Appledystopia: Independent Technology News

iPad Not Charging? Here’s How to Fix It.

published by Chad Evans
August 9, 2023 at 5:11 p.m. PST
  • Apple launched the first iPad in 2010, which has since become the most successful tablet.
  • The iPad features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery capable of up to ten hours of use.
  • It’s possible for iPad charging to fail, with your iPad displaying a “Not Charging” message in the top right corner of the screen.
  • The “Not Charging” message is likely due to an under-powered charger or cabling defect, not a software problem.
  • Theoretically, an iPadOS bug could affect battery charging, but research shows this hasn’t happened.

Table of Contents

How to Tell If Your iPad Is Charging
iPad “Not Charging” Error Message Usually Caused By Faulty Cable or Power Adapter
Troubleshooting an iPad That’s “Not Charging”
iPadOS Software Likely Not the Cause
Charging iPad With Laptop USB Port
Recommended iPad Chargers
If All Else Fails, Take Your iPad in for Service

How to Tell If Your iPad Is Charging

Like all Apple devices, your iPad clearly indicates its battery status in the upper right corner of the device. If your iPad is charging, you’ll see a white lightning bolt symbol on top of a partially green battery cell. The battery icon looks like a standard AA battery on its side. The green portion represents the amount charged so far.

If your iPad is totally dead, you’ll see another graphical representation of its charge status. Once you plug it in, you may immediately see a classic AA-style battery cell in the middle of the screen.

The battery graphic shows a red line on the left side of the cell, indicating that it’s too depleted to start up your iPad. Beneath this, you’ll also see a white lightning bolt and a charging cable depicted on the bottom of your iPad. After a few minutes, your iPad will start up, and you can continue to charge it.

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For those who see a blank screen after plugging in their iPad, keep in mind that it may take a few moments for the low-battery image to appear. Try pressing the Home or Side buttons if it doesn’t show up.

If you see nothing but a blank screen after several minutes, it could mean that your iPad’s battery is dead and can no longer be charged. It could also indicate that your charger or cable is damaged. It’s also possible that your iPad’s Lightning or USB-C port is damaged.

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iPad “Not Charging” Error Message Usually Caused By Faulty Cable or Power Adapter

Another more informative error message shows that the iPad is “Not Charging” in the top right corner. iPadOS places this message to the left of the charging icon. It usually indicates that the power source isn’t sufficient to charge the iPad. In other words, the iPad drains power faster than the charger can replenish the battery.

One common reason for this issue is that you’ve plugged your iPad into a weak power source, such as a computer with a very old USB-A power adapter. Also, some laptops need additional configuration to provide power through a USB port to prevent rapidly draining the computer’s battery. We’ll look at an example of enabling your laptop’s USB port for charging later in this article.

An iPad requires at least 10W to charge properly. It may charge with a less powerful adapter; however, the lower the wattage, the more likely you’ll see the “Not Charging” message displayed at the top-right.

Another possibility is that your power adapter is malfunctioning. While there’s a chance that your charging cable could be damaged, typically, this results in no charging at all.

If you see the “Not Charging” message on the screen, your iPad detects that it’s plugged into some type of charger. Usually, the current is so weak it’s not charging because the iPad is drawing more power than the charger delivers. If this is your only option, shutting down your iPad may enable charging, but it will still be slow.

Slow charging isn’t something you should have to put up with. In the next section, we’ll show you how to troubleshoot an iPad displaying the “Not Charging” message or one that just won’t charge at all.

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Troubleshooting an iPad That’s “Not Charging”

Whether you see the “Not Charging” message on the top right or your iPad shows a blank screen, the following steps will rule out common mistakes. If, after following these steps, your iPad cannot charge, it’s likely due to component failure. Either the port, power IC, battery, or some other part no longer works and requires replacement. If you own an old iPad, you may consider replacing the tablet altogether.

Unlike other guides, we don’t show you useless steps. For example, upgrading iOS won’t help your iPad charge. In fact, if you can’t charge your iPad, running an iOS update might be impossible, as it requires a 50% charge. Also, if you can’t charge your iPad, running an iPadOS update will drain the battery even more, putting you in a worse situation.

