Device slow to charge? Check your USB cable or charger 09/04/2014
There are a number of things that can affect the time it takes to charge your phone, tablet and other USB devices. Heres what could be slowing you down.
Device slow to charge? Check your USB cable or charger

All devices should remain fully charged all the time, right? We couldn’t agree more. Meanwhile, back in the real world, charging is a necessary evil and unless you only need to use your charger overnight when the speed doesn’t matter to you, most people want the fastest charger possible.

So, here’s the skinny on the things that affect the charging speed of your phone, tablet or other USB device and what you can do to speed things up.

The problem with charging from PC with a USB cable

Well actually, most mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have an inbuilt charger circuit and a battery, so the ‘charger’ you plug into the wall is actually just a power source – a power adapter (the wall socket part) and a cable.

“And?” You ask! Well the thing with that is that different power sources provide different amperage and that’s what matters when you’re looking for a fast charge.

With Apple mobile devices, you’ll be getting around 5 Watts (5 volts at 1000 milliamps (mA)) of charge with an iPhone power source connected to a wall socket and about 12 Watts (5.1 volts at 2000mA) from your iPad power source connected to a wall socket.

Connect to a PC using the USB cable and you’ll reduce that to 1.5 Watts (5 volts at 500mA), so for faster charging, think milliamps (mA) and head straight to the wall socket.

Cable types affect charging speed

USB cables aren’t all equal and the differences can result in slower charging. With a data wire and a charging wire inside the cable itself, you need to pay attention to the wire gauge when you’re looking for a USB cable for charging.

Most USB cables are 28/28 AWG so both the data and the power wires are ‘normal’ size. 28/28 USB cables are notorious for slow charging, so if you want to speed things up, look for a 28/24AWG USB cable which has larger gauge power wires. Your smartphone or tablet most likely came with a 28/24 AWG cable.

USB cables are also very easy to damage. If you were to look inside the USB jack casing (which we don’t suggest you do), you’d see a whole lot of little wires soldered onto a board. These little components are really easy to break so keep your USB cables protected. The same goes for the connection itself, damaged cables can result in loose connections which might slow your charging.

Can you safely charge your smartphone faster?

Now we know that it’s the amperage that matters, why not just use a higher milliamp power adapter with your device for faster charging? It’s definitely been done before and there’s no doubt that your iPad adapter will charge your iPhone faster but you’ll find plenty of heated debate online about whether it ruins the battery life.

So what’s the scoop? We figure Apple would be the authority on their products and according to the Apple website, the power source that is shipped with today’s iPads is compatible with iPhones, iPads and iPods.

The reason is because of the device’s inbuilt charging circuit – it doesn’t ‘fry’ because it only takes the power it needs and not all the power that is delivered. So as long as the voltage is compatible (most are 5 volt), there is technically no issue sending 2000mA down the cable and charging faster.

But the claim about the battery life is not all wrong. The issue is heat. Lithium batteries cannot cope with heat and some people claim higher wattage can make their devices hot. Neither side argue about the effect of heat on ruining Lithium batteries so just make sure your device doesn’t get too hot when you’re charging. Oh, and if you’re going to opt for more amps, it will help to take your phone case off while you charge.

Fast device charging on the go

For a fast mobile device charger in the car, a unit like the Sprout Dual USB – Rapid Charge 3.1A gives you enough power to charge 2 devices with a 2100mA socket for your iPad and a 1000mA socket for iPhone or iPod.

Or, if you need a go-anywhere solution that can charge your smartphone, tablet, PDA, MP3 Player, PSP or GPS Navigator lightning fast, the Sprout Powerbank definitely has you covered. With a ridiculously huge 6000mAh of onboard power and 5 volt, 2000mA charging, Powerbank is one of the fastest, most powerful charging solutions around.

And folks, we have one big tip to finish on; try putting your smartphone or tablet in airplane mode to charge it faster. Because the battery isn’t hunting around for a network and internet connectivity, you’re not losing charge at the same time as you’re adding it! It will make a difference. Thank us later! J

Sprout makes smart accessories for smartphones, iPads and Macs including cables and chargers that can get your smartphone, tablet or USB device charged up in the fastest possible time. Plus, we do the fun stuff too with great phone cases and iPad cases to add some style and protection. If there’s a mobile accessory you’re looking for to enhance your mobile device, take a look in the Sprout online store or find a Sprout retailer.

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