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The best phone charging accessories: A buyer's guide
Most smartphones will comfortably last an entire day, if not longer, with moderate use. “Moderate” is the keyword. If you do things like gaming, GPS navigation, or using the camera for a long time, you’ll find your phone’s battery draining quite quickly. Luckily, you can get many charging accessories to ensure that you never have to fear a dead phone. This is our ultimate guide for the best charging accessories you’ll need!
Looking for even more phone accessories? We have a guide for that!
OEM vs third-party charging accessories
Many phones still come with a charger in the box, but that seems to be changing in a hurry. Unfortunately, losing or forgetting chargers, tearing cables, or simply having a charger that no longer works are all too common parts of owning a smartphone.
Third-party accessory makers offer a slew of products that usually bring more to the table and often at comparatively lower prices. On the surface, picking the best phone charging accessories sounds easy. There are thousands of products available, and all you need to do is find the right fit. However, having so many options causes the problem.
It’s essential to do your homework regardless of what you buy, but that’s even more so with a charger. A lousy charger or cable can cause irreparable damage to the phone, and a faulty power bank in your pocket might also hurt you. There are a lot of excellent choices, but it’s crucial to do the research properly.
Pros and cons of first-party charging accessories
The most significant advantage of a first-party accessory is that these are made with a particular phone or range of phones in mind. In most cases, you will get the best experience with the charger you get in the box. So, while the Samsung wireless charger works with other devices, it is the best option if you want to enjoy the fastest wireless charging speeds with Samsung flagships.
On the other hand, a distinct lack of variety is the major issue with first-party accessories. Only Samsung has stepped up its game when it comes to charging accessories with excellent wireless chargers and power banks. But even it falls well short when compared to third-party accessory makers.
Pros and cons of third-party charging accessories
Third-party accessories have the leg up in many aspects since they often fill existing gaps in the accessories market. Third-party companies dominate in multi-port chargers, car charging accessories, and charging cables. These options are generally more affordable too.
The generic nature of these products may not always provide the best results regarding charging speeds. The much bigger issue is sorting through the hundreds of options available, with many coming from companies that aren’t well known or even unheard of. Buying a bad charger, cable, or power bank could have severe consequences, including potentially ultimately damaging your device. Some accessories may not work with your phone either, so it’s essential to do your research first.
Things to look for when buying third-party accessories
Before you buy an accessory from a brand you’re not familiar with, just be sure to check for the following:
- Look through owner-submitted reviews on sites like Amazon. What are people saying? Do these short reviews look legit? For example, they may be paid or sponsored submissions if they are super vague and poorly written.
- Look for oddities, like if the product reviews aren’t for the product! This surprisingly happens a lot with 3rd party charging accessories from obscure brands. A 5-star foot massager review is not what I want to see when trying to buy a portable power bank.
- Familiarize yourself with the return policy of the product. While many products have return periods, some might only have a replacement window so that a refund won’t be possible.
- We’re here to help! Android Authority has literally hundreds of guides to help you navigate through the complex world of phone and other device charging accessories. From multi-port wall chargers to numerous power bank categories, we have it all.
The charging accessories Android Authority recommends
Most charging accessories work with a lot of smartphones. However, you must look into compatibility with different charging speeds, capacities, and features available with different phones. For example, while you can charge Pixel 4 with many Qi wireless chargers, you will also get fast charging speeds with the Pixel Stand.
We’ll be looking at the best charging accessories you can get for some of the newest phones available. Something to keep in mind, though, is that while we mention specific smartphones here, these may be great options for other phones as well. But if you own one of these phones, rest assured that the options here will give you the fastest speeds and be safely used with your device.
The best third-party wall chargers
Any phone maker will tell you that the best way to charge your device is by using the first-party charger. That’s true if you want to take advantage of fast charging features like OnePlus’ Warp charging or OPPO’s ultra-fast VOOC charging.
As long as you do your research, there are plenty of good third-party alternatives, though. These will likely be cheaper, may also offer fast-charging capabilities, and be more portable. Whether you’re looking for a replacement or an extra for travel or to keep in the office, there are many things to consider.
