December 28, 2015

Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0: 4 things to know about charging 75 percent faster

By Team Ventev Topic: Tech Specs

Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 first showed up in February 2013, declaring itself “the next generation of fast charging technology for devices” and promising up to 75 percent faster charging than a typical device.

Fast forward two-plus years; a bunch of phones now have it, and the technology is gaining even more momentum. But getting a faster charge isn’t as simple as buying a different charger.

Here’s a quick overview of Quick Charge 2.0.

What is Quick Charge? How does it work?

The basis for Quick Charge technology is the chipset. To reach Quick Charge 2.0 speeds, both the mobile device and the corresponding charger must have an activated chip embedded in their hardware. Without that activated chipset in both the device and charger, Quick Charge can’t happen.

Until Quick Charge, USB cables haven’t been rated for current above 2 amps, meaning device manufacturers have been limited to charging at 5 volts, 1.8 amps. Qualcomm figured out a way to increase power transfer across the wire by increasing voltage instead of amperage. That increased voltage sends more power to your device; more power give you more charge in less time – a quick charge.

Now here’s the catch: Due to the higher voltage, all components must be equipped to handle the increased power. So to work, the circuit in the phone, the circuit in the charger, and the cable must be Quick Charge compatible. A “handshake” is sent from the device to the charger to indicate the device can accept the higher voltage. Then when the Quick Charge is “activated,” your device will charge up to 75 percent faster. Speeds can fluctuate between 5, 9, and 12 volts based on the phone and the chipset inside.

Is it safe?

In short: yes. The only way for your device to receive additional power is if all accessories and the phone or tablet are rated to handle the increased voltage. If any one of these components isn’t compatible, your device will charge at the standard 5 volts. That helps safeguard any component not rated to handle the increased voltage.

Though the voltage is increased, the current is not. Increased current is what makes your phone feel warm when it’s charging. A device with Quick Charge shouldn’t reach a higher temperature than it would during a standard 5-volt charge.

What happens if you connect incompatible devices to a Quick Charge charger?

The result isn’t shocking (sorry). Your device, if not equipped with an active Quick Charge chipset, can’t reach Quick Charge speeds and will charge at its standard rate. Not faster, but still safe.

How can I get it?

You might already have it! There are lots of users who have these devices but don’t know the feature exists. Some manufacturers also use alternative names for this same technology; Motorola calls it “Turbo Charge” while Samsung refers to it as “Adaptive Fast Charge.” You can download a PDF from Qualcomm to see which devices have Quick Charge 2.0. Popular U.S. devices include:

  • Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 5
  • LG G4
  • Droid Turbo by Motorola
  • HTC One (M8 and M9)
  • Nexus 6 from Google
  • Sony Xperia Z3, Z4, and Z5
  • Windows Lumia 950 and 950XL

Unfortunately for those who don’t have a Quick Charge 2.0 device, it’s not as simple as walking into a wireless carrier store and asking for it as an add-on – at least not now. If your mobile device lacks a Quick Charge chip, there’s no way to add one. However, a chip might be embedded in your phone, and the manufacturer could choose to activate it even after you’ve obtained the device – the LG G4 is a primary example of this. So be sure to understand which devices and manufacturers are embracing and embedding the chip technology.

Quick Charge technology often isn’t a primary feature in advertising, so when you’re in the market for a new phone, do some online research or ask your local wireless retailer if the device is Quick Charge-capable before buying.

As for the future of charging, it’s safe to say that manufacturers will continue to explore new and progressive ways to make charging our devices faster and easier. And with the amount of time we spend on our devices, why wouldn’t you want a faster charge?

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