Google IO 2016 Coverage

How to speed up charging on any Android device

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You wake up in the morning to get ready for work, only to realize that you forgot to plug your smartphone in the charger before bed last night. You have 30 minutes before you have to leave, so you plug it in the charger to get as much juice as possible. On your way out the door, you realize it has barely inched past the 20% marker. How frustrating!

We’ve all been there, and if it weren’t for the invention of car chargers, we’d all have a brick in our hands with friends, family and coworkers having no way to contact us. Thankfully, there are easy and manageable steps to avoid this perilous issue in the future. We’ll walk you through them step-by-step below!

Do you have the right charger?

Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0

There’s a common misconception that any charger will work for your smartphone. And while they may all work, they all won’t provide the most efficient charging speeds for your smartphone, especially with companies pioneering specialized fast charging like Quick Charge 2.0 and other technologies.

Qualcomm’s proprietary Quick Charge 2.0 technology might get you a very nice charge in just 20 minutes, but it certainly won’t do that if you don’t have your smartphone plugged into the right charger. For instance, just any old charger off of Amazon won’t be able to handle Quick Charge 2.0 functionality. In fact, some chargers that come with your smartphone don’t even support it. In most cases, you’ll have to go out and search for a charger that does.

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You can find out if your device supports Quick Charge over on Qualcomm’s website, though while the device might support Quick Charge, it’s up to the manufacturer to enable it or not. However, if you know your device does support that fast charging technology, Qualcomm in that same document keeps a running list of certified accessories. You’re generally safe when buying one of the charging accessories from Qualcomm’s list. In fact, many of the brands and manufacturers Qualcomm recommends has their official certification posted publicly on their website. Tronsmart is one of the brands that does this.

I personally stick to chargers that are either certified by Qualcomm or straight from the manufacturer of my smartphone, even if I don’t have any special charging technology. The reason for this is because it’s a good practice to not purchase strange no-name and cheap brands.

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Keep in mind that these same rules apply to other manufacturers’ charging technologies as well.

Another good thing to keep in mind is to not use your laptop’s or desktop’s USB port for charging your smartphone. Charging from a computer is slow. The reason for this is because charging from a USB 2.0 port only delivers 2.5 watts and USB 3.0 only 4.5 watts. Most smartphones that have fast charging can get as much as 15 watts from a wall outlet. With that in mind, if you want to keep your charging at top speed, avoid charging from USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports.

Ditch Wireless Charging

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Wireless charging technology might be cool, but it’s certainly not fast! Wireless charging right now just isn’t able to deliver enough power to quickly charge your smartphone. It’s best to stick to a wall outlet if you’re in a hurry.

The exclusion to this is fast wireless charging. A good example of this would be Samsung’s fast wireless charging pad, which is really the only manufacturer right now truly pioneering this technology. However, it’s still not as fast as charging from a wall outlet. Until this technology improves, a wall outlet is truly the fastest way for charging your smartphone.

Software Tweaks

Even without any sort of fast charging technology, there are things you can do to speed up your smartphone’s charging. One time-tested feature is to just turn off your smartphone. When your smartphone is turned off, the only thing the battery is doing is charging. It’s not being drained from other things on your smartphone, such as location services, 3G/4G networks, Wi-Fi, and so on.

Alternatively, if you’d rather keep your smartphone turned on, you can enable Airplane Mode. This will still prevent features like location services and cellular networks from draining your battery. While your smartphone has features that can be a big battery drain, the biggest drain is your device’s display. With that in mind, try not to turn the display on while it’s charging. This will speed up charging quite a bit. Besides, as the old saying goes, a watched pot never boils.

If you truly need to do have your mobile data on, you can still shut off some other features taking up unnecessary power, such as NFC, Bluetooth and other features you aren’t immediately using.

Portable Chargers

Portable chargers won’t necessarily help you charge your smartphone faster, but they’re always handy in keeping your smartphone charged in a pinch. If you’re out a job or at the office and don’t have access to a wall charger, portable chargers will often give you more than enough juice until you can fully charge your smartphone.

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With that in mind, it’s important to buy a good portable charger. Much like wall chargers, it’s a good practice to stay away from strange and cheap no-name brands. That said, some of the portable chargers that have treated me really well in the past are Aukey and TYLT. TLY has been particularly convenient, as many of its portable chargers come with a built-in micro-USB cable so that you don’t have to lug around an extra cable in your pocket or carrying case. The company also recently announced some interesting portable batteries coming up at CES 2016.

Aukey is another good brand, as they produce some good quality wall chargers and portable chargers. Many of them are even Qualcomm-certified.

As an alternative to power banks, considering taking an extra battery with you if you have a smartphone that lets you remove the battery (i.e. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 smartphones have non-removable batteries, but the LG G4 does).

Power Saving Mode

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It’s also worth turning power saving mode on while your smartphone is charging. This will help conserve power while your smartphone is charging by reducing system performance as well as other behind-the-scenes resources.

Closing

All in all, that’s how you can charge your smartphone faster. By following the suggestions and steps outlined above, you should hopefully never run out of juice before having to leave the house for work or some other happening. However, some of these methods to increase charging won’t work if you have an aging or damaged battery.

Lithium-ion batteries are in most of our smartphones, and while they’re a much better technology than other solutions, the type of battery is still subject to aging. In some smartphones, lithium-ion capacity deterioration can be noticeable in as little as one year. It’s worth nothing that they can outright fail after two or three years. That said, it might be worth buying a new battery if your smartphone has a removable one. If your smartphone has a non-removable battery, it’s best to check your warranty, as you can–most of the time–get a smartphone replacement.

What methods do you use to increase the speed of charging on your smartphone?


About the Author: Brad Ward

Brad is a tech enthusiast, writing and tinkering with all things technology since 2011. He currently bounces between the LG G3 and his beloved Moto X! His interests include reading, entrepreneurship, the gym, and of course, queso.


  • Vlad

    I have 3 spare batteries for my Samsung S5 and it solves the probkem. I never run out of juice. It takes 5 seconds to switch the battery.

  • Sam Assad

    Android does not allow power save mode while charging. Nice article numb nutz.

  • ekngee

    forgot to mention that turning Airplane Mode on will charge your phone faster