What should you look for?
- Is the brand trustworthy? A reputable brand is more likely to last through countless charging cycles. We highly recommend Anker, but there are tons of other great brands. We ensure every option on this list balances price, quality, and reputation.
- What port does it have? Most new third-party chargers come with USB-C ports, and you will likely get the fastest charging possible with these. However, you’ll have a charging cable already. So if you have a USB-A to USB-C/microUSB cable, you’ll need a charger with a USB-A port.
- How fast is it going to charge? Fast charging is almost a standard feature at this point, even if with varying degrees of capability. It’ll be unlikely for a third-party charger to offer the same speeds as proprietary charging tech like VOOC charging. You’ll have to know whether your phone supports standards like Qualcomm’s Quick Charge and USB-PD (Power Delivery) and find the right charger to make use of this feature.
Anker Powerport III Pod
If you’re looking for a wall charger for your phone, tablet, Nintendo Switch, or even the laptop, the Anker Powerport III Pod 65W charger can do it all. It comes with the latest version of Anker’s Power IQ tech that ensures fast charging for most smartphones and tablets, including Samsung’s super-fast charging with its latest flagships. It’s also an impressively compact option when compared to most charging bricks.
Spigen PowerArc 20W charger
The Spigen 20W charger is a less powerful but cheaper alternative to the Anker 65W charger. This charger also comes with a USB-C port and supports the USB-PD 3.0 fast-charging standard with a compatible device. Spigen utilizes GaN technology to make a device that’s small and portable and also keeps cool.
See also: The best wall chargers you can buy
The best multi-port wall chargers
Nowadays, just about everything in your home relies on a charger to keep going. From phones and tablets to earbuds and speakers, you’ve probably got more cords than outlets. One of the best ways to save space is with a multi-port USB wall charger.
What should you look for?
- How fast is it going to charge? You might get a wall charger with 10 ports, but if it takes all day to charge up your device, that will be a problem. The best options should ideally support the fast charging standards of your phone or other portable devices.
- Does it have the correct ports? Older or budget chargers often have less than great port options. There might just be USB type-A instead of USB-C, or fast charging might not be mentioned above. Figure out which ports you have on your devices, and check cable and device compatibility.
- Is the brand trustworthy? This point bears repeating every time we talk about third-party charging accessories. A reputable brand is more likely to last and not cause any damage to the device.
- What size do you need? You will also have to consider the size. Do you want something that can easily slip inside your pocket or backpack? Or do you want the most charging power encased in a big brick? Are you looking for something that sits on a desk? How long do the charging and plug cables need to be?
Anker PowerPort Atom PD two-port
Sometimes two ports are all you need, and this Anker option shows just what 60W of output can do. It’s equipped with two USB-C PowerDelivery ports that intelligently allocate power to ensure an even charge. Available in white or black, the Anker Power Port Atom relies on GaN to keep the temperature low and the power high. It’s a great travel companion as the prongs fold flat to fit into a bag.
The Satechi USB wall charger balances between two USB-C options and two USB-A by jumping up to four ports. The two USB-C ports combine for 78W of total charging while the USB-A options add 12W between them. It’s an easy way to recharge all of your devices at once, but be ready for some varied speeds. A convenient LED light indicates when your devices are charging, and a sleek gray finish lends a touch of luxury to this handy USB wall charger.
Further reading: More multi-port USB wall chargers to consider
The best wireless chargers
There are few things as convenient as dropping your phone on a wireless charging pad or placing it on a stand to top it off. The sheer convenience of being able to pick up a phone, answer a call, and plop it back to charge without fiddling with cables can’t be overstated. Luckily, there are many wireless charging accessories you can get for your phone.
What to look for when buying a wireless charger?
As with any accessory, there are many factors to consider when buying a wireless charger.
- What type of charger do you need? Mainly two types of wireless chargers are available now — pads or stands. A pad might be the better option for a nightstand, while a stand will be great on a work desk. You might also have multiple devices that can be charged wirelessly, be it another phone, smartwatches, or wireless earbuds. In this case, a dual charging pad or stand is the best way to go.
