwanted and unneeded files in the cache.
To do this, go to your Android phone’s Settings menu, then tap on Storage. Locate the indication for Cached Data, and tap it to clear the cache.
Operating System Stuck
In some cases, the operating system of your Android phone might somehow be stuck – for instance, too many apps open, or not enough memory to continue running – and it will not be able to show you a charging symbol.
Often, the best way to resolve this is to turn your smartphone off. If the operating system is stuck, the only way for you to do this on a modern phone (non-removable battery) is to hold down the power button for a long time until the phone shuts down.
On an older phone, you might be able to remove the battery and put it back again. But there are very few phones these days with removable batteries.
You can then check the charging either while the phone is turned off – which is recommended – or if you really need to use it and there is still some charge left, turn the phone back on again and see if it charges.
There have been a few cases I’ve personally seen when after installing a system update, an Android smartphone would do all sorts of funky stuff – including not charging.
We’re not saying that the manufacturer or Google is at fault here, but these kinds of situations have been documented and are real. So how do you get your phone to charge from here?
You may need to uninstall the said update – that is, roll back the software on your phone to the version before the update. A little bit of research on the internet and in forums will help in how you will be able to do this, but it should correct the issue.
Do a Factory Reset
So this should be the last and final software fix that you would try, and even then, do it with a measure of care. If all other fixes before this have been done and you have reasonably inferred that nothing in the fixes listed above will work, then you can try doing a factory reset.
A factory reset might just fix any other hidden software issue that is preventing your phone from charging. But it also will delete all data from your phone – contacts, messages, pictures, and all other user data – so make sure you do a backup of all your files before doing this.
6. At This Point, It Might Be a Phone Hardware Issue
We’ve gotten to this point, and we’ve checked every other element of your smartphone’s charging process. If your phone is still not charging after all the troubleshooting steps above, then now is the time that we can start thinking if something is wrong with your phone’s hardware.
You should now consider bringing your smartphone to an official service center for certified technicians to take a look at your phone. They will probably give you good recommendations on what to do from there, but here’s what it could be.
The Phone’s Battery
This is the usual culprit. A smartphone’s battery does have a lifespan, a set number of charges and discharges. Normally, this would be long after you’ve probably replaced your phone with a new one.
That said, your smartphone may just be unlucky enough to get a faulty battery. If the technicians at the service center find out that it is the battery at fault – and you’re still within warranty – they should replace the battery for free, at the very least. At best, they give you a replacement phone.
Immersion of a non-waterproof phone in water could also damage the phone’s battery. This usually is not covered under the warranty and would require you to pay for the battery replacement.
The Phone’s Motherboard
The motherboard is the circuit board where all of your smartphone’s crucial internals are found – including the processor, the memory and storage, and the graphics chip. This is the “brain” of your smartphone.
If by some weird voltage surge or you dropping your phone or you dropping your phone in a pool of water, the motherboard somehow got damaged, it will need replacement. Depending on your smartphone brand and your warranty, this could mean a replacement repair and your phone being out of action for a few weeks.
At worst, this could be a very expensive replacement if your phone is not under warranty. Truth be told, any good technician would probably tell you that the option of getting a new phone would most likely be cheaper.
Is Your Phone Finally Charging?
If this troubleshooting guide did its job well, you will – at the very least – know what’s probably causing your phone’s charging issue at this point in time.
At best, you might need to replace your charging cable with a new one. Doing a factory reset on your phone is challenging and a bit of a hassle, but you will need to do it if it is what is needed to be done.
For a phone that is relatively new (bought between 2015 to 2018) this troubleshooting guide is all you will need to help you if your Android phone is not charging.
Give us a shout out in the comments section if this helped you in your phone charging troubles or if you still have questions. We’re always happy to help!