Many unscrupulous websites add unnecessary steps to how-to guides to seem comprehensive. It may fool Googe, but it doesn’t fool us. We don’t send our visitors on wild goose chases. The following steps will help you charge your iPad or determine whether a charger, cable, or iPad component needs repair or replacement.

  1. Plug your iPad charger (at least 10W) directly into the wall using an outlet known to work. You may want to plug a lamp or other electrical device into the outlet to ensure it functions. Don’t plug it into a power strip or uninterrupted power supply (UPS). It could be the point of failure.
  2. Connect the USB-C-to-Lightning or USB-C-to-USB-C cable from the power adapter to your iPad. You should see some indication that your iPad is charging. If so, the problem was with your electrical outlet, UPS, or power strip. Consider repairing or replacing the defective item.
  3. Swap out the cable with another if your iPad is still not charging. If your iPad begins charging with the replacement cable, the cable is the problem. Make sure to discard the broken cable properly as e-waste.

The power adapter is likely the issue if your iPad still doesn’t charge. Try replacing the charger. It’s best to use an original Apple charger. If you use a laptop USB port to charge your iPad, ensure it’s configured to charge external devices. (This is covered later in the article.)

If replacement cords and power adapters still don’t work, your iPad may have sustained some damage or has a dirty USB-C or Lightning port. Do not jam foreign objects into your iPad’s port to clean it. Instead, use a small vacuum to remove any lint or dust that may impede charging.

If cleaning the port doesn’t work, it may be damaged. It could also be an issue with your iPad’s battery.

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iPadOS Software Likely Not the Cause

Some websites claim that upgrading iPadOS will solve problems with an iPad that won’t charge. This is false. In my research, I haven’t found a single case where someone upgraded iPadOS to solve a charging issue successfully.

As a techie, it doesn’t seem likely, as most charging functions are controlled below the operating system level. After all, your iPad can charge when it’s shut down. (In fact, it will charge much faster this way. Make sure to plug in the cable before shutting down your iPad.)

It’s best to keep your iPad up to date; however, if you’re using an older iPad, upgrading iPadOS could slow it down. Newer versions of iPadOS require more processing power to run smoothly. I made the mistake, years ago, of upgrading a 2nd generation iPad to iOS 8, which slowed it down to the point of being useless.

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Upgrading one’s operating system isn’t always a panacea. Usually, the first version of a major OS release will have some severe defects. Even as a technology writer, I often postpone upgrading to the latest major versions of Apple operating systems because these new releases often contain a few imperfections.

The notion that upgrading iPadOS will fix your charging issue is false. Don’t waste your time or the little battery power you have left. Instead, use it to back up your iPad and consider erasing its contents.

If you have tried all of the steps in this article and still cannot charge your iPad, it’s time to take it to an Apple-certified repair shop or buy a new one altogether. It’s best to erase your iPad and remove it from Find My before you do either.

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Charging iPad With Laptop USB Port

Like many laptops, the Windows laptop I used to write this article can charge external devices with its USB port. It’s a convenient feature enabling you to charge your iPad without a dedicated charger. All you need is a USB-C to Lightning cable or a USB-C to USB-C cable if you’re using an iPad Pro, iPad Air, or iPad Mini with a USB-C port.

By default, USB charging is disabled on some laptops. This is to prevent accidental battery drain. After all, many people connect devices to their laptops to transfer files. If USB charging were on by default, you’d drain your laptop battery every time you attached a device.

My LG Gram laptop offers a variety of USB-C power options. By default, its USB-C port is set to “automatic,” meaning it will detect whether USB-C supplies or drains current and function appropriately.

With the automatic setting, plugging in a USB-C cable attached to a power supply will charge my laptop. Plugging in an iPad will drain the laptop’s battery while replenishing the iPad’s.

For most laptops, simply plugging your iPad into a USB-C port will charge the tablet. If not, you’ll need to find the manufacturer-specific settings app. Unlike Macs, Windows computers often have an additional control panel to handle features not included with Windows.

LG Control Center is the settings app for my laptop. It offers the following features regarding USB-C charging:

Always On Charging: An on/off switch determines whether your computer can charge devices when turned off.

Automatic/Sink/Source: These buttons are mutually exclusive (radio buttons). You can only choose one at a time. Automatic will determine whether your laptop charges or supplies current from its USB-C port. To only charge your laptop through the USB-C port, choose Sink. If you only wish to charge other devices with the USB-C port, select Source.

