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USB Power Delivery: The fastest way to charge your iPhone and Android device

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Anker 28600 With USB PD

With the introduction of the iPhone 8 and now the iPhone XS/Max and soon to be delivered XR, with their much faster processors and vivid high-resolution displays and always-on connectivity, demands on battery performance are now higher than ever before.

As a recent owner of one of these devices, you may have noticed that while you are on the road, you’re running out of juice quickly. So you’re probably going to need to invest in a portable battery and a faster wall charger.

Also: Here’s how much it costs to charge a smartphone for a year

But not all portable batteries are the same, despite the fact that they might use similar Lithium Polymer (LiPo) and Lithium Ion (Lion) cells for capacity and look very much alike.

Modern smartphone hardware from Apple and various Android manufacturers support much faster charging rates than what was previously supported.

But if you use the charger that comes in the box with the current generation iPhone hardware, or if you just simply buy just any portable battery pack on the market, you’re going to be disappointed.

Ideally, you want to match your charger, battery and even the charging cable to the optimal charging speeds that your device supports.

There are three different high-speed USB charging standards currently on the market, and while all of them will work with your device using a common legacy charge mode, you will ideally want to match up the correct technology in order to optimize the speed in which you can top off your phone, tablet, or even your laptop.

Let’s start by explaining the differences between them.

Legacy USB-A 2.0 and 3.0 charging

If your Android device has the USB Micro B connector (the dreaded fragile trapezoid that’s impossible to connect in the dark) you can fast charge it using an inexpensive USB-A to USB Micro B cable.

If the device and the charge port both support the USB 2.0 standard (pretty much the least common denominator these days for entry-level Android smartphones) you can charge it at 1.5A/5V.

Also: How I learned to stop worrying and love USB Type-C

Some consumer electronics, such as higher-end vape batteries that use the Evolv DNA chipset can charge at 2A.

A USB 3.0/3.1 charge port on one of these batteries can supply 3.0A/5V if the device supports it.

If you are charging an accessory, such as an inexpensive pair of wireless earbuds or another Bluetooth device, and it doesn’t support either of the USB-A fast charging specs, it will slow charge at either 500mA or 900mA which is about the same you can expect from directly connecting it to most PCs.

Mode Voltage Max Current Connector
USB PD Variable up to 20V 5A USB-C
USB Type-C 3A 5V 3.0A USB-C
USB Type-C 1.5A 5V 1.5A USB-C
QC 4.0 (USB-PD Compatible) Variable up to 20V 4.6A USB-C
QC 3.0 Variable up to 20V 4.6A USB-A/USB-C
QC 2.0 5V, 9V, 12V, 20V 2A USB-A
USB BC 1.2 5V 1.5A USB-A
USB 3.1 5V 900mA USB-A
USB 2.0 5V 500mA USB-A

Many of the portable batteries on the market have both USB-C and multiple USB-A ports. Some of them have USB-A ports which can deliver the same voltage, while others feature one fast (2.4A) and one slow (1A).

So you will want to make sure you plug the device into the battery port which can charge it at the fastest rate if you want to top off the device as quickly as possible.

USB Power Delivery

USB Power Delivery (USB PD) is a relatively new fast charge standard which was introduced by the USB Implementers Forum, the creators of the USB standard.

It is an industry-standard open specification that provides high-speed charging with variable voltage up to 20V using intelligent device negotiation up to 5A at 100W.

It scales all the way up from smartphones to notebook computers provided they use a USB-C connector and a USB-C power controller on the client and host.

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Sample charging times using USB PD technology (Source: Belkin)

Batteries and wall chargers which employ USB PD have the ability to charge devices up to 100W output using a USB-C connector — however, most output at 30W because that is on the upper range of what most smartphones and tablets can handle, whereas laptops require adapters and batteries that can output at a higher wattage.

