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How to fast charge your iPhone

There are days when you can’t put everything on hold to wait for your phone to finish charging. When that happens, you might be surprised to learn that you have options to significantly reduce your iPhone’s charging time.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to do it, from determining whether your phone has the capacity for fast charging to the equipment that will cut down your charge time.

What is fast charging, and why can’t my charger do it?

We’ve written a comprehensive guide to fast charging, but let’s review. Fast charging uses a newer USB technology called USB Power Delivery (USB PD). This technology is only available in USB-C connections, which can route power as well as data and are suitable for charging a variety of devices. It’s a very flexible and efficient option that can optimize power management. By upgrading to a USB PD connection, you can achieve charging speeds far faster than Apple’s older Lightning cable connections.

You see, the 5W charger that came with most iPhones is not capable of fast charging. It can supply enough power for a basic overnight recharge, but it’s not able to transmit a charge fast enough to juice anything with a higher-capacity battery, like an iPad. Most iPads come with a 12W charging block instead, so if you own an iPad, you can use one of these to speed up your iPhone’s charging rate — it won’t harm your phone in any way since the phone will never take more charge than it can handle.

The iPhone 8 and newer devices are capable of even faster charging with support for 18W connections and beyond. But getting those kinds of speeds requires an even better charger.

If you’re wondering how much faster fast charging is, Apple claims it will refill up to 50% of your iPhone’s battery in a mere 30 minutes. This means you can finally say goodbye to waiting around for your phone to charge, and bid farewell to overnight charging entirely. Needless to say, fast charging will ease the anxiety you get when you’re about head out the door and realize your phone is at 17%.

Note that this is only the beginning of fast charging trends. In 2020, Oppo revealed a 125W charger that can charge a 4,000mAh battery in 20 minutes. This is a burgeoning sector in the phone market, and it’s likely that charging speeds will continue to get even faster.

Which iPhones support fast-charging?

The following fast-charging iPhones are not sold with a fast charger:

  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone SE (2020)

The following fast-charging iPhones are sold with a fast charger:

  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max

The following fast-charging iPhones are not sold with any charger:

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone hardware continues to improve, charging speeds are likely to be better with the newest iPhone models, and charging improves over time with iOS updates, all of which can result in significant differences between iPhone models. In fact, if you were to choose the iPhone 11 Pro Max, some of the latest tests have it charging at an impressive 22.5W with USB PD, faster than Apple’s stated standard. Fast charging also works with the iPad Pros, the third-generation iPad Air, and the fifth-gen iPad mini.

Apple’s official fast charger

While Apple doesn’t supply a fast charger with many of its iPhones, it does sell a fast charger in the form of a new cable and charging block for your device. This is far from the least expensive option, but if you’re happy to spend the money to get your charger straight from Apple, here’s what you need.

The cable

A USB-C connection is required for this fast charging option for your iPhone. However, even the very latest iPhones don’t come with a USB-C port (at least, not yet). So, if you want to start enjoying these faster charging times, then your first step is to get a USB-C to Lightning cable adapter.

As we mentioned above, the latest iPhone 12 Pro models will ship with this type of adapter cable. However, if you have an older iPhone, then you can always buy such a cable directly from Apple. They are guaranteed to work with your iPhone and come in 1 or 2 meter length options.

The power adapter

Along with the fast charging cable, you’ll need a special charging block, because what’s an Apple product without a bunch of peripherals? It’s a 20-watt adapter with a USB-C port, rather than the usual USB-A port. If you’re just looking to fast charge an iPhone, then the $29 official 20-watt USB-C power adapter is all you need.

If you have a newer MacBook, then you may also already have a power adapter that can handle all your fast-charging needs. Many MacBooks — specifically, 2015 models and newer — use USB-C-compatible charging blocks, and you can use one of these to fast charge your iPhone when combined with the USB-C to Lightning cable. The most common is the official 30W USB-C power adapter, and it can easily pull double-duty if required.

If you’re rocking a MacBook Pro, then you might have a charger that’s even more powerful than the 29W or 30W varieties, and Apple has confirmed that even the 61W and 87W versions are safe to use with your iPhone 8 or any of the newer models. Remember, the amount of power used is regulated by your phone, so it will never draw more than it can handle and damage itself — and the charger can’t force your phone to accept a wattage that’s too high for it to handle.

Note: If you’re buying an adapter just for fast charging, there’s no need to buy an adapter stronger than 20W; iPhones can only handle a 20W charge, so a more powerful charger would just cost more money and not offer any extra benefits. However, it would add future-proofing, if you’re worried about that. This year’s iPhones lifted the fast-charging limit from 18W to 20W, so it’s clear Apple is happy to keep increasing the speed of fast charging.

The alternative options

Apple doesn’t hold a monopoly where iPhone fast chargers are concerned, and you’ll find alternatives elsewhere that will deliver the same performance at a much lower price, or with additional durability or features.

Note: While we’ve endeavored to select only the best brands and recommended products, we haven’t tested the products below, so use them at your own risk and your mileage may vary.

Alternative charging cables

It can be quite tough to find a USB-C to Lightning cable that doesn’t come from Apple, and that’s because Apple is strict about who can sell it. One of the few manufacturers allowed to create such cables is the rugged accessories creator Nomad, and while expensive, Nomad’s USB-C to Lightning cable is a great choice if you need a tougher cable.

It measures 1.5 meters, so it’s slightly longer than Apple’s standard cable, but the real magic is in its toughness. It’s protected by a tightly wound Kevlar braid and has additional protection around the connector, thus ensuring the cable can survive even the worst punishment. It’s expensive mind you, however, it’s backed up by Nomad’s five-year warranty as opposed to Apples one-year limited warranty, which takes the sting out somewhat.

Alternative power adapters

You can grab any power adapter with a USB-C port and enough power, but make sure it supports USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) and stick to reputable brands.

Anker 36W 2-Port PIQ 3.0

Anker’s Power 3 is a great alternative if you have more than device that needs fast charging, thanks to the twin USB-C ports and a total of 36W of power on offer. It’s compact and easily portable, and the pins fold down so they don’t get snagged. A great option for travelers or anyone who needs to charge two devices at once.

Look mom, no wires

razer phone vs iphone x wireless charging

To wrap up, you might want to consider a wireless charging pad. Wireless chargers charge at respectable speeds, but they still charge your devices more slowly than the wired chargers on the list.

For the time being, the highest wattage an iPhone can get from the Qi wireless charging pad is 7.5 watts, but this is sure to improve as the company comes out with hardware and operating system updates over time. You might want to choose a charger that can handle a higher wattage to anticipate future capabilities. The 10W Belkin Wireless Charger for $30 and the Aukey Aircore 15W for $20 are both worthy options.

See our list of the best wireless chargers for some other great wireless charging options.

Final charging tips

Regardless of which charger you buy, make sure to follow these speed and safety tips:

  • Never charge near a heater, direct sunlight, or any other source of warmth. Heat, which isn’t suitable for your battery, can damage it while it charges and lead to increased charging time.
  • You can always put your iPhone into Airplane Mode to help it speed up charge time. Or, if possible, turn it off altogether.
  • Generally, a wall or power strip outlet will charge faster than a computer can.

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