If you have an old phone, being able to charge it quickly makes a huge difference. There is nothing worse than desperately needing your phone and finding the battery is almost dead. It leads to panic and mad scrambling for the nearest outlet.
Every year phones are released with bigger batteries, different chargers and a host of new features to extend battery life. Fast-charging is an increasingly popular function that allows phones to charge in a fraction of the time it would normally take. The problem is not all phones feature this capability. If you’ve got an iPhone 4 that’s still clinging to life, fast charging may not be an option, but there are lots of other tricks you can use to help your phone charge faster.
In order to get the fastest charge possible, phones must maximize the current flowing into the battery and minimize the power being used. One way to achieve this is by plugging the charging cable into a wall outlet instead of your computer (because of the outlet’s greater amperage). Switching to airplane mode or turning the phone off while charging will also help speed up your charge time.
Another common reason for slow phone charging is the type of cable being used. As we will discuss below, there are many types of charging cables with different specifications. Sometimes a high-quality cable may be worth the extra cost. The same goes for portable chargers. Cheaper models may not have the capacity you’re looking for.
Regardless of what phone you’re currently using, never fear! We’ll be answering all of your charging questions and providing plenty of tips and tricks to charge your phone faster.
What Is Fast Charging in Mobile?
How does fast charging work? We’ll break it down so you can see the difference and decide if it’s worth while for you.
Smartphone battery cells consist of positive and negative electrodes where ions form and drive a flow of electrons to the battery’s negative outer terminal. This process supplies your phone with an electric charge; batteries themselves charge when a current passes through them. A greater current and higher voltage will charge the battery faster, although the controller chip limits this and regulates the overall flow of electricity in and out of the battery.
Don’t let all these scientific terms scare you. Volts are a measure of potential difference in charge, amps are a measure of current, and watts are a measure of electrical power. If you imagine electricity as a stream of water, volts are the water pressure, amps are the flow rate and watts are the volume of water. Watts = volts x amps.
To ensure their devices charge quickly, manufacturers may vary the voltage to increase the amount of potential energy going into the device. This fast-charging standard increases the current sent to the battery so it can charge to full capacity faster.
The USB Power Delivery Specification is a defined charging standard. There are four types in total: USB 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1. USB 1.0 and 2.0 plugs can deliver up to 5V/0.5A (2.5W), while USB 3.0 delivers 5V/0.9A (4.5W). USB-C, the oval-shaped plug on new smartphones, is capable of carrying the USB 2.0 spec. USB 3.1 can potentially deliver a much higher voltage because it uses the USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) spec, which has a maximum output of 20V/5A (100W).
Your phone can only take in as much power as its charging circuit is designed for. For fast charging to work, you need a phone capable of using the fast charging standard (and an adapter and cable enabled for that same standard). Otherwise, it will default to the lower charging speed and only charge at the rate the phone is capable of.
USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) is the official designated fast-charging specification. This standard can be used by any device with a USB port, provided its manufacturer includes the necessary software. USB-PD implements a data protocol to communicate the maximum tolerable power delivery between the charger and phone. Unfortunately, you will have to buy USB-PD-capable charging accessories separately if you want to take advantage of fast charging, because these do not come standard with iPhone or Android phones. Most newer phones are fast-charging-capable.
Fast charging will only kick in when your battery level is between 0% and 79%, and then automatically stop when it reaches 80%. iPhones capable of fast charging can charge from 0% to 50% in 30 minutes using USB-PD. However, if you don’t want to pay the extra money for these accessories, we will explore other methods you can use to help your phone charge faster.
Does Your Phone Charge Faster When It's Off?
There are days when you’re glued to your phone from morning till night, which can drain the battery quite quickly. Unfortunately, the best way to recharge your phone is to turn it off.
This can make things difficult if you’re answering emails, making phone calls or addicted to a new game; you won’t be able to use your phone while it’s off and charging. But because the battery isn’t being drained by these other processes, it will recharge much more quickly.
Even the battery percentage can affect the speed at which your phone charges. iPhones use a process known as “trickle charging”, which means the first 80% of your phone’s battery capacity will charge at a much faster rate than the last 20%. So if you don’t need your phone fully charged, charging to 80% is ideal and will help increase the lifespan of your battery.
Another factor that affects battery performance and charge time is temperature. Phones take longer to charge when the battery is hot and under stress, because it is being used for multiple functions. When your phone is off, it charges more efficiently because the battery isn’t being used for other purposes, allowing it to cool down. If you don’t want to turn your phone off completely, you can still get charging speed benefits by putting your phone in airplane mode.
Do Phones Charge Faster in Airplane Mode?
Everyone is familiar with airplane mode, but most people don’t realize that it can be useful at times other than mid-flight. Airplane mode turns off the wireless features on your device and can help speed up your charging time.
