If you’ve never tried a fast charger, you’re missing out. They may not sound very exciting, but when you’re in a hurry, being able to charge your phone or tablet two to three times faster makes a world of difference.
That kind of speed also comes in handy when you have to charge several devices in a limited amount of time, or need to share one outlet with multiple people.
Choosing the best fast charger for your needs can get a bit complicated due to the range of charging standards and power requirements for various devices, but there are two basic things to consider.
First, look at the maximum wattage that the charger can put out and compare it to what your device is able to handle. As an example, the standard USB wall chargers that used to come with iPhones only put out five watts, but the latest iPhones can charge at up to 20W. Using a higher-rated charger won’t hurt your device: it will only use what it’s able to handle.
Second, make sure that your charger and your device can agree on a charging standard. There used to be a huge mess of standards out there, but things have improved in recent years. If you have a recent phone or tablet, there’s a good chance that it supports USB C Power Delivery (PD).
This is true of almost all recent Android devices, and even current iPhones and iPads that charge from a Lightning port. As long as you have the right charger and a USB C to Lightning cable, you’ll get fast charging from it.
The other common standard, Qualcomm Quick Charge (QC) 3.0 or 4.0, is declining in popularity. As a result, you’ll often find modern phones and tablets that support QC also support USB C PD, so you can use a fast charger that supports either standard.
Note that we’re only talking about phones and tablets in this article, not laptops. That said, some of the best fast chargers, including our top pick, have enough juice to charge a laptop as well.
They’re necessarily larger in size, but if you want a true multi-function charger, the trade-off may be worth considering. If so, check the specifications of your current laptop charger to see how much power you need. For smaller laptops, you’ll typically want a USB C PD charger that can put out 45-65W.
- Size: 2.7 x 2.7 x 1.1 inches
- Weight: 5.0 ounces
- Ports:1 x USB C PD, 1 x USB-A
- Output: 45W (USB C), 15W (USB-A), 60W max
- Size: 1.8 x 1.1 x 1.1 inches
- Weight: 1.1 ounces
- Ports: 1 x USB C
- Output: 20W
- Size: 3.5 x 2.0 x 0.6 inches
- Weight: 4.5 ounces
- Ports: 1 x USB C PD, 1 x USB A
- Output: 18W (USB C), 12W (USB-A), 18W max
- Size: 2.6 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches
- Weight: 1.4 ounces
- Ports: 1 x USB C PD, 1 x USB A
- Output: 30W (USB C), 19.5W (USB-A), 49.5W max
- Size: 2.4 x 2.4 x 0.2 inches
- Weight: 3.5 ounces
- Ports: none
- Output: 15W (wireless), 20W (from bundled wall charger)
Best Fast Charger: Anker PowerPort Atom III
Anker is a leading name in charging techology, and has some of the best products when it comes to fast chargers. Its high-end model, the PowerPort Atom III, is compatible with most new laptop, phone, and tablet models.
The company has a range of fast chargers available, but we chose the PowerPort Atom III as our top overall pick because of its dual ports. Simultaneous charging is available via regular USB and USB C, so you can charge (eg) a phone and laptop at the same time.
The USB-A port can output 15 watts, which means you’ll be able to charge your iPhone up to 2.5x faster than with a standard charger. That’s pretty quick, but if you really want maximum speed, grab that USB C to Lightning cable we mentioned earlier, and plug your (recent) iPhone or iPad into the USB C port instead.
That port supports Power Delivery, and can put out up to 45W. That’s enough to charge any recent phone or tablet, and many laptops, at full speed. Both USB ports can be used at the same time without a drop in power, for a total of up to 60 watts at once.
Sizewise, it’s a little larger than other fast charger options, but that’s the trade-off for the ability to charge laptops. It’s still 15% smaller than the typical MacBook charger despite having twice as many ports. That smaller size is a win for minimalist travelers, and the wall prongs also fold down so they don’t snag in your bag while you’re on the move.
The high power output of this charger makes it the best fast charger for iPads, iPhones, and most other smartphones and tablets as well. Being able to charge the majority of laptops at full speed is the icing on the cake, and makes it easy to choose the PowerPort Atom III as our top fast charger pick overall.
We wrote a full review of the similar-looking PowerPort Atom PD2 a while back after taking it along on a three-month trip. That model has two USB C charging ports, but we prefer the Atom III.
That’s mainly because the maximum output of the PD2 model drops to 30W per port when both ports are in use. That’s fine for charging two phones at once, but not for fast-charging a phone and tablet or laptop simultaneously, so you’ll get more flexibility with the Atom III.Buy on Amazon
Best Fast Charger for iPhone: Anker PowerPort III Nano
If you’re looking to fast-charge an iPhone and want the best small fast charger on the market to do it with, look no further: the Anker PowerPort III Nano is where it’s at. The same size as most standard wall chargers, it packs a powerful punch. Capable of putting out 20 watts, it will charge any iPhone at maximum speed, while weighing barely an ounce.
Starting at 0% battery power, you can charge an iPhone 12 for fifteen minutes and get over three hours of video playback. A quick charge in an airport coffee shop could give you enough battery life to last for an entire medium-haul flight.