Apple introduced USB PD charging with iOS devices with the launch of the 2015 iPad Pro 12.9″ and with OS X laptops in the MacBook Pro as of 2016. The iPhone 8, the iPhone X and XS/Max can rapid charge with USB PD using any USB PD charging accessory — you don’t have to use Apple’s OEM USB-C 29W or its 61W power adapters — but it requires that you use Apple’s OEM MKQ42AM/A (1m ) or MD818ZM/A (2m) USB-C to Lightning cables which unfortunately are a tad expensive at around $19-$35 from various online retailers.

Personally, I buy mine from Amazon but your mileage may vary.

apple-usbc-to-lightning.jpgapple-usbc-to-lightning.jpg

Apple OEM USB-C to Lightning Cable. The only fast charge cable for iPhones that currently works.

There are cheaper 3rd-party USB-C to Lightning cables, but none of the ones we have tested on the market will charge current generation iOS devices at full speed — they can’t do better than 2.4A because Apple uses a special integrated circuit in their cables for power negotiation.

We are expecting to see 3rd-party MFI-certified USB-C to Lightning cables — hopefully less expensive than Apple’s OEM cable — by the end of Q4 of 2018, so watch this space.

We would also like to mention Belkin because although they do not have a USB PD battery solution or MFI-certified USB-C cables yet, they do have some excellent USB PD wall charging and 12V car charger solutions which are much more cost-competitive than the OEM Apple 29W USB-C charger.

Qualcomm Quick Charge

Qualcomm, whose Snapdragon SoCs are used in a number of popular smartphones and tablets, has its own fast-charging standard, Quick Charge, which has been through multiple iterations.

The current implementation is Quick Charge 4.0 which is backward-compatible with older Quick Charge accessories and devices. Unlike USB PD, Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0 can be delivered using the USB-A connector. Quick Charge 4.0 is exclusive to USB-C.

Quick Charge 4.0 is only present in phones which use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835/845 which can be found in the US version of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9, OnePlus 6, HTC U11, LG V30, Moto Z2 Force, the Google Pixel 2 XL and upcoming Pixel 3 XL.

ravpower-26000.jpgravpower-26000.jpg

RavPower 26000mAh with Quick Charge 3.0


ZDNet

The Xiaomi Mi 6, Xiaomi Mix 2, ZTE Nubia Z17, and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium also use QC 4.0, but they aren’t sold in the US market currently. Huawei’s phones utilize their own Kirin 970/980 chips which use their own Supercharge standard but they are backward compatible with the 18W USB PD standard.

Like USB PD, QC 3.0 and QC 4.0 are variable voltage technologies and will intelligently ramp up your device for optimal charging speeds and safety. However, Quick Charge 3.0 and 4.0 differ from USB PD in that it has some additional features for thermal management and voltage stepping with the Snapdragon 820/821/835/845 in order to optimize for reduced heat footprint while charging.

Also: The 6 best portable battery chargers for smartphones and tablets TechRepublic

It also uses a different variable voltage selection and negotiation protocol than USB PD which Qualcomm advertises as better/safer for its own SoCs.

And for devices which use Qualcomm’s current chipsets, Quick Charge 4.0 is about 25 percent faster than Quick Charge 3.0. The company advertises five hours of usage time on the device for five minutes of charge time.

However, while it is present in (some of ) the wall chargers that ship with the devices themselves, and a few 3rd-party solutions, Quick Charge 4 is not in any battery products yet. The reason for this is that it is not just competing with USB Power Delivery, is also compatible with USB Power Delivery.

Qualcomm’s technology and ICs have to be licensed at considerable additional expense to the OEMs, whereas USB PD is an open standard.

If you compound this with the fact that Google itself is recommending OEMs conform to USB-PD over Quick Charge for Android-based products, it sounds like USB PD is the way to go, right?

Well, sort of. If you have a Quick Charge 3.0 device, definitely get a Quick Charge 3.0 battery. But if you have a Quick Charge 4.0 device or an iOS device, get at USB PD battery, for now.

Which Battery?

Now that you understand the fundamental charging technologies, which battery to buy?

