5 Things You Don’t Know About Your Charger (That You Really Should)

Name 3 things you’d keep to stay connected during social distancing. We did a small recreational survey in our slack workspace and, not quite to our surprise, a lot of the answers came back saying: my phone, my laptop, and my tablet (okay, some did go a little sentimental and replaced the phone with a pet).

Google’s delightfully dog-filled ads featuring a pug named Pixel being compared to Pixel the phone
Google’s delightfully dog-filled ads featuring a pug named Pixel being compared to Pixel the phone.

Our commentary? Naive. A recent 9to5mac test 1 shows that most smartphones last less than 12 hours when surfing the web over LTE or 5G. The iPhone 12 scored only 8h 25m in the test while the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus lasted 10h 31 min. Even if you only watch videos and downgrade the screen refresh rate to 60Hz, the average max playback time is 20 hours.

In short, we wouldn’t last a day without our chargers.

Just as chargers are essential, they are also the most taken for granted. Now take a second to reflect on how many chargers you own. Five? Ten if you like to stay up-to-date with the latest tech trends and devices.

Lisa Jackson at the October 13 Apple Event, launch of the iPhone 12 series
Lisa Jackson at the October 13 Apple Event, launch of the iPhone 12 series.

“Billions”, said Apple. “There are over 2 billion Apple power adapters out there in the world, and that’s not counting the billions of third-party adapters”, claimed Lisa Jackson, vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives at Apple. She said this during October’s iPhone launch event while explaining why Apple is cancelling power adapters. Relax, there will always be chargers. Your old chargers should easily fill the role, and there are plenty of chargers for sale in your neighborhood store or on Amazon.

But really? Can your old charger actually charge your new phone alright? And do you really need to get a new charger every time you get a new device?

Simply put, no. This blog will talk about the things you should know before you buy your next charger, and help you understand how your devices charge. Furthermore, it will help you get that future-proof charger that’ll free you from the swamp of idle adapters that lie around unused.

5. Your old charger may not fit the new device

Yes, we’re talking about fast charging.

Phones and other digital devices are becoming so smart that they multitask across different apps and functions, consuming more power and making bigger batteries a must. This in turn elevates the industry benchmark for charging speed, as phones today come with batteries 3-4 times larger in capacity than a decade ago 2  while people expect the charging time to remain the same, or preferably, even shorter.

Smartphone battery capacity benchmark has increased by 3-4 times over the past decade
Smartphone battery capacity benchmark has increased by 3-4 times over the past decade.

Enter fast charging. The output of a charge is measured in amperage and voltage. Amperage (or current) is the amount of electricity flowing from the battery, while voltage is the strength of the electric current. Multiplying volts by amps gives you wattage, the measure of total power. To make a device charge faster, manufacturers either raise the amperage or the voltage to increase the overall output. Most fast charging standards typically vary the voltage rather than the amperage.

20W PD Charger
The iPhone’s “up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes” charging speed is only supported by a 20w PD charger or above.

Let’s again take the iPhone as an example. Apple uses USB Power Delivery for fast charging, aka PD fast charging. Starting with the iPhone 8, all of Apple’s phones support PD fast charging. Unless you own an iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max, you’re probably using one of Apple’s slow 5W (5V/1A) adapters to charge your phone.

Apple’s proud claim that the iPhone 12 series can reach “up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes” is only supported by a 20W or higher fast charging adapter with a USB-C-to-Lightning cable. This means using your old 5W apple adapter will not give you these speeds.

iPhone 12 Charging Specifications
iPhone 12 charging specs released by Apple.

In a nutshell, your old charger should be able to charge your new devices, just not fast enough. The problem is that it may take hours to get a full charge as your new device is likely to have a much bigger battery than the devices your 5V 1A adapter supported.

Tip: when you get a new device like the iPhone 12, be sure to double check the battery and charging specs on the user manual or the official website. Make sure you’re getting a compatible charger that meets both the output and standard requirements.

 4. Your charger doesn’t always deliver the promised speed

Now that you’ve learned about the fact that higher wattage chargers come with faster charging capacity, here’s a second question: Does each of your devices require a different charger?

We’ve all suffered through that painful time when we had to pack a dozen of chargers for a short trip. Phone, laptop, camera, iPad… the list goes on, but your suitcase is full.

