Charging 101: Fast Charge, Charger Cable Safety, Battery Myths & More

What's the best way to charge your iPhone? What's the difference between fast charge and Quick Charge? Do you have to use Apple charger cables to charge my iPhone? There are so many questions about how to safely charge your phone. Don't worry, I've got your back. Instead of making you read every web page about chargers and battery health, I put together a list of the top charging methods, charger types, and rumors about charging. In this article you'll learn which charging method will work best for your iPhone, if fast charging or Quick Charge is bad for your battery, which MacBook adapters can charge your iPhone, which third-party charger cables may actually hurt your device, and other top charging tips. Let's get to it: here's Charging 101. 

Related: How to Quick Charge Your iPhone X, 8, or 8 Plus: Better, Faster, Stronger 

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What’s the Best Way to Charge Your iPhone?

We won't go over every single charger type and charging method that ever existed, but we will go over the ones people ask the most questions about, plus the ones you should know about in order to keep your device battery in good health. Click a link below to navigate directly to the section you're looking for, or scroll through to learn about each in order.

iPhone Charging Methods

What to Know About Chargers & Cables

Other Top iPhone Charging Questions

iPhone Charging Methods 

Fast Charge, Quick Charge, Rapid Charge & Turbo Charge

Is there a difference between quick charge, rapid charge, turbo charge, and fast charge? For the most part, no. They all generally refer to a method of charging at higher-than-normal speeds to achieve more charge in less time. Originally coined by Qualcomm, Apple's processing chip supplier for many of its devices, the term "Quick Charge" is the root term here and refers specifically to devices incorporating Qualcomm's chipset and power management features.

Apple generally uses the term fast charge, even though the chips are Qualcomm and are technically Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0 equipped. Adaptive fast charging, too, is a term you'll hear, and the "adaptive" part of it simply refers to the ability of the device to slow the charge as it nears 100 percent, or after saturation point. Long story short, these terms are often used interchangeably.

The odd man out here is rapid charge. Rapid charge is more of a brand or marketing term, and is not exclusive to devices that have Qualcomm chips, unlike Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0. However, Qualcomm's Quick Charge is upward of 40 percent faster than rapid charge.

The next top question is this: does fast charging or Quick Charge hurt my iPhone battery? This is a divisive topic, but the informed consensus is no, it doesn't. Yes, there's additional heat output from faster charging, but there is with slow charging as well. The best way to take care of your iPhone battery is to perform regular maintenance and use uptimization

Which Apple Devices Support Fast Charging?

Fast charging or Quick Charge works on iPhones and iPads, and only with an Apple USB-C to Lightning cable. For iPhones, fast charge can charge your phone up to 50 percent within about 30 minutes. If you have any of the following devices, you'll be able to fast charge:

  • iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and later
  • iPad mini 5th Generation
  • iPad Air 3rd Generation
  • iPad Pro:
    • 12.9-inch, 1st Generation and later
    • 11-inch, 1st Generation and later
    • 10.5-inch

Adapters that can fast charge:

  • Apple 18W, 29W, 30W, 61W, 87W, and 96W USB-C (check the wattage on the bottom of your adapter if you're unsure)
  • Third-party USB-C adapters with comparable wattage that support USB-PD, which stands for USB Power Delivery 

What Is Trickle Charge?

Without getting overly technical about the electrical charges and the ways they work, the trickle charge is basically a way that batteries try to maintain a 100 percent charge while already fully charged but still connected to a charger, since some incremental loss of charge happens naturally. It's a process that is not healthy for the lithium-ion batteries in Apple products.

Keeping your phone plugged in when it's already charged can very seriously wear down a lithium-ion battery, according to Battery University, so it's not a good idea to leave your iPhone charging longer than you need to. In Battery University's words, "Li-ion does not need to be fully charged, nor is it desirable to do so. In fact, it is better not to fully charge, because a high voltage stresses the battery." 

Charging Your iPhone by Plugging into a Computer

This is definitely safe if you do it right. Use your normal iPhone USB charging cable, and keep your iPhone locked if you're not wanting to do anything computer-related other than charge it. As long as you have your computer plugged in while you're charging it to avoid accidentally draining either battery, Apple says you should be fine!

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What to Know About Chargers & Cables 

Is Wireless Charging Bad for Your iPhone?

No, it's not unsafe or bad for your iPhone, but it's not as fast as wired charging, and certainly not as fast as Quick Charge. Apple recommends only using a Qi-certified charger, so be sure that the charger you're using is appropriately certified. If you have an iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or later, you can charge it wirelessly. You can learning more about Qi charging here

Is Wired Charging Best?

