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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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5 tips for brands that want to succeed in the new era of influencer marketing – TechCrunch

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If I told you a decade ago that a spin bike would be a social community, you’d have had a good laugh. But that’s precisely what Peloton is: A spin bike with a social community where the instructors are the influencers.

Peloton is just one example of how social is being integrated into every aspect of the customer experience in an increasingly digital world. Whether it’s considering a new restaurant to check out, a movie to see or a product to buy, most people look at reviews before making a final decision. They want social proof as an indicator of quality and relevance.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust. Indeed, social validation is what social platforms are built on, so it’s a significant component of how we derive relevance online — and the deeper integration of social is changing the dynamic between brands and digital creators.

The shifting economy of creator monetization

Brand sponsorships are the holy grail for creators hoping to monetize their online influence. According to an eMarketer report, brand partnerships are still the No. 1 source of revenue for most digital creators.

However, digital creators have a lot more monetization options to choose from, thanks to Patreon, affiliate platforms, paid content platforms and platform revenue sharing, making it easier to earn a living without relying so heavily on brand sponsorships.


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As a result, creators are diversifying their revenue streams, which, for some creators, allows them to be more selective about the brands they work with. What’s more, creators aren’t reliant on just one channel or one form of revenue.

YouTube creators probably have the most diversified revenue, often combining brand sponsorships, subscription models, affiliate deals, tipping/donations, their line of branded products and revenue share. However, it’s important to note that not all monetization options apply to every creator. But with so many options to choose from, making a living as a digital creator is more accessible than ever.

Here are a few of the ways online creators can monetize their content:

Ad revenue sharing: Advertising is the most traditional form of revenue for online creators. With this model, ads are injected into and around the creator’s content, and they make a certain percentage of revenue based on impressions. However, the revenue split can vary based on the platform, and some platforms have a specific threshold creators must hit before they can participate in ad revenue sharing.

Affiliate marketing: Similar to advertising or a brand sponsorship, affiliate marketing is an agreement for a share of revenue based on products sold. This kind of arrangement generally works best when the creator has a blog, website or YouTube account. Affiliate links allow the influencer to proactively choose the products they want to talk about and earn from, rather than having to wait for a brand deal to come their way.

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Instagram’s TikTok rival, Reels, rolls out ads worldwide – TechCrunch

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Instagram Reels are getting ads. The company announced today it’s launching ads in its short-form video platform and TikTok rival, Reels, to businesses and advertisers worldwide. The ads will be up to 30 seconds in length, like Reels themselves, and vertical in format, similar to ads found in Instagram Stories. Also like Reels, the new ads will loop, and people will be able to like, comment, and save them, the same as other Reels videos.

The company had previously tested Reels ads in select markets earlier this year, including India, Brazil, Germany, and Australia, then expanded those tests to Canada, France, the U.K. and the U.S. more recently. Early adopters of the new format have included brands like BMW, Nestlé (Nespresso), Louis Vuitton, Netflix, Uber, and others.

Instagram tells us the ads will appear in most places users view Reels content, including on the Reels tab, Reels in Stories, Reels in Explore, and Reels in your Instagram Feed, and will appear in between individual Reels posted by users. However, in order to be served a Reels ad, the user first needs to be in the immersive, full-screen Reels viewer.

Image Credits: Instagram

The company couldn’t say how often a user might see a Reels ad, noting that the number of ads a viewer may encounter will vary based on how they use Instagram. But the company is monitoring user sentiment around ads themselves, and the overall commercially of Reels, it says.

Like Instagram’s other advertising products, Reels ads will launch with an auction-based model. But so far, Instagram is declining to share any sort of performance metrics around how those ads are doing, based on tests. Nor is it yet offering advertisers any creator tools or templates that could help them get started with Reels ads. Instead, Instagram likey assumes advertisers already have creative assets on hand or know how to make them, because of Reels ads’ similarities to other vertical video ads found elsewhere, including on Instagram’s competitors.

While vertical video has already shown the potential for driving consumers to e-commerce shopping sites, Instagram hasn’t yet taken advantage of Reels ads to drive users to its built-in Instagram Shops, though that seems like a natural next step as it attempts to tie the different parts of its app together.

But perhaps ahead of that step, Instagram needs to make Reels a more compelling destination — something other TikTok rivals, which now include both Snap and YouTube — have done by funding creator content directly. Instagram, meanwhile, had made offers to select TikTok stars directly.

The launch of Instagram Reels ads follows news of TikTok’s climbing ad prices. Bloomberg reported this month that TikTok is now asking for more than $1.4 million for a home page takeover ad in the U.S., as of the third quarter, which will jump to $1.8 million by Q4 and more than $2 million on a holiday. Though the company is still building its ads team and advertisers haven’t yet allocated large portions of their video budget to the app, that tends to follow user growth — and TikTok now has over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.

