If you're charging your phone on your nightstand overnight, the charger that came in the box with your device will easily get the job done over the course of seven hours. But if you're trying to get some extra juice into your device between meetings at work, during a few minutes at the gate before your flight boards, every percentage point you can add to your phone's battery metere counts.
Charging a phone is simultaneously incredibly simple and maddeningly complex. Basically any USB port in the world can charge any phone, but some will recharge half your battery in the blink of an eye, while others can barely be able to keep up with your phone's natural battery drain.
Luckily, the charging world is finally starting to coalesce around a single standard: USB-C Power Delivery, which can communicate with your device to deliver the fastest charging speeds, and the gear we listed below should work great with your current phone, your next phone, and probably the one after that as well.
Most iPhones ship with a tiny, 5 watt charging brick, but for nearly a decade now, Apple's phones have supported charging speeds of up to 12 watts, which is why you've probably noticed that your phone charges faster when plugged into an iPad charger.
But all of the latest and greatest iPhones (starting with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, from 2017) support even faster charging, up to 18 watts, with a compatible USB-C Power Delivery charger and a USB-C to Lightning cable.
9to5Mac did a comprehensive charging speed test that pitted various types of chargers against each other, and found that 18 watt and greater chargers could charge an iPhone battery from 0% to over 50% in just 30 minutes. The included 5W charger, by comparison, barely cleared 25% in the same time period.
Pretty much any USB-C Power Delivery charger will max out your iPhone charging speed, including the latest lineup of small, gallium nitride-powered chargers that we've covered here in the past.
The 18W Anker PowerPort III Nano is esentially the same size as the charging brick that Apple includes with most iPhones, and is one of the smallest and most travel-friendly options available. If you're looking for Apple's charger, but better, this is it.
If you only want to bring one charger with you while traveling, RAVPower's 30W charger includes an 18W USB-C port, plus a 12W USB port that you can use to charge a second device simultaneously.
If you like to charge multiple devices at once from your desk at work, the Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim is one of the thinnest desktop charging hubs we've ever seen, and offers a USB-C port with up to 45W of power, along with three other USB charging ports.
And if you want to maximize your charging time while you're driving to and from work, this Nekteck car charger includes a 45W USB-C port that'll charge everything from your phone to a laptop, plus an additional USB port for a second device.
If you want to fast-charge your iPhone on the go without a power outlet, many USB battery packs released over the past few years support USB-C Power Delivery charging as well.
Anker's PowerCore Redux 10000 PD is one of the smallest and most palm-friendly we've tried, and is my personal favorite battery pack for carrying around while I travel. The RAVPower 15000mAh PD battery pack has a simlar (albeit longer) form factor, but with 50% more battery capacity, and a higher total output when you have two devices plugged in at the same time. And for long flights or camping trips, this 26,800mAh pack features a 30W USB-C port, two other USB ports, and is one of the highest capacity batteries that you can legally take on a plane.
If you've owned iPhones for awhile, you've probably amassed quite a collection of Lightning cables. But if you want to take advantage of USB-C fast charging, you're going to need to buy a USB-C to Lightning cable.
Apple makes a cable of its own, and has started including it in the box with the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. But at $19, it's pretty expensive if you want to buy a spare, and not all that durable. Instead, look for a cheaper alternative from a trusted third party, and make sure that it's MFi-certified, which means it has Apple's seal of approval, and is guaranteed to be compatible with your iPhone.
If you want the nicest possible cable, check out Anker's Powerline+ II, which is wrapped in nylon, and built to last. If you want a cheaper option though, I've found that both Xcentz's nylon-wrapped cables and UGREEN's standard cables to be as fast as Apple's own, at lower prices.
Android phones, which are made by a variety of different manufacturers, are understandably a bit more complicated.
For many years now, most high-end Android phones have supported Qualcomm Quick Charge technology (though some, confusingly, rebrand the technology with their own names). Quick Charge begat the faster Quick Charge 2.0, which begat the even faster Quick Charge 3.0, which has given way to Quick Charge 4.0, which for all intents and purposes is the same thing as USB-C Power Delivery.
Luckily, most modern Android phones support some variety of USB-C Power Delivery just like the iPhone (though, again, many will have a different name for it), but the exact implementation can vary from phone to phone. For example, Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ use non-standard 25W charging profiles that are incompatible with most third party chargers. But with very few exceptions, the same chargers we recommended above for iPhones will also charge your Android device quickly (assuming you have a USB-C to USB-C cable).
In an effort to cut the confusion, Anker has developed its own PowerIQ 3.0 technology, which is able to communicate back and forth with almost every major device, and adapt its output to deliver the fastest possible charging speed, whether you've plugged in an iPhone, an Android phone, or even a laptop. PowerIQ 3.0 will eventually trickle out to all of Anker's charging products, but you can currently find it in the powerful PowerPort Atom III wall charger, the PowerDrive III Duo car charger, and the aforementioned PowerPort III Nano and PowerPort Atom III Slim.
When Fast Charging Makes Sense
Again, the charger you use with your phone overnight doesn't need to be fast. Fast charging really shines in situations where you only have a few minutes to recharge, but will need your phone to last the rest of the day. If you spend a lot of time traveling, or work in a job that takes you away from your desk often, a few minutes of fast charging can be all it takes to keep your device alive for the rest of the day.
It's also worth noting that most phone manufacters throttle charging speeds on nearly-full batteries, both for safety and for the lifespan of the battery. For example, once your iPhone reaches 80%, its charging speeds will automatically drop no matter what it's plugged into. So if you're hoping to fast-charge your device during your morning commute when your battery is still over 90%, you shouldn't expect dramatically different charging speeds than what you're used to.
But we all occasionally run into situations where a fast charger would be beneficial, so it's never a bad idea to have at least one reliable option in your collection that you know will fill up your phone's battery indicator as fast as possible.
All featured products and deals are selected independently and objectively by the author. Trivia Genius may receive a share of sales via affiliate links in content.