How to Charge Your Phone Faster

How to Charge Your Phone Faster

You’re about to head out the door, but your phone desperately needs some extra juice before you leave. Thankfully, you can charge your phone faster … if you can separate truth from myth.

If you remember your high school physics, electricity is measured in watts, which is a product of voltage (in number of volts) and current (in number of amps). Some chargers supply more voltage or amperage than others, meaning they will charge your phone faster (as long as your phone supports it — it will draw only as much power as it knows it can handle). Here are some guidelines to follow to charge your phone as fast as possible.

Your laptop may be close by, but if you want to charge your phone as fast as possible, you’ll want to plug it into a wall outlet. As we mentioned in our guide to troubleshooting a phone that won’t charge, the USB ports on your PC will charge your phone, but may be rated for only 0.5 amps, compared to the one-amp (or higher) charger that came with your phone. So go find that charging brick and plug your phone into a wall outlet instead.

Not all chargers are created equal, either. For example, iPhones come with Apple’s small five-volt/one-amp power bricks, while iPads come with larger five-volt/2.4-amp bricks (though some older ones are five-volt/2.1-amp). If you plug that iPad charger into an iPhone, however, it will draw more power — provided it’s a relatively modern iPhone. Some older iPhones may not be able to use more than one amp, while others (like the iPhone 6) will pull around 1.6 amps from that iPad charger.

Your phone will pull only as much current as it knows it can handle, so you don’t need to worry about damaging your phone as long as you use a quality charger from a trusted brand. That also means that the amount of time you save depends on your phone, its battery size and how much power it can draw. But according to tests at Macrumors.com, newer iPhones like the iPhone X can charge a battery from 0 percent to 72 percent in an hour using a modern iPad charger — while reaching only 39 percent in the same amount of time on Apple’s standard iPhone block. And our colleagues at Wirecutter, the New York Times company that reviews products, found that using a USB-C 18 watt charger bumped that number to 80 percent. That’s a significant difference.

Here’s where things get really confusing. You can get even more juice by using a special “fast charger” that increases the amperage and the voltage … if your phone supports it. There are a few different fast-charging standards, however, and not every phone will charge quickly with every fast charger out there.

Many phones use Qualcomm’s Quick Charge standard, or some rebranded variant of it. And in those cases, the chargers are interchangeable. You can use a Samsung Adaptive Fast Charger on a Motorola phone, and a Motorola TurboPower charger on a Samsung phone, since they’re both based on Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology. Some phones, like Apple’s latest iPhones and Google’s Pixel Line, use the USB Power Delivery standard, and these are interchangeable with each other as well. Finally, a few phones (like the OnePlus 5) use their own proprietary fast-charging standard. In those cases, you’ll get fast charging only if you use that specific charger.

Again, you don’t have to use the best charger possible — your phone will be able to draw power from any charger that fits its physical port. It will just charge at the maximum speed the phone supports. A Quick Charge 2.0 phone will only ever be able to charge at Quick Charge 2.0 speeds, even if connected to a Quick Charge 3.0 charger.

So check your phone’s specs to see what you can use. (You can find a list of Quick Charge-compatible phones at Qualcomm’s website — if your phone isn’t on the list, it may use USB Power Delivery or a proprietary fast-charging standard instead.) The good news is that many newer phones come with a compatible fast charger in the box, so you can just use that when you’re in desperate need of juice. The biggest exception is Apple, which still includes slow one-amp chargers with its iPhones. If you want Apple’s fastest possible charging, you’ll need to buy a Lightning-to-USB-C cable and a high-wattage USB-C power adapter, like the ones Apple sells in its store. For everyone else, Wirecutter has recommendations for USB wall chargers and car chargers.

Again, the amount of time you save will vary from phone to phone and which charging standard it uses. But Apple says its fast charger can get you from 0 percent to 50 percent in 30 minutes, while Qualcomm boasts almost 80 percent charge in the same amount of time when using Quick Charge 3.0.

Wireless charging, while convenient, hasn’t reached the same heights as the latest wired chargers. Even “Fast Charge” wireless chargers, which charge more rapidly than standard wireless chargers, will take significantly longer to charge your device than a high-amperage charger like the iPad’s. For lounging around the house or even at the office during the day, wireless charging is great — but if you need power quickly, skip the pad and plug your phone in.

You may have heard that your phone will charge faster if you turn it off or put it in airplane mode. This seems logical: After all, if your phone is using less battery, then it will charge faster, right?

In practice, though, this usually doesn’t make a big enough difference to be worth it. I tested this on my iPhone 7 using Apple’s included one-amp charger, and my phone took about 52 minutes to go from 0 percent to 50 percent — whether the phone was on or not. Other tests, like this one from the YouTube Channel TheUnlockr, show only a few minutes’ difference, if any. So even if it does charge your phone faster, it won’t save you nearly as much time as any of the above methods will provide, and it’s probably not worth the inconvenience of keeping your phone off for all that time.

Last, keep in mind that your phone won’t charge from 0 percent to 100 percent at the same speed. Using one of these faster chargers will make a big difference when charging between 0 percent and 80 percent or so, but after that, your battery will slow down and charge at regular speed for that last bit. So keep this in mind as you race against the clock: Fast charging will help you revive a dead phone quickly, but it won’t “top off” your phone in record time.

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