Quick Charging Explained
Over the last few years several smartphones have hit the market that are capable of fast charging and have included some kind of quick charger, or offered one as an accessory. While it might seem like a gimmick, fast charging is a real thing and not just an upsell. The type of tech used varies by manufacturer but Qualcomm’s Quick Charge (currently on version 4.0) is one of the most common and the introduction of the USB Type-C standard has enabled USB-PD (Power Delivery) to become a player in fast charging since it allows for increased power levels up to 100W. 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. That being said, there are a few caveats.
Before we explain how fast charging works, let’s talk a little about how phone charging in general work. When you plug your phone in to the charger it came with or a cell phone charging station, a certain amount of power flows in from the outlet, through the charger, to your phone. Your phone includes a built-in regulator to prevent pumping too much power into the battery and frying it. So, right off the bat, 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 probably 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 (which these days it probably can), 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.
When you’re fast charging a device, all you’re really 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 an device that doesn’t support fast charging, the regulator will still prevent it from overloading your battery. 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, all 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 and 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 current version supports standard USB charging as well as fast charging. While we can’t support every fast charging technology out there, our approach is to design our charging technology to support the broadest set of devices possible. In our tests, we have 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, retail and more. KwikBoost offers an array of charging options ranging from floor-stand charging kiosks, wall mounted charging stations, charging lockers, phone lockers, power tables, power wall workstations, and power hubs.
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