In this gadget-dependent world and the convenience it brings, it becomes imperative that you have the right charger for your device. It is not rocket science, and if you ask a novice, the most likely answer you will get is that chargers follow a “one size fits all” model.
Yes, you can use one charger to charge multiple devices, but you need to decide how efficiently you want this done. And there are two problems you need to address.
Portable devices require different output currents (or charging currents) that efficiently charge the device’s battery. A basic laptop may need 19V (Volts) and 3A (Amperes) of current to charge, while a mobile phone can do with 5V and 1.55A. But does this mean you can use the mobile phone’s charger to charge your laptop or vice versa?
In the first case, it would be like filling a bathtub with a half-open faucet valve, you’ll fill it eventually, but you’ll have to wait an unnecessarily long. In the reverse case, a different Amperage wouldn’t harm the device, but a different voltage will reduce the overall battery life. Thankfully, chargers offer a range in output voltage or charging currents allowing the device to select the most appropriate one for its need.
That isn’t the only problem; chargers have different connector pins that restrict you from using one charger for all devices. It is often a case of fitting a square peg in a round hole that prevents you from using the same charger across devices. But this problem has a workaround that entails using a suitable charging cable.
There are two components to a charger: the wall unit and the charging cable.
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Types of Wall Chargers
There are two kinds of wall chargers, conventional ones that use silicon and the newer ones that use Gallium Nitride semiconductors in their transistors.
Silicon-based chargers are the most widely used chargers on the market. Chargers that come bundled with portable devices commonly use silicon transistors because the manufacturers prefer a low-cost alternative.
Charger manufacturers have also been using silicon-based transistors since the 1980s because of the scarcity of semiconductor materials.
Gallium Nitride (GaN) Chargers
GaN chargers are rapidly gaining mainstream prominence replacing silicon-based chargers because Gallium Nitride is a far more efficient semiconductor than silicon. As a result, GaN chargers are smaller, lighter, and deliver more power than conventional chargers (of the same size).
However, there is a flip side. They are more expensive than silicon-based chargers, but only because you pay an early adoption fee. And because it is costly, portable device manufacturers don’t regard it as a viable option.
Types of Charging Cables
The charging cable you choose depends only on what connector pin your portable device features. While USB-C connectors have become very popular in the last few years, many devices still use micro-USB ports.
Both these types of chargers offer either a USB-A or USB-C port so that you can connect an appropriate charging cable.
It would be best if you chose a suitable charging cable that offers the rated current of the device you need to charge. In other words, the charging cable must be able to handle the input voltage and amperage of your portable device. Once you find a cable that offers an appropriate rating, you must ensure they provide the correct connector pins at both ends.
Here are all the charging cables you can use with a wall charger.
USB-C charging ports are now the most preferred ports for charging portable devices. Everything from laptops to mobile phones now uses a USB-C connector because it helps manufacturers provide multiple functionalities on one port.
USB and Thunderbolt 4 use a USB-C connector to deliver display signals, transfer data and offer Power Delivery of up to 100W. Thus, it provides a comprehensive solution that manufacturers of portable devices find easy to adopt.
Before USB-C was introduced, micro-USB cables were the most popular charging cables on the market. Even today, you can find Android mobile phones and portable devices, such as power banks, wireless headphones, and Bluetooth speakers that need micro-USB charging cables.
It doesn’t offer high data transfer speeds or carry display signals like Thunderbolt and the latest USB versions, but you can charge devices that need up to 15W.
The mini-USB cable was the first to offer a USB-standard connector other than a USB-A. It used five pins for was extremely popular when it was introduced in 2005 because it allowed manufacturers to tweak their product sizes. Hence, it was immensely popular with manufacturers of mobile phones, cameras, and MP3 players.
Mini-USB, as a technology, has become obsolete now, and there aren’t any new devices that sport these connectors. But you needn’t worry if you are still using a device with a mini-USB connector; there are still plenty of mini-USB cables on the market.
Apple introduced the lightning cable in 2012 to replace its previous connector that featured 30-pins. The 8-pin lightning cable was first offered with the iPhone 5 and continues even with the latest iPhones. Lightning cables come with either a USB-A or a USB-C connector at the charger’s end, so you must be mindful when buying one.
Despite being a propriety Apple product, the lightning cable uses USB protocol natively for data transfers and power delivery. While the USB-A-to-Lightning cables use USB 2.0, the USB-C-to-Lightning cable uses USB 3.0.