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What's the best way to charge your mobile devices?

Richard Baguley | March 28, 2013
Does it take forever to recharge your phone or tablet? The charger you use may be to blame.

You're packing for a trip. You've already crammed the chargers for your smartphone and laptop into your bag, but your tablet charger is MIA and you're debating whether to bring along a spare charger for your laptop--just in case.

Then you ask yourself: "Do I really need to bring them all? Wouldn't one or two chargers do the trick?"

Hmmm, would they? After all, users can charge most phones and tablets these days via a Micro-USB cable and a reliable source of electricity.

We challenged the TechHive Lab to find out whether chargers could switch phone or tablet models and still charge successfully, and the guys there rose to the challenge. Here's what they found.

Speedy charging

To find the quickest way to charge a smartphone or tablet, we tested how long it would take to charge two of each (the phones were an iPhone 5 and a Samsung Galaxy S III, and the tablets were an iPad 4 and a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1).

We used several power sources in our tests, including the original charger for each phone or tablet and the USB ports of a Mac and a Windows 7 laptop.

We also charged the two phones using each other's charger, and did the same for the two tablets, to see how long they took to get fully charged.

And the winner is...

Generally the quickest charging time comes when you use the charger that originally came with your phone or tablet.

For three of the four devices we tested, the original charger worked the fastest--often by a considerable margin--to charge its companion device.

The only exception was the Samsung Galaxy S III, whose charging times with its charger and with the iPhone 5's charger were so close that the lab proclaimed the results a virtual tie.

We were surprised at how slowly some devices charged with an alien charger.

For instance, the iPad 4 took 19 hours, 13 minutes to charge when we used the charger designed for the Samsung tablet--that's more than triple the amount of time the iPad took to charge when we used its own charger.

The upshot: If you travel without all of your original chargers, you could be looking at a looooong wait to get a phone or tablet fully charged.

All of these phones and tablets contain circuits that detect the connected device: if it isn't one of their own, they deliver a lesser flow of power to avoid frying the device. That's a prudent precaution, perhaps, but annoying to the owner lugging around a heavy clutch of power bricks.

Don't mix chargers when a tablet is involved

 

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