Quick Charge 3.0 explained: what you need to know (Update: video added)
Fast charging technology is a really helpful feature for the heavy mobile user. Qualcomm recently announced its new Quick Charge 3.0 technology, promising a number of improvements over its previous generation speedy charging circuitry. So let’s break down exactly what’s new.
What is Quick Charge?
If you’re new to the concept of quick charging, the result is in the name: your smartphone charges up faster than it would without Quick Charge technology.
At its most simple level, Quick Charge allows for high levels of current to flow to the battery, in an attempt to maximise its charging efficiency. The latest Quick Charge products also tend to charge their batteries at higher voltages, allowing for a higher rate of power transfer through commonly found cables.
However, both the phone and the charger must be compatible with the same charging voltages and currents. Your phone may support charging at 9V/2A, but if you only have a 1A charger then the process will take longer. Likewise, plugging a 2A charger into a phone that can only accept 0.7A won’t make it charge any faster.
It is also possible to charge a compatible device quickly just by using a similarly high current charger, but non-certified products obviously aren’t guaranteed to work efficiency.
Quick Charge, like similar technologies from other companies, is designed to optimise power transfer in the early stages of charging, allowing users to unplug their devices with a suitable battery capacity after a short amount of time.
Qualcomm boasts that it can charge some devices up to 80 percent in just 35 minutes, but it’s very rare for the company to talk about total charge time, because it is simply less impressive. Power transfer in the latter stages of battery charging is much lower regardless of the charging tech used, hence why Quick Charge can boost your battery to 50 percent or more rather quickly, but will still take over an hour to fully charge your smartphone.
Quick Charge 3.0
Qualcomm boasts a fourfold increase in charging times over conventional chargers with Quick Charge 3.0, up from the 40 percent speed increase offered by its first generation technology. However, one of the interesting things to note is that Qualcomm isn’t touting massive increases in charging times over version 2.0, instead the company is focusing on improved efficiency this time around.
The major new feature with 3.0 is INOV (Intelligent Negotiation for Optimum Voltage), which allows for a fined tuned power output and a more optimized charging cycle. Firstly, different batteries require different charging voltages. Version 2.0 supported four modes at varying power levels, 5 volts/2amps, 9V/2A, 12V/1.67A, and a 20 volt option. Quick Charge 3.0’s INOV communicates with the device to request any voltage between 3.2V and 20V at 200mV increments, allowing for a wider selection of voltages.
INOV has the added benefit of being able to dynamically adjust the charging voltage over the battery charging cycle. As a battery charges up, it slowly draws less and less current, which is partly why it takes longer to charge the last 20 percent than the first. Qualcomm states that its new technology allows the phone to request just enough voltage to reach the desired charge current, thereby maximising efficiency.
This is useful as it reduces the amount of energy wasted during charging. Previously, extra power not used to charge the battery would be lost as heat, warming up your phone and reducing the longevity of the battery. By exerting more control over charging efficiency, less power is wasted, resulting in less heat. Qualcomm states that version 3.0 is up to 38 percent more efficiency than 2.0, which is a substantial energy saving.
Energy efficiency is really the major new feature with Quick Charge 3.0, but this is still very important as cooler batteries will last longer than hot ones.
3.0 vs 2.0 vs 1.0
Perhaps the best way to look at this is to compare the charging values between each of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge revisions.
|Quick Charge 3.0||Quick Charge 2.0||Quick Charge 1.0|
|Voltages||3.2v - 20v dynamic||5V / 9V/ 12V||5V|
|SoCs||Snapdragon 820, 620, 618, 617, and 430||Snapdragon 200, 400, 410, 615, 800, 801, 805, 808 and 810||Snapdragon 600|
Here we can see that the amount of current offered by Quick Charge has remained relatively consistent, but increasing the charging voltage has helped allow for faster charge times. With 3.0, the range of voltages will allow for fast charging and better efficiency.
For smartphones, the actual maximum amount of power available has not really changed from Quick Charge 2.0’s 18W maximum. Newer 9V models will still take the same 18W peak power as before, although lower voltage batteries may receive a power boost, allowing them to charge up a little faster than before. But this all depends on the exact hardware.
Importantly, Qualcomm has retained backwards compatibility with its 2.0 and 1.0 standards. As the power draw is handled on the smartphone side, you will safely receive the maximum amount of power for your device using any of the certified chargers. However, you won’t achieve full charging speeds if you try charging newer phones with older lower power chargers.
Although Qualcomm supports Quick Charge in all of its new SoCs, it is still up to smartphone and tablet manufacturers to implement the specific circuitry required to make full use of the fastest charging speeds available. Keep an eye out for Quick Charge 3.0 devices appearing in early 2016.