What’s the fastest way to charge your smartphone? We took a few of the most common chargers you’d normally find and put them to the test.
Almost everyone has a smartphone nowadays, and most of us use our devices so often that we have to charge at least once a day. So of course, we wanted to know what the fastest way to charge your device was. We grabbed a few common chargers that are available and decided to see which of them actually charge your phone faster.
By now, everyone knows that you want a charger with at least 2 amps to charge your device fast enough so that you won’t grow a castaway style beard before your phone’s topped up. But does that actually mean you’re pulling 2 amps from the wall? What about voltage? And wattage?
For our test device, we’re using the Samsung Galaxy S8. Why? Well, pretty much because Jack and Anthony both have one. We, unfortunately, don’t have any devices with quick charge 3 or 4 yet, but hopefully, we can revisit this video once we do.
Our S8 supports quick charge 2.0 and what Samsung calls adaptive fast charging. There’s an adaptive fast charger included in the box with the phone, so that will be our control. The next one is an older Samsung charger without adaptive fast charging. It offers the same 2 amp output as the newest Samsung charger, so we should be able to see if adaptive fast charging makes any difference.
The next one is a Linke charging station. These large hubs with a lot of USB ports are getting more and more popular since more and more things charge via USB now. There are 6 ports on it total – a USB 3.1 type c port, a quick charge 3.0 certified port, and 4 smart IC ports. The quick charge 3 port should offer the fastest speeds with a quick charge certified device, while the four smart IC ports are supposed to identify the device being charged and deliver an optimal amount of charge up to 2.4amps.
Smart IC chargers work by reading the resistance of the battery as it charges, and offer a simplified version of quick charging. When a battery is near empty, it can offer more current to help charge faster than normal. The current gradually slows down, and as it nears the 90% full mark, will slow down to just a trickle.
Next up we have a small portable wall charger that advertises up to 3.5amps in total. With one device you’ll get the maximum speed possible, but with two devices plugged in it’ll split the current.
And finally, our last charger is a good old USB port on a computer. We’re talking regular motherboard and laptop ports, and not any of the special charging ones that many new boards come with now.
Let’s get right to the testing. We did the test with 4 different scenarios: With the screen on and off, and with the battery at 75%, and 25%. For each of the tests, we used the included Samsung USB type C cable that came with the phone to keep it consistent. With that out of the way, let’s look at our results.
To measure everything, we used a USB multimeter by Drok. It’s a simple pass through that you stick in between your charger and device to easily measure the current, voltage, and wattage. The numbers were constantly changing, so we averaged each period out over a 1-minute window.
Now, a note on our testing: For our comparison, we’re ranking the power based on wattage. We know most chargers will advertise in amps, but think back to highschool science for a minute: “P = IV”. Power equals current times voltage. It’s the best overall number that describes exactly how much energy is going into your battery because it’s a direct relationship. If we go by current or voltage, they measure in an inverse relationship. For example, a charger could provide 2 amps at 5 volts, but it would provide less energy than a charger that gives 1.4amps at 9 volts.
Now let’s look at our graph. Right off the bat, we can instantly see that charging is much faster with the screen off than with the screen on. The results with the phone powered off were the exact same as with just the screen turned off, so we left that off the graph just to keep things simpler.
With the screen on, all of the results were pretty similar. All of our chargers provided an average of 5.1 watts. The difference between 75% capacity and 25% was small enough that we’d chalk it up to the margin of error.
The one big difference is a standard USB port. This poor thing offers just 2 watts of power no matter what, and really should just be used to transfer data instead of charging your device if you’re in a hurry.
Once we turn off the screen, things start to get interesting. The included Samsung adaptive fast charger and the Linke’s quick charge 3.0 port top the charts with a maximum of 12.7 and 13 watts respectively. What’s interesting is that in both of these scenarios, the phone is pulling around just 1.2 amps. It’s actually the voltage that gets boosted all the way to 9.1 volts in order to provide more energy.
Both chargers also provide more energy when the battery is almost empty compared to when it’s almost full. And this makes sense, since it falls perfectly in line with Qualcomm’s quick charge specifications. We even filled up all of the ports on the Linke charging station, and with 5 phones charging at once, it was still able to maintain these numbers on our S8.
The next fastest charger was the white Samsung charger, which was able to just barely beat the Linke’s Smart IC ports by less than 1 watt. It’s interesting to note that all the non fast-charge ports have the same performance regardless of what your battery is at.
We tested both ports on the Linke travel charger, and we were glad that it was smart enough to not dump 3.5amps into our poor S8. We didn’t have any high consumption tablets on hand, but the charging rates stayed the same even when we plugged in another smart phone into the other port.
So what have we learned from all this testing? Well, for one, a quality charger that matches your phone is actually pretty important. The difference between 13 watts and 9 watts is 144%, which is a pretty significant difference if you’re in a hurry. As well, just because a charger advertises itself as a 2.4amp charger, doesn’t make it a very fast charger.
When you’re buying your next charger, take a look at the fine print. All chargers in north America must have an input and output certification printed on it. These are exact standards that that device must hit, and should give you the true story that all the marketing on the box might not. All of our chargers tested had a 5V output, but our two fastest chargers that supported Qualcomm’s quick charge also had a 9V specification listed as well.
And that about wraps up this video. We know there are a lot more scenarios out there that we couldn’t test yet, but let us know in the comments below if there’s a charger you want us to test in the future.
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