Apple’s ‘fast’ iPhone 8 charger isn’t as quick as you think

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charger
The MacBook's USB-C charger won't charge your iPhone much faster.
Photo: Maurizio Pesce/Flickr CC

The iPhones 8 and X both support Apple’s “fast-charging” option, which has been available on the iPad Pro since the first 13-inch model. Fast charging lets you use a powerful USB-C charger, along with a USB-C-to-Lightning cable, to charge your iPhone quicker than you can with the standard iPhone or iPad chargers.

But is it worth the $75 that those accessories will cost? Is charging really so much faster? According to tests run by software engineer and startup investor Dan Loewenherz, the answer is no.

Testing the fast charger

Everything is faster than the little iPhone charger.
Everything is faster than the little iPhone charger.
Photo: Dan Loewenherz/Twitter

Loewenherz charged his iPhone 8 plus with various chargers, and recorded the times it took for the battery to reach 50 percent. As you can see from his chart, the so-called fast-charge method isn’t really that much quicker.

The slowest is the standard 5-watt charger that Apple puts in the box with every iPhone. The only good thing about these it that they are small. Anyone who owns an iPad as well as an iPhone probably already uses their iPad charger, which is way faster, thanks to doubling the power it supplies — 10 watts or 12 watts, depending on the model.

But the most interesting part of Loewenherz’s chart comes when he moves to higher-powered chargers. Apple’s own support page on iPhone 8 fast-charging says that using its own 29 watt, 61 watt or 87 watt USB-C power adapters (also used with compatible MacBook models) will charge the iPhone “up to 50 percent in 30 minutes.” And that’s true. It’s just that using an iPad charger only takes a few more minutes to reach 50 percent.

These fast chargers are better suited for Macs, and for the big iPads, which have huge batteries that really can take a while to charge. But for the iPhone, they seem pointless.

Not worth its high price

And one more thing, if you’re thinking you might just buy the charger anyway. Apple’s 29 watt USB‑C Power Adapter will cost you $50. Then, you’ll need a USB-C to Lightning cable to hook it up, which is another $25. That’s $74 that would probably be better spent on a battery case or a backup battery that would be way more useful than saving a few minutes on a charging cycle.

  • emcampbe

    Here’s what I don’t understand: on the laptop side, Apple is going full-speed ahead and switching everything to USB-C. But new iPhones, even months after releasing new MacBook Pros with only USB-C connectors, don’t come with those – they need a USB-C to lightning adaptor. Why not change the iPhone plug to USB-C, or at least have a USB-C or Lightning option. Im ok with new plug types and needing adaptors to connect to older plugs, which weren’t available when new ones came out. By why on earth would you bring out a new phone, and not use he new plugs that shiny new laptops get?

    • RyanTV

      Simple – because Apple wouldn’t profit from USB-C. They get a piece of every certified Lightning cable and accessory.