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Making Sense of New Phone Charging Technology

Tech - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 12/28/2021

Plugging in a phone

As consumers, we are increasingly dependent on our phones in order to navigate the world around us. That means when your smartphone battery dies, it can be a pretty big deal. Fortunately, as technology has advanced, a number of fast charging methods have emerged over the years to help get your phone back up and running again as quickly as possible. Consumers have access to countless wireless chargers, power banks and other advanced charging technology to provide power for a full phone charge without being tied to a power outlet. Today, we'll be discussing the key differences between the Quick Charge and Power Delivery charging methods. We'll also provide a valuable look at some of the most recent charging innovations, including GaN chargers and Programmable Power Supplies.

Defining Key Battery Charging Terminology

Before we talk about fast charging, we need to define the charging parameters of a typical charger. Before we can do that though, we need to brush up on some basic electrical terms.

  • Amps - measure electrical current, or the speed at which electrons flow through an electrical conductor.
  • Volts - measure voltage. Voltage is the difference in electrical potential, or the number of electrons between any two points in a closed circuit.
  • Watts - measures the power generated from amps flowing through a volt's electromotive force. Watts are calculated by multiplying the number of amps by the number of volts.

A Quick Guide to Charging Terminology

An easier way to understand all of this battery terminology is to compare electricity to water flowing through a hose. In this analogy, amps represent the speed of the water flowing through the hose. Voltage is the hose's water pressure and watts are the amount of water coming through the hose. Now that we have all of that straight, let's move on to what constitutes a normal charging speed.

What are the Regular USB-C Charging Standards?

For USB-C devices, standard ports can support up to 5 volts of charging at 3 amps for up to 15 watts of power. A standard iPhone charger delivers 5 volts at 1 amp for 5 total watts.

What is Qualcomm® Quick Charge?

The two most prominent fast charging methods on the market are Quick Charge and Power Delivery. Quick Charge was developed by Qualcomm and first introduced in 2013. The technology behind the Quick Charge method is proprietary, meaning that manufacturers must pay to license it in order to use it in their products, unlike Power Delivery which is open to any manufacturer. One important thing to keep in mind is that in order to use Quick Charge, both the charger and the device itself must be Quick Charge compatible. Additionally, Quick Charge technology is backwards compatible, meaning that a new Quick Charge 5 charger will work with a Quick Charge 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 or 4.1 compatible device.

How Does Qualcomm® Quick Charge Work?

Quick Charge technology charges your cell phone battery faster by increasing the charging voltage, which, in turn, increases the wattage. In order to do this, Quick Charge relies on a power-management algorithm called INOV (short for Intelligent Negotiation for Optimum Voltage). INOV works by identifying the ideal voltage and wattage that your device can safely charge at without shorting out and then charges your phone's battery at that speed.

How Fast is Quick Charge?

The most current version, Quick Charge 5 has a voltage range of 3.3V to 20V. It will charge at either 3 or 5 amps depending on your phone's capabilities and can deliver up to 100 watts of power at its peak voltage. That's much more power than any cell phone can use, which is why Quick Charge can also be used to charge laptops. According to Qualcomm, Quick Charge 5 can take a cell phone from 0 to a 50% charge in only 5 minutes and can fully recharge a phone's battery in 15 minutes.

What Devices Use Qualcomm Quick Charge?

Phone brands that utilize Quick Charge include models from Samsung, Google, Motorola, HP and others. In addition, a number of laptop brands also utilize Quick Charge, including models from Asus and Lenovo. Keep in mind that not every model from these brands is Quick Charge compatible. As a best battery care practice, it's important to check Qualcomm Quick Charge compatibility with your cell phone model. In order to determine whether your device can utilize Quick Charge, browse Qualcomm's list of compatible models opens in new window.

Looking for a Quick Charge compatible charger? The Ventev Quick Charge Wallport Charger charges all Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 compatible devices and is available at Batteries Plus.

What is USB Power Delivery?

The Power Delivery charging method is an official part of USB technology, developed by the USB Implementers Forum, which means it can be used by any manufacturer. In order to take advantage of Power Delivery, your device needs a compatible USB-C outlet.

How Does USB Power Delivery Work?

Power Delivery works using intelligent device negotiation, which establishes communication between the charger and your phone. Once connected, the two work in tandem to establish the maximum load current and operating voltage the device can safely pull from the charger. If you have a smartphone or other device that isn't capable of charging at a greater voltage or wattage, the charger will charge your device at a standard 5V with a 900mA maximum load current capacity.

