With so many different types of chargers for phones, finding the right one for your device can feel overwhelming.
Cell phone chargers are amazing devices, but they’re not magical. I found this out the hard way, when my battery would conk out sooner than I expected. Or when I’d been charging the phone all night, and it would die in the middle of a conversation the next morning. Or it would mysteriously freeze.
Turns out that every phone charger is not created equal. The one I was using was keeping my phone limping along, but it was not truly compatible with my device.
I also found out that there are many different phone charger types for keeping my device charged at home or on the go.
And in my research, I also discovered some of the best laptop charging carts and Chromebook carts for schools. These take charging multiple laptops in an educational setting to an entirely new level.
I was no longer in bewilderment, wondering, “What type of phone charger do I need?” Many electronics can be confusing. But now that I have a better understanding of cell phone chargers, I can help you understand them too.
Let’s dig in and discover the answer to the burning question, “What Type of Phone Charger Do I Need?”
The Different Types of Chargers for Phones
There are 6 types of chargers, each with its own unique capabilities.
1. Wall Chargers
Wall chargers are the most commonplace cell phone chargers. They have a universal design that’s compatible with all wall sockets. Wall chargers have a cable outfitted with an adaptor that plugs into a wall socket. They are considered to be the most effective, dependable chargers. Manufacturers often include these chargers in the box with their phones.
Here’s a great universal wall charger with multiple USB ports that works well for all types of phones.
2. Desktop Chargers
If wall chargers are too cumbersome for you and you want a more streamlined phone charger, you can get a desktop charger, which is wireless-enabled furniture.
Desktop chargers may be the ultimate in charging convenience. They are wireless chargers that are actually built right into your furniture. They’re installed under your tabletop and lie flush with its surface for an unobtrusive, streamlined appearance.
This type of chargers can be installed on desktops, nightstands, side tables or any furniture that has a flat surface.
Some furniture comes with this technology pre-installed or, if you’re handy, you can build a wireless-enabled one yourself.
The charger generates a magnetic field that transfers directly to your phone when the phone is placed on it. This field can transmit through ceramics, glass, and wood. However, the power won’t pass through metals such as steel and aluminum.
Desktop chargers and wall chargers are efficient devices, but what about when you’re not at home? When you’re on the go, a car charger is essential.
3. Car Chargers
The average American spends a whopping 13 hours and 22 minutes behind the wheel each week.
This means that a cell phone car charger is essential if you’re on the road. You wouldn’t want to be in gridlock and realize you can’t call the boss and explain why you’re going to be late for that important 9 a.m. meeting.
Car chargers are designed to go into that small, 12-volt cigarette lighter port on your dashboard. One of the advantages of car chargers is that they don’t need to be permanently wired to the car’s electronics. Once you remove the key from the ignition, your phone will stop charging to preserve your vehicle’s battery.
Here’s a great car charger that has 5 total USB ports, including 3 upfront and 2 more that can extend to the back seat.
4. Wireless Chargers
Wireless chargers are designed to charge your phone’s battery without plugging it into a cable. Just place your phone face-up on a small, disc-shaped charging pad or mousepad-type gadget, and it will charge your device’s battery. If you are at your desk a lot, you can also get a wireless charger on a stand.
It works like this: Your phone is equipped with a copper receiver coil, and the charger is outfitted with a copper transmitter coil. When the phone is situated on the charger, the transmitter produces an electromagnetic field. The receiver transforms this current into electricity, which then charges your phone’s battery.
“Wireless” is a bit of a misnomer, because you still have to plug the charger into a wall socket. However, the phone has a wireless connection to the charger.
Qi (pronounced “chee” and meaning “energy flow”) is a form of wireless charging. It standardizes wireless charging for major manufactures of cell phones.
For instance, you can use a Motorola charger with a Nokia. Qi can be equated to how USBs have compatible data transfer for every device. Life without Qi would be anarchy: every single phone would have its own type of cable.
The only major drawback to wireless charging is speed. A standard 5W (watt, a measure of electrical power) wireless charger takes about three to four hours to charge, while a wired charger takes about two-and-a-half hours to charge. Even devices outfitted with fast-charging technology may charge slowly on a wireless charger.
