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The best iPad USB adapters — Everything you need to know

Apple keeps making its chargers more and more complicated. Here's everything you need to know about iPad USB adapters.
April 17, 2021
Apple iPad 2020 with Apple Pencil
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

It used to be the best practice to recharge your device with the included cable and block. However, modern phones and tablets no longer require such strict limitations. In fact, some manufacturers are leaving the charger out of the box and assuming you have your own. If you’ve lost your preferred charger, here are the best iPad USB adapters to get you back up and running.

Before we get down to the brass tacks, we’ll run you through a few things to look for. After all, Apple has made its iPad a bit trickier as some of them charge via USB-C while others use Lightning. Ready to learn more and charge up that iPad? Let’s get to it.

Amperes and milliampere-hours: What are they?

iPad USB adapter

You’ve almost certainly seen the term “mAh” when looking for a new power bank or researching your next device. You may also have noticed the term “amp” when looking for an iPad USB adapter or reading the fine print of the owner’s manual. Both are essential terms when we’re talking about power, so they’re probably our best place to start.

There’s a good chance that your iPad is rated for 7,500mAh or more, and your charger probably tops out at 2.1Amp or 2.4Amp depending on your device size. In this case, the amps refer to the rate at which electricity can flow through your iPad. This is essential when you want to figure out how quickly you can recharge your device.

Of course, you’ll have to remember that your iPad doesn’t discharge at a constant rate — the heavier your usage, the faster the battery will drop.

See also: The best phone charging accessories: A buyer’s guide

Now, when we refer to mAh or milliampere-hours, we’re discussing the amount of current that a battery can handle over the course of an hour. Essentially, the higher the mAh, the larger the battery’s capacity. If you have a 2,000mAh cell that requires 1,000 milliamperes to power the display, then you should see around two hours of battery life.

The same rules of discharging apply when we’re ready to recharge our iPad, just in reverse. If you check your iPad USB adapter, you’ll see a current rating that denotes amps or amperes. This is the speed at which your charger will refill your battery, so higher amps mean a faster charge.

Will a USB adapter from my phone work on my iPad?

Apple iPad 2020 speakers and Lightning
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

To keep things simple, yes, a USB adapter from your phone will work just fine on your iPad. However, some older devices shipped with slower adapters in the box. For example, iPhones earlier than the iPhone 11 shipped with a 5W adapter in the box. This comes out to just 1A, which isn’t very fast.

Most of Apple’s older iPads offered a 10W adapter, good for 2.1A before the company moved to a faster 12W charger. If you have an early-generation iPad Pro, you likely found this 12W charger in the box, which comes out to 2.4A.

Now, Apple’s 18W and 20W adapters are its go-to options, at least when they’re actually included in the box. The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max offered the 18W adapter, which tops out at 3A when connected to 5V power or 2A at 9V. if you have the 8th-gen iPad or 4th-gen iPad Air, you likely found a 20W charger inside, which can reach 3A or 2.22A depending on your voltage.

All of these numbers are to say that if you attempt to use a 1-Ampere (1A) charger on a 7,000mAh battery, you can expect about seven hours of charging time. Once you double that to a 2.1-Ampere (2.1A) charger, you’re looking at a full charge in about half of the time.

Can I use a 100A charger as my iPad USB adapter?

Anker PowerPod III Pod USB C port
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

While you’re probably familiar with fast charging and the idea that you can get back to full power in a hurry, it’s not the best idea for your iPad. You can get some pretty solid speeds with Apple’s included 18W charger, but it’s not advisable to try to go even faster. For starters, your iPad already has its charging limits. Even if your adapter can handle faster speeds, your iPad may not be able to.

The bottom line here is that there are limits to charging. If you try to jam extra power into your new tablet, you could end up doing more harm than good.

See also: Apple iPad Mini 5 review

So, which iPad USB adapters are the best?

Now that you know a little bit about how iPad USB adapters work, which one should you buy? Luckily for you, there are plenty to choose from. We’ve grabbed a few from our favorite brands, so any one of these should be worth your money.

Apple 12W iPad USB adapter

ipad usb adapter apple 12w

If your only goal is to recharge your iPad, why not go with Apple’s own USB adapter? At least you already know that this option is designed to work perfectly with Apple’s own products, and it can push 2.4 Amperes of current. This is one of the more widely available iPad adapters, and you can get it from Amazon and other retailers right now. It comes in Apple’s classic white finish, and offers a single USB-A port.

Anker PowerPort 2 Elite

ipad usb adapter anker power

Some names are just ubiquitous with certain accessories, and Anker is one of the top names in charging. The PowerPort 2 Elite offers a pair of PowerIQ USB-A ports for 24W of total output. It’s slightly larger than Apple’s original charger, though it also offers surge protection and temperature control. Anker even added a glowing LED light to indicate when you have a device plugged in and charging.

Amazon Basics 12W wall charger

ipad usb adapter amazonbasics

Another iPad USB adapter worth considering is this simple model from Amazon Basics. The Amazon Basics line is all about providing an affordable option, and this 12W wall charger comes in a two-pack. You can choose from black or white finishes, and Amazon offers different versions with extra USB ports if you need them. The Amazon Basics 12W wall charger tops out at 2.4-Amperes of current.

AUKEY Swift 32W wall charger

ipad usb adapter aukey swift

Our next selection from AUKEY is technically the fastest charger on this list, though your iPad may not be able to make full use of its speed. It pairs a 20W Power Delivery USB-C port with a more standard 12W USB-A option. On the bright side, this should be a reliable option for your devices that do support higher-capacity charging. The AUKEY Swift 32W also features folding prongs so you can easily stash it in a pocket while you travel.

Anker PowerDrive Speed 2

Anker Power iQ car charger

Our last iPad USB adapter is your best bet if you need to charge on the go. We’re obviously not recommending using your iPad while you drive, but Anker’s PowerDrive Speed 2 is an extremely fast way to get back to full power. It pairs a PowerIQ port with a Quick Charge 3.0 option so you can plan accordingly for top speeds. You should even be able to find the PowerDrive Speed 2 in the dark thanks to its built-in LED lighting.