Fast-Charging: Different Techs and Their Specs
Smartphones today not only offer its users large capacity batteries or power-saving optimizations, some also offer fast charging so you could get as much power to last you through the day from the short while that you charge your handset.
Fast-charging technologies are offered by different companies. Some are CPU-specific like the popular Qualcomm Fast Charge while others are from handset manufacturers themselves and are made specifically for their devices.
Introduction to Fast-Charging
Before we begin, let’s first understand the simple 2-part process of fast charging smartphones. First, we all know that batteries power smartphones and when it is depleted, we recharge it by plugging the device into an external charger and energy is once again loaded onto the battery. This is measured in watts and basically, more watts equals more power. The more power delivered, the faster it can charge the battery.
To measure power (or watts), we need to multiply the current (amps) by the voltage (volts) that are both seen printed on the charger of the smartphone. For example, a standard USB 2.0 charger that works on ‘5V – 2A’ delivers 10W of energy to the battery — pretty easy.
Secondly, there are two stages of charging a smartphone battery — the first stage is done by delivering a high amount of power until the phone reaches 80%. After that, the second stage takes over and the power transferred is reduced until the battery is 100% full.
Imagine getting a full tank at your favorite gas station. At the beginning, you will hear the pump is at its full blast but when your tank is almost full, it slows down until it’s completely filled up. This is the same principle in charging that’s why you see companies claim that their phones can be charged up to 80% in just so-and-so minutes. When it reaches that point, the charger shifts to a lower output.
With those in mind, let’s now check out the specs that make up this useful feature and see how they differ from one another.
Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0
Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 was introduced some time back in early 2015 and takes advantage of higher power levels to charge devices. The company boasts that a Quick Charge 2.0 Class A can deliver up to 24W when using a microUSB cable and up to 36W over a USB Type-C connector. It is also faster than the first generation Quick Charge by 75%.
Moreover, the QC 2.0 was designed to protect the battery life cycles and ensure its good health in the long run.
Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
Later in the same year, Qualcomm has unveiled its Quick Charge 3.0. On paper, it can charge up to four times faster than standard chargers and is 38% more efficient than QC 2.0. For a background on its technology, it uses an Intelligent Negotiation for Optimum Voltage (INOV) which is basically an algorithm that allows the device to ‘determine what power level to request at any point in time.’
This enables the optimum power transfer and maximizes efficiency in charging. It has wider voltage options, offers more ranges of voltages (200mV increments, from 3.6V to 20V), and is backward compatible with QC 1.0 and QC 2.0 devices. It is also compatible with a slew of connectors (USB Type-A, microUSB, USB Type-C, proprietary connectors).
Qualcomm Quick Charge 4
The latest and most advanced quick-charging technology from Qualcomm is the QC 4. Introduced only last year, it is not yet widely available but will soon be embedded into phones running the Snapdragon 835 processor. It aims to extend smartphone use by five or more hours with only five minutes of charging.
The Quick Charge 4 also uses the company’s Dual Charge technology for users to enjoy up to 20% faster charging and up to 30% higher efficiency when directly compared to Quick Charge 3.0. INOV is also present here, but already on its third iteration and includes real-time thermal management to make charging a little bit smarter by itself.
Huawei claims that by using their SuperCharge technology, users will be able to ‘get a day’s use from a 20-minute charge’. It basically uses a 4.5V low-voltage input plus a 5A charging current to deliver speeds that are ‘among the world’s fastest rapid charging systems’. The said tech also controls the voltage, current, and temperature to make sure that charging is safe.
This is seen on Huawei’s Mate 9 and reportedly has 50% faster charging time than the Mate 8.
MediaTek Pump Express 3.0
Chip-maker MediaTek came out with its own fast-charging tech to battle Qualcomm’s Fast Charge. Called the Pump Express, it is now in its third version and promises a charging time of 0-70% in just 20 minutes — claiming that it will be the fastest charging solution to come out on the market.
MediaTek says it is the first quick-charging solution that allows for direct charging through USB-C power delivery so that smartphones will charge faster and keep the temperatures down by bypassing charging circuitry and sending power (delivering more than 5 amps) directly from the adapter to the battery. Pump Express 3.0 will go hand-in-hand with devices using the company’s Helio P20 chip.
Motorola’s TurboPower is a family of smartphone fast chargers that strives to achieve the maximum amount of charge in the least possible time. The lineup comprises of TurboPower 15, TurboPower 25, and TurboPower 30 with the last one delivering 28.5W of energy. The TurboPower 30 also claims that the Moto Z Force Droid, when charged for 15 minutes, can already last up to 15 hours.
Specs for the TurboPower 30 include an output of 5V and up to 5.7A. Compatible devices include USB-C-enabled smartphones and tablets including the Moto Z family of smartphones.
OPPO VOOC Flash Charge
OPPO didn’t want to use an existing technology to fast charge their devices and came up with VOOC Flash Charge. It is the company’s own fast-charging tech that uses higher levels of current rather than using higher voltage. Specs-wise, they use 5V and 4A to produce 20W of power.
During our review of the OPPO F1 Plus, its VOOC charger was able to speed up charging time to just 49 minutes.
OnePlus has introduced its DashCharge for its OnePlus 3. This makes it possible for the device to charge from 0-60% in as fast as 30 minutes. It is licensed from OPPO and just like their VOOC, DashCharge takes advantage of using higher amperage instead of high voltage. This results in lower temperatures even while fast-charging and allows you to use the phone to watch or play without dropping the speed — unlike with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge that slows down charging to keep things cool.
It has a disadvantage not seen on Quick Charge, though. Users need to always use the bundled wall charger in order to take enjoy its advantages. This is because OPPO is yet to license the technology to third-party vendors, unlike Qualcomm’s Quick Charge which is already licensed.