Smartphone Charger Buying Guide and Our Best Picks

Introduction

Chargers that come with shiny new devices are not always the fastest or most reliable. Even some top-tier smartphone manufacturers continue to bundle slower chargers with their smartphones. Apple is one of them and leaves you wondering why we don’t get fast chargers with such expensive devices. Companies like Apple want you to pay more for their fast chargers, but there are plenty of other (and better) options available.

You also have to consider buying a replacement wall charger if the stock charger breaks or stops working altogether (or if you forgot it at some hotel 500 miles away). However, with so many options available it can become difficult to pick a reliable charger that keeps your smartphone juiced up. This guide covers the basics of buying a smartphone/tablet charger and includes our top picks, which have carefully been selected keeping price and the value they offer in mind.

Things to Consider When Buying a Smartphone Charger

Chargers can broadly be categorized into four categories i.e. wall/socket/AC, car, battery-only and portable chargers/power banks/solar chargers. Portable/car chargers are a must for frequent travelers and people who don’t usually find themselves near a power socket.

Choosing the right charger is not only essential to keeping your devices charged, but it also ensures that you are ‘properly’ juicing them up and not causing any damage over time. That’s why it’s highly recommended to avoid cheap chargers and knockoffs as they are usually insanely slow and can cause damage to the battery/logic board.

Battery-only chargers are useful for the few lucky people who still own a phone with a removable battery and like to carry a spare battery with them.  This post focuses on wall chargers, but most of the things you need to consider while buying them also apply to other types of chargers.

Charging Port

Figuring out the type of charging port your phone has is pretty straight forward. Most modern Android phones come with a USB-C port, while older ones (and many newer phones too) use microUSB port. Apple uses the Lightening port, but you can also charge its devices using adapters such as Lightening-to-microUSB or USB-C adapter.

When it comes to charging ports, the real difference in most cases is between charging cables and you can use the same charger to juice up different devices with different types of ports.

Voltage (V)

Voltage is an important factor to consider when buying a wall charger and it’s like the pressure water exerts when flowing though a pipe. You need to match the rated voltage of your smartphone with the charger (both should be the same). 5V has been the standard for quite some time now, but quick charging solutions such as Qualcomm QC 2.0/3.0 support higher voltage like 9V/12V.

You can safely charge your older smartphone (rated at 5V) using a quick charger that supports 9/12V or higher voltage (the charger automatically detects a non-QC device and defaults to 5V). If you have a smartphone with a removable battery and want to charge the battery using a battery-only charger, make sure to match the voltage printed on the battery itself (3.8V in many cases).

Amperage (A)

Amperage is represented in amperes (A) and is like the volume of water that is flowing through a pipe. The more the amperage, the less time it should take to charge a device. However, some smartphones and other devices limit the amount of current that can flow to charge the battery.

You don’t have to worry much in this regard as the device only allows a specific amount of current to get through even if you are using a high-ampere charger. You should be looking for chargers that provide at least 2A current otherwise it would take quite some time to charge most smartphones and tablets.

Power Output (W)

Power (represented in Watts/W) is simply VxA, which means the more the voltage and amperage, the higher the total power output. For example, a 5V/2A charger can theoretically provide a total power output of 10W, while a fast charger (9Vx2A) can provide an output of 18W, which is significantly higher provided the device supports fast charging.

Quick Charging

There are many Quick Charging solutions available, which sadly for consumers are not cross-compatible. For example, OnePlus uses Dash Charging that’s insanely fast, but not compatible with Qualcomm Quick Charge devices.

Make sure to check your phone specifications and buy a charger that supports the fast charging technology your phone/tablet is compatible with. Qualcomm QC is the most widely used quick charging solution, but you can still use QC-compatible chargers with phones that use another fast charging technology (such chargers will charge at a slower/default speed).

Qualcomm Quick Charging tech is backwards compatible e.g. QC 3.0 chargers are also compatible with devices that support QC 2.0 and 1.0 and would default to the charging tech a device is using.

