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What are the Different Types of Phone Chargers?

Phone with charger cable and adapter.

The advancement of technology is making us ever dependent on it. Nowadays, a phone is like an extension of ourselves. You cannot leave your house without your gadget in your pocket. If I leave the house and forget my phone, it does not matter how far I have traveled. I have to go back for it. I can’t do without my phone. 

But a worse scenario is when you have your phone, but it is dead because it has run out of charge. If this happens and you are away from your charger, you cannot get to it faster. Since chargers are like the life support to our phones, we must understand what they are, how they work, and which charger is best for our phones. Therefore, we shall comprehensively explore the different types of phone chargers.

After reading this article, you will know precisely what charger works with what phone. Never buy incompatible chargers again.

Types of Phone Chargers

Since our phones are very mobile, we can charge them from different places. That dictates different types of chargers. Here are the different types of chargers.

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Wall Charger

Nekmit Dual Port Ultra Thin Flat USB Wall Charger with Smart IC, White

A wall charger is the most basic and common type of phone charger. You plug the wall charger into the wall socket on one end and connect your phone to the other end.  Although being phased out, these chargers used to come with the phone. They could only charge that specific phone model or related model from the same manufacturer. 

In addition, these chargers output more volts to charge the phone than computer chargers and car chargers because they charge the specific phone.

Computer Charger

UGREEN Mini USB Cable, A-Male to Mini-B Cord USB 2.0 Charger Cable Compatible with GoPro Hero 3+, PS3 Controller, Digital Camera, Dash Cam, MP3 Player, GPS Receiver, Garmin Nuvi GPS, SatNav, PDA 6 FT

Computer chargers are usually USB cables used to charge the phone while the computer is on. These chargers are functional in the office, where you might find all wall outlets occupied. They are convenient, although they are mainly a backup. 

These chargers can also be used on laptops, making it possible to charge the phone while in transit or in a location where you cannot access power directly. 

The challenge with computer chargers is that they do not discharge the maximum voltage a phone needs to charge. It might therefore take longer for the phone to charge fully. But, at least they keep our phones on.

Car Charger

USB C Car Charger 48W Super Mini AINOPE All Metal Fast USB Car Charger Adapter PD&QC 3.0 Dual Port Compatible with iPhone 13 12 11 Pro Max X XR XS 8 Samsung Galaxy Note 20/10 S21/20/10 Google Pixel

This very likely scenario justifies why we should have a car charger. You go to sleep having plugged your phone into the wall charger. Upon waking up, your phone has not yet charged. You realize you forgot to switch on the wall socket. You get ready in a hurry, get to your car, and head to work. As if it is doomsday, the day’s traffic is not moving. Your phone dies, and there is no way to communicate that you are running late to your boss or client.

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In such a scenario, a car charger is your savior. First, you connect your car charger to your car’s cigarette lighter, a common feature in most cars. Then, with a car charger, you can charge your phone on the go.

Then, although stuck in traffic, at least your phone will be charging.

Solar Phone Charger

Riapow Solar Charger 30000mAh High Capacity Solar Power Bank with Built-in USB C & USB Input Cables, Fast Charge Portable Phone Charger with 5 Outputs & 2 Inputs for iPhone Samsung Tablet

What if you have gone camping? Where do you charge your phone? Although many camping expeditions are moments of unplugging from our daily hustle and bustle, we cannot help but tag our phones along with us. 

If it finishes charge, do you stay off? No. You carry the solar phone charger beforehand.

A solar phone charger converts energy from the sun to electrical energy that charges your phone. Although it might be slow, it is better than a phone without a charge.

Hand-Cranked Charger

Emergency-Radio,Puiuisoul 4000mAh Weather Radios with Hand Crank & Solar Charging,3 Gear LED Flashlight,SOS Alarm, Portable Power Bank,AM/FM/NOAA,Motion Sensor Reading Lamp

But what if you are out in the woods and cannot get enough sunlight to use a solar charger. You can use a hand-cranked charger. You can easily purchase one. If not, there are plenty of videos teaching how to make one for a rainy day.

A hand-cranked charger depends on the mechanical turning of gears that rotate a motor, generating electricity that charges your phone. Despite it being a demanding activity and serious arm work, a hand-cranked charger can come in handy at a very critical moment.

Different Types of USB Chargers

Various USB chargers

The way our phones charge is through USB ports and connectors. It only makes sense that we understand what a USB is.

What is a USB?

USB is the acronym for Universal Serial Bus. These are universal standards for cables used to connect between peripheral devices, the types of connectors used, and the connector protocols applied. 

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Since the standards were established in 1996, they have seen tremendous development and have changed over time. That explains why you cannot use your charger for iPhone 3 on the Iphone12 Pro Max.

The USB technology does more than charge the phone, but since our interest is charging our phones, we shall focus on the developments that have influenced phone chargers.

