The battle for the best Quick Charge (video)

Over the years since smartphones became a “thing”, specifications have been on a continual march upward. Processors have gotten faster (from megahertz in the hundreds to gigahertz in the plural), they’ve also added cores (with quad- and even octa-cores being commonplace). RAM has increased from a few dozen MB to a few GB. Storage has increased. Data speeds are through the roof! One area that hasn’t seen much improvement over the years is battery capacity.

Though battery capacities may still be lagging, OEMs are doing the next best thing: decreasing our charge times. I’m Joe Levi with Pocketnow, let’s take a look at today’s quick charge technologies that promise us the power we need – just when we need it.

I got my first taste of quick charging with Google’s Motorola-made Nexus 6 and its Turbo Charger. Prior to that experience, I was firmly entrenched in the Qi-wireless charging camp. Though relatively slow, the convenience of Qi let me charge my phone whenever I set it down, using this “downtime” to top off my phone’s battery. Quick charging changed all that.

Qualcomm Quick Charge

Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0Qualcomm began cooking “quick charge” into its chips back in 2012. The intent? Standardize a method to charge devices faster. Quick Charge 1.0 was devised and enabled phones to charge using 2-Amp chargers – much faster than the 500mA (0.5A) that USB 1 and 2 provided. Even USB 3.0 only formally supports up to 900mA (0.9A).

Qualcomm Quick Charge 1.0 seemed to be more an afterthought than a selling point. Though many phones (over 70) included the feature, few included it on their spec sheets. Qualcomm’s first iteration attempted to be backwards compatible (and succeeded), but this limited its upward capabilities – and ultimately gave birth to version 2.0. To achieve full charging speeds, a Quick Charge 2.0 enabled device must be paired with a Quick Charge 2.0 certified adapter.

Samsung Adaptive Fast Charge

note 3 back 3Back when Samsung released its Note 3 phablet, it included a micro-USB 3.0 port. This double-wide port and relatively rigid cable helped decrease charge times, but required a special cable and compatible charger or USB port to accelerate the charging. Needless to say, it didn’t stick around very long.

Subsequently, Samsung has gotten into the quick charging game, too, using it’s “Adaptive Fast Charge” technology and chargers designed for that standard instead of Qualcomm’s standard. It’s impressive, too. The Galaxy S6 Edge can be charged with up to up to four hours of use with only 10 minutes on its proprietary charger.

OPPO VOOC Flash Charge

OPPO VOOC chargingThe most recent entrant into the quick charging race is OPPO with its VOOC Flash Charge technology. Like the other charging technologies, VOOC is based on 5-volt DC power. However, like the other quick chargers, the ways OPPO reduced charge time is by boosting the amperage and voltage through a special charger. The challenge OEMs face when boosting voltage and amperage is with resistance, heat, and managing the two in a manner that will enable quick charging without making your battery explode.

OPPO accomplishes this by increasing the number of pins delivering power to the battery in its latest devices to 8 (most batteries only have four), and the number of pins in the cable to 7. Obviously, this means you’ll need special cables. OPPO has colored the inside of its VOOC chargers and cables green to help you identify them.

OPPO has also moved the charging controller to the adapter, thereby moving the heat generated by that circuit to the adapter rather than inside the phone which results in a cooler phone while charging. To prevent users from damaging devices that are not equipped with VOOC technology, OPPO’s chargers are able to recognize compatible devices, and use standard charging in those cases.

Comparisons

How do the three “standards” stack up?

After 30 minutes of charging the results are obvious: OPPO is the clear winner. Unlike other devices, OPPO can Flash Charge with the screen on, too. After 60 minutes, well, it’s pretty much “game-over” for our battery life woes.

  OPPO N3 Galaxy S6 Nexus 6 LG G Flex 2 iPhone 6+
screen off 30-minutes 72% 56% 41% 30% 21%
screen on 30-minutes 71% 25% 35%   12%
screen off 60-minutes 96% 93% 80% 65% 40%

Conclusions

OPPO’s VOOC is the latest player in the quick charging “game”, as you’d probably expect, it’s in the lead – for now. What’s more important here is that we have players from three different camps that have all recognized the need for a better way to charge our phones. They’ve come with with three similar – yet significantly different – methods to solve that problem.

So, although our battery capacities still haven’t caught up with the other specs in our modern handhelds, our chargers certainly have!

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.