In this article we will tell you how to choose a cell phone charger by explaining its types, power, safety, and all you need to know.
2020 has been the beginning of the great step that is still being taken in 2021: The elimination of the chargers in the box. According to brands such as Apple or Samsung, to be more responsible with the environment, the charger begins to be an external accessory. Today there are several types of chargers, charging technologies, and so on, so it is not easy to know which charger we have to choose for our device.
How to choose a cell phone charger: Types, power, safety, and all you need to know
With this guide, we are going to teach you everything you need to know to buy a phone charger because if we choose one that is not suitable, we can even damage the battery.
First of all, check the type of adapter
The adapter is the first part of the charging system that we call the charger. It is “the head” to which we connect the cable. Usually, when we buy the adapter, the cable is not included, but we won’t go into the specifics of each one yet.
The first thing to know is that there are mainly two types of adapters to charge by cable: The wall and the car. The first ones feed the terminal by connecting them to a plug, while the second ones use the car’s 12 Volt lighter charger.
Adapters range from classic single-ended to large, heavy adapters with multiple outputs of different types.
The adapters can have a different number of ports, designs, and even make each port have a different power. It is therefore advisable to choose the adapter very well since it will depend largely on the load that we will be able to perform.
Similarly, the voltages can also vary between countries. In Europe and Asia, voltages of 220 and 240V are usually used, while in certain countries of South America, Japan, or the Caribbean the voltage usually goes from 100 to 125V.
The charging port
There are currently three main ports for charging a phone: Micro USB, USB-C, and Lightning, Apple’s own port. For years you may have heard expressions like “does anyone have a Samsung charger out there”, an innocent question, but incorrect, since it is important to know which port our mobile has, and except in the case of Apple, this is not exclusive to each brand.
If your phone is current, it may have USB C. If it’s an iPhone, it will have Lightning, and if it’s old or low range, micro USB.
Most current phones already come with USB-C, but if our phone is old or low range, it may still be using the micro USB. Similarly, depending on the type of charge, the adapter will also have to be adapted, as there are mobiles that charge with a USB-A to C cable and others that charge from C to C, etc.
The important thing here is that you know if your mobile is micro USB, USB-C, or Lightning, to know basically the cable that goes into your phone.
Volts and Amps
Once we know the type of cable and adapter our phone needs, it is important to understand how the power it will provide works. Depending on the power it has, it will charge more or less quickly, but this will also depend on the standards the phone supports.
If we want to know the power that the charger has, we have to look at the Watts and Amperes. Let’s take as an example of the charger that has accompanied us for so many years in technology: 5V (Volts) and 1A (Amps). The equation here is simple, this charger is capable of charging at 5W. If we buy a 5V and 3A charger, it will be able to charge to 15W, if it is 10V and 4A, to 40W. By looking at Volts and Amps we can tell the final power output of the charger.
The power of the charger and the device to be charged must match. There is no point in connecting a 120W charger to a cell phone without a quick charge
Over the years, fast charging has caused both volts and amps to increase, with loads reaching up to 120W. Before buying a charger of a certain power, we should consult how much load our phone can withstand. If your phone does not have a quick charge, there is no point in connecting it to a 15W charger, because it will only charge to the maximum allowed by the manufacturer. If it has a quick charge of 15W and we plug it into a 60W charger, it will continue charging at 15W.
In addition to the fast charging technologies that the manufacturer can implement itself, there are models that are compatible with other manufacturers’ technologies, such as Qualcomm’s fast charging. This means that if our cell phone is compatible with a fast-charging system of a certain W (both by the original manufacturer and other charging systems from other manufacturers such as Qualcomm), any charger certified for such systems will be valid, although it does not end here.
Power Delivery, a real lifesaver
Although not very well known by the average user, USB Power Delivery is a widespread standard, which allows charging up to 100W. To give you an idea, the computer I’m writing about is charging at 60W with Power Delivery, and if I connect it to one of my mobiles compatible with this technology, the charge will be adapted to the maximum power that the mobile allows.
Power Delivery is a lifesaver. It allows you to charge the device to the maximum allowed by the manufacturer for that standard
Therefore, it is convenient to know if our mobile is compatible with Power Delivery or not. Why? Because we can buy a fairly powerful Power Delivery charger and use it both to charge our phone and for all other devices that support this type of charging. It is an ideal solution to avoid having to use several chargers, as it is such a widespread standard (especially in these times of fast charging).
The types of output
As we have mentioned, there are chargers that come with multiple outputs. Generally, they usually have some very powerful output and others less powerful. Others are very complete and come with several types of output.
What about wireless charging?
With wireless charging, which is really contact charging, a less energy-efficient and somewhat slower charging system has arrived since the energy is not transmitted directly to the telephone, but to the charging coils, which are the ones that transform the electricity from the plug into alternating current. The best-known standard is Qi, although this may depend on the manufacturer.
Wireless charging and current chargers are not entirely efficient. A small fault in the alignment of the cell phone with the charger can cause it not to charge correctly
When buying a wireless charger, we have to take into account what is its maximum power, which will also depend on the adapter to which we connect them. There is no point in buying a 15W wireless charging base and connecting it to a 5W adapter.
The main problem with this type of charger is that the charge is not transmitted as directly as with a cable. That is, if we do not put the device in a perfect position, we can have energy losses. Therefore, it is important to choose a charger in which it is easy to put the cell phone, as some do not make it too easy to align it.
You also have to take into account that, if a base offers 15W and you connect several devices, the power may be distributed unevenly, and not all devices charge at 15W. As we said, the wireless charging (even more so the simultaneous wireless charging of several devices) is not yet fully efficient and requires much work, and if not, tell the Apple AirPower.
Some myths about chargers and safety factors
We may have heard that “if you don’t charge with the original charger, you can break the phone”. On the one hand, we must indeed have some precautions and considerations to charge correctly, but nowadays phones come with multiple protection measures for charging, being quite difficult to break a phone or a battery by using a poor quality charger. Usually, if a charger is bad, it simply will not charge quickly and in the worst case, it will heat the adapter itself, but not the phone.
A separate issue is wireless charging, which is less energy efficient, where a poor choice in the charger can actually result in excessive heat in our phone. As we said before, it is convenient to use higher quality wireless chargers, to avoid the heat issue.
Nevertheless, some certifications assure us that the chargers have passed the pertinent tests. Some of them are the following:
CE certification: The product complies with the relevant European directive on health, safety, and environmental protection. Products with CE marking are guaranteed by the manufacturer to be safe, according to European legislation.
The RoHS certificate guarantees the restriction of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.
FCC certification: It is only granted if it meets all the criteria of the standards established to grant its seal, including tests of dangerous voltage and current, power limitations, disturbances by atmospheric discharge, voltage drops, and so on.
MFi: Certificate that guarantees that a product has been verified and certified by Apple, so it is suitable for use with its products.