- OEM vs third-party? Once again, an OEM wireless charger will often offer the best experience. You will only get OnePlus’ fantastic Warp Charge 50 speeds with the OnePlus charger and fast wireless charging for the Pixel 4 with the Pixel Stand.
- How fast does it charge? A standard Qi charging pad may take a really long time to fully charge a device. To get the fastest charging possible, a first-party charger is definitely the better way to go. Some third-party chargers offer some fast charging capabilities, but that’s mostly for Samsung flagships and iPhones.
Samsung Wireless Charger DUO Pad
The Samsung Duo pad is as good as it gets with wireless charging pads. As the name suggests, the pad can charge two devices simultaneously. However, the Samsung wireless charger duo pad takes it a step forward by including fast charging support. This means that you can charge compatible Samsung phones at up to 15W while charging an additional phone or perhaps your wireless earphones on the second pad.
Anker PowerWave II wireless charger
The Anker PowerWave II wireless charger is similar to other affordable wireless charging pad offerings other than one key difference. The pad sits at an angle and lets you view the phone’s display while charging it. It’ll charge the Pixel 5 and LG flagships at 15W. With Samsung hardware, the pad enables fast wireless charging to the tune of 10W. Meanwhile, it is as good as the best wireless chargers available for the iPhone and can top it off at 7.5W.
Further reading: Other wireless phone chargers worth checking out
The best portable power banks you can get
Getting at least a full day of use out of your smartphone should be possible with most devices. However, many processor-intensive tasks can drain the battery really quickly, and you might not be able to get to a charger in time. The best solution to ensure that you don’t have to worry about a dying battery while out and about is to pick up a portable battery charger.
What are the best portable chargers?
When it comes to picking the right battery pack, you want to look at a few things:
- How fast is it going to charge? You might get a power bank with a 50,000Ah battery, but if it takes all day to charge up your device, that’s going to be a problem. Ideally, the best portable charger should support the fast charging standards in your phone or other portable devices.
- What capacity do you need? Some of us get the biggest portable charger we can find, and don’t worry if it takes up half a bag. But if you need something smaller, there are a lot of great options. That said, we don’t recommend going under 5,000mAh in most cases and think 10,000mAh is the sweet spot for portability.
- Does it have the right ports for your needs? Older or budget chargers often have less than great port options. There might just be USB type-A instead of USB-C, or there might not be fast charging as mentioned above. Figure out which ports you have on your devices and whether or not the charger that catches your eye fully supports your device.
- Is the brand trustworthy? A reputable brand is more likely to last through countless charging cycles. We highly recommend Anker and Ravpower, but there are tons of other great brands.
- What size do you need? You will also have to consider the size. Do you want something that can easily slip inside a purse or backpack? Or do you want the most charging power encased in a big brick of a portable charger?
Mophie 10,000mAh PD Power Bank
The Mophie 10000mAh PD Power Bank is a great compact option. It’s small enough to fit in most pockets and easy to store in your purse or backpack. Despite its small size, it has a great charging capacity. It has 18W USB-C charging and can provide a boost to up to three devices at any one time.
Samsung 2-in-1 Portable Fast Charge Wireless
Samsung’s 10,000mAh charger is unique in that it includes a wireless charging pad right on top. It’s capable of fast charging a compatible Samsung phone up to 10W in wireless mode and 25W when connected via a USB cable. The power bank is Qi-compatible, so you should have no issue using this with other phones.
Other portable power banks worth considering:
The best car charging accessories available
If you spend a lot of time on the road, choosing from one of the many car chargers available is something you should consider. These things are affordable and come in handy whenever your smartphone runs out of juice. They plug into the power port, or what used to be known as the cigarette lighter port, and come in all shapes and sizes. Check out the best ones below!
