Guilty as (Not) Charged
February 17, 2015 9:24 AM   Subscribe

My iPhone won't charge. Is this fixable, or do I need to buy a replacement?

I have an iPhone 5c that won't charge. This isn't a problem with the charger; I've tried dozens of replacements. For a while now, I could get it to charge if my charger was facing a certain direction and if I jiggled the cord around and if I laid the phone down at just the right angle, but now even that isn't working.

I'm not eligible for a phone upgrade through my phone company until October. I'd rather not shell out the money for a replacement, but I understand that I might have to. Is there any chance that this is fixable, or is this a doomed prospect?

Please hope.
posted by Parasite Unseen to Technology (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've had lint accummulate in the charger hole in my iPhone 5 that prevents the plug from making electrical contact. I used a wooden toothpick to fish out the lint and everything worked again (twice over two years).
posted by cardboard at 9:30 AM on February 17, 2015 [6 favorites]

This has happened to me with an iPhone 5. It was covered under AppleCare so I exchanged it. Then it started happening again to the new one, so I investigated the issue online and found an easy fix! You need to clean the dust out of the charging port. You can use a plastic paper clip or any small piece; dive it in there and wiggle it, and you will be amazed by the amount of crap you'll find! Now I do it once a month or so and every time it's really obvious how the power connection gets better after.
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:30 AM on February 17, 2015

A dry paintbrush is probably a better choice for cleaning lint out of plugs; toothpicks and paperclips risk breaking the connector. Or you can blow it out with a can of compressed air.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Came in here to say lint too, but there are repair options if that's not the problem.

Apple would be the primary choice, but if you don't have the bucks to have them do it and the phone is out of warranty you could try a storefront fixit shop like UBreakIFix. They can do most repairs like this for around $50.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2015

My lightning port got bad in the same way, and it unfortunately wasn't dust (although it definitely is for some folks). First it only worked with the real Apple charger, then the special little tilt/jiggle, then nothing.

The port replacement and all the tools to do it was something like $20 on Amazon. I did the battery at the same time. It was a pain but not rocket science, OR, I'm quite certain that a local mall smart phone medic type place can handle this for you!
posted by ftm at 9:34 AM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is something an Apple Store would be happy to look into.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:05 AM on February 17, 2015

The 5c hasn't been out that long. I would look into whether you got insurance through your carrier or added AppleCare after the fact. Otherwise the above advice it good. If it fails with a known good cable and the port is clean it's time for a repair.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:07 AM on February 17, 2015

Take it to a store and have it looked at before you do anything drastic. At one point I walked in with a broken toggle switch and they just handed me a refurb to replace it, and even without AppleCare I had an iPad replaced (and upgraded because I had an Air but they only had Air2 refurbs to replace with) for $99 because of some kind of insurance through AT&T.

Don't assume your only choice is upgrade or spending money until both your carrier and the Apple Store have said so. (I would go to the Apple Store first.)
posted by Lyn Never at 10:08 AM on February 17, 2015

Response by poster: I had tried using compressed air to clean it out, but it didn't work. Taking the advice here, I used a plastic paperclip to de-lint it, and it's back to the "charges if you jiggle the cord just right" stage.

Many thanks to everyone who answered! Hopefully, I can keep this thing going until I'm eligible for an upgrade.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:19 AM on February 17, 2015

The lint I removed from mine was quite compressed so at a late stage of lint having been crammed in again and again from successive charger insertion I would question whether compressed air would still work. I was working with a 4S so not the new smaller connector but for me getting in there with a metal paper clip just fit perfectly and I could scrape oh so much grossness out. Be careful not not bend any prongs down there but I vote you just have to root around with something that can both fit and scrape.
posted by kaspen at 10:20 AM on February 17, 2015

Seriously, it's probably lint stuck in the port. Use a toothpick or paperclip as I found that compressed air and blowing did nothing. That stuff is packed tight in there if you're like me and charge your phone every day, that's a whole lot of stuffing. There will be a surprising amount of crud in there, but it's really easy to remove.
I learned about this from an answer on quora which said that they took their phone to the apple store and the genius-dude said he had to use a 'special tool' which turned out to be a paperclip.
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:20 AM on February 17, 2015

I use an unfolded staple for this. It's incredible how much lint can get jammed in there. Even if you think you got it all, keep going. Same goes for the headphones port.
posted by theodolite at 10:22 AM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're near an Apple store, make a Genius Bar appointment and they will help you clean it out for free.
posted by radioamy at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2015

Many thanks to everyone who answered! Hopefully, I can keep this thing going until I'm eligible for an upgrade.

Go to the Apple Store and tell them what's going on. They'll look at it for no charge, and probably dig out a bunch more stuff than you already got. They did exactly that for me, and then the phone charged just fine for the rest of its useful life.
posted by The Michael The at 12:53 PM on February 17, 2015

I managed to get a seed wedged in my ipod's headphone port awhile back, while messing around outside pulling weeds up, and the Genius Bar folks fixed it for me in a couple of minutes no charge. Take it in.
posted by zadcat at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2015

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