How to fix an Apple Watch not charging

The Apple Watch SE on a grey background
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watches are a thing of beauty, combining some solid fitness functions with fantastic value-adding everyday features to create a wonderful smartwatch companion. 

However, even the best Apple Watches aren't impervious to flaws. While we've not heard of any specific problems in the newest model, the Apple Watch 8, as with all smartwatches it's important to remember the device is more like a phone than a mechanical watch when it comes to its battery: if you don’t charge it every day, it soon runs out of power. 

This means charging problems aren’t just irritating, they’re disruptive. Luckily, most charging problems are easily fixed, and we've listed out all of the key steps to take below. 

How to fix an Apple Watch not charging

  • Check your charger and device for damage
  • Make sure you're using Apple chargers
  • Clean the Apple Watch
  • Restart

1. Do an Apple Watch hardware triage

(Image: © TechRadar)

Let’s start with the basics – is your Apple Watch completely dead? The lightning bolt should appear after a few minutes on charge, so don't panic if you don't see any reaction from the watch after putting it on charge. If the bolt appears, give it another 30 minutes on the charger to see if the battery charges normally.

No joy? Make sure that your charging cable is connected to the charger, that its USB connector is fully inserted, and that the charger’s plug hasn’t been knocked out. It seems obvious, we know, but we've all ranted and raved about a dead device before discovering that we’d knocked the charger when vacuuming. 

If the charger is connected to an extension lead make sure that’s connected and hasn’t been switched off either. Try connecting the charger directly to the wall socket: if that works then your extension lead is the problem here.

2. Swap out third-party charging devices

(Image: © Best Buy)

If your charger is from a third party, put it to one side and get the charger and cable that came with your Apple Watch, or try one of the best Apple Watch docks. If you don't have it anymore, try asking a friend so you can test out your device - it's not unheard of that third-party hardware can throw up strange errors and bugs.

Connect your Apple Watch to the charging puck as normal and give it a few minutes to see if the lightning bolt appears. If it does, it’s likely that the fault is with your third-party charger. 

3. Check the cable

(Image: © Apple)

Is the cable clamping itself to the correct spot on the back of your Apple Watch? Has the protective plastic been removed from both sides of the charging puck? Are the puck and the back of your Apple Watch clean and free from anything that might prevent them from connecting properly? 

If you have another USB power adapter, use that instead of the existing one, or if you’ve had more than one Apple Watch it’s likely that you have an old charging cable kicking around which you can connect and see if that solves your problem. Apple Watch charging cables don’t tend to suffer the abuse that iPhone chargers have to endure, but they can still break. Signs of wear and tear aren’t always obvious: a cable might look absolutely fine on the outside but be broken inside.

4. Clean the Apple Watch and charger

(Image: © TechRadar)

The Apple Watch charges magnetically, and as it's an everyday device worn through work and play, there's a chance some grime and grit might be interfering with the charging. 

Grab a slightly damp washcloth and gently wipe over the rear of the watch face and the charging dock to remove any dirt. For more stubborn messes, wet a damp pad with alcohol and lightly clean the device.

Once cleaned, make sure to dry off the Apple Watch with a dry cloth. 

5. Restart if you can

(Image: © TechRadar)

If your Apple Watch still has some battery power, try a Force Restart. You can do this by pressing and holding the Digital Crown and the side button simultaneously and holding them for at least 10 seconds, or until you see the Apple logo. This will reset the Apple Watch software, so if the charging issue is a software glitch it may solve your problem. 

6. Call in the big guns 

If you’ve tried everything and your Apple Watch is still not charging, it’s time to get some outside help. Apple doesn’t do Apple Watch repairs inside Apple Stores, so you’ll need to visit the Apple website’s Apple Watch section. From here you can talk to an advisor or arrange to send your Apple Watch in for repair. 

If the worst happens and your battery’s completely gone it’s not too expensive to replace it. It’s important to note that if your Apple Watch is out of warranty, battery replacement is not free unless there’s a manufacturing fault. At the time of writing, out of warranty battery replacement is £82 in the UK and $79 in the US. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.

With contributions from