Things to consider when buying a car charger
- How many ports do you need? You’ll find car chargers with a single port to options that come with four or five as well. More may not always be better in this case, though. Apart from size and space considerations, the charging speed for individual devices might reduce when many are plugged in simultaneously. Two-port options are usually a good idea.
- What type of ports does it have? Older or budget car chargers often have less than great port options. There might just be USB type-A instead of USB-C, or there might not be fast charging as mentioned above. These also don’t come with a cable, so you might need to buy one for the car, and remember to carry the cable you get with your phone.
- Do you need more features? Most cars only come with one power port. If you need that port for a car charger and a Bluetooth FM transmitter, you’re out of luck. The good news is that there are a few options that combine both features. Similarly, you’ll also find phone holders that serve double duty as a Qi wireless charger.
Anker Power iQ charger
The 42W dual-port Anker USB charger is a great option. This charger provides you with USB-A and USB-C slots for charging two devices rapidly at the same time. It is a very small and compact car charger, perfect for those who don’t want anything bulky in their car. It is compatible with most devices and has a bunch of safety features on board to keep you and your devices safe.
Belkin car charger
If you have a device that allows for Power Delivery charging, then this is the car charger for you. This Belkin car charger comes with two different ports so that you can charge two devices at once. The pair of Quick Charge 3.0 outlets can combine for up to 32W of output to get you back on the go faster.
Further reading: The best car chargers you can get
The best charging cables you can get
A good charger is only one part of the equation to ensure that your device is charging as quickly and efficiently as possible. Playing an equally important role is the charging cable. Charging cables might all have the same ports and look similar. However, there are a lot of charging speeds, standards, and capabilities to be aware of.
Things to know
The unfortunate truth is that USB-C is still a mess in 2021, even though it is the current standard. Not every cable is made equal, and some can be downright dangerous for your device. It’s gotten much better than what the situation was three or four years ago, but there are things you should look out for.
- USB-IF: USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) announced a Certified USB Charger Compliance and Logo Program back in 2016 to offer USB chargers for compliant USB-C devices. Looking for “certified by USB-IF” or the USB-IF logo is one of the ways to check whether a third-party cable is a good choice.
- USB 2.0/3.0/3.1/Thunderbolt 3: Currently, we have cables that could be compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1 (Gen 1 and Gen 2), with the version number defining function and speed. USB 3.2 and USB 4 standards were also introduced recently. The oldest, USB 2.0, offers a theoretical transfer speed of up to 480Mbps. 3.0 and 3.1 Gen 1 boosts that to 5Gbps, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 doubles that. Finally, Thunderbolt 3 is the fastest by far, with an impressive theoretical data transfer speed of 40Gbps.
- Wattage: This gives you an idea of charging speed. USB Power Delivery augments the basic USB charging speeds for up to 100W of output power. The amount of available power is split into different power ratings, which operate at different voltages.
Other factors to consider
- Is the cable compatible with your charger? Checking compatibility is very important when buying a USB cable. Your charger might have a USB-A port. In that case, that is the type of cable (USB-A to USB-C or USB-A to lightning) you’ll need.
- Is the device compatible with the cable and charger? The cable may support faster data transfer and charging speeds, but the device you are using may not. Luckily, backward compatibility isn’t an issue.
- Are charging cables expensive? Cables that meet higher standards are understandably more expensive. If you are simply looking to charge a smartphone, a USB-C (USB 2.0) cable may be more than enough.
- How long should the cable be? Cable length is an important factor as well. You may want a longer cable, but this will impact data transfer speeds. However, you might need a cable that is long enough to keep your phone within reach.
- What material is used? Plastic cables will likely be cheaper, but these are prone to tearing if the cable is mishandled too much. A double-braided nylon cable might survive longer.
The Anker Powerline III Plus is a USB-IF-certified USB-C to USB-C cable that comes in a convenient six-foot length. If you’re talking speed, the PowerLine III Plus supports 60W Power Delivery charging. Even better, the cable is fiber-wrapped from one end to the other and can endure 35,000 bends and tugs.
