As we gear up for this year’s first smartphone flagships, we expect “quick charging”, alternatively known as fast or turbo charging, to be an increasingly common feature. But what exactly is quick charging? Is it worth going out of your way to make sure your next smartphone has it?
Let’s establish a basis for comparison by describing how usual charging works. Typical chargers power up your phone at a controlled, consistent pace, because power flowing in too quickly could damage the battery and, if things go truly awry, fry your phone.
Quick charging changes that by increasing the upper limit of voltage that can flow into your phone. It sounds risky with incidents like exploding Galaxy Note 7 batteries still in recent memory, but some form of quick charging technology has existed for several generations of smartphones now (and it didn’t have anything to do with the Note 7 fiasco).
Numerical claims of charging speed can be a little misleading, however. Current quick charge technology is much more rapid at the beginning of a charge, when a battery is most depleted. When the battery’s charge rises to a certain saturation point (usually around 60 percent power), the charging slows down. That’s part of the reason why companies use down-to-the-minute claims instead of any based on 0-100% charge times – the stats sound so much more impressive.
Still, it’s clear that quick charge is convenient. When your phone is on its last leg and you need to rush out the door, it’s a relief to know you won’t have to wait for a significant power boost. When evaluating a phone’s quick charge capabilities, check which version of the technology it uses and know that its stats may be a little inflated.