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How to Pick the Best Charger for Your Smartphone or Tablet

Ever wonder why your phone always seems to charge the best using the charger that it came with the packaging? Frustrated, have you ever asked yourself: “My phone was plugged in all night, why didn’t it fully charge?” Or, have you ever commented, “Wow, I wonder why my phone gets really hot when I charge it?”

As it turns out, all three questions can be answered by one simple truth: Different devices have different charging circuitry.

Think of it as a handshake. I specific power ‘handshake’ between charger and device is required to charge safely and optimally. For example, most iPads require 2.4 amps, the Galaxy Note series requires 2 amps, iPhones 1 amp, etc. All of these devices have a different power profile when it comes to charging. Generic chargers may work with any device, but they aren’t optimized to provide the most efficient or safe charge for every device.

If you’re not confused yet, newer technologies like Qualcomm’s QC/2 and QC/3 and Type C PC (power delivery) further complicate the picture as these can require a certain chipset be installed on both the device and in the charger to gain optimal fast charging performance or even an all new cable and protocol altogether.

Dangers of Excessive and Low Voltage

Picking a charger with the correct charging circuitry is about more than avoiding smartphone charging frustrations, it can prevent a number of problems. Both excessive and low voltage can cause problems, including the following:

  • Poor charging efficiency and wasted energy
  • Shortening of battery life and battery damage
  • Device damage or complete shutdown of the device
  • Improper,  erratic, or no device operation
  • Excessive heating
  • Increased charging times

Tips for Purchasing Proper Chargers

All of this considered, how do you make sure you’re picking the right charger for your smartphone or tablet? Make sure to follow these tips:

(1) Use the original charger that came with your phone or device. There is a reason that when purchasing a phone or other device, it comes with a charger. It’s because each device has it’s own power requirements and has its own unique relationship with the charger to ensure a safe and proper charge.

(2) Check to ensure the device is optimized for different types of charges (i.e. tablets, iPhones, Android, etc.). We all know that Android users are a different breed from iPhone users and guess what? The devices themselves are also quite different, so the charger that comes with your iPhone will not work the same with your friend’s or significant other’s Android phone.

(3) Use voltage/surge protectors when charging devices, especially when in doubt of the quality of your charger. Our phones today are some of the most sophisticated electronic devices ever made, but chargers are becoming cheaper and cheaper. Many don’t offer any over-current and over-voltage protection, or even the proper power specification to make sure those expensive electronic investments are protected. If the charger has no SC (short circuit) or OV (over-voltage) protection, the charger may overheat, or burn and your device may get damaged.

(4) When you can’t use the original charger, look for products that have the technology to match the manufacturer’s intended power and specifications. Using the established voltage not only provides a faster charge, but some technologies, like ToughTested’s InstaSense Power Share charger, recognize the voltage required and safely power a device to the manufacturer’s exact specification, just like that charger that came with your device. Most modern phones come with only a wall charger, so when charging on-the-go in your car, we’ve left things to chance with generic chargers. Look for devices labeled with the correct amperage rating, to make sure you’re getting the best charging experience.

Devices and chargers are not created equal, but remember that the cable you use also plays a part in the proper charging of your device. We’ll cover that another time — cables are a whole other topic!