Another high-speed cable offering from Anker is the Intel-certified Thunderbolt 3 cable. It tops out at speeds of 100W and rapid 40Gbps data transfer. If there’s a drawback, it’s that the Thunderbolt 3 is just 1.6-feet long. The Thunderbolt 3 cable is also backwards compatible with previous generations of USB-C chargers.
The retail giant has jumped into the fastest charging cable game in a big way with various options under the AmazonBasics umbrella. You can grab the double-braided USB-C to USB-C cable with maximum data transfer of 10Gbps and charging speeds of up to three amps. You shouldn’t have to worry about breaking the cable either — the ends have been tested to bend 95 degrees up to 2,000 times.
Every option so far has featured a USB-C to USB-C connection. AmazonBasics is ready for those who don’t have a USB-C charging brick by offering a USB-A to USB-C double-braided cable. It’s available in one-foot and three-foot lengths, and the cable comes in four different colors. AmazonBasics’ USB-A to USB-C charger matches the 10Gbps transfer speed as well as the three amp charging.
Learn more: Even more fast charging cables worth considering
The best portable solar charging accessories
If you’re going on a hike or a long camping trip, you might want to invest in a solar charger. Granted, camping and hiking are ways to connect with nature and take a break from electronics. But it’s definitely nice to have the option if you want to use GPS tracking, especially if something bad happens. However, there are a few things to know before buying a portable solar charger.
The pros and cons of using solar phone chargers
The biggest advantage of using a solar charger is also the most obvious. As long as it’s a bright day outside, you have a power source at the ready. Solar power is also environmental-friendly and an ever-present renewable source of energy. Finally, solar energy is free, and your only investment is the initial cost of the charger itself.
All that sounds fantastic, but there are many reasons solar phone chargers aren’t mainstream and are mainly niche products intended for the outdoorsman. Its advantage also works as a con in certain situations. A solar charger needs light to work. While the efficiency of solar panels has increased a lot over the last decade or so, you might see a reduced output on cloudy days, and it won’t work at all at night.
Charging your phone with a solar charger is also extremely slow. You certainly won’t get anywhere close to the fast-charging speeds you might be used to. Instead, be prepared to have your phone plugged in for at least five to six hours, if not longer if you’re hoping to get a full charge. All said and done, a solar phone charger is great for emergencies so that you can keep in touch with people to let them know your location.
What to look for when buying a solar charger?
- What type of charger is it? You can choose between a direct charger or a battery bank solar charger. The former works by charging the phone when it is plugged in, and the latter lets you store the energy in a power bank and charge the phone when you need it.
- What is the power output? You have to make sure that the charger is powerful enough to charge your smartphone and other devices. A 10W solar charger is an absolute minimum to consider.
- How big is it? Since the solar charger is primarily meant for the outdoors, portability is a concern. The bigger the panel and the more panels, the more charge you’ll get. But it defeats the purpose if the charger is too big or heavy to carry around.
- Will it charge my phone? Compatibility is something you should check when you buy any charging accessories. You shouldn’t have a problem charging most smartphones and tablets, though.
- Are there any special features to know about? You should look for a solar charger with auto-restart technology. What this does is automatically start the charging process again, even if the activity is interrupted by the passage of a cloud or if you’re in the shade.
GoalZero Nomad 28 Plus
Goal Zero’s Nomad 28 Plus charger features an auto-restart ability that knows the difference between a fully charged device and one that has disconnected due to environmental reasons. This charger is also smart enough to optimize the charging output to match the device. There’s an LED indicator on the panel that displays the strength of solar conditions. It also comes with a detachable kickstand that you can use as a natural shade for your charging devices. You can also place devices in the vented pocket that regulates temperature, so your device doesn’t overheat while charging.
Anker Portable Solar Charger
This solar charger from Anker is another great option in the middle price range. Anker’s charger boasts a faster charge for two reasons. First, it has advanced fast-charging technology through PowerIQ; charging speed is up to 2.4A per port or 3A overall under direct sunlight. Second, each solar panel is made up of multiple layers to help increase charging speed. In addition to its compact size, Anker’s solar charger has stainless-steel eye-holes on each corner. This makes it super easy to attach it to a backpack or a tent.