Vendor Model Tech Capacity
/mAh
Port 1 Port 2 Port 3 Port 4 MSRP
RavPower RP-PB058 USB PD 26800 USB-A USB-A USB-C (30W) USB-Micro-B (Input) $79.99
Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD* USB PD 26800 USB-A USB-A USB-C (30W) * $119.99
RavPower RP-PB043 QC 3.0 20100 USB-A USB-A (QC 3.0) USB-C (18W) USB-Micro-B (Input) $49.99
RavPower RP-PB059 USB PD 20100 USB-A USB-A USB-C (30W) USB-Micro-B (Input) $69.99
Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD* USB PD 20100 USB-A USB-C (30W) * * $99.00
Anker PowerCore II 20000 QC 3.0 20000 USB-A (18W) USB-A (18W) * * $49.99
Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL USB PD 19500 USB-A USB-C (30W) * * $149.95
Mophie Powerstation Plus XL USB PD 12000 USB-A (15W) USB-C (18W) * * $99

* Two Anker models — PowerCore+ 26800 PD and PowerCore Speed 20000 PD — are the only two models to include a wall charger.

We’ve tested a bunch of these and we’ve essentially narrowed it down to two: The RAVPower RP-PB058 for USB PD (newest iPhones and newest Androids) and the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 for Quick Charge 3.0 (Previous generation Androids). Both are 26800mAh batteries with huge charge capacity.

Also: Mophie 30-day wireless challenge: Staying powered up without a cable connection

Anker’s product is more expensive but it comes with a USB-C QC 3.0 wall charger that can be used with the battery or direct charge a QC 3.0 compatible device, whereas the RAVPower we have seen on the street as low as $60 with wide market availability and with Amazon Prime promotions, so be sure to shop around because that is a great value at that price.

Anker also has a USB PD version of the PowerCore+ 26800 bundle but it is not as easy to find. We suspect the company is working on a new product revision compatible with USB PD and QC 4.0 and it will be out after the holidays — but if you see the current model on sale, jump on it. We particularly like the metal case design and the large illuminated power stud button that is easy to feel even in the dark.

41vqkjl6avl.jpg41vqkjl6avl.jpg

ZMI 20000 USB PD


ZDNet

Both of these companies sell equivalent USB PD and QC 3.0 products including compatible wall chargers (see Anker and RavPower). As with Apple’s own OEM accessories, it isn’t necessary to match brands when pairing a wall charger with a USB PD or QC 3.0 battery.

However, because of licensing, the QC 3.0 ones appear to be priced more expensively — so unless you have a QC 3.0 compatible device, we suggest you stay with USB PD charging accessories for now.

A product that we did not mention in earlier drafts of this article is the ZMI 20000 mAh USB PD Backup Battery which along with its USB PD wall charger is currently on promotion at Amazon.

If you buy both of these products together, Amazon will apply a promotional discount, which makes the combined price $89.90 which is less than what Anker and RavPower offer their equivalent battery/charger bundles for.

Also: Mophie Powerstation Plus XL and XXL portable batteries: One Lightning cable to rule them all

This particular product has the distinction of having both USB PD and QC 3.0 capabilities, has a 45W USB PD output for charging everything up to laptops, and can also act as a daisy-chained USB 2.0 hub, so it is a particularly good buy. ZMI makes OEM products for Xiaomi, a huge Chinese smartphone manufacturer which like Huawei, has yet to find US carrier distribution yet.

Two other products we would like to mention are the Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL and the Mophie Powerstation AC.

The USB-C XXL is a very nice looking battery as it integrates a fabric wrap over the polycarbonate casing so it’s pleasant to the touch — and it fully supports USB PD at 30W.

Its big brother is the Powerstation AC, which in addition to a USB-C PD and USB-A port, also has a 110VAC/100W port to supply power to virtually anything that uses standard 110V plugs, including legacy laptops and other electronic devices.

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Yahoo has built a new calendar app called Day, and it’s recruited the co-founder of Sunrise to design it – TechCrunch

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When it comes to online calendars and calendar apps, services like Google Calendar and Outlook from Microsoft rule the roost with hundreds of millions of users globally. Now another company is hoping to ruffle some feathers with its own move into the space. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Yahoo is working on called Day, a new standalone calendar app. Sources tell us the company has recruited Jeremy Le Van — who had co-founded another calendaring app, Sunrise, and eventually sold it to Microsoft for over $100 million to make it the backbone of Microsoft’s own very popular calendar platform in Outlook — to help design it.