Both apps, Instagram and TikTok, now have over a billion monthly active users on a global basis, though Reels is only a part of the larger Instagram platform. For comparison, Instagram Stories is used by some 500 million users, which demonstrates Instagram’s ability to drive traffic to different areas of its app. Instagram declined to share how many users Reels has as of today.

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Twine raises $3.3M to add networking features to virtual events – TechCrunch

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Twine, a video chat startup that launched amid the pandemic as a sort of “Zoom for meeting new people,” shifted its focus to online events and, as a result, has now closed on $3.3 million in seed funding. To date, twine’s events customers have included names like Microsoft, Amazon, Forrester, and others, and the service is on track to do $1 million in bookings in 2021, the company says.

The new round was led by Moment Ventures, and included participation from Coelius Capital, AltaIR Capital, Mentors Fund, Rosecliff Ventures, AltaClub, and Bloom Venture Partners. Clint Chao, founding Partner at Moment, will join twine’s board of directors with the round’s close.

The shift into the online events space makes sense, given twine’s co-founders —  Lawrence Coburn, Diana Rau, and Taylor McLoughlin — hail from DoubleDutch, the mobile events technology provider acquired by Cvent in 2019.

Coburn, previously CEO of DoubleDutch, had been under a non-compete with its acquirer until December 2020, which is one reason why he didn’t first attempt a return to the events space.

The team’s original idea was to help people who were missing out on social connections under Covid lockdowns find a way to meet others and chat online. This early version of twine saw some small amount of traction, as 10% of its users were even willing to pay. But many more were nervous about being connected to random online strangers, twine found.

So the company shifted its focus to the familiar events space, with a specific focus on online events which grew in popularity due to the pandemic. While setting up live streams, text chats and Q&A has been possible, what’s been missing from many online events was the casual and unexpected networking that used to happen in-person.

“The hardest thing to bring to virtual events was the networking and the serendipity — like the conversations that used to happen in an elevator, in the bar, the lobby — these kinds of things,” explains Coburn. “So we began testing a group space version of twine — bringing twine to existing communities as opposed to trying to build our own, new community. And that showed a lot more legs,” he says.

By January 2021, the new events-focused version of twine was up-and-running, offering a set of professional networking tools for event owners. Unlike one-to-many or few-to-many video broadcasts, twine connects a small number of people for more intimate conversations.

“We did a lot of research with our customers and users, and beyond five [people in a chat], it turns into a webinar,” notes Coburn, of the limitations on twine’s video chat. In twine, a small handful of people are dropped into a video chat experience– and now, they’re not random online strangers. They’re fellow event attendees. That generally keeps user behavior professional and the conversations productive.

Event owners can use the product for free on twine’s website for small events with up to 30 users, but to scale up any further requires a license. Twine charges on a per attendee basis, where customers buy packs of attendees on a software-as-a-service model.

The company’s customers can then embed twine directly in their own website or add a link that pops open the twine website in a separate browser tab.

Coburn says twine has found a sweet spot with big corporate event programs. The company has around 25 customers, but some of those have already used twine for 10 or 15 events after first testing out the product for something smaller.

“We’re working with five or six of the biggest companies in the world right now,” noted Coburn.

Image Credits: twine

Because the matches are digital, twine can offer other tools like digital “business card” exchanges and analytics and reports for the event hosts and attendees alike.

Despite the cautious return to normal in the U.S., which may see in-person events return in the year ahead, twine believes there’s still a future in online events. Due to the pandemic’s lasting impacts, organizations are likely to adopt a hybrid approach to their events going forward.

“I don’t think there’s ever been an industry that has gone through a 15 months like the events industry just went through,” Coburn says. “These companies went to zero, their revenue went to zero and some of them were coming from hundreds of millions of dollars. So what happened was a digital transformation like the world has never seen,” he adds.

Now, there are tens of thousands of event planners who have gotten really good at tech and online events. And they saw the potential in online, which would sometimes deliver 4x or 5x the attendance of virtual, Coburn points out.

“This is why you see LinkedIn drop $50 million on Hopin,” he says, referring to the recent fundraise for the virtual conference technology business. (The deal was reportedly for less than $50 million). “This is why you see the rounds of funding that are going into Hoppin and Bizzabo and Hubilo and all the others. This is the taxi market, pre-Uber.”

Of course, virtual events may end up less concerned with social features when they can offer an in-person experience. And those who want to host online events may be looking for a broader solution than Zoom + twine, for example.

But twine has ideas about what it wants to do next, including asynchronous matchmaking, which could end up being more valuable as it could lead to better matches since it wouldn’t be limited to only who’s online now.

With the funding, twine is hiring in sales and customer success, working on accessibility improvements, and expanding its platform. To date, twine has raised $4.7 million.

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