Quick Fix for iPhone 6 Charging Port (try before replacing it)
Quick Fix for iPhone 6 Charging Port (try before replacing it)
Note: I originally wrote this post for my iphone 6. But it should be useful for iPhone 5 through iphone Xs (basically anything with a lighting port, USB C port, and micro USB port (although some say it’s not as successful with the micro USB ports.
So when my iPhone 6 was only 6 or 8 months old, the charging port started acting up. I should have taken it into the apple store at that point and may have gotten it repaired for free or even received a new phone; but I didn’t think of that… I just lived with it. I thought it was the charging cable at first (and sometimes it was). I would switch out the charging cable and it would work a little better, a little more consistent. But then I started trying out some of devices using the same lightning cables I previously thought were defective; turns out, they weren’t always defective. For the last few months, the only cables that would even charge my device were the original 2 foot cables that came with my phones; and even those had to be in the perfect position. Nothing like unplugging your phone, that’s been charging all day, only to find it has about 5% right before your 12 hour shift!
Assuming I had just prematurely worn out the charger port, I looked at some of the YouTube videos on changing out the port. Looked, overall, like a great way to ruin my phone and waste about 5 hours of my life. So I resigned myself to paying someone to fix it. But being the tightwad that I am, I went back to the some of the YouTube videos again last night, for one last glance, to make sure I din’t want to operate on it myself. Well, right in the comments was someone saying, “Hey, before you go to all this trouble, clean the lint out of your charging port. Mine had more lint than my belly button:)”
Before I go into the how, let me please just make this one disclaimer: be forewarned, you could damage your charging port if you are too aggressive, especially using metal objects. On the other hand, there is a point of no return, and sometimes the charging port just has to be replaced, no matter how good you clean it. It’s just one of those things.
Another piece of advice from a kind commentor (Danny), please turn off your device before probing the charging port or any ports with a metal device. While not a super high shock potential (albeit not impossible), you could possibly short circuit something and fry your device all together if it is on when you shove in a metal object not necessarily designed for your device.
So that’s what I did; I cleaned the lint out and now mine works again, “almost” good as new. I never would have thought a little bit of lint would interfere with the connections but apparently it did. I used all of the tools, below, to fix my phone. I have put the tools in order of least aggressive to most aggressive (the most aggressive, of-course, carrying the greatest potential for damage).
Note (update 8/29/2019): After I wrote this blog post, I realized there are actual products made for doing this job. I would highly recommend grabbing one of these kits on amazon and some duster cans, below. I would use some of these less abrasive tools and hopefully more lint-free tools first. And as a last resort take a chance with the tooth pic or paperclip. Don’t forget to turn your phone off before sticking any foreign object in it!
1. I would start with an air duster and try to blow the lent out. Use short bursts so it doesn’t start forming condensation and spraying moist air. This is the most important step because just a little shot of compressed air may be all your phone needs. And if you do have to go a little more aggressive with using probing objects and solvents, the last thing you would want to do is further pack debris into those crevices that could, otherwise, have been blown out by a $5 duster can.
2. Make sure your phone is turned off. And for this point forward, just a disclaimer, proceed at your own risk.
3. If the air duster, alone, doesn’t work or if you can still visibly see lint in the hole, it’s time to go a little more aggressive. If you look closely at the image of my charging port (sorry I only took an “after” photo) you will see some pins or contacts only on one side of the port. Be extra careful around those pints, but pay extra attention to them as well as they will be areas that are more prone to collect lint. Take a toothpick and gently start cleaning around the contacts and the crevices/four corners of the port.
4. If you’re not back in business after the toothpick, time to step it up and use the paperclip. But be even more careful, as the harder object you stick in your device, the greater potential for damage.
5. And last, if you’ve been using your device for over a year without ever cleaning out the lent, you’ve likely left some residue, dirt, and grease on the contacts which could be interfering with the connections. Note: it is possible, that the paper towel method described here, could snag one of the charging point contacts and rip it right out of your port, so proceed at your own risk!
Caveat: I probably would have preferred some acetone which I think has an even lower boiling/evaporation point than rubbing alcohol. But since I haven’t had access to acetone since O-chem lab in my college days, I broke out the rubbing alcohol. I probably would have also preferred some pipe cleaners, but didn’t have any of those on hand either; so I cut up some paper towels.
Back to the procedure: In lieu of some various sizes of pipe cleaners, take some paper towels–preferably the strong ones like bounty towels which also generally come with less lint–and cut some small strips with scissors. Don’t tear the strips or you’ll end up creating more lint and possibly leaving behind more debris to snag on things. After cutting some small strips, fold the strips over a small flat object (whatever you have on hand that will fit in the charging port). After folding the paper towel strips around your instrument, wet it with rubbing alcohol, and take your fingers and mash the edges together tight. Now you can insert the paper towel in and out of the charging port. Mine came out with some blackish, greasy looking marks the first two times.Note: I’ve read some posts that said they purchased some contact cleaner and conservatively sprayed some in the port (may be another option).
6. Probably the next move would be, assuming you didn’t ruin the port in step 4;), to try and even up height of the spring-like contacts on the inside of the port. It looks like there are about 9 or 10 contacts that are just springy/pressure contacts. You’ll need one of those lighted magnifiers, or maybe you can use another phone (in camera mode, zoomed in) to see what you are doing. And you’ll need something really small like a needle. You’ll need to identify the contacts that are bent down too much, and pry them up a bit so that all contacts are making a firm connection with the lightning cable male end. The trick, of course, will not be pry the contacts with so much force that you break one off.
The end result, after thoroughly assaulting my device (with steps 1 -4), it’s now charging much better now (almost good as new). I tried one of the 6′ aftermarket cords that had stopped working, and it now worked again. The short factory cord that came with my device–which had become temperamental–now works 100% of the time, but only with one side facing up (explain that one!). Note, on another iPhone 6, both cords work flawlessly (explain that one!).
So my charging port isn’t quite 100% yet, but at-least I can reliably charge it now. Hopefully this solution will help you as well. In the future, don’t forget to blow out the port more often with a duster can.
Note (update 8/29/2019): When I wrote this blog post, I wrote it while trying to fix my iPhone 6. That was 3 years ago. Now I still have my iPhone 6, but my main day-to-day driver is my iPhone X. I’ve had it a few years now. And guess what, I’m having some of the same lighting plug issues, reminiscent of my iPhone 6.
The crazy thing is, however, I could have prevented this by placing a silicone plug, early on, in the lighting port when not using it. This would have been too much of an inconvenience with my iPhone 6, but with my iPhone X, since I rely 99% of the time on wireless charging, I rarely use the lightning port. But when I need it, (i.e., occasionally using my phone while needing to charge, or needing to sync my phone with iTunes) I really need it at that moment and time! I’ll put a link to a cleaning/combination plug kit below (the first image below). By the way, this kit, seems to have everything the kit, above, has except for the ear plug cleaning too (which I can do probably do without), and the cleaning cloths.
I will also put a link to my favorite car mounts. I drive an older truck so there are not too many places to mount my phone; therefore, I’ve gone with the suction dash mount which has worked well for me. For the last few years, I’ve been using the iOttie Easy one Touch Wireless Qui Fast Charger (the second image below). Note: it this is their older model which doesn’t have USB C capability. And I wouldn’t really call it a “fast charger” in my experience. But it at least maintains my charge and maybe gives me a few percent during my 20 minute commute to work while using Waze which can hog your battery a bit. That is below.
But if you don’t need wireless charging, you can get the iOttie Easy One touch 4 (the third image below) for a little cheaper.
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