The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X all support fast charging both via a cable and wirelessly, which theoretically makes it possible to bring your empty phone up to 50% charge in as little as 30 minutes. This sounds great, but working out how to achieve the fastest charging is not as straightforward as you’d think.
In the box with all these phones, you still get the slow 5V 1A charger that Apple has been supplying forever.
There’s no wireless charger and not even a moderately fast, fast charger. So what are your options for charging your new phone as quickly as possible, both wired and wirelessly?
Fast charging with a cable
The recommended way to fast charge the latest iPhones is to use Apple’s own, expensive 29W USB-C charger. If you own a 12″ Apple Macbook, you will already have one. The latest Macbook Pro’s also come with a USB-C charger which will also work (but won’t be any quicker): the 13″ Macbook Pro comes with a 61W charger and the 15″ Macbook Pro is supplied with an 87W charger.
Additionally you’ll need an Apple lightning to USB-C cable, which is also pricey. There are cheaper options for the charger which I’ll come to, but you’re stuck with the genuine Apple cable for the time being at least.
With the Apple charger and cable, at a total cost of £80, I charged my iPhone X from flat to 47% charge in 30 minutes, over 2.5 times faster than with the supplied charger.
Fortunately there is a cheaper option for the charger, since Apple is using the USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) standard to achieve the fast charging, any USB-PD charger with at least 29W output should perform similarly.
USB Power Delivery
From the outset, USB charging was limited to 5V at 0.5A from a standard USB port on a computer. If you you recall the basic equation Power (P) = Current (I) x Voltage (V) (P=IV), this equates to a maximum power of 2.5W.
The USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) standard allows voltages higher than 5V (up to 20V), and up to 5A of current to be negotiated between the compatible charger and device, allowing for outputs up to 100W. Usually this power is carried over a cable with USB Type-C on both ends, although in Apple’s case there’s a lightning connector on one end.
It’s good to see Apple using a standard like this, and means you’re not stuck having to use a proprietary Apple charger to get the fastest charging.
A cheaper alternative to the Apple 29W charger is Anker’s 60W 5 port charger which has a single Type-C port supporting the USB-PD standard up to 30W, as well as 4 standard 2.4A charging USB ports, capable of up to 12W each depending on the number of devices connected, and their requirements.
At roughly half the price of the Apple charger, and far more flexible with the additional ports, I again charged my flat iPhone X to 47% capacity in 30 minutes: identical to the Apple charger. Unfortunately you’ll still need the Apple charging cable until Anker or someone else produce an approved alternative.
The USB-PD port can also be used to charge other supported devices. In my household the GoPro Hero 5 and the Nintendo Switch support fast charging over this port too. And there are many more devices supporting this standard including the latest Google phones, so a charger like this may be a useful investment.
Wireless or inductive charging for smart phones has been around for a few years, and a lot longer for electric toothbrushes, but Apple have only just started incorporating the technology into its latest iPhones. The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X all support the Qi wireless charging standard. There are other wireless charging standards including PMA, but Qi is the most popular and even more so now Apple supports it.
There are a few advantages to wireless charging, but probably the most important one is convenience. You just place the phone down on the charging pad; there’s no fumbling around with the cable, often when it’s dark. There’s also the advantage, as more devices support wireless charging, of reducing the rapidly expanding the mess of cables. And if you’re someone who’s rough with cables, and the port on your phone for that matter, you may save money investing in a wireless charger. There’s no cable or indeed port to break, and you’ll be less likely to lose it too, since you’ll generally bring the phone to the charging pad.
No wireless charger is included with the latest iPhones but fortunately Qi wireless chargers are relatively cheap and ubiquitous. Amazon lists thousands of options and Ikea sell furniture with Qi wireless charging built in and an integrated charger that you can drop into a drilled hole anywhere.
Fast wireless charging
The latest iPhones should work with any of these chargers at the typical 5W charging power. But Apple did slightly confuse matters, offering compatibly with faster 7.5W charging pads after an iOS update (11.2). Apple stores offer two charging pads that are compatible with the faster charging speeds from Mophie and Belkin. And the upcoming AirPower charging pad from Apple will also support the faster charging speeds.
However even the Mophie and Belkin options are more than 5 times the cheapest Qi chargers Amazon and Ikea offer. So I’ve tested 3 chargers for reliable Amazon brands RavPower and Anker. All the chargers are supposed to support fast charging up to 10W, so theoretically should fast charge the latest iPhones.
It’s worth noting that if you’re just going to use the wireless charger on your bedside table, charging speeds are not really an issue, since the charging will be complete before your wake up whatever you use. And the jump from 5W to 7.5W is not hugely significant, especially if you really want to charge your phone quickly. You’d be much better off using a cable and a 2.4A iPad charger or equivalent or the even faster USB-PD chargers above.
As a reference for the charging speed tests below, I charged my completely flat iPhone X using the included standard Apple 5W charger and the phone reached 18% of charge after 30 minutes.
