It always happens at the wrong time, right? You’re on your way to an important meeting or you’re running late to pick up the kids. Your boss is waiting for you to dial into a conference call or you need to email a time-sensitive contract to a client.
You have all these responsibilities, but one of the most frustrating things is preventing you from tackling your everyday tasks: Your phone is dead. Worse, you’ve been charging your phone all night and it’s barely added a percent or two. What’s going on?
Now everything you need to get done has to be put on hold so you can rush to your cellphone provider’s store and either pay big bucks to get it fixed or pay for a new battery. Don’t do that — yet. Before you spend any money, try these five free and straightforward tips to get your battery up and running.
1. Check your power source
It’s easy to panic when your phone’s not charging. It’s amid this panic that you start jumping to conclusions, like thoughts of replacing your smartphone with an expensive new one.
But there’s a good chance your phone isn’t the problem. How can you tell? Start by checking the power source you’re using. If you always charge from the same wall socket, unplug your charger and try a different outlet. Or plug your USB connection into your laptop.
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If your device starts charging, and holds the power afterward, you know it’s time to fix your socket, not your phone.
2. Change your charging cable
If you’re like most people, your charging cables go through a lot of wear and tear. You’re constantly yanking them out of your smartphone or out of the power source by mistake, snagging them on things and more.
After a while, you may notice the cable fraying. If you’ve got a frayed cable, try a new one to see if you can charge your smartphone.
3. Update your phone
Software is funny; one second it’s working perfectly, and the next it’s glitching like crazy. Sometimes outdated software but updated apps can create unpredictable situations — like a glitchy battery charge.
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It might sound weird, but sometimes all it takes is an update to get your device working properly again. If you don’t make a habit of updating your phone, it’s time to start.
4. Turn it off and on again
You know this trick, right? When all else fails, just restart your smartphone, tablet or laptop when it’s not working the way it’s supposed to.
This trick often works, so give it a try. The steps you use to restart your phone may vary depending on the make and model of your Android, but they will likely be similar.
For the Pixel series, simply press and hold the power button until the option to “Power off” appears. Wait a few minutes, then press and hold the power button until it turns on. You can also restart the phone by pressing the power button, and choosing “Restart” on the screen.
5. Clean your smartphone
Don’t skip this step — it’s easy to overlook this one. You may just have dust or gunk inside your charging port, which prevents your smartphone from charging.
Look inside your charging port – you may need to hold a flashlight to it. You can clean out the dust with an old toothbrush, a needle or paperclip. Easy, right? Tap or click here for more tips to clean your smartphone, tablet, TV and computer
Final resort: replace your battery
This is going to save you a lot of money. You may not have a bad smartphone, but an old battery. Fortunately, you can easily take the back off most older Androids and replace the battery yourself, though it may take a little effort.
Pull the back off and check the battery. Is there dust in there? Has the battery started to leak acid? If everything seems fine, test out a different battery. You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy a new one — just ask a friend with the same phone if you can try their battery in your device.
If it doesn’t work, it could be a phone issue. If it does work, it’s time to go battery shopping.
The great news is you can get a replacement battery online or in stores from $5 to around $40 or so. That is far less than you’d spend to replace a perfectly good smartphone.
For newer phones, you can find places to replace the battery for about $80.
Even if your battery is fine, it’s always a good idea to replace frayed cables to prevent fires, update your device to keep it running smoothly and clean your phone because you don’t want to be gross.