Posted by: kurtsh | March 19, 2015

HOWTO: Accelerate the charging of your Windows Phone (& other USB-connected peripherals)

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Did you know that the USB charger you use as well as the USB cable can make a dramatic difference in how fast your phone gets charged?

Most people know that cheap dual USB port wall chargers will often split the amperage available between each port, so if both ports are in use, instead of delivering 2.1A to each device as you would expect, you only get 1A to each.  Thus it’s important to find USB chargers that deliver a true 2.1A to each port.

This however is not what I’m talking about.

BACKGROUND: MY PANTECH’S USB 2.1A CHARGER
This all started when I discovered that the Pantech USB 2.1 charger is the single fastest charger I own.  It charges at a rate that is 2-3x faster than any other USB charger I have in my arsenal.  This was repeatedly documented by the logs/reporting that my Battery monitor app for Windows Phone did.

I asked the electronics experts in the Windows Phone User Group I run what was up.  What they explained was enlightening.

#1: VOLTAGE REGULATOR MODULE
According to Dan Dickerson, an engineer in our group, USB chargers that come equipped with better Voltage Regulator Modules (VRMs) that can dissipate heat (or have a heat sink on them) well, can charge much better and more consistently than those with cheap VRMs.  These tend to get warm when charging as a result of charging at a higher rate than cheaper units.

The Pantech chargers I’ve been using fall into this category.  The problem is determining how well power is being pushed to your phone from them & what other chargers have high quality VRMs in them.

imageThere are intermediary testing devices that will measure the power coming out of your USB adapter & cable to your device.  If you notice that the power being delivered is less than the expected 2.1A, these devices won’t tell you what component is limiting the charge but you at least know that something is causing a weak charge. 

John Hung, a IT consultant in our group, recommended a few of these USB power testing devices that you might find useful:

Here’s a few chargers that provide high quality VRMs:

#2: DATA-SYNC MODE OR CHARGE-ONLY MODE
Apparently, if the device is connected using a data-ready cable, the device-to-be-charged can assume that it should be syncing data as well as charging.  This results in a substantially lowered charge rate. 

As a result, it is possible to do one of 2 things:

#3: SHORT vs LONG CABLES, 17 GAUGE vs 28 GAUGE
Simply put, the shorter the cable, the least resistance there is.  The thicker the cable, the more power it can push through it.  You can easily test this yourself using the meters reference above in point #1. 

It becomes very obvious that short, thick cabling is the best when it comes to USB charging performance.  If you need to get traditional charge & sync cabling (standard USB cables), I’ve found that Amazon Basic’s cabling is quite good as is PortaPow’s.


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