Two-Way Power Flows

One other interesting thing about Power Delivery is that it allows power to flow both ways. So, for example, if you connected two Power Delivery compatible phones together with a USB-C charging cable, one can be used to charge the other and vice versa. Keep in mind that in order to take advantage of Power Delivery, you'll need to pick up either a Power Delivery charging block or Programmable Power Supply, since standard chargers don't provide enough power to fast charge your phone.

How Fast is Power Delivery?

The most recent version, Power Delivery 3.1 charges at 5 amps with a variable voltage of 5V, 9V, 15V, 20V, 28V, 36V or 48V. That means that Power Delivery 3.1 can deliver up to 240 watts of power at its peak voltage. Because this high level of power exceeds the charging needs of cell phones, Power Delivery can also be used to charge a number of laptops, tablets and other devices as well.

What Devices Use Power Delivery?

Because it is a standard part of USB technology, Power Delivery is used by a number of brands, including Google, newer Samsung devices and Apple phones starting with the iPhone 8. A number of laptops also support Power Delivery, including models from Dell, Microsoft, Lenovo, Acer, HP and more.

Keep in mind that not all USB-C ports and chargers support Power Delivery. Check your device or charger's manual to verify whether they enable you to use Power Delivery. Another way you can tell is by looking at the device itself. Power Delivery compatible USB-C ports typically have a battery symbol next to them.

Batteries Plus has a number of Power Delivery compatible chargers available, including the Belkin 18W USB-C Car Charger, the Belkin 18W USB-C PD Wall Charger and the Ventev Wallport USB-C Wall Charger. We also offer the Belkin BOOSTCHARGE 25W Wall Charger, which is a programmable power supply (more on that below) that lets you take advantage of Power Delivery.

What is a GaN Charger?

Since the 1980s, chargers have relied on transistors made of silicon. GaN chargers replace silicon with semiconductors made of a substance called gallium nitride. Gallium nitride produces less heat than silicone. When building something out of GaN, the components can be closer together, allowing manufacturers to make chargers that are much smaller, without compromising their power capabilities or safety standards.

Because their components generate less heat, GaN chargers can also conduct higher voltages than silicon-based chargers without overheating. This allows GaN chargers to work faster, last longer and waste less energy than silicon chargers. Another advantage of GaN chargers is that most of them incorporate USB-C Power Delivery. This allows you to fast-charge your favorite device, using a charger that's much easier to transport than a traditional Power Delivery charging block.

Where Can I Get a GaN Charger?

Batteries Plus offers the BOOSTCHARGE 30W GaN Wall Charger from Belkin. This lightweight GaN charger features foldable prongs for easy transportation. Plus, it features Power Delivery certification, which allows you to fast charge your favorite devices. It's also available with an MFi certified 3.3 ft. USB-C to lightning cable. Choose a GaN charger to charge your devices efficiently.

What is a Programmable Power Supply?

A Programmable Power Supply (PPS) is the most advanced charging technology available for USB-C devices. Programmable Power Supplies contain a chip that can adjust the output voltage and current in real-time to match your device's battery charging status so that it does not delivery too much power to your device. In essence, a PPS will charge your device as fast as your phone battery can handle while making real-time corrections in order to avoid burning out or overcharging the device.

The Programmable Power Supply protocol was introduced to Power Delivery with version 3.0, allowing a PPS to work seamlessly with the USB Power Delivery protocols. When charging a device with a PPS, you'll receive much greater power delivery control than using USB Power Delivery on its own since a PPS can control the voltage and current output at a much deeper level.

Where Can I Get a Programmable Power Supply?

Looking for the best possible charging experience? Pick up the Belkin BOOSTCHARGE 25W Wall Charger. Does it work with an iPhone or an Android phone? This PPS is optimized for both Apple and Samsung phones, as well as other USB-C Power Delivery enabled devices. It's also UPS-C Power Delivery 3.0 certified, allowing you to charge iPhone models 8 or later at 20W and modern Samsung phones at 25W.

Batteries Plus is Your Cell Phone Headquarters

Batteries Plus has everything you need to keep your phone powered up and protected. You can find different products and services that you need in one convenient place. Shop our selection of cell phone chargers, wireless chargers, power banks, cases, accessories and other phone essentials. If you have a broken phone or tablet, we can help with that too. Our WISE-certified technicians replace phone batteries and offer a wide array of cell phone repair and tablet repair services, including fixes for broken screen, buttons, ports, speakers and cameras. Learn more about why you should have your phone fixed at Batteries Plus, including information about our 6-month national repair warranty and our partnership with Samsung.