Some iPhone XS and XS Max Devices Won't Charge if You Plug in While the Screen is Off

By Tom Pritchard on at

iPhone launches wouldn't be iPhone launches if the devices ran as they were supposed to, and didn't have any annoying glitches that needed to be ironed out. It's a time honoured tradition, and it seems the launch of the iPhone XS and XS Max is no different. This time everyone is charging their phones wrong, because it seems there are quite a few devices that won't start recharging if you plug in a lightning cable while the screen is switched off.

This problem presented itself on the Apple Support forums, MacRumours forums, Reddit, social media, and elsewhere, with users experiencing a variety of issues when it comes to cable-charging their new devices. While wireless charging is said to be unaffected, it seems anyone who plugs the phone in while the screen is off won't have their phone recharged - something we had one Giz UK staff member check with their newly-purchased XS Max. That said, they tried it again (twice) and it did start charging up with the screen off on both occasions.

The scale of the issue seems to vary, with some users claiming simply switching the screen on will kickstart the charging process. Others claim they have to unplug the cable, switch on the screen, and plug it back in, while there are rare reports of some phones that stop responding if the screen is off at plug-in time. Here's a video of the problem in action from YouTuber Unbox Therapy, though if you want to avoid the usual YouTuber spiel you can skip the first three minutes to get to the charging test.

As you can see that two out of four  XS and three out of four XS Max devices don't begin charging while the screen is off, while last year's iPhone X does. That said, MacRumours says there are reports of this issue affecting older devices, but it seems they're nowhere near as widespread.

Apple doesn't seem to have commented on the situation, but is no doubt scrambling to figure out what the problem is. Speculation is that it may have something to do with USB Restricted Mode, a feature introduced in iOS 11.4.1, which prevents USB devices from interacting with an iOS device if it's been locked for more than an hour. It's enabled by default in iOS 12, though other have claimed turning it off doesn't do anything to solve the problem.

So if you have an iPhone XS, XS Max, or any iDevice that just updated to iOS 12, it's worth double checking your phone is actually charging when you plug it in. It's normally pretty obvious, since the phone chirps at you and the screen turns on by itself, but if it doesn't maybe give it a tap to be sure. [MacRumours]