Further reading: More solar chargers worth looking at
Tips to maximize battery life
You can get a handful of charging accessories to make sure that you never have to come face to face with a dying phone battery ever again. However, battery capacity will, unfortunately, decline with age. You’ll already begin to notice a reduction in battery life after using a phone for a year, and it only gets worse after that.
Luckily there are some charging practices you can adopt that will help maximize the life of the battery and the phone. Here’s a quick summary of what you need to know.
What’s the best way to charge your smartphone?
- Avoid full cycle (zero-100%) charging. Instead, top up your phone more regularly with partial charges. Ending a charge at 80% is better for the battery than topping all the way up to 100%. Don’t let the battery drain completely, either.
- Overnight charging is generally a bad idea and certainly not recommended with fast charging technologies. Using a fast charger also degrades the battery quickly.
- Heat is the battery killer. Don’t cover your phone when charging, and keep it out of hot places. If your phone gets uncomfortably warm while playing games or using the camera, stop what you’re doing and let it cool down.
- Turn your phone off when charging if you can, and try not to use it even if it’s on. You definitely shouldn’t play games or watch videos, to avoid mini charging cycles.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Can you bring your charging accessories on a plane?
A: Absolutely. Keep in mind, most regions will not allow you to place lithium batteries in your checked luggage (it’s a fire hazard). If you are going to bring a portable power bank with you on a trip, you’re going to want to bring it via your carry-on or personal bag.
Q: Is it okay to leave a power bank or other accessories in the car?
A: It’s generally a good idea to carry all your charging accessories with you when you leave a car. You should definitely not leave power banks and anything with batteries in the car, particularly in a place where it gets really hot.
Q: Can I leave my phone charging overnight?
A: It’s not recommended to leave your phone charging overnight, and definitely a bad idea if your phone and charger come with fast charging capabilities.
Q: Should I fully charge and drain my phone?
A: Fully charging and draining your phone will cause battery degradation and will affect longevity. Smaller but regular top-ups are the better way to go.
Q: At what percentage should I charge the phone?
A: To maximize the battery’s life, it’s a good idea to charge the phone up to around 80 % and put it back on charge when that drops to around 30.
Q: Can you charge one phone with another?
A: You will not be able to charge one phone with another by simply plugging a charging cable into both phones. Some phones, like the latest flagships from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and OnePlus, come with a power share feature that uses reverse wireless charging. In this case, the phone serves as a Qi charger for another device, like a phone, smartwatch, or wireless earbuds.
Q: Is overcharging bad for the phone?
A: Continuing to charge your phone after it has reached 100 % is a recipe for voltage and temperature stress and creates heat. High temperatures make the battery lose capacity far more quickly than if it was at normal temperatures.
Q: Is fast charging not good for the battery?
A: Fast charging is a great way to quickly and easily charge your phone, but continuous use will definitely cause more degradation. For example, Oppo’s 125W fast charging will cause much faster degradation than the company’s super-fast 65W charging.
Q: Can I charge my phone without electricity?
A: You will be able to charge your phone without electricity by using a power bank. However, the power bank will need to be plugged in and charged once it drains completely. If you don’t have a source of electricity at all, a solar phone charger might help. However, these are extremely slow and generally recommended for emergencies.
Q: Is it okay to leave a charger in a wall unit without a phone plugged in?
A: Leaving a charger plugged in even when it isn’t charging a device will draw some power. This is usually negligible and won’t add a noticeable amount to your electricity bill. However, things could start to add up depending on how many chargers you have, how long they are plugged in, and how much electricity costs where you are.
Q: Is it okay to charge my phone with a laptop charger and vice versa?
A: Many new laptops come with USB-C chargers, and you could potentially charge your phone with them too. A good phone and charger should ensure that the phone draws exactly how much power it needs. Whether you can use your phone charger to charge your laptop depends on the two devices. Some laptops require a 65W charger, which you’ll only get with devices like the Oppo Find X2 Pro.