USB Development

USB development started with USB 1.0, which is currently very rare to find in use. The later developments that you can find with phone chargers include: USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, and USB – C. These USB types deliver varied power while charging.

  • USB 2.0 – 2.5w
  • USB 3.0 – 4.5w
  • USB 3.1 – 7.5w
  • USB-C (non PD) – 15w  
  • USB-C ( PD – Power Delivery) – 100w

These are the USB developments that have influenced charging capabilities over time. The USB connectors have seen a transformation too.

USB Connector Types

USB Connectors bring the variance in phone chargers. These connectors determine whether different phones can charge using a similar charger. The USB-C’s latest development makes the USB more universal as it is compatible with most latest devices.

USB Type-A

Rankie USB 3.0 Cable, Type A to Type A, 1-Pack 6 Feet

Although there are no phone charger connectors that use USB type A on the phone, it is the most common connector on the charger. Most chargers have the USB type A on the cable end that connects to the head of the charger or the computer, but they either have type USB type B or USB type C on the cable end that connects to the phone.

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Type-A USB is a male rectangular connector with pins on the lower side that allows it to connect to the female rectangular connector on host devices such as a computer, laptop, or charger head. Although still common, it is slowly being phased out.

USB Type-B

Printer Cable 10 FT/ 3 Meter, NIMASO USB 2.0 Printer Cable USB Type A to Type B Scanner Cord High Speed Compatible with HP, Canon, Epson, Dell, Lexmark, Brother, Xerox, Samsung and More.

The Type B connector is a square-shaped connector with sloped corners at the top. Usually, Type B connects to devices such as printers. However, later developments of Type B connectors are the most common on phones.

USB Mini-B

Mini USB Cable[2-Pack 3.3ft+6.6ft], JSAUX USB 2.0 Type A to Mini B Fast Charging Braided Cord Compatible with Blue Yeti Microphone Garmin Nuvi GPS 50 55 Ti-84 Plus CE Canon Rebel t7 Camera Gopro Red

The Mini-B is smaller than the original Type B. They resemble the shape of Type B but are smaller. They were used to charge digital cameras and other older mobile phone versions such as Motorola and Tecno.

USB Micro-B

Amazon Basics USB 2.0 A-Male to Micro B Cable, 3 feet, Black

The Micro-B is less bulky than the Mini-B. The Micro-B is slimmer and favored by many smartphones as it allows for room to create leaner and smaller phones. Although it is being phased out by Type C, the Micro – B is the most prominent charger connector type. Most android phones use this type of charger connector.

USB Type-C

USB C Cable AINOPE [2-Pack, 6.6ft] 3.1A Type C Charger Fast Charging Cable Right Angle, Durable Nylon Braided USB C Charging Cable Compatible with Galaxy S10 S9 Plus S21, Note 10 9 LG, Type C Charger

USB Type C is the latest development of USB cables. It is also USB 4.0. Part of why it is a worthy development is because a Type C charger can be connected to a Type C port, either facing up or down. Previous USB connectors had an upwards side and could only be connected one way. With a Type C, it can connect either way.

It also delivers more watts and has faster transfer speeds.

Other Types of Chargers

Other types of chargers do not use USB technology, for instance, wireless chargers. Some, like the fast chargers, might use the USB technology, but they have a boosted performance compared to regular USB chargers.

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Fast Charger

Adaptive Fast Charger Kit with USB Type C Cable 6.6ft Compatible with Samsung Galaxy S8/S8 Plus/S9/S10/S10 Plus/S10E/ S20/S20 Plus/S21/S21 Ultra/Note 8/Note 9/Note 10/Note 20 2-Pack

Fast chargers come in very handy in our current fast-paced life. When you need to boost your phone’s charge in a limited time, a fast charger can save the day. But, unfortunately, poorly made chargers run the risk of damaging your battery.

When phones charge fast, they also tend to heat. Some fast chargers come with coolers, but some do not.

Lightning Charger

Amazon Basics Nylon USB-A to Lightning Cable Cord, MFi Certified Charger for Apple iPhone, iPad, Silver, 6-Ft

Apple manufactures the lightning connector for the iPhone. It was the first cable to introduce a reversible cable to the phone charger market. But the Type C charger gives the lightning charger a run. Only Apple uses its charger (lightning) charger among the top phone manufacturers.

Wireless Charger

Yootech Wireless Charger,10W Max Fast Wireless Charging Pad Compatible with iPhone 13/13 Pro/13 Mini/13 Pro Max/SE 2022/12/SE 2020/11/X/8,Samsung Galaxy S22/S21/S20/S10,AirPods Pro(No AC Adapter)

A wireless charger is usually connected to the wall via a cable, but you place your phone on it facing upwards for it to charge the phone. Wireless chargers utilize the Qi technology. The latest android phones and iPhones support Qi technology.