How is this possible? A fast charger may charge slowly? Check out this video, where Arun Maini explains this phenomenon in layman’s terms.
TechQuickie also offers valuable information about fast-charging facts and misconceptions.
This is a great wireless charger that allows for quick, convenient charging of your phone.
5. Solar Chargers
Sustainability is an important consideration when buying a product. Solar chargers are an environmentally conscious way of using natural resources.
Solar chargers get their power from the sun’s energy. These chargers utilize small solar panels to do this. It has a rechargeable battery that charges your phone’s battery. Solar chargers are great when you’re outdoors at the beach, or when your car battery has died, or if you just plain forgot to charge your phone before you went out.
Since they don’t have to be plugged in, they’re ideal for multiple charges if you spend long periods of time outside. They’re also an excellent solution if you’re at home but want to charge your phone in an eco-friendly way.
High quality solar chargers can capture sunlight on cloudy days, while their cheaper counterparts need to be saturated in direct sunlight. Quality chargers also need about three hours to charge, while inexpensive ones can take a sluggish 10 to 12 hours. They can store energy to be used later. Solar devices last about 300 to 400 charges.
Some solar chargers are small enough to fit in your palm or pocket. After approximately one hour of sunlight exposure, you’ll have a talk span of about 30 minutes.
This solar charger is a great pick for phones.
6. Power Bank
A power bank can come in handy in a pinch when a cable isn’t available.
Also called power stations or battery banks, a power bank receives “deposits” of power that can be “withdrawn” later. A power bank is convenient if you’re going to be away from a wall socket and you need backup power. They’re also useful in emergencies where you don’t have access to a power source. If you have one handy, you can use it whenever you notice that your phone’s battery needs to be topped off.
A power bank charges slowly. It can take as long as your phone does to charge up. Larger banks can take up to four times as long.
If used daily, a good power bank has approximately 500 charging-discharging cycles and will last about a year-and-a-half. Cheap power banks have difficulty holding a charge for more than six weeks, while a high-end model can hold a charge for six months.
Cell phones have also become an undeniable part of classroom culture here, so you can easily find the best classroom cell phone charging stations and storage for your scholastic needs.
Now that you know about the different types of phone chargers, you’ll want to make sure you’re not buying a defective knockoff from a Fifth World country.
Things to Consider When Buying a Charger
No matter how tempting that shiny, shimmery charger on the store display looks, buying a cell phone charger shouldn’t be done impulsively. You’ll need to research the features and technical aspects of a product before you commit.
Here are some things to take into consideration before purchasing a phone charger.
1. Quality of Phone Chargers
Wow, what a deal! That guy on the corner is selling phone chargers for only $3 each! “At that price,” you think to yourself, “I could buy a bunch of them!”
Cheap chargers with no brand name will put your phone and your battery at risk. It pays to spend more for a charger manufactured by a reputable, well-known brand. There’s a reason why brand-name chargers cost as much as they do.
There are some things below you should beware of.
Just like you need to be wary of emails that have random capital and lower-case letters, steer clear of chargers that have suspicious capitalizations. For example, 1 ampere should be denoted as 1A, not 1a. Misaligned text and pixilated brand emblems are also red flags.
Phony Quality Control Marks
Quality control marks indicate that a charger is in compliance with safety regulations. In the United States, this is an FCC (Federal Communications Commission) mark, in Europe it’s the CE (Conformité Européene) symbol and in Canada it’s the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) emblem. The differences are subtle, but you can do a Google images search to find out whether or not yours is counterfeit.
Aftermarket or Original Manufacturer?
Should you go with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or an inexpensive, generic charger? Well, all OEM parts are compatible with each other. This provides optimal performance. On the other hand, cheap parts made by different companies may work with your phone, but probably not very well.
If you purchase a cheap charger, it might not have the lifespan of an OEM, and it will take much longer to charge.
Charger Feels Light
A cable head’s weight can tell you a lot about whether or not the charger is fake. Generally, it should have a substantial, heavy feel. Counterfeit cables skimp on manufacturing costs, so their plastic and metal components are flimsy.
You don’t have to be an electrical engineer to understand your charger’s electronics. First, here’s an explanation of input voltage.