Let’s apply this knowledge to charging your iPad. If you plugged your iPad into your computer and it’s not charging, it’s likely due to the USB-C port’s configuration. Although these instructions are specific to LG Gram laptops, other manufacturers offer settings apps to control features beyond Windows.

If you have an LG Gram, open LG Control Center, select Power Management, and click Source. Turn on the Always-On Charging switch if you want your laptop to charge your iPad when powered off.

Your laptop may offer different methods of controlling the USB-C port. If it doesn’t provide a vendor-specific control panel, it likely defaults to an “automatic” configuration. This means the computer will charge when connected to a power adapter and drain when attached to your iPad.

Since the USB-C standard has evolved, it is much more intelligent than older USB technologies. USB-C can differentiate between a power source and a device that can only drain and transfer data. The technology also allows users to direct power through the connection as a source or sink.

If your laptop doesn’t offer a special control panel and your iPad isn’t charging, it’s possible that charging isn’t supported. After all, most people don’t expect to use a laptop as a charging station.

USB-C charging via a laptop is for travel convenience or emergencies. Not every computer supports this capability. Different laptops handle USB-C port power flow in varying ways.

At Appledystopia, we recommend charging your iPad with an Apple or MFi-certified charger. Energizing your Apple tablet via a laptop should only be done in emergencies or if there’s no other way. If you wish to travel light, it can save you a few ounces of weight and a bit of space.

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Recommended iPad Chargers

If the steps in this how-to guide indicate a defective power adapter, buying an Apple charger or one certified by the iPhone maker is best. There are inexpensive chargers available online and in discount stores. I strongly recommend avoiding these. They might work but could also ignite fires or damage your iPad.

Appledystopia recommends Apple and Anker chargers. I have used both, and they’re safe and high quality. There are many other brands. Just ensure the charger bears the MFi (Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod) designation, which means it is Apple certified.

Since the iPad is a much bigger device than an iPhone, it also houses a bigger battery. iPad battery sizes range from a little over 4000 mAh for the mini models to almost 12,000 mAh for the larger Pro units.

The iPad also has a different power integrated circuit (power IC) than an iPhone, enabling it to charge with more current. A new iPad Pro can charge at up to 30W, whereas an older model charges at 10W.

Since the iPad uses an advanced power IC, it doesn’t matter if you use a more powerful charger. I’ve charged my 9th-generation iPad with a 140W MacBook charger.

The iPad’s power IC manages charging. Even if you use the iPad’s recommended charger, it may charge with less current due to high battery temperature or other conditions. If you wonder why your iPhone or iPad charges at different rates, that’s why. The power IC will also reduce current when your iPad is charged over 80% to avoid battery damage.

Of course, if you decide to use a more powerful charger, you must ensure Apple or an MFi-certified manufacturer makes it. A cheap charger may overheat due to poor design.

Personally, I wouldn’t use a cheap, no-name charger for anything. Apple chargers are much less expensive these days, and reputable brands like Anker, Amazon Basics, Belkin, and others are as cheap as questionable brands.

If you own a MacBook, it’s best to buy a 140W charger. You can use it for your iPhone and iPad too. For those who only possess an iPad, iPhone, or both, a 30W charger will suffice.

One of my favorite chargers runs at 65W and features two USB-C ports for simultaneous charging. I use one for my Apple Watch and the other to charge my iPad or iPhone. Multiport chargers are an excellent option if outlets are scarce.

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If All Else Fails, Take Your iPad in for Service

If you’ve tried everything in this guide and your iPad still fails to charge, there’s probably a physical problem. Maybe the port is damaged. The power IC or other electronics could be failing. Most likely, the battery is dead and needs replacement.

All of these repairs cost money. If you’ve been backing up your iPad regularly and your iPad is old, it’s probably best to get a new one.

Don’t spend money on an old device that will soon be obsolete. Sure, replacing the battery or port is cheaper than buying a new iPad, but a new tablet has much more value.

You can even sell your old iPad, even if it’s broken. You may get a few bucks for it.

Whatever you decide to do, you now have the best information. I hope this article was informative and helped improve your situation.

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