Although the charger might be slower than the regular cable charge, it reduces cable clutter and confusion.

Also, for blind and older people, a wireless charger is a handy gadget for them as they do not have to struggle to aim for the connecting port.

Desktop Charger

Wireless Charging Station,Desk Wireless Charger Pad,JE Desktop Grommet Power Wireless Charger Compatible with iPhone13/13 Mini/13 Pro Max/SE 2022/12/XR,Galaxy Serie and All Enabled Phones (Black

A desktop charger works like a wireless charger, but it is way more convenient. It’s a wireless charger built into the furniture.  The table is fitted with a charger that produces a magnetic field that goes into your phone. These magnetic fields can pass through wood, ceramic, and glass.

By just placing your phone on your work table, it charges.

How to Pick a Charger

Hand holding different USB chargers.

Having now understood the different types of chargers available and the various technologies they charge using, what is the best charger for you? How do you pick the best charger for your phone?

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These are the basics you need to know before picking out your charger.

  • How much power in watts does your phone need? You can find the information on your phone’s specs sheet. Usually, phones range between 18 and 65 watts.
  • Next, you have to check the charging protocol allowed by your device. The two protocols currently prominent on the market are proprietary and universal standards. A proprietary protocol is brand specific. In contrast, a universal standard can use third-party chargers.
  • Pick a charger that satisfies both the charging protocol and the amount of power required.
  • If you need multiple chargers, make sure that the charger supports the protocols and meets the power standards required by all the devices you will connect.

Knowing the amount of power your phone needs is straightforward, but different manufacturers communicate the charging protocols differently. Some are clear about it. Some are not.

In addition, proprietary chargers tend to be more efficient than third-party chargers despite adhering to universal standards.

These are generally the standards that phone chargers keep up with.

  • Legacy Charger – These chargers are prior USB-C chargers. They mostly charge small gadgets and old phones. Although gradually phased out, they include Quick Charge 3, Samsung Adaptive Fast-Charging, and Apple 2.4A.
  • Proprietary – Proprietary chargers provide better charging for branded devices than USB PD. These chargers are best suited for specific devices. Some include OnePlus Warp Charge, Huawei Superfast Charge, and OPPO’s VOOC.
  • Universal (USB – Power Delivery) – The latest universal standard is the USB-C. USB C has the specification of Power Delivery. The Power Delivery spec ensures that your phone gets enough power to charge it optimally. This charger works best when your phone has advanced PPS protocol. Another technology that makes these chargers is backward compatible. Good examples are Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 and Qualcomm Quick Charge 5. In addition, the Qi technology is universal for wireless charging, and the latest devices support the technology.
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Picking a Charger

Now that you understand the technicalities of picking a charger, if you cannot find the specifications your phone needs, how do you choose a reasonable charge for your phone?

  • Get a charger that supports USB-PD PPS and Qualcomm Quick Charge.
  • Choose a 60W charger as this will cover most devices.
  • If you can get a brand-specific charger, that’s a better option.
  • Choose first-party chargers. If you choose third-party chargers, make sure they are from an established, reliable manufacturer.

Charger Testing

Man charging an iPhone.

If you want to geek out and test your charger to know exactly how they deliver, you can use phone apps such as AccubatteryAmpere, and Inward. However, these apps measure power as they can access it from the battery software in the phone, which might not be accurate.

For accurate charger testing, you should use an in-line USB power meter. This meter measures power as it goes into your phone battery, making it more accurate.

Charger FAQs

Below are frequently asked questions about the different types of phone chargers.

1. Does it matter what charger I use to charge my phone?

Yes and No. Generally speaking, as long as your USB connector matches your phone’s USB charging portal, you can charge using any charger. That being said, it might be very slow when charging your phone. 

On the other hand, if the charging you want is fast, the charger you use is crucial. You can find a charger made for your specific phone or a reliable third-party charger using the criteria outlined in the article.

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2. Will a wattage charger damage my battery?

The phone has an inbuilt protocol that enables it to get the power it needs from the charger. A charger with a low wattage will charge slower than a charger with a high wattage.

3. Does high wattage matter?

The charger’s wattage tells you how much power a charger can supply. For fast charging, you need a high-wattage charger. In addition, if you are looking to charge multiple gadgets using one charger, you should ensure the amount of power provided by the charger can be shared among the devices sufficiently.

4. Can fast-charging damage my battery?

Not immediately. More and more phones are accommodating fast charging. Despite that, the battery seems to degrade slightly faster than a normally charged battery after some time.

5. Is it wrong to charge overnight?

It is not recommended to leave your phone charging for a whole night, especially if it has fast charging capabilities.

6. When should I charge my phone?

It is recommended not to drain or fully charge your phone. This preserves your battery better. Instead, charge around 80% and then use it until it drops to about 30%. That is the best range to get the most from your phone.