You might have seen that Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra are the first smartphones to receive “fast charging” certification from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). Many smartphones claim to have “fast charging” batteries, but if the Galaxy S20 line is the first to get the USB-IF’s official certification, what does that mean for other devices?
Most phones charge over USB, but only some chargers and cables—specifically USB-C with USB 3.1 that supports the USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) standard—are capable of delivering electricity at the speed and quantity needed to achieve “fast charging.” These are capable of charging your devices at up to 5A at 100W, though even today’s latest smartphones won’t need that much juice.
This is largely for safety reasons. Smartphones require far less than 100W to charge and most “fast charging” devices or cables top out at 20W or less. Too much power leads to a lot of heat, after all, and we all know what happens when a phone battery gets too hot.
However, the new USB-PD 3.0 and Programmable Power Supply (PPS) specifications allow devices to dynamically alter the charging power. This not only makes charging more efficient, it also allows smartphones to safely use a much bigger power draw—and therefore charge much faster.
The Galaxy S20 line are the first smartphones to be certified for PPS and USB-PD, means the S20 and S20+ can handle up to 25W (and the S20 Ultra, 45W). Technically, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10+ was the first of its devices to support 25W and 45W charging modes, and Samsung has already submitted the phone to receive the USB-IF’s Fast Charging certification as well.
Other non-Samsung devices and charging standard also use higher power levels For example, QualComm’s “Quick Charge 4.0+” can pull up to 45W, while Lenovo is prepping a super-powerful gaming phone that will use a 55W charger.
These phones will be able to charge their batteries in record time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the current crop of “fast charging” phones are slow. The majority of “fast charging” smartphones—like the Pixel 3, for instance—can regain about several hours of battery life in just 30 minutes using the standard 18W USB-C charger and cable they ship with. Even the recent iPhone 11, which require secondary accessories to use USB-C fast chargers, can reach about 50 per cent battery life after thirty minutes, according to Digital Trends.
The point is, USB-IF Fast Charging certification is a big deal, but your phone can still charge relatively quickly without it—assuming you have a charger that’s good enough and a certified USB-C cable.