Your iPhone can charge a lot faster than you thought. When Apple announced the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X, the company glossed over the fact that all three of its new handsets were capable of fast charging – similar to what Android phones have been doing for years. Even now, if you go the spec page for Apple’s latest phones, all you get is a single line saying fast charging can add up to a 50 per cent charge in 30 minutes, but without getting a magnifying glass out and reading item nine of the fine print, you would have no idea how you’re actually supposed to accomplish that.
The info you really need is buried deep within Apple’s support pages. There, you’ll finally discover that, at minimum, you will need a new Lightning cable – because the one bundled with new iPhones can’t carry enough juice – and a new power adaptor: One of Apple’s 29-watt, 61-watt or 87-watt USB-C power bricks. But that still doesn’t really tell the whole story does it? So in order to figure out how fast Apple’s fast charging really is, I went on a shopping spree and tested almost every charger Apple makes (plus a 30-watt charger from Anker thrown in).
How We Tested
The setup for the test is pretty simple. I killed each phone, fully draining its battery, and then plugged them in, recharging them using one of the Apple’s many power adapters. I then recorded the battery percentage at 30 minutes, and then again at 60 minutes. For chargers that called for a standard USB Type-A to Lighting cable such as Apple’s 5-watt and 12-watt chargers, I used the one that came in the iPhone X box. On tests that called for a USB Type-C to Lighting cable such as the 29-watt and 61-watt power bricks, I bought a brand new official 2m cable from a nearby Apple store.
As expected, using a USB-C to Lighting cable and an appropriate power adaptor fully lived up to Apple’s promise of delivering a 50 per cent charge in 30 minutes. And if you give the iPhones a full hour to recharge (see the chart below), you can hit between 80 and 85 per cent – more than enough for a full day’s use.
But what I didn’t foresee is how much better fast charging is compared to the standard power adaptor and cable Apple includes with every iPhone. Across the board, upgrading to a USB-C to Lighting cable and a burlier adaptor recharged two times faster than using the standard cable and 5-watt adaptor. We also found virtually no difference between the $69 29-watt USB-C power brick and the $99 61-watt charging adaptor, which means you don’t need to buy a more expensive charger to get the best speeds. That said, the 61-watt adaptor is the same brick that comes with new MacBook Pros, which could put folks one step closer to their fast charging dreams.
Note: Because we only had time to perform a limited number of tests (it takes quite a while to discharge batteries), there is a little variance to the data. However, you can still see a very clear pattern to the numbers.
Additionally, the 29-watt adaptor charged significantly faster than the 12-watt adaptor in almost every case. The one exception to that was with the iPhone 8, which still achieved optimal recharging speeds (most likely due to its smaller battery capacity) when using the less expensive $29 12-watt charger (which happens to be the same charger that comes with new iPads).
But aside from that one case, if you’re looking to get the best charging speeds using official Apple accessories, you’re going to need two things: A USB-C to Lighting cable, and the 29-watt USB-C power adaptor.
But here’s the bad news: This combo doesn’t come cheap. Unlike most Android phones that come with fast-chargers bundled in the box, it’s going to cost you $104 to fast-charge your new iPhone, assuming you don’t already have one of Apple’s USB-C chargers lying around from a different device.
We chose not to test Apple’s 87-watt USB-C charging brick, because after seeing results from the 29 and 61-watt adapters, we didn’t see the point in spending $109 on something that would charge an iPhone any faster. And with a current 2 out of 5 star rating on Apple’s site, neither should you.
How to Get Fast-Charging For Less
Anker’s $US30 ($40) PowerPort Speed PD 30 charger costs almost half the price of Apple’s 29-watt brick, but you may have to do a bit of hunting if you want to find it in Australia.
Finding a cheaper USB-C to Lighting cable is a bit more challenging because trusted names such as Anker, Monoprice and Belkin haven’t released an affordable version of Apple’s official cable. There are some such as this one from Metrans that cost just $US9.99 ($13), though user reviews are mixed, with some owners saying that the cable can’t carry enough power to achieve fast-charging speeds. So while the idea of saving a few bucks on a cable is pretty enticing, this is definitely a situation where you might get what you pay for.
Well, now you know. It just sucks that most people are looking at spending a significant amount to fast charge their iPhone. But like with a lot of Apple products, things don’t come cheap.