So the iPhone 12 is rumored to come without a charger like the latest iPads. For those who want to charge quickly and therefore aren’t keen on using one of those old Apple 5W chargers still lying around, there’s some great choice out there. Rather than get some overly large and expensive USB-C charger from Apple, here are two great picks.
This Aukey is Wirecutter’s pick for a phone charger. It supports 18W and yet thanks to its GaN design it’s about as large as Apple’s old 5W charger. It has a foldable plug (unlike Apple’s) making it even more compact and easy to carry around (1.42” x 1.42” x 1.18”, 42g/1.48oz). Right now Amazon has it for $10.39 (coupon applied). Unbeatably inexpensive for a great little charger.
If you prefer white, the Aukey becomes a bit more expensive ($14). And at that price you might as well consider this awesome 30W RAV Power charger ($16 right now, but often $14 with coupon). It’s also based on a GaN design and has a super compact form factor with a foldable plug (1.65” x 1.65” x 1.11”, 60g/2.1oz). Best thing about this charger is that since it supports 30W, you can use this same charger also for your MBA or iPad. I have the 61W version of this thing for my new 13" MBP and it’s been just great (small, light, reliable).
I swear by Anker PowerPort III. We’ve got a few over them at home, plus some we have stashed in luggage. We’ve given and recommended them to others, all of whom have been happy. They really do charge faster than the Apple or other brand chargers, especially when paired with Anker’s fast charging cables. They have single, double and quadruple charging configurations.
Yeah, I saw that too. I wondered who would spend $20 on this thing that can’t even fold back its plug when you can get either a Wirecutter pick for substantially less (Aukey), or get substantially more wattage and still pay less (RAVPower). I can’t find a single thing Anker offers with this thing that the others don’t offer for less.
I just need to add that using a fast charger all the time has been shown to shorten battery life, but I haven’t found any statistics on exactly how much. If you replace your phone often, it shouldn’t matter, but if you typically hang on to older models as long as possible, it might be a factor.
I’m typing this on my iPad 4, which was purchased in 2014. It has been getting charged with Anker PowerPorts since then. I’ve also been charging my iPhone 8+, as my 4s with them and my PowerBook that is so elderly I don’t remember when I bought it. I haven’t noticed a problem with battery life to date.
The upcoming “optimized battery charging” does sound like it could be really good.
I think Anker makes great products and also has great customer service. I’d pay a couple of dollars more for them. I bought a PowerPort 5 three years ago. It sits on my desk with a few cables coming out of it.
They often have sales and coupons in their Amazon store.
This depends very much on your use. If you charge over night there’s no need to charge super quickly. My overnight charger is still a dingy old 5W from Apple. But if you need something to charge at the gate 20 min before you board, well then you’ll want to have a charger with more oomph.
As I linked to above, as of iOS 13 Apple claims to have introduced smart charging software. So if that stuff lives up to the hype, it should learn not to charge your battery faster than necessary, even if you’re on a higher powered charger.
I know that this is purely anecdotal, but I almost always use the stock 5w charger overnight. However, at my summer house, I used a high-power USB-C charger this past summer (late June through early September). I should also note that the mobile signal at the summer house is terrible and the battery drains noticeably faster when I am there. The battery health of my iPhone X was 92% at the start of the summer, and it was 92% at the end. (I have logged battery health monthly since the feature was added with iOS 11.x and my phone remained at 92% from November 2019 through September 2020.)
In theory, lithium-ion batteries will have a shortened life if they are charged too quickly, because rapid charging makes them heat up and overheating is bad.
But in actual practice, it’s up to the device itself. It’s important to note that the USB “charger” is just a power supply - it generates 5V (or 12V or 20V, depending on what the device and power supply negotiate). The amount of current drawn by the device is entirely up to the device. Well-designed power supplies will limit current output in order to prevent overheating, but aside from that, the device determines how much current it will draw.
The actual “charger” in any USB device (phones, iPads, laptops, etc.) is actually a chip in the device. That chip negotiates voltage and current parameters with the power brick and feeds that power into the battery at levels that (if the device is well designed) don’t cause damage to the battery.
In other words, the only way using an extra-large power supply could damage a battery would be if the device’s built-in charger circuity is faulty (or poorly designed).
You could attach a MacBook Pro’s 96W power adapter to an iPhone, but that phone is not going to draw any more than the maximum supported by the phone’s charger circuit, whether that is 5W, 10W, 20W or anything else. The only downside to using such a huge power supply is that you’ll have wasted money buying it.
While that is technically correct (it’s always been the case that you can safely hook up the beefiest 90+W Apple charger to a small Apple device that ships with a lower wattage charger), I don’t think that’s what most people these days are talking about.
As I understand, the question centers around if charging a battery faster reduces its lifetime. A modern iPhone can be charged safely with both an 18W and a 5W charger. The debate is wether charging it with the 18W charger all the time will make the battery age more quickly. There is indeed evidence to support that, however, that evidence also shows that the ‘damage’ is not dramatic. In that sense, I think which charger you ultimately choose should be based on the use case. As I tried to indicate in my post above, if you have the time to charge slowly, your battery will appreciate being charged more slowly. If OTOH you need to charge it fast you can do so safely and without fearing your battery will go dead within a year.
Agreed. I would say that is the responsibility of Apple to design their batteries and charging circuitry to deal with the situation. And I think they are doing that in the latest versions of iOS - which is what the “optimized battery charging” feature is all about.
Ideally, the user should be able to tell the device “you have eight hours to charge” or “get all the juice you can in the next 20 minutes” or something like that. How else would the device know how to deal with the situation? Am I off base thinking this makes sense?
Take a look at Apple’s page describing the feature. Key points are:
The feature can be turned on or off from a System Settings page. But that appears to be the extent of the configuration. It is turned on by default for a new phone or a phone newly upgraded to iOS 13 (and presumably to later versions if you are jumping from 12 to 14 or something like that.)
The feature uses machine learning, based on your daily charging habits (when, how often, for how long, in what locations) and will force slower charging in situations where it has historically had a long time to charge.
It uses location services to only activate in places where it historically spends a lot of time charging (e.g. home and work), but not in other locations, like when traveling.
The feature presents a lock-screen notification informing you when the slow-charge is expected to complete. You can long-press the notification to bring up a “charge now” button that will disable the feature to temporarily revert to normal charging.
It’s not the fine level of control you were describing (telling the phone how much time you have), but it looks like Apple’s solution is a good compromise between being effective and being convenient.