Johnathan.org

Johnathan.org

My name is Johnathan Lyman and I am an engineer at Papertrail, a huge Apple nerd and semi-regular blogger. Find out more.

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Charging the iPhone X

Charging the iPhone X

(17 days ago) 3 min read Permalink

As a devoted consumer of things Apple for six years, now, it goes without saying when the iPhone X launched, I was up at midnight ordering it. There was chatter that it'd be severely delayed (plot twist: the chatter was dead wrong) and I was able to score my $1,200 (after sales tax) Apple iSlab on November 3rd, launch day.

With the iPhone X (and iPhone 8/8+, we can't forget about them since this article applies to those phones, too) come a couple new ways to recharge. One is familiar to those with other USB-C devices or the newer iPad Pros. The other might be foreign to everyone--that is unless you're an operator of a handful of newer Android devices.

Before we dive in, I feel it's worth briefly discussing what the new-to-Apple charging methods are and how they work.

(feel free to skip to here if you don't care or already know what we're talking about and just want some product links)

USB Power Delivery

The first--and hands down the fastest--method involves pure wattage and amperage increases at the hands of USB Power Delivery or USB-PD (also known as Fast Charging; technical reference). The Power Delivery specification for USB devices is optional (but becoming more common in USB Type C-configured peripherals), so you won't see this everywhere. The gist is that by implementing Fast Charging, a device can charge exponentially faster. In the case of the iPhone X, taking advantage of the max 29-watt acceptance of power via the Lightning port, the device can be charged from dead to 50% in roughly 30 minutes. Unfortunately, not all cables or power bricks support Fast Charging but fear not; I've got a list of what's good at the end.

Qi Wireless Charging

The second power consumption method added to the iPhone X (and 8/8+) is Qi wireless charging. Qi (pronounced chi) is a standard for devices to quite literally receive electrical current without the need for connection via traditional wires. Qi-enabled devices still need to be incredibly close to their source (hence the reason for Qi charging devices all looking like mats or discs on which to place a phone) so don't expect anything magical like across-the-room power transfer.

However, Qi is slower than Fast Charging. In the iPhone X and 8/8+, expect 5w (7.5w coming soon via a future iOS update), the same current as the small power adapter you'll find in the iPhone box. Qi isn't an instant-recharge solution but it's a great option for overnight charging. It's not crazy to imagine replacing all the Lightning-cables-plugged-into-walls around your house with a Qi charger. If we place our phones down on tables, desks, etc., why not just place them on a charger, too?

Devices

Now that we have the overview out of the way, here's a few products I recommend (and the ones I currently use in bold).

USB-C/Fast Charge Devices

Cable

While I'm about to recommend any number of power bricks, I can only recommend one cable. The Apple USB-C to Lightning cable (1m: $25; 2m: $35) is the only mFi-certified cable out there and really the only one I'd trust with these higher-current usages. A cheap cable from Whoknowswhere, China, could end up getting you in trouble down the road in the form of just not working, fire, or an electrical short that silently destroys your thousand-dollar SnapChattery thing.

Power brick

There's a host of different options, here. The biggest requirement is the device has to have a USB-C port and explicitly support Fast Charging or have at least 29 watts of output and the amperage to back it up. If you're not 100% sure, volts x amps = watts. The 29w iPad power brick outputs 14.5v at 2 amps which maths out to 29. Anything lower and it'll definitely still work, but charging will be slower. I recommend one of these:

While a bit slower, any 2.4A, 12w AmazonBasics power bricks will also work fine. Apple added support for 2.4A charging back with the iPhone 6.

Qi Wireless Charging

Since Qi has been a thing for at least a hot minute now with Android users, there's an array of good pads out there to choose from. I'd recommend any of:

With both of these charging options, I definitely cannot stress enough that it's not really worth the few dollars in savings to go for a no-name/cheap brand no one's ever heard of--or if the brand sounds like it was made up by grabbing a handful of letters from a bag and scattering them. The good quality products are cheap enough that they're worth it in the long run. Since I use both methods of charging, I can firmly state each has their place and you'll find those places on your own, too.

Now go forth and recharge.



photo of Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
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