Tips and Tricks: Lightning Not Striking?

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I share this tip this week because, for the third year in a row, I find myself having the same problem. It seems that the Lightning Port of the iPhones 6, 6S and 7 all have a particular attraction to lint. Since I wear jeans to work most days and keep my phone in my front pocket, this lint build-up is inevitable and always seems to pop up right about now. However, it is easily remedied if you know what to look for.

The best way I can describe when the buildup gets to the point of being a problem is the port feeling “mushy” when you plug your Lightning Cable in. It will no longer seat particularly well. The connector can move around, and eventually will start breaking free if you move it at all when charging. If you let it go long enough, you will start to see charging cut out even when your Lightning Cable looks like it is properly seated.

This first time I has this issue was with my iPhone 6 Plus, right about this same time of year. Since I was busy with work and hadn’t seen this issue before then, I put off doing anything about it for a while. By late that August, charging my phone was becoming a real challenge. I was convinced that the Lightning Port was faulty, so I made a Genius Appointment and finally took my 6 Plus to my local Apple Store.

The Genius took a quick look at my phone and asked me a couple of questions. Then he powered it off, smiled, and said he would be right back. When he came back, he showed me a small, but dense clump of lint that he had gotten out of the port. This came as a big surprise to me, as I was expecting to have to get a warranty exchange for a new device. Instead, I got to take mine home and keep using it for the few weeks remaining before the release of the 6S Plus.

Around a year ago, I started noticing the same problem with my 6S Plus. This time I knew exactly what was wrong, so I proactively made my Genius appointment as soon as I noticed the Lightning Cable connection degrading. As soon as told the Genius what I thought was happening, he nodded and said, “Yep. I see this all the time.” He had the port cleaned and me out the door in no time.

I went back to the Apple Store last year in the interest of making sure I didn’t damage my device. I didn’t have to pay either time I took it to them to get lint cleaned out, and in the unlikely event that the Genius had made a mistake and damaged my phone, I think Apple would have covered me. So, if you are having this issue and live near an Apple Store, I would personally suggest taking the easy way out and setting up an appointment to have a Genius clean your Lightning Port out for you.

If you are feeling adventurous, taking care of this yourself isn’t rocket science. It just takes a little patience and care. And the right tool. First off, you should power your phone down. You stand less chance of damaging the Lightning Port if voltage isn’t present, and you stand a better chance of that if the phone is off.

Second, you need the right tool. I would avoid metal and wood items if at all possible. Even with the phone off, voltage can still be present with a charged battery. A metal tool can cause a short and damage your port if you aren’t careful. A wood implement, such as a toothpick, can break off and splinter inside your device if you aren’t careful.

My choice of tool was a plastic toothpick, which came out of the end of a small Swiss Army Knife. Breaking off a piece of a plastic fork (using the opposite end from the break, of course) might do just as well, if it is long and thin enough and isn’t too sharp. The plastic toothpick was able to reach all areas of the port, and was flexible and soft enough to not do any damage. It is the perfect tool for extracting lint, in my humble opinion. Now my Lightning Port is clear, and my Lightning Cable is properly seated and connected again.

Has anyone else noticed similar issues with a loose, “mushy,” or inconsistent Lightning Cable connection as time has worn on with their iPhone? Has anyone else had this remedied at the Apple Store, or just cleaned the lint out themselves? If so, let me know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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2 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks: Lightning Not Striking?”

  1. I had the same problem with my iPhone 5. Also cleaned by the local iStore.

    I really appreciate your writings. Thanks.

    1. Interesting. I never had any issues with my 5 or 5S, but looking back, I think I carried them in a pouch on my belt. It makes sense that this issue would extend across all Lightning Ports.

      Thanks for responding!

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