2. Input Voltage
Voltage refers to energy that’s drawn into your phone’s battery. The voltage is listed on the charger or on the phone, itself. (If you can’t locate it, a quick Google search should help.) Cell phone voltage is generally five volts (5V). You can charge most types of cell phones with a 5V charger.
Cell phone batteries can handle temperatures up to 112 degrees Fahrenheit. A high-voltage charger can make batteries rapidly heat beyond their capacity. This can fry your phone’s circuitry or destroy its battery. Conversely, your phone will take eons to charge without enough voltage.
The voltage on your phone should always correspond with the voltage it receives from the charger. Along with input voltage, output voltage is a principal element of phone charging.
3. Output Voltage
In order to charge a phone’s battery, an alternating current (AC) needs to be transformed into a direct current (DC). The phone charger takes the higher AC current input and converts it to a more workable DC output charge.
Briefly, the process works like this:
- The transformer reduces the AC’s voltage.
- The rectifier then changes this reduced AC voltage to a pulsing DC signal.
- The filter removes these pulsations, which creates a small DC signal.
- The regulator then creates steady DC output voltage.
Output amperage is another important element of phone charging.
4. Output Amperage
Amperage, or amp, is the strength of an electrical current that flows to your phone. Amps can be expressed on your charging device as something such as 1A, which stands for a current of one ampere. The more current there is, the faster it’s going to charge your phone’s battery. Do a quick Google search to determine your particular device’s amperage. It may also be found on the battery, itself.
You need to make sure that your power supply’s amperage is equal to the amperage specified for your phone. Otherwise, batteries can rapidly heat up under these conditions, and their lifespan may be substantially shortened. They also may not properly ground your phone’s electrical charge, resulting in charge leakage that could harm your phone’s battery.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all cable for all makes and models of phones. It’s important to be certain your phone and connector are compatible.
5. Types of Connectors and Models of the Phones Compatible with Them
Unfortunately, you can’t just connect any charger to any device and have it perform well, or at all.
Here are different types of chargers and the phones they work with best, if you’re wondering, “What type of phone charger do I need?”
Qi Wireless Charging
Qi is the universal standard for wireless charging. It permits compatibility between cell phones and chargers from different manufacturers.
To get a better understanding of Qi, and what to look for in a wireless charger, check out this video by Chaim Gartenberg.
Let me know in the comments below if you daily use wireless chargers 🙂
At one time, the Micro-USB cable was the industry standard, although it’s lost some popularity since then. However, it’s still a go-to for mobile phones because of its small size. One drawback is that it must fit just right, which can be challenging with some micro USB ports. You may ruin the cable or port if you accidentally insert it upside-down or backwards.
Did you purchase your phone before 2015? Then chances are it has a site for a micro-USB cable.
Most cell phones use these cables, because they exceed the micro-USB’s speed and power. They’re also very forgiving. You can plug them in upside down into micro USB ports and they’ll still work just fine.
Most companies are switching to USB-C cables. Even Apple has adopted them. Their iPhone 11 was their first to be outfitted with a USB-C interface. This is huge, because now Android and iPhone chargers will be standardized.
There are different types of USB-C charger cables with different features that you can familiarize yourself with in this video by ThioJoe.
One of the most popular connectors is, of course, the lightning connector, but is it still really popular?
This was Apple’s proprietary connector. It was the only connector that was compatible with their phones. Now that the company is going the USB-C route, though, Lightning connectors have become outdated. They were used in Apple’s iPhones until 2019.
If you have one of these older phones, you’ll still need the Lightning connector. However, the company offers a Lightning-to-USB cable to bring your device current.
Many companies also provide cables that join micro-USB and Lightning cables, as well as charger cables that adapt between Lightning, USB-C, and micro-USB connectors.
- Understanding the Different Types of USB Cables and Ports
- IDENTIFYING YOUR USB CONNECTOR OR USB CABLE TYPE
- Wireless charging explained: What is it and how does it work?
- How fast charging really works
A Final Word on Phone Charger Cables
If your phone is performing poorly — not holding a charge, taking forever to charge — the problem might not be with the phone, but with its charger.
However, the solution isn’t merely running out and grabbing the first charger that looks good or is cheap, but finding a brand-name one that’s compatible with your phone.
“What type of phone charger do I need?” Now you know!