What is fast charging and turbo charging?
Let’s take a look at phones that offer new fast charging facilities
In the past year, we’ve seen a lot of higher end phones advertising that they have fast-charging or turbo-charging capabilities. Some manufacturers are even selling separate chargers and accessories branded as ‘fast’ or ‘turbo’, however do you know which products they are properly compatible with?
The answer lies in technology developed by the processor manufacturer Qualcomm branded as Quick Charge. This involves the phone having specific power management circuitry built in. It can then use compatible mains adaptors to receive the fast charging benefits.
The current version is Quick Charge 2.0, with an updated version 3.0 announced in September, for new processors and should be in many phones throughout 2016.
The technology has now actually been included in a fair amount of phones, so you might be able to use it without even knowing. You can use Qualcomm’s handy device finder to see if your Qualcomm powered phone is Quick Charge 2.0 certified.
How fast does the charging happen?
This depends on the phone. Theoretically all you need to do to charge faster is provide more power – at least that’s what the movies show you. In reality, the physical & chemical make-up of lithium batteries means this has to be done safely.
A QC enabled phone will always try and draw as much power as it from any standard charger, up to 2 amps. Any more would not be considered safe.
If you’re using a QC enabled adaptor with the phone, then you can get up to 3 amps on Quick Charge 2.0 technology. QC adaptors can also vary the voltage though – the phone and adaptor can communicate to get the best possible output for the situation at hand.
For instance 5V @ 3A provides 15W of power. (P = IV for those who remember their GCSE / O-level physics). Some QC chargers can intelligently switch up the voltage however, up to as high as 12V.
At this point they will turn down the current and deliver about 1.2A, making for a very similar 14.4W of power. This is almost the same power and therefore charging speed, however with a lower current there is less likely to be excess heat (and therefore wastage), alongside a lesser chance of causing battery degradation.
Phones all use differently sized batteries, so take on board what the manufacturer states in the documentation – often something such as “up to 50% charge in 30 minutes”. The average speed will be slightly less, so in that example not all the way up to full in one hour, as charging happens faster on a more empty battery than a more full one (chemistry and physics again – less overall molecules to react…)
Where can I get a Quick Charge certified charger?
Many new QC certified phones will come with one in the box. A quick run-down of recent devices shows the Motorola Moto X Style & Force, Priv by BlackBerry, and Sony Xperia Z5 range with included fast chargers.
If you want a spare then each manufacturer often sells theirs separately too. We currently have the following options:
- Motorola Turbo Mains Charger
- Motorola Turbo Car Charger
- Sony UCH10 Quick Charger
- Sony UCH20 Quick Charger
- Samsung Adaptive Fast Charger
Are Samsung Galaxy phones different?
Samsung recently stopped using Qualcomm Snapdragon processors in many of their flagship Galaxy phones, instead favouring their own Exynos line of chips. You might then think they can’t use the Quick Charge branded technology.
Instead it turns out they can, as Qualcomm are allowing OEM manufacturers to license the technology for free. All a manufacturer has to do is integrate the power circuitry into their phones and adaptors.
Samsung brand their hardware with “Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging” (AFC). For all intents and purposes though, it’s Qualcomm Quick Charge, so Quick Charge branded chargers from other manufacturers will still work the same way.
This is in fact the same for the ASUS Zenfone 2 which uses an Intel processor. Non Qualcomm-powered phones such as these won’t appear on the Qualcomm device finder above, however if the literature for the phone mentions anything about fast, rapid, turbo or otherwise speedy charging, then it’s almost certainly utilising the same tech.
I bought a ‘fast’ charger a few years ago. Is it the same thing?
Probably not. A few years back, most mobile devices only needed about 1 amp at 5 volts (5V/1A) from a mains adaptor to charge at a decent speed. This is what the majority of mains adaptors were rated at.
You could safely use adaptors rated at 5V/2A and these would effectively charge phones much faster, delivering more power than adaptors rated at 1A. These were often marketed as ‘fast’ chargers back then.
As mobile products became larger and more powerful, they started to need more power to be able run. Big screen phones and tablets especially needed much higher rated adaptors, otherwise they would be using more power than the adaptor was delivering!
Adaptors included with flagship devices and tablets started to deliver more power and therefore selling 5V/2A chargers as ‘fast’ chargers became a bit of a misnomer and the practise stopped (although 5V/2A adaptors are still readily available). Your ‘fast’ charger from a few years ago is therefore probably just a ‘normal’ charger with a relatively high amperage rating.