Many lamented the sunset of Sunrise; now it looks like they might now have a shot at getting Sunrise 2.0, so to speak.

(Disclaimer: Yahoo happens to be owned by the same company as TechCrunch.)

“We are exploring different ways to better serve consumers and that includes new ideas around mobile-first time management, calendar and events,” a Yahoo spokesperson said in response to our question.

The service is currently in an invite-only closed alpha as it gears up for a bigger launch (you can also sign up on the site).

Calendars serve as the backbone for how many of us organize our days, whether it’s for work or leisure. And arguably, the more our activities, and the planning of them, move to digital platforms, the more powerful calendars can become, too.

This means that for platforms, having a calendar feature or app as part of a bigger service is a good way of keeping users engaged on the wider platform, and it’s a way for the platform to glean more knowledge about user behavior. Google’s Calendar, for example, is very tightly, and often automatically, integrated with its wider suite of productivity and information services, giving the company one more spoke in its wheel to keep users sticking around.

And it’s not only Yahoo that might be interested in doing more here. Facebook acquired Redkix in 2018 allegedly to bring more calendar and other productivity tools to Workplace. In the end, Workplace integrates with existing offerings from third parties, and so it doesn’t have its own standalone calendar app. Facebook also doesn’t have a standalone calendar feature in the main consumer app, either. But with people planning so much else on Facebook’s properties (not just through Events on Facebook, but across Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger), it seems that it’s an area it could feasibly still expand into at some point.

Yahoo itself, in fact, already has a pared-down calendar widget that you can access through Yahoo Mail. It’s not clear how popular it is, especially since it’s very easy these days to integrate one’s email to most other calendar apps.

The question, then, will be how Day might hope to differentiate itself, and how it will hope to compete.

From what we understand, in contrast to how Google, Microsoft or even Yahoo itself currently integrate calendar features into their wider productivity suites, this isn’t the approach that Yahoo is taking with Day.

The app is being built by people in its Mail team, but it’s being treated “like a startup” in the operation, we’ve heard, and has been given license to develop it independently: it has no special Yahoo branding, nor with any Yahoo integrations whatsoever. The plan is to keep it separate, not unlike the many calendar apps — like Sunrise once was — that exist in app stores, and make it something that can integrate with whatever other email or other tools that a person users. Over time there also may be efforts to use Mail — which still has around 200 million users — to help market Day.

The move underscores how Yahoo — which has effectively lost out to Google in areas like search, email, video and advertising — believes that with the right approach, there is still room for more innovation in this crowded market, even as it has a number of misses in its history of trying to do just that in other areas, like messaging.

But as we noted in a recent story about Calendly — a $3 billion startup that’s proven to be a big hit with people who need to schedule meetings — calendar apps can be challenging for another reason. They are well-used, yes, but also somewhat under the radar: calendars are never the destination for a person, just a place to mark when, how, and with whom you will get there. Can there be more ways of enhancing that basic functionality?

Yahoo seems to believe there are, and that people will want to use an app that does so.

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Twitter accelerates again with Bitcoin tips, NFTs, recorded Spaces, creator fund and more – TechCrunch

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Twitter’s slate of new product announcements is not slowing down. The company today introduced a number of new initiatives aimed at better serving the conversations and community using its platform, including support for tipping with crypto, NFT authentication, and plans for other experiments designed to provide more context about a conversation to those just joining in. The company also said it’s preparing to launch its own creator fund in a few weeks to provide audio creators with access to financial, technical, and marketing support.

While Twitter was not yet ready to details specifics like the fund size or expected reach, in terms of creator participants, it’s a clear shot across the bow of a top competitor in social audio, Clubhouse, whose own creator “accelerator” offered to connect its participants with brand deals or $5,000 per month during their participation in its program.

