Charging guide for newer iPhones?
April 28, 2020 8:59 AM   Subscribe

3 dead old iPhone SE's in a month lead me to order a new iPhone SE 2020. However, the charging landscape has really changed. Is there a nice chart with wattages showing what my various charging options are and what kind of equipment I would need?

This will be my first phone with wireless charging. I am not a heavy phone user, so typically charging time isn't really the limiting factor. The teeny USB-A iPhone cube charger is 5W, which is what I use most of the time. When charging an iPad, I can use the same Lightning cable and it draws 12W, easy.

Now it seems like I have a bunch of options. The highest wattage appears to be the USB-C 18W model from Apple, but do I need their wall charger? If I have another USB-C or even USB-A that's capable of putting out that wattage, will that work? I see there are now "Powerline III" Lightning cables, do I need one of those? And is there any way to verify that I'm in fact getting the watts I'm paying for? The iPad will say "not charging" if you don't give it the full 12 watts.

Similarly, do I need anything special to do wireless charging? Looks like iPhones only support 7.5W charging via Qi, so do I need anything beyond a third-party charger for that? Does it have to run off USB-C as well?
posted by wnissen to Technology (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best thing is to just use the cable that comes with the phone. While there is a lot of bullshit complete wastes of money out there along the lines of what you see in the audiophile space, there is a lot of poorly made crap out there that doesn't work well. The Apple one isn't going to burn your house down.

However, Powerline III apparently is not only Anker (a good brand), they are MFi (Made for iPhone) certified, which is Apple saying they will work great. Feel free to use those if you want.

In general, using the correct wattage is the best. Using something too low will mean that device takes longer to charge. Using something higher (like a MacBook Pro brick) work a bit better, but its just overkill. I used to use iPad chargers on all my iPhone devices because of the higher wattage, but these days I believe the one that comes with iPhone 11 Max Pro is a similar wattage anyway.

All my wireless chargers are by Mophie and they plug into the wall.
posted by sideshow at 11:30 AM on April 28, 2020

Unless there is a reason you want to charge the phone wirelessly, you can just use the lightning cable and power adapter that came with the phone. In complete ignorance of wattage and what-have-you, I bought a charging pad from Ikea and it works fine. As with you, I don’t use the phone heavilly and letting it charge overnight is fine. If I forget to put it on the charger and the phone’s almost dead, I put it in airplane mode and that speeds up the charging immensely.
posted by strasbourg at 4:51 PM on April 28, 2020

The fastest charge rates available would require a USB-Type C power supply rated at at least 18W, and a USB-C to Lightning cable. Brand shouldn't matter*; I have tried Anker and Apple and both work fine.

A 12W (5V, 2.4A) USB-A charger with the stock cable will charge nearly as fast as the battery itself will be the primary limit in power coming from the charger. This is probably the sweet spot in terms of cost and ease of use. Many 3rd party chargers support 2.4A output and it would be clearly indicated on the spec sheet.

The phone will most likely come with the small, square brick from Apple that has not changed for some time. It is 5V, 1A. Charging would be noticeably slower from this compared to the other options, but honestly it's probably fine as the battery on the iPhone SE is relatively small.

* as long as the charger is fully USB-C compliant. This is improving but stick to "real" brands like Anker or RAVpower for best results.
posted by doomsey at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

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