The charger is compatible with many phones and tablets, including Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Pixel, as well as accessories like AirPods and Apple Watch. The PowerPort III Nano is only designed for phones and tablets, though: it’s not powerful enough to charge your MacBook or other laptop.
Note too that while this charger can put out up to 20W, it doesn’t support USB C Power Delivery. That doesn’t matter for Apple devices, but does mean that a few Android phones and tablets may not charge at full speed. It’s also worth noting that while iPad Pro models will still charge quickly using the Nano, it’s not quite powerful enough to charge them at maximum speed.
This handy quick charger doesn’t cost more than a couple Big Macs, but as with many wall chargers these days, you’ll need to supply your own USB C cable in order to begin charging. A bundle with a USB C to Lightning cable is also available, and will save you a bit versus buying them separately.Buy on Amazon
Best Fast Charger for Travel: Native Union Smart Charger
The Native Union Smart Charger is a fast charger that comes with its own plug adapters for international sockets. If you’re tight on space and traveling to multiple countries, taking this with you means fewer chargers and travel adapters to deal with. That’s always a good thing.
It’s compatible with many phones, tablets, and accessories, including Apple iPhone, iPad, and AirPods, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and more. The charger includes two ports: one USB-A that puts out 12 watts, and one USB C PD port that can charge at up to 18 watts. Note, though, that the maximum output is capped at 18W whether you’re using one or both ports, so you can’t fast-charge two devices simultaneously.
The charger is designed for any North American-style plugs, and there are clip-on EU and UK adapters in the box. The EU adapter (Type C/Type F/Type E) is used across most of Europe, as well as Egypt, Somalia, Singapore, Greenland, and more. The UK (Type G) adapter is required in the UK, Ireland, Malta, Hong Kong, parts of Africa, and more. We’ve written (much) more about the different plug types in use around the world here.
The charger can restore a flat iPhone to 50% in less than 30 minutes. That’s similar to some of the others we’ve recommended, but since this one includes those two plug adapters, it makes the cut for travel. It’s a bit larger than other options, but still small enough to fit in a pocket. The adapters are separate, of course, so try not to lose them!Buy on Amazon
Best Fast Car Charger: Anker PowerDrive Speed+ 2
Whether you’re trying to get as much juice as possible into your phone during a short drive to the store, or need to quickly charge the kids’ iPad back up on a lengthy road trip, a good car fast-charger makes a big difference. The best we’ve come across so far is Anker's PowerDrive Speed+ 2.
There’s a soft blue light around the front edge of the charger so you know it’s working, but otherwise it looks much like many other car chargers. Don’t be deceived, however: this is one of the most powerful car chargers you’ll find, able to put out up to 30W from its USB C PD port. That’s enough to fast charge pretty much any phone or tablet. It’s even enough to charge some smaller laptops like the Macbook Air.
The charger also has a USB-A port that supports QC 3.0, and can output up to 19.5W. That’s will also let you fast-charge the vast majority of phones, and tablets like the iPad will also charge fairly quickly, even if not at maximum speed. There’s no slowdown if you’re using both ports, so you can fast-charge two devices simultaneously.
It’s not the smallest car charger we’ve seen, but at 2.6 by 1.4 inches, it’s far from huge. Unless you’re especially cramped for space around your vehicle’s accessory port, you’re unlikely to have problems finding space for it. All in all, it’s a very solid buy for anyone looking to fast charge their devices while driving.Buy on Amazon
Best Fast Wireless Charger: RAVPower Magnetic Wireless Charger
Let’s be honest, when it comes to fast charging, wireless just isn’t as good as wired options. If you’re truly looking for the fastest charge, a physical cable is still the way to go. If you’re set on wireless, the RAVPower Magnetic Wireless Charger provides up to 15 watts of power, although what you’ll actually get depends on the device.
The “magnetic” part of the name refers to the Magsafe-compatible section of the pad that ensures ideal placement and a firm connection to the latest iPhones. Note, though, that this isn’t an official Magsafe charger, so you won’t get the maximum 15W charging speed from your iPhone 12. For that, you’ll need to buy Apple's own (more expensive) version, along with a separate wall charger.
The pad is coated in soft-touch rubber to prevent scratches, and is compatible with phones and accessories that support the Qi wireless charging standard. This means you’ll get 7.5W on any iPhone, up to 10W from most Samsung phones, and as high as 15W on certain LG and Google phones.
The wireless pad is powered by one of RAVPower’s 20W USB C PD wall chargers, which comes in the box. This means you can also use a USB C or USB C to Lightning cable to fast-charge almost any device (including the latest iPhones,) making this a particularly versatile charging option.
Fast chargers can charge your devices much more quickly than the generic versions that ship with many phones and tablets, and often don’t take up any more space. Whether you’re an impatient person or just find yourself frequently needing to charge in a hurry, they’re certainly worth the small investment.
Whether you need a speedy charge at home or in the car, attached to a cable or wirelessly, there’s an option out there that’ll do the job. Check the wattage, ensure it’s compatible with the devices you hope to charge, and you’re good to go!
Main image via Shutterstock, product images via Amazon