How to charge your phone faster, for less

ABC News' Becky Worley breaks down tips on how to charge your phone faster.

May 24, 2018, 7:40 AM

That bar in the right upper corner of your phone is looking weak. It may have turned yellow or even be in the red zone. Even worse, when you realize how low your battery is, you may only have a few minutes to charge it up and get you through the rest of your day.

Good news: New, fast charging ways are available on Android phones and newer iPhone models. These faster-charging methods could save you about 25 minutes.

The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern looked at the best and cheapest ways to quickly charge your phone. In Stern’s tests with ABC News, 29-watt fast charging on a brand new iPhone that was completely out of power netted 50 percent of battery charge in 30 minutes. It took another 25 minutes (for a total of 55 minutes) to hit 50 percent charged with Apple’s standard 5-watt charger.

Many Android phones have had quick charging since 2013 and come with everything you need for a speedy recharge already in the box.

“That means the adapter, the plug, that’s all included in the box, both the cable and the adapter that goes into the wall support faster charging,” Stern explained.

For iPhone users, fast charging is available on the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and the iPhone X. But, there’s a hitch, these phones come with a standard 5-watt charging plug and standard USB cable. If you want to charge your phone quickly, you need to buy Apple’s 29-watt charger and a USB-C cable, which combined cost $74. Apple says older iPhones will not charge as fast as the newer phones but may see some uptick in charging speeds with these higher wattage chargers.

But if you're not looking to drop $74 to save 25 minutes per charge, Stern points out two ways to spend less but still get fast charging.

If you have an iPad, the 12-watt charger that comes with it can increase charging times. In Stern’s tests, the 12-watt charger that comes with iPads and uses a regular lightning cable can charge an iPhone 8 to 50 percent in about 40 minutes.

Stern also compared the $74 fast charging gear to the Anker $11 2–port USB charger. This plug works with the standard Apple cable and performed as well or better hitting 57 percent battery capacity in 30 minutes against the Apple set-up that hit 52 percent in the same time.

Will this harm my battery?

In short, no.

The long answer: You’ve noticed by now that we keep referring to fast-charging times for 50 percent of the battery’s capacity. There’s a reason we aren’t talking about fast charging to 100 percent. When the charge hits 50 percent the phone’s software slows down to protect the battery. As the battery fills up past 50 percent, fast charging can cause heat and wear issues so it’s intentionally slowed for battery health. This is all controlled by the phone’s software. It’s the pull from the phone that controls speed not the push from the wall.

We reached out to Apple and they said third-party chargers can be used with fast charging phones and the Wall Street Journal’s Stern says it’s important to research products and buy trusted brands. We also used Apple cables for all our charging. As we’ve previously reported some third-party cables can damage your phones.

If you're looking for more tips to charge your phone faster on a budget, Apple suggests turning your Wifi and Bluetooth off, putting it in airplane mode, or even better, turning the phone off.

Other ideas to charge faster: plug the phone into a computer, make sure the charging port is clean of lint and dust, and, as noted, use Apple certified cables.

Also, temperature matters and cooler is better. If the case makes the phone hot, take it off, and charge away from direct sunlight.