Brand Reputation and Customer Reviews

Chargers made by reputable brands sch as Anker have been tested for reliability and performance and come with international certifications such as CE. These chargers cost more than non-branded or cheap ones, but are worth the money considering you’ll be charging one of the most expensive pieces of tech. Also make sure to check out customer reviews before buying any charger to make sure a seller is not ripping you off with a counterfeit product.

Best Wall Chargers for Smartphones

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Anker 60W PIQ 3.0&GaN Tech USB C Charger
MINIX 66W Turbo 3-Port GaN Wall Charger 2 x USB-C Fast Charging Adapter
Anker Elite USB Charger, Dual Port 24W Wall Charger
Satechi 7-Port USB Charging Station Dock
Anker USB Wall Charger, 60W 6 Port USB Charging Station
Quick Charge 3.0, Anker 18W 3Amp USB Wall Charger
Google Official Pixel Charger for Pixel 3 and all Pixel Phones
Apple 12W USB Power Adapter (for iPhone, iPad)

Anker PowerPort+ Atom III 60W

The dual-port charger can deliver a total output of 60W through its USB-C (45W) and USB-A (15W) ports. It supports USB-C Power Delivery and Qualcomm Quick Charge for fast charging of compatible devices, including Samsung and Apple smartphones/tablets.

In addition to your smartphones and tablets, you can also use it to charge laptops that have a USB-C port, including Macbooks, Lenovo’s Yoga and HP’s Spectre series laptops. Compared to AUKEY 56.5W Wall Charger (below) that uses a standard 5V/2.1 USB A port, this charger also supports fast charging on the USB-A port, which is an advantage if you are using older devices that support fast charging.

Key features and specifications

  • Dual Port, USB-C fast charging
  • Input: 100-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Output USB-C: 5V/2.4A, 9V/3A, 15V/3A, 20V/2.2A (max 45W)
  • Output USB-A: 5V/2.4A, 9V/1.66A, 12V/1.25A
  • Foldable plug

MINIX 66W Turbo 3-Port GaN Wall Charger

The 66W charger also does more than just charging a smartphone. It’s suitable for charging a variety of other USB-C compatible devices such as laptops and Macbooks and futureproofs your investment. It is equipped with Over-voltage, Over-temperature, Over-current, and Short-circuit Protection.

With its EO P1 66W Turbocharger mechanism that automatically adjusts the power output of each port to match whatever kind of device you will charge, expect to experience super quick phone charging without worrying about possible short circuits.

Key features and specifications

  • 66W Turbo 3-Port GaN Charger
  • Works with both PD & QC charging protocols
  • Supports worldwide universal 100-240V voltage
  • Comes with UK/EU pin converters
  • SB- C port: up to 65W; USB-A port: up to 36W (Single port output)
  • USB-C Port + USB-C Port: 30W+30W; USB-C Port+ USB-A Port: 45W+18W (Only 2 ports used together)
  • 30W+18W+18W (3 ports used together)
  • Built-in protection features

Anker PowerPort 2 Elite Dual Port 24W Wall Charger

The Elite Dual port charger is a great option for people looking for an affordable, yet reliable wall charger for their smartphones/tablets. It comes with two USB-A ports (there is no USB-C port), but you can use USB-A to USB-C data cable to charge your USB-C devices. A power output of 24W means this charger is suitable for charging smartphones and tablets.

Due to lower power output, you probably won’t be using it to charge your laptops and other devices that require more power. However, it’s good enough to charge two Apple iPads simultaneously at full speed. The charger automatically detects the charging requirements of the connected device and increases output to automatically compensate for cable-resistance.

Protection features such as short circuit prevention, surge protection and temperature control ensure reliable and safe charging while keeping the charge time low. The charger does not support proprietary fast charging technologies such as Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and if you are using a QC 3.0 device, it will use its own fast-charging tech charge, which is quite similar to QC 3.0 in terms of charging time.