While charging, switch your phone into airplane mode. This way, your phone will stop burning energy by trying to connect with cell phone towers and pinpoint its location with GPS. The location-finding function stops your phone from entering full-energy saving mode (even when it’s asleep). When your phone is put into airplane mode, the reception to these radio transmissions is turned off, so it charges faster.
Connection to a network is one of the biggest factors that drains your phone’s battery. Location services are a big issue, but so are cellular, Bluetooth, radio and Wi-Fi services. Even when you aren't actively using these services, they continue to run in the background and drain the power of your phone, especially if you are connected to a data network. When you plug in your phone to charge, these services are still use up power from the battery, which results is a longer charge time. While this may not be quite as noticeable if you aren’t using your phone while it’s charging, it can make a big difference when you are.
Airplane mode can be extremely useful (aside from the downside of losing all connectivity). Enabling airplane mode can reduce your charging time anywhere from 10% to 25%, which can be very helpful if you need to charge your phone in a hurry.
What Will Happen If I Charge My Phone Overnight?
If you’re like most people, you probably plug your phone in before you go to bed and let it charge overnight without a second thought. But is this the best thing for your battery? Are phones at risk of overheating if left to charge overnight?
One of the most common causes for phones overheating is a poor quality charger. Stick to official charging cables or reputable third-party alternatives. One trick to prevent overheating is to remove the case at night. Smartphones are made from materials that naturally release the heat they produce, but when they are covered up, they cannot do that. Lithium-based batteries used in smartphones can be degraded over time by excessive heat.
Your phone’s battery will slowly degrade over time. Some batteries cannot be recharged at all beyond a certain point. If this is the case with your phone, you need to replace the battery.
To extend your battery life, keep it charged between 50% and 80%, and avoid letting the battery completely discharge. Charging your phone in short spurts allows the charged lithium-ions to keep working properly. While this method is not always the most convenient, it is healthier for the battery because it reduces the number of full-charge cycles that your phone goes through. Most smartphones are limited to approximately 400 charge cycles.
So, don’t stress when you plug your phone in at night. It’s better to keep close track of your charge cycle count.
How To Charge Your Phone Without a Charger
Our smartphones are much more than just telephones, they’re our point of contact to the rest of the world. That’s why we get uneasy when we forget our charger or can’t find an outlet to plug into. Luckily, there are ways to charge your phone when you’re on the go, even if you don’t have a charger.
One of the easiest ways is to use a laptop or desktop computer. Laptop batteries are more robust than phone batteries and generally won’t drain to the point of concern when charging a phone. If you have a USB cable, simply plug your phone into the USB port of the computer for a quick boost. For a faster charge, turn your phone off or put it in airplane mode.
Another easy way to charge your phone while you’re on the road is using a USB cable and an adapter for your car’s cigarette lighter port. Wireless car chargers are popular, but not all old phones are Qi-charging enabled. With a car charger, you’ll never get stuck with a dead battery while you’re away from home. If your phone is Qi-compatible, check out one of the best wireless car chargers on the market - CircaCharge. Simply place your phone in the holder and you’re set.
If you’re extra eager to charge on the go, then a portable charger or power bank is a great solution. You can carry one wherever you go as a dependable way to charge your phone while you’re on the move. These devices support both regular and fast charging. A fully-charged power bank can often recharge your phone several times before needing to be recharged itself. This can be very useful if you are camping or going somewhere without access to an electrical outlet.
How To Charge Your Phone Without Electricity
Here are some of the best methods to charge your phone without electricity.
Though it may not help much when it’s raining, using the sun to charge your phone is a great way to make use of green energy. Using a solar powered battery charger can help to recharge your phone and other electronic devices. The only issue with these devices is that they must be charged in clear weather since they rely on sunlight. This method is ideal for people living in sunny places. Solar chargers with a built-in power bank are highly recommended.
If you don’t have a solar charger or find yourself in a place without sunlight, then a portable car battery charger can be useful (for more than just boosting your car battery). Portable car chargers are large battery packs with the potential to jump start a dead car battery. These multifunctional power banks come with USB ports that can help charge your smartphone battery as well. Jump starters can store a lot of power as they can be used to boost your car battery at least two to three times per charge. This can supply enough power to charge your smartphone many times over, even if it has already been used to jump your car.
The problem with the first two options is that they still require sunlight or some form of electricity. If you don’t have access to electricity at all, then your best option is a hand crank charger. Hand crank chargers use mechanical power to generate electricity. These tiny gadgets have a small hand lever that you can rotate to produce a small electric current. Connect your phone with a USB cable to the charger and start rotating the lever to charge the phone. The maximum output for these kinds of chargers is 6V and 300mA, which will take quite a while for it to fully charge, but works well when you have no other options. One of the best on the market is the TrustyCharge, which also comes with a built-in solar charger. With gadgets like these, you will never have to worry about your phone’s battery level ever again.