UGREEN Portable GaN Charger
A compact multi-port charger with 60w output or above may just meet all your needs on a business trip.

USB-C has helped the consumer electronics industry progress immensely towards unifying cable usage, power, and data delivery with display and audio connectivity. Just when you’re happy to find that 80% of your devices have a USB-C port, we’re telling you that no, you still need to pack a handful of different chargers for different wattage?

Despite the USB-C connector supplied as default in modern smartphones, tablets (even Apple compromised with the iPad), the standard has, unfortunately, failed to live up to its early promises. One common frustration is the different charging speeds when we switch between devices and chargers.

power delivery charging

Why? Because of different charging standards. Even of the same current and voltage ratings, if your device goes with a different charging standard than your charger, the speeds will be affected. Despite the numerous proprietary charging standards, the most universally supported standards are Qualcomm’s Quick Charge (QC) or USB Power Delivery (PD). Therefore our advice is to opt for a third-party QC or PD power adapter, rather than a proprietary one that supports only a few models of a specific brand even if it may promise higher charging speeds.

QC and PD are the most universal fast charging standards to date, and we can safely assume that the universality will only grow wider in the next 5 years to come at least.

One further tip for travellers: The size of the PD charger may not matter to some, but a compact one is always preferable as it is portable and can be taken anywhere without hassle. For travelers and those living with limited space, Gallium nitride (GaN) technology has become a superior alternative to silicon.

UGREEN GaN Charger 50% Smaller
The UGREEN 65w GaN PD fast charger is 50% smaller than your average charger of the same output, and it comes with 4 ports including 3 USB Cs and 1 USB A

3. Multi-Port is the new norm

Another reason why you should stop reminiscing over your old single port 5V1A socket: versatility. When we talk about replacing multiple chargers with a universal one, we need to consider the need of charging multiple devices simultaneously.

If you opt for such a charger, make sure you don’t end up with more than what you will actually use. Remember, more ports mean a higher price and more weight. What we find the most handy is a 3 to 4 port charger with at least 2-3 USB C ports and 1 or 2 USB A ports for older devices.

You should also factor in the total power output. Higher total output will allow you to push the maximum power on each port. You will be able to charge multiple devices at the same time, and at a faster speed.

UGREEN 65W GaN Charger

2. Surprise devices out there that can charge with your new charger

It’s a prevailing trend in the broad consumer electronic industry that devices are becoming smarter, more versatile, and with wider compatibility. We’ve seen many previously more (notoriously) close-loop devices leaning in for this trend as well.

Apple’s iPad, for example, has switched to USB C from lightning since 2018. It’s a decision that would have allowed basically every major Apple device to share a charger with each other and with practically every other major new electronic device released today. It’s the kind of interoperability that has essentially been the core promise of USB-C since it was first introduced.

Related article: USB-C vs Lightning: What’s the Difference?

For the more adventurous tech lovers and those into outdoor photography, one exciting news is from drone maker DJI. Their newly released Mavic Mini 2 is the first DJI drone that supports USB-C charging. Its built-in 5200 mAh battery can be charged with an ordinary USB charger. It also supports both QC and USB PD fast-charging protocols with up to 29 W of input power.3

DJI launched the Mavic
DJI launched the Mavic Mini 2 on November 5. It’s their first drone that supports USB C charging with a regular USB C wall charger.

And of course, with adequate wattage, you can easily charge the new MacBook Pro, as well the iconic Canon EOS 700D and more of your favorite devices.

We can expect the list to go on as USB-C is becoming more and more universal in consumer electronics.

UGREEN 4-Ports 65W GaN Charger

1. Your future-proof new charger is going on sales this holiday season

Get turned on the right way this holiday season with the new multi-port charger by UGREEN. Not only can you save bag space with this kick-ass travel companion, but you can also avoid carrying many chargers, and stay charged up in less time across the board without worrying about overheating. The device intelligently allocates power to your different devices so you can keep all your devices on with one charging port as needed.

Our tip: Follow UGREEN on social media or subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about new releases, special offers, and the exciting holiday season sales.

1. https://9to5mac.com/2020/10/21/iphone-12-battery-test/
2. https://reviews.com.np/article/tech-changes-during-the-decade
3. https://www.dji.com/mini-2/faq

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