6 ways to charge your iPhone

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iPhone charge
Charging -- not just about cables any more.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Charging an iPhone used to be so simple. You’d grab your 30-pin dock connector cable, the one that was almost as big as an AirPods charging case, and you’d jam it into the huge slot on the bottom of your iPhone. Then you’d wait.

Today, the kids don’t know how easy they have it. They can plug in a svelte, skinny Lightning cable to charge their iPhones, but they can also opt for several other ultra-modern (and probably fashionable) charging methods. Hell, even the olde worlde cable method has some high-tech, high-speed alternatives.

Let’s get right into it. Here are six different ways you can charge your iPhone.

Regular Lightning USB charger

10-Ft. MFi-Certified Braided Lightning Cable Packs
One for the office, one for the car and one for the home.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

This is the default option. You take the little charger from the iPhone box, plug everything in, and wait. You also can use pretty much any USB charger or USB port. If you do, though, you should be aware that malware can live inside USB chargers. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to protect yourself. Either buy a “USB condom” — in which case you’ll need to research whether the condom itself is dodgy — or make your own.

Charge iPhone from iPad

Lightning cables that plug into USB-C ports charge your iPhone more quickly.
Lightning cables that plug into USB-C ports charge your iPhone more quickly.
Photo: Apple

If you have an iPad Pro, you can use it to charge your iPhone. This is probably only useful in emergencies, but in an emergency, you’ll be happy you can do it. The downside is that you’ll need a Lightning-to-USB-C cable to do it. Avoid the Apple version, though, and get one from Anker:

Buy from: Amazon — $10.99

USB-C port

Apple's iPad USB-C charger works just fine with the iPhone -- if you have the right cable
Apple’s iPad USB-C charger works just fine with the iPhone — if you have the right cable.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Now that you have a USB-C-to-Lightning cable, you can charge your iPhone from any USB-C port, whether on a charger, a power pack or a computer. And the best news is that recent-vintage iPhones will charge at a higher speed. In fact, if you often need to quickly top up your iPhone, this is a great option to keep handy.

Fast-charge battery pack

Now that we’re onto USB-C, let’s consider power packs, aka backup batteries. You can grab any old battery pack and get away with it. However, if you go for a USB-C version with Power Delivery, then you can fast-charge your iPhone if you use that Lightning-to-USB-C cable. In fact, this is probably the best use of iPhone fast-charging, because hooking things up on the go is a major mess. I like this ZMI PowerPack 20000:

Buy from: Amazon — $68.99

Qi pad

Charge your iPhone using the force ... of Qi.
Charge your iPhone using the force … of Qi.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Finally, we come to the Qi charging pad. It’s easy to be skeptical of these — they’re slower than a cable, they’re inefficient and they can fail to fully charge the iPhone if you don’t place it just right. But once you’ve used one, it will change how you think about charging. I now top up my battery a little at a time and often, instead of overnight.

I also keep the charge levels under 90% unless I’m planning an all-day trip away from power. After all, why stress the battery by squeezing it full when you don’t need to? Also, you can charge your AirPods on the same little mats (assuming they’re in a wireless charging case).

Bonus: Using a Qi battery pack

How about a battery pack that you don’t have to plug in? The Energizer Ultimate 10000 wireless portable charger, for instance, comes with a Qi pad on top so you can just rest your iPhone on it. (If you need to juice it on the go, just wrap a rubber band around the entire package. Or you can plug into its USB-C or USB-A ports.)

Buy from: Amazon — $39.99

iPhone charging got complicated

As you can see, charging got a lot more complicated over the last few years. It also got faster, safer and easier. I like that I can recharge my iPhone in almost any situation. But what I like most is that I never have to look at that terrible old 30-pin dock connecter ever again.