There has never been a better time to grab yourself a slice of Apple’s pie, whether you’re looking to grab one of the newest iPhones around or take advantage of the lowered prices for older iPhone models.
While Apple’s specs and iOS 13 ensure your day-to-day performance is silky smooth, there are parts of the experience that aren’t as fast as you’d expect. Apple’s iPhones have supported fast charging since the iPhone 8, but unlike many Android counterparts, Apple didn’t include a fast charger with any of its iPhones until the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. So if you want to fast charge an iPhone, chances are you’ll need to buy another charger.
But there are a lot of chargers out there and it’s not always clear which one you need to charge your iPhone super-fast. Don’t worry, we’ve done the research so you don’t have to. Here’s how you can fast charge your iPhone, from the iPhone 8 to the 11 Pro Max.
What is fast charging and why can’t my charger do it?
We’ve written a comprehensive guide to fast charging, but suffice it to say that fast charging allows your iPhone’s battery to charge faster than it would with a slower charger — including from your computer or laptop. However, while your phone may be able to handle fast-charging, it needs a charger that can deliver enough power.
The 5W charger that comes with most Apple iPhones is not able to fast charge. It can supply enough power to recharge an iPhone, but it’s not able to transmit charge fast enough to charge up anything larger, like an iPad.
Most iPads come with a 12W charging block instead. If you own an iPad, you can use one of these to speed up your iPhone’s charging rate — it won’t harm your phone in any way since the phone will never take more charge than it can handle. However, Apple’s iPhones from the iPhone 8 onward are capable of even faster charging, and getting that speed requires an even better charger.
How much faster is fast charging? Apple claims fast charging will refill up to 50% of your iPhone’s battery in just 30 minutes. Charging speeds that fast mean you can say goodbye to waiting around for your phone to charge, and bid farewell to overnight charging entirely.
Which iPhones support fast-charging?
The following fast-charging iPhones are not sold with a fast charger:
iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone XS Max
The following fast-charging iPhones are sold with a fast charger:
iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro Max
Apple’s official fast charger
While Apple doesn’t supply a fast charger with many of its iPhones, it does sell a fast charger in the form of a new cable and charging block for your device. This is far from the least expensive option, but if you’re happy to spend the money to get your charger straight from Apple, here’s what you need.
Unfortunately, the cable you receive with many iPhones won’t cut it for fast charging. Apple’s fast-charging system uses USB-C — the advanced version of USB that’s now used in many Android phones. USB-C is capable of transmitting power faster than older USB standards, and fast charging on iPhones requires a USB-C to Lightning cable.
Apple offers an official Apple USB-C to Lightning cable for $19, and getting your hands on one is as simple as popping into your nearest Apple Store or ordering one from Apple’s online store.
The power adapter
Like the official cable, the charger needs to be something a little special, too. It’s an 18W adapter with a USB-C port, rather than the usual USB-A port. If you’re looking just to fast charge an iPhone, then the $29 official Apple 18W USB-C power adapter is all you need.
If you have a newer MacBook then you may also already have a power adapter that can handle all your fast-charging needs. Many of Apple’s MacBooks made in 2015 and later use USB-C-compatible charging blocks, and you can use one of these to fast charge your iPhone when combined with the USB-C to Lightning cable. The most common is the official 30W USB-C power adapter, and it can easily pull double-duty if required.
If you’re rocking a MacBook Pro, then you might have a charger that’s even more powerful than the 29W or 30W varieties, and Apple has confirmed that even the 61W and 87W versions are safe to use with your iPhone 8 or newer phone. Remember, the amount of power used is regulated by your phone, so it will never draw more than it can handle and damage itself — and the charger can’t force your phone to accept a wattage that’s too high for it to handle.
Note: If you are buying an adapter just for iPhone fast charging, don’t buy an adapter stronger than 18W; iPhones can only take charge up to 18W, so a more powerful charger would just cost more money and not offer any extra benefits.
The alternative options
As you might have noticed, Apple’s fast-charging package comes in at the princely sum of $48. While iPhones aren’t exactly budget devices, that’s still a hefty amount of dollars for a flimsy cable and plastic adapter. Thankfully, Apple doesn’t hold a monopoly where iPhone fast charging is concerned, and you can get options from elsewhere that will do much the same job at a much lower price, or that offer additional durability.
Note: While we’ve endeavored to select only the best brands and recommended products, we haven’t tested the products below, so use them at your own risk.
Alternative charging cables
It can be quite tough to find a USB-C to Lightning cable that doesn’t come from Apple, and that’s because Apple is strict about who can sell it. One of the few manufacturers allowed to create such cables is the rugged accessories creator Nomad, and while expensive, Nomad’s USB-C to Lightning cable is a great choice if you need a tougher cable.
It measures 1.5 meters, so it’s slightly longer than Apple’s standard cable — but the real magic is in its toughness. It’s protected by a tightly wound Kelvar braid and has additional protection around the connector to ensure the cable can survive even the worst punishment. It’s expensive mind you, and $40 for a cable is enough to make you choke on your morning coffee. However, it’s backed up by Nomad’s five-year warranty, which takes the sting out somewhat.
Alternative power adapters
You can grab any power adapter with a USB-C port and enough power, but make sure it supports USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) and stick to reputable brands.
A good choice is this 30W USB-C wall charger. It costs just $26, so it saves you $23 if you need an alternative to Apple’s 30W charger. It is well-reviewed and comes from Anker, a well-thought-of accessory company. You should be fairly secure using this as your iPhone’s fast charger, and it will work perfectly with Apple’s cable.
Look mom, no wires
Finally, what about fast charging via a wireless charger? Well, while it’s possible to get a fast-charging wireless pad, the technology hasn’t yet reached the point where it can outpace the best wired chargers out there. The maximum wattage an iPhone can pull in from a Qi wireless charging pad right now is 7.5W. However, if you’re still interested, check out our favorite wireless chargers to find some great options.