Similarly, Twitter views its creator fund as one not aimed at rewarding creators for the content they produce — like some rival funds running across Facebook, Instagram, Snap, and elsewhere — but rather at helping creators get started with audio productions on Twitter Spaces.

“The goal of it really is to provide that technical and marketing expertise,” noted Twitter Product Lead for Creator Monetization, Esther Crawford. “We think of it as kind of a stopgap solution. We want to onboard these folks into other long-term monetization features. But we want to give them an initial boost,” she said.

Spaces hosts will also be able to record and replay their programs — a move likely meant to counteract the threat of competitive platforms which tout recording as a key differentiator. This will launch in a “few months,” the company said.

Twitter also today announced a few new products and expansions to recently launched features.

One of these is a new feature that would allow its app to better serve creators working with NFTs, or non-fungible tokens — a way to certify digital assets, stored on the blockchain. Artists are now creating NFTs of their work which are sold across NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, Rarible, Foundation, SuperRare, and others.

Twitter says it’s planning to “soon” explore support for NFT authentication. This would allow NFT creators to connect their crypto wallets to Twitter, in order to track and showcase their NFTs on the platform. This particular plan is still in the early stages as Twitter couldn’t yet articulate how this would work. The company said it was testing different ideas for making creators with authenticated collections stand out more visually somehow — perhaps with something like a profile badge or differently-shaped avatar.

When pressed for further details on its broader NFT roadmap, Twitter declined to comment.

Another new feature in the crypto space is support for Bitcoin tipping. Twitter first introduced its “Tip Jar” feature in May as a beta product, allowing users to send and receive one-time payments via third-party services like PayPal, Venmo, Patreon, Cash App, Bandcamp, and others. Now the feature will expand to global audiences on iOS with Android coming soon, and will add support for tipping with Bitcoin.

There will be a couple of ways Bitcoin tips can work. Users will be able to add a Bitcoin Lightning wallet or their Bitcoin address in order to start receiving Bitcoin tips. Lightning wallets are popular among users in the crypto community due to their lower transaction fees, the company said. Twitter’s implementation of this uses Strike, a payments application built on the Bitcoin Lightning Network that allows people to send and receive Bitcoin free and instantly, it said.

In fact, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey this summer tweeted that it was “only a matter of time” before Twitter built in support for the Lightning Network, a layer atop the Bitcoin blockchain, into its platform. At the time, there was some speculation that users would first see this sort of support in a micropayments product, which has now been proven correct.

The Tip Jar will also add a few other services as well, including GoFundMe.

Another new experiment called “Heads Up,” is the first that will help to give users a sense of a conversation’s vibe before they wade in.

One of Twitter’s thorniest issues is its inability to help people feel safe sharing their thoughts and opinions on its network, which has served as a breeding ground for cancel culture, and where armies of trolls can descend on marginalized voices or others they disagree with at any time — like activists, women in tech (as was made famous with the Gamergate scandal), or female journalists.

In this area, Twitter has worked to create new features like those that enable users to limit who can reply to their tweets, which it says has contributed to a decline in abuse reports over the past four weeks.

It’s also launched Safety Mode into beta, which offers a sort of automated level of protection against harassment during a time of heightened abuse. It created a way for people to quietly remove followers as an alternative blocking. And today, Twitter says it will soon launch a new feature that will allow users to remove themselves from a conversation they’re mentioned in and is experimenting with a new feature called “word filters” that would let users stop abusive tweets that don’t cross the line into being against Twitter policy.

Twitter didn’t fully explain how it will measure a conversation’s vibe in the coming “Heads Up” feature, in order to warn newcomers about the nature of the discussion. But said it was considering leveraging data from its emoji reactions (which are only now in testing) and reply prompts, which warn users when they’re about to post something potentially offensive.

The company has been launching new products at an incredibly fast clip in recent months, with additions that have included a rapidly improved Twitter Spaces audio chat platform, the launch of interest-based “Communities,” creator platform Super Follows, newsletters via its acquisition of Revue, tipping, a premium subscription service called Twitter Blue, crowdsourced fact-checking with Birdwatch, new e-commerce features, new profiles and labels, a reopened account verification system, conversation controls, Direct Message improvements, and more.

