Camera clarity. Screen size. Storage space. Processing speed. These are the features millions of people take into account when choosing which smartphone to buy. But in recent years, another factor — fast charging — has become a feature that more people looking for in their smartphone.
With fast charge, we’re talking about charging in minutes instead of hours. Fast charging eliminates the need to figure out how to get your standard charger to charge your cell phone faster. Sound too good to be true? While it’s a real feature and not just an upsell, it’s also not that simple. Charging standards are a complicated mix of chemistry and physics… did I lose you yet? Don’t worry, we’ll focus on simplifying the concept of quick charging in this article.
Charging Terminology Refresher
This article refers to volts, amps, and watts. Here’s a quick refresher.
Volts are a measure of voltage. Amps are a measure of current. Watts are a measure of electrical power.
A common analogy is a garden hose. Volts are equivalent to the water pressure in the hose. The current is equivalent to the flow rate. The wattage is equivalent to the volume of the spout’s spray. Watts, then, are the product of volts and amps. So, volts (V) times amps (A) equals watts (W).
How Charging Works
Smartphone batteries charge when a current passes through them. Greater current and higher voltages charge batteries faster. But, there’s a limit to what they can take. The charge controller (IC) protects against dangerous spikes in current.
When you plug your phone into the charger it came with or a cell phone charging station, a certain amount of power flows in from the outlet, through the charger, and to your phone. Your phone includes a built-in regulator to prevent pumping too much power into the battery and frying it. So, right away, how fast your phone can charge is limited by what its internal regulators allow. And, all devices regulators are a little different.
The charger that came with your device is rated to the device you bought. But, if you’re charging through, say, a standard USB, your device might charge slower if it’s not putting out enough power. For example, Apple’s iPad charger puts out 2.1 amps at 5V. However, a typical USB port will charge at between 0.5 to 1.5 amps. If your phone can handle anything above 1.5 amps, then a USB port will charge it more slowly than the charger that came with your device. Even without branded “quick chargers”, some chargers can fill your battery faster than others.
How Fast Charging Works
As a general rule, fast charging via a quick charger will fill your battery with juice in less time than the standard charger that probably came with your phone.
When you’re fast charging a device, all you’re doing is opening the door a little wider to let more power in. As we established earlier, the regulator inside your phone only allows so much power in at a time. Devices capable of fast charging allow more than your typical chargers, without damaging the battery.
Now, that means two things. First, you must have a device that supports fast charging in order to take advantage of the boost. If you plug a quick charger into a device that doesn’t support fast charging, the regulator will still prevent it from overloading your battery. That means you won’t harm your device, but it won’t charge any faster.
It also means that you may need to buy that special charger to go with your supported device. More likely than not, the chargers you’ve been using aren’t fast charging compatible. So, getting the higher output charger will help. But keep in mind, this is essentially the same problem we discussed earlier with USB ports. Just because you’re not using the full capacity of your phone’s battery regulator doesn’t mean your phone won’t charge. It will just take a little longer. And that’s not a bad thing.
Another thing to consider is that the effect tapers off about halfway through. Some manufacturers will overstate the effect of their fast charging technology. While Qualcomm states that its Quick Charge tech can fill a battery to 50% in 15 minutes, it can take an hour or more to finish the other 50%. The reason, again, has to do with the regulator. Once a battery starts filling up, the regulator needs to find new cells to place power to avoid overcharging the cells. Think of it like a water balloon. You can turn a hose on nearly full blast at the start, but if you don’t slow down as it fills up, the balloon will burst.
KwikBoost’s charging technology stays ahead of the curve with these new and constantly changing charging technologies. Our approach is to design charging technology to support the broadest set of devices possible. In our tests, we’ve found that our technology will charge the clear majority of mobile devices on the market today as fast as they can safely be charged.
KwikBoost is a leading provider of mobile device charging stations to hospitals, universities, K-12, libraries, stadiums, retail and more. KwikBoost offers an array of charging options ranging from floor stand charging stations, wall mounted charging stations, charging lockers, smart charging lockers, power tables, workstations, and more.