Is that charger good enough for your smartphone? Find out

Published May 4, 2015, 7:11 pm IST
Updated Feb 23, 2016, 2:43 pm IST
You may use your friend’s charger, but is it charging your smartphone quickly?

You head out to your friend’s place and find out that your smartphone is running out of juice. You then plug in your car charger to fill up the smartphone’s battery till you reach, just to find out that your smartphone has just charged by a few per cent. So you ask your friend to lend him his charger and after a few hours on the AC power, you still find out that your smartphone has barely charged by 20 per cent. So what is happening here? Why is your smartphone charging so slowly?

You think it could be an issue with your smartphone and maybe that battery is running out of life. Well, this may not be the actual case. The culprit is the charger and possibly the cable.

 

Every smartphone has a battery. This can range between 1500mAh to 4000mAh and even more, depending on the type of smartphone you own.

Every manufacturer bundles along a charger and a USB cable with the smartphone. These are meant to be used with your smartphone for optimal charging, unless your smartphone has a feature of fast-charging, where you can use higher-rated chargers for quickly juicing up the battery to the max.

Every smartphone’s charger is designed to charge its own smartphone by a specific power value. This is kept in mind the smartphone’s battery rating and the power it uses while charging. Most older smartphones, around two to three years, would ship along with a 5v 500mAh to 5v 850mAh charger. While the voltage required to charge all smartphones are 5 volts in common, their current rating requirements are different. Older smartphones did not need higher ratings to charge the battery, while newer smartphones, that use bigger batteries, need higher (current) rating chargers for speedy charging. Take for example an iPad—it uses a 2A charger at 5V to quickly charge the tablet.  

We took a two-year-old Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone and found that it charges on its own original charger in around two hours. When we put it to charge using an iPad’s charger, the smartphone would get completely juiced up within around an hour. However, when we used the same iPad charger with a USB cable from a Bluetooth speaker the charge time increased by two hours.

As we mentioned earlier, the smartphone company bundles the handset with compatible USB cables and chargers for optimal results. Using a third-party charger can not only cause differences in charge times, but can also put your smartphone at great risk. You could end up with heating smartphones to exploding batteries, causing fatal accidents in the bargain. In order to safely and quickly charge your smartphone, is always recommended that you use your own charger to juice up your handset.

When your smartphone is active and running, it uses a certain amount of power. Depending on the settings on your smartphone to the amount of apps running in the background, the smartphone consumes the power accordingly. For example, a Samsung Galaxy S4 uses around 450ma when running minimal apps and with the screen turned on. So in this case, if you are connecting a 500mAh charger, your smartphone will not charge at all as the amount of power being used is almost similar to the amount of power being supplied by the charger. If you connect a 1A charger in this case, it will also help charge the battery while being used, but slowly. A 1.5A to 2A charger will charge it faster.

If you are still using different chargers for your smartphone, we would recommend that you use an app to find out if that charger is good enough for your smartphone.

Ampere, an Android app available for free on the Google Play Store, will help you find out how much of power is being used by your smartphone and how much of the spare charge from the connected charger is being used for charging it. This will tell you if your charger is good enough for your smartphone to charge or it is as good as simply powering it. The app measures the charging/discharging current of the battery. If your phone is not connected to a charger, you see the discharging current which is negative. If you connect a charger then the current what the charger gives will be used to supply your phone and the remaining power will be charged into the battery. If your phone consumes 300mA without a charger connected (-300mA on the display), then a 500mA charger will charge your battery maximum with 200mA current (200mA on display).

So next time you head out to use your friend’s smartphone charger, your Android app will let you know if it is worth borrowing, or not. The app will also alert you if the charger is giving out a wrong or erratic voltage.

Do note: The Ampere Android app will only inform you about the charging current if the smartphone supports it. Most new-age smartphones are equipped with sensors that can measure the power from the battery and the smartphone. Also, the app developer states that the readings might not be accurate to the dot and should not be used as a final technical reading. 





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