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A Guide to Understanding Smartphone Charging Technologies and Speeds

Reno 5 charging

Smartphone battery charging speeds have come a long way since the first mobile phone was invented. The early days of mobile phones saw charging times that could take so long. We never really thought these as slow charging speeds as e didn’t know better at that point. Think about the first smartphone that you got, you probably had to sit around for hours just for it to fully charge to 100%. However, as technology advances, charging times have gotten shorter and shorter, making it possible to have your phone charged and ready to go in a matter of minutes. In this post, we will take a look at the different charging speeds available on smartphones and what they mean for the user.

First, let’s start with the basics. Charging speed is determined by the combination of the battery’s capacity and the charging power. The charging power is measured in watts (W), and it tells you how much energy is being transferred to the battery in a given amount of time. The capacity of the battery, on the other hand, is measured in milliampere-hours (mAh) and it tells you how much energy the battery can hold. If you have read any of our reviews, you have seen us point out these. Smartphones batteries have gotten bigger over the years and e now even have batteries as big as 6,000 mAh.

Slow Charging (0-10W)

Slow charging is what most smartphones come with, and it’s considered standard. This charging speed is usually around 5W, which means that the charging power is low, and the battery will take a long time to charge. For example, a smartphone with a battery capacity of 3000mAh will take about 6 hours to charge from 0 to 100% with a 5W charger. While slow charging is okay for overnight charging, it’s not ideal for those who are in a hurry. We don’t see these charging speeds often these days.

Fast Charging (10-50W)

Fast charging is a step up from slow charging, and it provides a faster charging experience. Most fast chargers have a power rating of 10W to 30W, and they can charge your smartphone battery in a matter of minutes. For example, a smartphone with a 3000mAh battery will take about an hour and a half to charge from 0 to 100% with a 10W charger. Fast charging is a convenient option for those who need their phone charged quickly. We mostly see 10W charging on entry level smartphones such as the realme C33 that we reviewed earlier this year.

Samsung is one manufacturer that has most of its smartphones within this range. The company is yet to fully explore the Super fast charging speeds like some of the other manufacturers.

Super Fast Charging (50-100W)

Super fast charging is the next step up from fast charging, and it’s the fastest charging speed available on smartphones. Super fast chargers have a power rating of 50W to 100W, and they can charge your smartphone battery in a matter of minutes. For example, a smartphone with a 3000mAh battery will take about 30 minutes to charge from 0 to 50% with a 50W charger. Super fast charging is perfect for those who are in a hurry and need their phone charged quickly. Super Fast charging also makes sense to have bigger battery capacities on smartphones as you can still charge them very fast.

Within this category, we do have OPPO with SuperVOOC fast charging just to name a few. The new OPPO Reno8 T that is set to launch in Kenya supports 67W fast charging.

Ultra Fast Charging (100-200W)

Ultra fast charging is the fastest charging speed currently available on smartphones. Ultra fast chargers have a power rating of 100W to 200W, and they can charge your smartphone battery in a matter of minutes. For example, a smartphone with a 3000mAh battery will take about 15 minutes to charge from 0 to 50% with a 100W charger. Ultra fast charging is perfect for those who need their phone charged quickly and are always on the go.

My first experience with such speeds was with the Xiaomi 11T Pro that supports 120W fast charging. I can fully charge the battery from 0% in less than 20 minutes. Keep in mind that this is a 5,000 mAh battery. We do have a number of devices supporting such speeds from other manufacturers too.

240W Charging

Recently, Realme, a fast-growing smartphone brand, officially unveiled its all-new flagship — realme GT Neo5 in mainland China, which will be the world’s first smartphone product to mass produce 240W charging. With the 240W fast charging, realme GT Neo5 supports 30 seconds of charging for two hours of continuous phone calls. This is currently the highest charging power in the industry, and it is 10 times faster than charging speeds 8 years ago.

Any Effects on Battery Health?

With the increasing speed of charging, there is a growing concern about the impact it has on the health and longevity of our smartphone batteries. Lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly used in smartphones, have a finite number of charge cycles. A charge cycle is defined as a full discharge and recharge of the battery. With each cycle, the battery’s capacity decreases, leading to a reduction in the overall battery life. Fast charging can increase the rate of charge cycles, leading to a faster reduction in battery capacity.

Additionally, fast charging generates more heat, which can further degrade the battery. Over time, the battery’s internal components can become damaged, leading to a decrease in performance and a shorter overall lifespan. High temperatures can also cause the battery to degrade more quickly, which can lead to a reduction in battery performance and a shorter lifespan.

It’s important to note that not all fast charging technologies are created equal, and some are more gentle on the battery than others. For example, some fast charging technologies, such as Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, are designed to reduce the amount of heat generated during charging. This can help to prolong the life of the battery and maintain its performance over time.

To minimize the impact of fast charging on battery health, it’s important to use the right charging equipment and follow manufacturer guidelines. This includes using the correct charging cable and wall adapter, and avoiding overcharging the battery. It’s also recommended to charge the battery to a lower percentage, and to discharge it fully before recharging, to help extend the battery life.

About author

Editor at TechArena. I cover all things technology and review new gadgets as I get them. You can reach me on email: kaluka@techarena.co.ke
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