Hot on the heels of Oppo’s 125W Flash Charging, Qualcomm has lifted the lid on Quick Charge 5. Qualcomm’s latest charging solution offers support for 100W of power and above, as well as backward compatibility with older Quick Charge versions and USB Power Delivery, including the PPS variant. Besides USB Power Delivery, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge is the only other widely supported charging standard, meaning we’ll likely see Quick Charge 5 inside a number of future smartphones from several manufacturers.
In terms of speed, Qualcomm boasts that Quick Charge 5 can power up a 4,500mAh battery to 50% in just 5 minutes and will reach full in less than 15 minutes. That’s a tad faster than Oppo’s 125W solution, but we’re talking by mere minutes here. Qualcomm also touts that version 5 is up to 10°C (50° F) cooler, 70% more efficient, and up to 4x faster than its predecessor.
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However, the exact speeds on offer depend on the implementation inside any given device. Quick Charge 5 supports a variety of input voltages and currents. These range from 3.3V to 20V, with 3A, 5A, and greater than 5A of current supported with the right USB cables. This is all cross-compatible with USB Power Delivery, which Qualcomm uses for device-to-device communication and power handshakes.
Quick Charge 5 scales to over 100W, but exact power depends on the device and cable.
Speaking of compatibility, Quick Charge 5 accessories play nicely with devices sporting any of the previous versions. So hopefully third-party accessory uptake will be quite quick. Just like Quick Charge 4 and 4 Plus, version 5 also works with the iPhone 7 or newer and other USB Power Delivery smartphones. Likewise, Quick Charge 5 smartphones work with all previous generation Quick Charge accessories, but speeds are limited to their older capabilities. So you won’t need to run out to buy new power accessories unless you want the very fastest speeds.
Although the new standard can push power above 100W, many devices will likely end up in the 45W range. This is because 20V charging requires a new (for Quick Charge) dual stack battery design. This is just one of the new features added to Quick Charge 5. Qualcomm now includes dual charge technology to increase charging current while spreading out heat dissipation to keep within existing thermal profiles. This is supported via two new SMB1396 and SMB1398 power management ICs.
Quick Charge 5 also sports a new Smart Identification feature. Qualcomm doesn’t want to rely on adapters alone to communicate their supported charging modes, as they sometimes lie. Smart Identification implements multiple levels of voltage, current, and thermal protection to find a safely supported level of charging.
New features include dual-stack batteries, dual charging channels, and adapter smart identification.
While faster charging sounds great, we’re still not sure on how 100W or greater wattages will impact battery longevity. Just like Oppo, Qualcomm states that Quick Charge devices will retain 80% or more of their battery capacity after 800 charge cycles. When pressed on the issue, the company stated its solution has an almost immeasurable — “maybe just 1%” — impact on battery capacity over time. The reason is that these batteries are built specifically with higher charge rates in mind and are more robust. Quick Charge 5 also allows device and battery manufacturers to plug-in their own power management algorithms to help prolong battery life. Sounds reasonable, but time will tell if there are any major trade-offs.
Overall, Quick Charge 5 is a promising upgrade for those clamoring for ever-faster charge times. The fact that it’s not a gated standard, remains backward compatible, and works with USB Power Delivery helps prevent further fragmentation of the USB-C charging ecosystem. Devices supporting the new standard will appear later in the year, with Xiaomi tipped by Qualcomm to be one of the first onboard.
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