Today, it offered a few updates on a handful of these products.

It said it’s working on more Spaces discovery tools that would make it easier to find Spaces at the top of the timeline, and elsewhere in the app — a likely reference to the dedicated Spaces tab on mobile. It’s also expanding access to Ticketed Spaces, improving the discovery of newsletters, launching a new creator earnings dashboard, and working on more account labels — like those brands and those that would help memorialize the accounts of the deceased — among other things.

 

More broadly, Twitter attempted to explain its strategy, which is increasingly looking like “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.” In fact, it admitted — to some extent —  it may be doing just that.

“You’ll keep seeing us push towards this vision through experimentation and iteration,” explained Twitter Head of Consumer Product, Kayvon Beykpour. “You’ll see us share our progress publicly along the way, as we have over the last few years. And you won’t see us stay tied to the things that aren’t working. We’ve done that with Fleets and you’ll continue to see that with other explorations we test out. We believe that if we’re not winding things down every once in a while, then we’re not taking big enough bets,” he said.

Image credits: Twitter 

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Facebook stock drops after company warns Apple’s privacy changes to have bigger Q3 impact – TechCrunch

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Facebook today provided an update on how Apple’s privacy changes have impacted its ad business. The company had already warned investors during its second quarter earnings that it expected to feel an even more significant impact in its ad targeting business by Q3. This morning, it reiterated that point, but also noted that it had been underreporting iOS web conversions by approximately 15%, which had led advertisers to believe the impact was even worse than they had expected.

According to Facebook’s announcement published to its business blog, this exact percentage could vary broadly among individual advertisers. But it said the real-world conversions, including things like sales and app installs, are likely higher than what advertisers are seeing when using Facebook’s analytics.

Facebook’s stock has dropped by nearly 4% on this news, as of the time of writing.

This is not the first time Facebook has shared misleading metrics. In the past, however, it had inflated its video ad metrics and didn’t quickly act to correct the problem, leading to a class-action lawsuit. In this case, however, the issue with the metrics isn’t making Facebook look better than it is, but worse. The company noted it’s been hearing from its advertising community that they are seeing a larger-than-planned impact to their ad investments on the network, raising concerns.

Facebook offered advertisers a few tips to help them better understand a campaign’s impact and performance in this new era. It suggested waiting a minimum of 72 hours or the full length of the optimization window before evaluating performance rather than making assessments on a daily basis, as before. It also said advertisers should analyze reporting at the campaign level, when possible, as some estimated conversations are reported with a delay. And it suggested advertisers choose web events (like a purchase or sign-up) that are most aligned with their core business, among other things.

To address the issues with improving its measurements, Facebook said it’s working to improve its conversion modeling, accelerating its investments to address reporting gaps, launching new capabilities to track web conversions, and extending its ability to measure in-app conversions in apps that have already been installed. The company said it would work quickly to fix bugs, including one that recently had led to underreporting of approximately 10%, which was previously shared with advertisers.

The company in August explained how it’s been working to adapt its personalized ads business in light of both Apple and Google’s privacy changes and the new regulatory landscape, but those efforts will take time, it said.

Outside of the ad tech updates themselves, Facebook has also been working on new products that would allow advertisers to better position themselves in front of consumers browsing Facebook’s apps. Just last week, for instance, it revamped its business tool lineup with the introduction of new features and expansions of smaller tests that would offer businesses more ways to be discovered. One such test in the U.S. would direct consumers to other businesses and topics directly underneath news feed posts. It also now allows businesses to add WhatsApp buttons to their Instagram profiles and create ads that send Instagram users to WhatsApp business chats.

Facebook has been warning advertisers for some time that Apple’s new privacy features, which allow mobile users to opt out of being tracked across their iOS apps, would cause issues for the way its ad targeting business typically operated. And it repeatedly argued that Apple’s changes would impact small businesses that relied on Facebook ads to reach their customers. When the changes went into effect, Facebook’s concerns were validated as studies found very few consumers are opting into tracking on iOS.

 

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