In a word: yeah. But only because it's faster and more reliable. I like The New York Times article about how to choose between wired and wireless charging; it's mostly a choice of convenience, with few exceptions. 

MFi-Certified Chargers & Cables

This is an area where I never recommend skimping. It's a matter of a few bucks more for the certified USB cable versus long-term and expensive damage to your iPhone's battery, and potentially to your phone itself. Cables that aren't up to snuff may not have the appropriate safeguards in place to control the flow of current to your device's battery, which may result in surprising amounts of damage for such a small accessory.

MFi stands for Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod. Counterfeit charger cables and adapters won't bear the MFi badge. The certification badge should look like one of the labels you see below.

Newer:
Older:
Older Made for iPhone charger label
Images courtesy of Apple

Made for iPhone certification means that you shouldn't see issues like:

  • Damaged or broken cables after a short time of normal use
  • iOS device damage
  • Syncing and charging issues
  • Overheating
  • Poor fit into the device or the adapter

Learn more about identifying counterfeit chargers and cables from Apple Support

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Other Top iPhone Charging Questions

Is It Safe to Use My iPhone While It Charges?

Yes, it is safe to use your iPhone while it charges. Just be mindful of your choice of charger and cable, as the only times users tend to see overheating issues are when they use off-brand or third-party accessories that don't pass muster for safety. On that note: 

Will Using a Non-apple Charger Cable or Adapter Hurt My Battery?

Apple recently released a document detailing which third-party chargers support fast charging, so that's always good to know if you want faster charging without the hefty Apple price tag. However, be warned: the USB or Lightning cable you use can mean the difference between charging your iPhone or ruining your $1000 investment. If you choose a cheap one that's not manufactured to MFi (Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod) standards, you could accidentally do some serious damage.

In fact, Apple spells this out pretty clearly in itsr iPhone User Guide:

"You can also charge iPhone with “Made for iPhone” or other third-party cables and power adapters that are compliant with USB 2.0 or later and with applicable country regulations and international and regional safety standards, including the International Standard for Safety Information Technology Equipment (IEC 60950-1) and the Standard for Safety of Audio/Video, Information and Communication Technology Equipment (IEC 62368-1). Other adapters may not meet applicable safety standards, and charging with such adapters could pose a risk of death or injury." 

Should I Take Off My Phone Case before Charging It?

In some cases, yes. If your phone is already warm or hot due to environmental factors, it's often best to remove the case to prevent trapping even more battery-generated heat from charging. 

If you're concerned about wireless charging, that's another thing entirely. If your case is meant to support wireless charging, you shouldn't need to take the case off. If you notice that your phone isn't charging normally when the case is on, you may be diminishing the power of the charger to charge your iPhone's battery. Certain cases that are more rugged tend to be thicker and harder for chargers to penetrate. Try taking the case off if you notice issues; it may help! 

Do I Have to Charge My iPhone for Several Hours the First Time I Charge It?

Nope. This was an old requirement, and doesn't really apply anymore. Read the in-box instructions with your new iPhone to be sure, and learn more about optimal charge levels here

Can I Use My MacBook Charger to Charge My iPhone?

Yes, if it uses a 10W or 12W USB adapter. You can check the wattage on the bottom of your MacBook adapter if you're unsure.

Do “Instant Chargers” or “Miracle Chargers” Really Work? Are They Safe?

That depends on how you define "work." Can these chargers recharge your battery within a minute? Maybe, sometimes. Is it good for your battery? Absolutely not; this is one of the fastest ways to burn through a battery and potentially damage other device components. 

Do I Need to Let My iPhone Battery Completely Die before Charging It?

Most of the time, no. Erasing or resetting "battery memory" refers to an old practice of allowing phone batteries to fully discharge and then fully recharging them all in one go in order to "reset" the battery. This is not required or, in fact, recommended for lithium-ion batteries like those used in Apple products. However, we do have other recommendations for optimizing your iPhone battery health, including one time when you should fully discharge your iPhone battery.

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Top image credit: Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock.com

 

 

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Author Details

Erin Smith's picture

Author Details

Erin Smith

Erin Smith is a Feature Writer for iPhone Life and has been a writer, editor, and researcher for many years. She has a degree in communication with an emphasis on psychology and communication, and has spent many of her professional years as a coach in various business and specialty fields. Erin officially joined the ranks of iPhone and Apple users everywhere around seven years ago, and has since enjoyed the unique and customized feel of Apple technology and its many gadgets. When she’s not working, Erin and her son enjoy outdoor adventures, camping, and spending time with their eclectic collection of pets.