The Anker 10W charging pad comes nicely packaged in a small box with an 1m Anker branded, albeit quite thin, micro USB cable. The device is very slender at only 7.5mm in thickness, and has a fairly grippy surface so your phone shouldn’t easily slide off. The build quality is decent for the price and it’s the most understated of the three chargers easily blending into its surroundings.
No wall charger is supplied and Anker recommend plugging into a Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0 adaptor for the fastest charging. Quick Charge, like USB-PD described above, is another fast charging standard, but does not require a USB Type-C connector.
The phone can be placed in any orientation on the pad, so long as the middle of the phone is over the pad, which does require careful placement. The blue LEDs on the pad pulse for 10 seconds and then turn off when you have the phone correctly placed.
I again tried charging my completely flat iPhone X for 30 minutes using both a standard 2.4A charger, and an Aukey Qualcomm Quick Charger and got identical results of only 13% charge after 30 minutes.
So although the charger supports up to 10W, and the iPhone has the latest update to support 7.5W fast charging, it won’t fast charge an iPhone.
The RavPower 10W charging stand comes with a 50cm RavPower branded flat micro USB cable. The build quality is again fine for the price, but I’m not keen on the “Fast Charge” branding on the front of the stand in large capital letters, and embossed into a small metal plaque at the top.
As with the Anker, no charger is supplied and RavPower also recommend using with a Qualcomm Quick Charge adaptor. There are two advantages to this charger over the other two. Firstly you don’t need take much care positioning the phone on the stand for charging to work, in portrait mode at least. In landscape mode I found I had to take a little more care, but not enough for any concern.
Secondly it’s a very convenient stand for your desk, kitchen or bedside table, and if you have an iPhone X, face recognition works just fine without having to awkwardly position your face over the phone.
A white LED ring on the base of the charger pulses when charging, but it’s barely noticeable and I’ve had it on my bedside table without any concern. With the phone in portrait mode covering up the branding, the charger looks quite smart and the matt finish and bottom lip holds the phone fairly securely.
Again charging my flat iPhone X for 30 minutes, using both a 2.4A charger and the Qualcomm Quick Charger gave the same result of 16% charge after 30 minutes, so a little quicker than the Anker, but again slower than the 5W stock charger and no fast wireless charging.
The RavPower 7.5W fast charger is the only charger that explicitly mentions in its Amazon description that it will fast charge the latest iPhones and comes with a RavPower branded, 1.2m braided micro USB cable and a 24W Quick Charge 3.0 adaptor. Build quality is very good, with a decent weight, and a more premium feel than the other two chargers. It is more expensive, but the included Quick Charge 3.0 wall charger mostly justifies the extra cost even before considering the build quality and design.
It’s over twice as thick as the Anker pad (16mm) and has a grippy rubberised ring that holds your phone securely. Like the Anker, you can place the phone in any orientation but you still need to place it carefully, centred on the pad.
A green flashing LED should indicate fast charging of a compatible device, but with my iPhone X the LED flashes orange which indicates only normal speed charging. The LED continues to flash and it’s more noticeable than the RavPower’s faint white pulsing, so not ideal for your bedside table.
I repeated the same test, charging my flat iPhone X for 30 minutes, using the supplied fast charger. This time the phone charged to 23% capacity, almost 50% more than the RavPower stand, and over 25% faster than the stock 5W charger. So it does appear to be fast charging, even though the iPhone doesn’t send a fast charge signal to the charging pad.
Wired fast charging can be very useful when you are just about to head out and realise your phone is low on battery. The Anker 60W 5 port charger is a handy accessory, with its four 2.4A charging ports and additional USB-PD 30W fast charging port. The Apple Lightning to USB-C cable is pricey but it’s the only option I’d trust currently , and together with this fast charger, you can take your flat iPhone up to 25% charge before heading out, even if you only have 15 minutes spare.
For wireless charging, the speed difference between the various chargers isn’t hugely significant, so your choice will mainly come down to price, design and aesthetic. My personal choice is the RavPower wireless charging stand, despite its slightly over zealous branding. It’s doesn’t take up much space, and holds your phone conveniently for tapping through emails or such like, and will even work with Face ID without any a neck contortions. And if I need to charge my phone faster, I’ll properly fast charge it with a cable.
I hope you found this article useful. If you have any specific questions, please do ask below in the comments section – I do my best to reply to any questions.
And as ever if have found the review helpful, please consider using the Amazon links below for any purchases. It doesn’t cost you a penny, and the small amount of commission I get will keep the site going! Thank you.
Amazon links to products mentioned in review:
Apple’s 29W USB-C fast charger
Apple lightning to USB-C cable
Anker’s 60W 5 port charger
Anker 10W wireless charging pad
Aukey Qualcomm Quick Charger
RavPower 10W wireless charging stand
RavPower 7.5W fast wireless charger