So many chargers
Source: CrackBerry

One of the tradeoffs of smartphones is that until we figure out how to change the laws of physics, we're going to need batteries to power our gadgets. And as long as we need batteries, we're going to need chargers.

Oddly enough, however, finding the right charger for your phone is not always as simple as you might think. As battery technology continues to advance and smartphone companies race to offer bigger and better power solutions for their phones, the chargers that juice up these batteries continue to change as well. And as the saying goes: "not all chargers are created equal".

Smartphone chargers: where we've been

When cell phones first came on the scene, charging them was relatively straightforward - you just used the charger that came with the phone. The chargers were often proprietary, and since you most likely only had just one or two devices to charge, it wasn't a big deal to use the ones you had.

Oh, how times have changed. These days, almost everyone living in the developed world likely has quite a few gadgets laying around that all have batteries. And there are often multiple smartphones in the house that all need charging as well.

Phone Charger Generic Hero
Source: CrackBerry

Yet again, this was still fairly straightforward for a while. iPhones used lighting cables (or the OG 30-pin cables if you remember those - ask your parents, kids) and everyone else - back when there were more than just iPhone and Android - used micro-USB (or mini-USB). It didn't really matter which cable or wall charger you grabbed, they would all charge your phone mostly the same way.

But if there's one thing that's true about the tech world, it's that the pace of change is insanely fast. In just the past few years, the way we charge our smartphones has become a bit more complicated.

Where we are now

Today, virtually every smartphone on the planet, including the new iPhone 15 lineup, all charge with a USB-C cable now (FINALLY APPLE). This is fantastic for so many reasons, not least of which is that it gives us consumers a nearly infinite number of options when it comes to phone chargers. And we can also finally charge nearly every device we might have with the same cable.

But not so fast. Even though the physical connector is the same, there are still a lot of differences in the bits and pieces that make up the cables, chargers, and even phone technology.

Let's start with the phone

Phone
Source: CrackBerry

Obviously, every smartphone comes with a battery, and every manufacturer sets the limit for how fast that battery can be charged. How this is determined involves a whole host of conditions from the materials used in the battery, to the limits set by the battery manufacturer and the phone manufacturer. All we need to know is the max charging speed they set when it launches. For instance, the new iPhone 15 series tops out at 27W charging speed. Samsung tops out at 45W on their flagships, and then you've got companies like OnePlus who are offering a whopping 80W charging speeds (and even as high as 120W in Europe and other places).

Next, the charger

Charger
Source: CrackBerry

Ok, step 2 is making sure the actual charger matches, or exceeds, the max charging speed of your phone. For example, if you use a 10W charger to charge an iPhone that can charge at 27W, you're only going to get the 10W speeds - for reference the little tiny chargers Apple included with its phones for years only charge at a measly 5W so if you're still using one of those, that's why it's taking forever for your new phone to charge.

Nowadays, those companies who still include a charger in the box will typically give you one that matches the max charging speed of your phone (but not always). It's a good idea to check the charger when you get your new phone - it's typically written on the brick itself - to make sure it matches the charging speed of the phone.

Your phone may be capable of charging faster if you upgrade to a better charger than the included one

To make things even more complicated, there is a new type of charging technology that's recently come into play called Gallium Nitride or GaN. GaN chargers use fancy chemistry to offer super fast charging speeds that would have blown up your phone just a couple years ago. With GaN, we can now see 100+W charging speeds in chargers small enough to fit in a bag. This also means that the really tiny chargers are getting faster too.

This is actually a really good thing for us because you can essentially pick up any GaN charger these days and odds are it will charge your phone at the highest speed (like the 30W GaN charger pictured above from Nomad). There are, of course, outliers to this like OnePlus and a few others, but thankfully most of them are still giving you a charger in the box.

But wait, there's more.

Cable
Source: CrackBerry

If you thought just picking the right charger was all you needed, I hate to say it , but you're wrong. The third component of all of this is the charging cable itself. If all of this wasn't complex enough, even charging cables are rated for different charging speeds so if you're using the wrong cable, even with the right charger, you won't get the fastest speeds.

The right cable can often be the hardest component to track down, as there are quite literally thousands available from hundreds of different companies. To make matters worse, if you try to look on Amazon, it can be practically impossible to know if the cable will actually match the speed mentioned in the listing.

And again, the cable that's included with your phone might not actually charge at the fastest speed your phone is capable of.

How do I choose the best charger for my phone?

First things first, always try to use the original one that came with the phone. These days that's becoming harder to find (and again, it may not be a fast charger), so the next-best option is to buy it straight from the phone manufacturer, if they offer them.

If that isn't an option, or you want to try to find something cheaper, the next place to look is at a reputable retailers (like Best Buy, not Amazon).

Lastly, there are quite a few highly-regarded third party manufacturers like Anker, Nomad, and Aukey (there are quite a few others that are legit, but those are three I have personally tested and used) that have been making great chargers and cables for years. These are a few cables I would recommend if you have an iPhone 15 (or even something from the Galaxy S24 lineup).

The great news for us consumers is that we have a nearly infinite number of options when it comes to buying a cable and charger for our phone, and thankfully, we can now (FINALLY) use the same one to charge almost any device we have. It'

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