February 19, 2019

What’s the difference between USB Power Delivery and Qualcomm Quick Charge?

By [email protected] Topic: Tech Specs

Here’s a thing nobody has ever said: “I’m looking for a phone that charges slowly.” Everyone knows a slow charging phone is a waste of time. That’s why fast charging technologies were developed.

Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ and USB Power Delivery are the dominant fast charging technologies in the market. We’re here to explain the difference.

The basic differences:

Qualcomm Quick Charge is a proprietary standard developed by Qualcomm that provides more power to compatible devices allowing them to charge faster. It was the first fast charging standard in the mobile market, and is found in many Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy line.

USB Power Delivery was developed by the USB Implementers Forum, a consortium of technology companies that have banded together to set standards for the universal connections we use to connect electronic devices. USB Power Delivery can be found in Google Pixel phones and some of the newer iPhones.

Which is faster?

It depends. On the Android side of the market, many new phones support both fast charging standards. When we test these phones with chargers that use either Qualcomm Quick Charge or USB Power Delivery, we don’t see a big difference in speeds.  While Qualcomm Quick Charge is slightly faster, both offer fast charging times.

Some older Android phones, especially those that don’t have USB-C connections (more on that later), are not compatible with USB Power Delivery. In those cases, using a USB Power Delivery charger on an incompatible phone will result in charging speeds similar to using a standard in-box charger that comes with your phone.  

Things are a little different with iPhones and Google Pixel phones. Both use USB Power Delivery as their fast charging technology. The iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and newer models (the X, XS, XS Max, and XR) are compatible with USB Power Delivery. You’ll get a faster charge with a USB Power Delivery compatible charger, than you would with a Qualcomm Quick Charge charger.

Important to note, the iPhone does not currently come with a USB Power Delivery charger in the box. If you want to charge your iPhone at the fastest speed possible, you’ll need to purchase a USB Power Delivery charger separately, along with a USB-C™ to Apple Lightning™ cable.

Are there any good reasons to buy a USB Power Delivery charger if I don’t have to?

Yes, it may make sense to buy a USB Power Delivery charger to future proof your charger purchase. We expect to see greater adoption of USB Power Delivery and these chargers already work with a wide range of electronics and accessories like laptops and tablets.

If you carry multiple devices that are all USB Power Delivery compatible, a single charger could handle all your needs.

What about the cable?

Many of us are familiar with the USB-A connection, which is used in USB memory sticks (aka thumb drives) or to connect a keyboard to a desktop computer. When it first hit the scene, it was kind of great, because it suddenly became much easier to buy accessories for your desktop computer.

As smartphones evolved from luxury gadget to modern-day necessity, smartphone designers started to realize a need for a smaller connector, made for mobile, that was capable of handling higher power and higher data transfer speeds. While Micro USB had become a default charging port for Android phones, Apple 30-pin and then Lightning connections had become standard for iPhones, however, those connectors couldn’t provide the performance that matched the ever-increasing consumer expectations of power and data transfer speeds. At the same time, they weren’t compatible with lots of other accessories, like game controllers, TVs, and laptops.

Technology companies began looking for a smaller universal connector, and they settled on the USB-C connection. It got bonus points for being able to be plugged in no matter the orientation.  

Aren’t USB-C and USB Power Delivery the same thing?

A lot of people think USB-C and USB Power Delivery are the same thing. They are not.

USB Power Delivery works through the USB-C connection, but it’s important to note that not all USB-C chargers support USB Power Delivery charging. You’ll need to look for markings on the charger’s packaging to confirm whether it is Power Delivery compatible.

What does the future hold?

By entering the market first, Qualcomm Quick Charge saw a lot of interest from the makers of Android phones who were looking for any features that could help them compete with the iPhone. Samsung, HTC, LG, and a few other phone makers rapidly adopted the technology.

Both charging technologies provide a fast charge, and that’s a good thing for everyone. It gives you a lot of choice when it comes to accessories and keeps you from being tethered to an outlet for too long.

As always, stay charged everyone.


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