Key features and specifications

  • Dual USB-A ports, 24W max output
  • Input: 100-240V
  • Output: 2.4A/24W max (adjusts voltage automatically to compensate for resistance)
  • Foldable plug
  • Built-in protection features

Satechi 7-port Charging Station

This charging station comes with 7 USB ports and is suitable for people who have many devices to charge and want to keep things organized. Four of the ports are meant to charge mobile phones while the remaining three are for devices that need more power such as tablets. All the ports have Velcro straps to keep the desk space clutter-free.

The anti-scratch silicone padded slots are ¾” apart, which means you can charge a device without having to remove the case. 5V/1A (4 ports) and 5V/2.4A (3 ports) is not fast by modern standards, but the charging station is designed for a different purpose. Satechi also offers charging stations with USB-C and fast-charging ports for those who need more than 1A charging ports.

Key features and specifications

  • 7-ports with Velcro straps for a clutter-free desk space
  • Silicone padded ¾-inch slots
  • Input: 100-240V AC, 50/60Hz
  • Output: 5V/1A (4 ports), 5V/2.4V (3 ports)

RAVPower 6-port 60W Quick Charge 3.0 Charging Station

This 6-port charger is a great alternative to Satechi 7-port Charging Station if you want faster charging and don’t care about separate slots. The charging station supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and can deliver up to 60W of total output. You might also want to consider this 6-port charging station if you don’t need quick charging and want to save some money.

Key features and specifications

  • 6-port, 60W max
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
  • Input: 100-240V, 50/60Hz
  • 5-meter power cord
  • Overheating, overcharging and short circuit protection

Anker PowerPort+ 1 18W Quick Charge 3.0 Wall Charger

The Quick Charge 3.0 charger offers a great balance between price, performance and reliability. It can charge at up to 2.4A even if you don’t have a QC-compatible device, which is enough for most devices. PowerIQ charging tech juices up devices pretty fast and serve as an alternative if your phone does not support Qualcomm’s fast charging tech.

 Key features and specifications

  • Quick Charge 3.0 and PowerIQ
  • Delivers up to 2.4A to non-QC devices
  • Anker protection features
  • Max power output 18W
  • Output: 3.6 to 6.5V @ 3A, 6.5-9V @ 2A, 9-12V @ 1.5A
  • Input: 100-240V AC 50/60Hz

Official Google Pixel 18W Charger Bundle

In addition to the Google Pixel series phones, this charger is also compatible with other phones. The reason it made it to this list is that it’s a complete bundle of 4 items, including the 18W charger, Ul certified cable (USB-A to USB-C), USB-C to USB-C cable and USB-C to USB 3.0 adapter. This makes it an all-inclusive charging solution for most smartphones and tablets.

Key features and specifications

  • Complete bundle, no need to find compatible cables/adapters
  • 18W max output
  • UL certified charging cables

Apple 12W Wall Charger

Compared to the stock 5W charger, this 12W charger provides a significant charging speed boost to both new and older iPhones and uses the same Lightening cable that comes with most iPhones. It’s compatible with all iPhones with a Lightening connector (iPhone 5 and above), iPods (4th gen or above), Apple Watch 1st Generation/Series 1 and above and most iPad models.

Key features and specifications

  • Max output 12W, 2.4A
  • Input: 100-240V, 50/60Hz

Conclusion

Fast-charging technologies like Anker’s PowerIQ are comparable to Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 so your buying decision should not be entirely based on whether a charger supports QC or not. Most chargers from reputable brands can ‘sense’ the charging requirements and adjust power output accordingly, which saves you from having to manually check for compatibilities.

Anker PowerPort+ 1 is one of the best options if you are looking for a reasonably priced single-port fast charger. Anker PowerPort+ Atom III works well for people who in addition to their smartphones and tablets also want to charge their laptops and other USB-C devices. Regardless of your budget and charging requirements, buyers should stick with known brands and avoid saving a few bucks and putting their devices at risk.