By Nick Guy
This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. Read the full guide to USB phone charger.
The best USB phone chargers can power your phone as rapidly as it and your cable will allow. After testing 16 power adapters this year, we’ve determined that the Anker PowerPort PD 2 is the best option for charging any phone. No matter which cable or port you use to charge, you’ll get the fastest rate possible. And the PowerPort PD 2 can support maximum speeds on both ports at the same time.
If you have an iPhone 8 or later, you’ll need to buy a USB-C–to–Lightning cable to take advantage of the faster charging that the smaller, rounded USB-C ports offer. (The new iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max come with a USB-C–to–Lightning cable, while every other iPhone continues to ship with a USB-A–to–Lightning cable.) If you have an Android phone and a USB-C cable already, you won’t need to buy anything extra to fast-charge with our USB-C picks.
Although every smartphone or tablet comes with a USB charger, it’s surprising how many of those stock chargers can’t juice up the device as fast as possible. For example, if you have an iPhone and a USB-C–to–Lightning cable, you can boost the battery up to three times faster than with the charger and cable that came free with the phone by using the Anker PowerPort PD 2. Being able to charge a second device at the same time is especially helpful while you’re traveling. We also like this power adapter’s small size and Anker’s 18-month warranty.
Port one: 18 W USB-C
Port two: 12 W USB-A
Dimensions: 2.5 by 2.4 by 1.1 inches
Chargers with multiple ports are a better value, but if you simply want the smallest power brick available that’ll charge your phone at the fastest speeds, we recommend the single-port Anker PowerPort III Nano. The Nano is the same size as Apple’s ubiquitous 5-watt charger (the one that Apple has included in the box with every iPhone except the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max), yet it supplies 18 watts over USB-C. Whether you have an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy model, a Google Pixel handset, or some other Android phone with fast charging, that’s enough to charge most phones about halfway in just 30 minutes.
Port one: 18 W USB-C
Dimensions: 1.2 by 1.1 by 1.1 inches
The Scosche PowerVolt Power Delivery Dual USB-C Fast Charger is what you should get if you want to take advantage of fast USB-C with multiple devices. Both of its USB-C ports support full 18-watt charging at the same time, meaning you can charge two phones at top speed—an iPhone’s battery will go from 0 to around 50 percent charged in a half hour, whereas in the same amount of time it would be at less than 20 percent on the charger it comes with. This dual–USB-C setup is pretty rare still, and Scosche’s charger is the only model to carry USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) certification for safety and adherence to standards, the main thing separating it from otherwise identical competition.
Port one: 18 W USB-C
Port two: 18 W USB-C
Dimensions: 2.6 by 2.5 by 1.1 inches
The Anker PowerPort II doesn’t support USB-C, which means it can’t offer the maximum charging speed on the latest phones. But it’s still a good choice if you just want a small and inexpensive USB-A charger—each port is still powerful enough to charge devices at 12 watts at the same time.
Port one: 12 W USB-A
Port two: 12 W USB-A
Dimensions: 2.2 by 2.1 by 1.2 inches
The Anker PowerPort 4 is the model to choose if you carry a lot of gear—say, a phone, a smartwatch, a power bank, and Bluetooth headphones—or if you’re traveling with companions. Each of its four ports supports 12-watt power draw, as fast a charge as you can get from standard USB-A. No other reliable four-port charger packs that kind of power into such a diminutive size and at such a low price.
Port one: 12 W USB-A
Port two: 12 W USB-A
Port three: 12 W USB-A
Port four: 12 W USB-A
Dimensions: 2.6 by 2.6 by 1.1 inches
Why you should trust us
I’ve been reviewing mobile accessories since 2012 and covering them for Wirecutter since 2015. I’m also the author of Wirecutter’s guides to Qi wireless chargers and car chargers, for which I’ve seen and tested pretty much every available charging variation.
To make our picks, in addition to years of experience we relied on professional-level tools, including the Total Phase USB Power Delivery Analyzer and its Data Center Software. These tools allowed us to get more granular, precise data than we might have otherwise so that we could be confident in our picks’ performance.
Who this is for
If your phone’s or tablet’s original USB charger is broken or lost, you’re obviously in need of a new charger. But even if you still have the original chargers for all your devices, you might want to consider something that can charge your devices from a wall outlet more quickly or charge multiple devices at the same time.
Most people have more than one device that charges via USB: tablets, smartphones, external battery packs, e-readers, portable speakers, Bluetooth headphones and headsets, fitness trackers—the list goes on. Chances are good that you’ll regularly need to charge two (or more) of those devices at the same time. Good multiport chargers don’t cost much more—or sometimes any more—than single-port chargers, so we think it makes sense to get at least two ports when you’re buying a new charger.
Multiport chargers are also great for travel. Instead of having to pack a gaggle of chargers for the family—or when you’re traveling alone, for your phone, tablet, headset, and Bluetooth speaker—you can bring one charger that handles everything. (Of course, you’ll have to pack the appropriate Lightning or Micro-USB cables too.)
Battery percentage when charging an iPhone XS
Apple 5 W iPhone charger
Apple 12 W iPad charger (equivalent to fastest USB-A)
Aukey 18 W USB-C charger
A USB-C charger can charge an iPhone more than twice as fast as the power brick that comes with the phone, and noticeably faster than an iPad’s stock charger.
How we picked and tested
Choosing a new phone charger can be daunting: You can find hundreds of brands, many selling dozens of different configurations. Faced with this issue in beginning our latest round of research, we decided to stick to companies with established track records of great products and service. You can get a quality charger for a low price—so there’s no good reason to go with an unproven brand. To that end, we pored through the USB-charger catalogs of Amazon, Anker, Apple, Aukey, Google, iClever, Nekteck, RAVPower, Satechi, Scosche, and ZMI, and considered nearly 100 distinct charger models.
From there, we whittled the list down based on a number of criteria:
- A preference for two or more USB ports: We loosened this restriction only when particularly small, affordable, and properly performing options started to become available. For the money, however, we still think most people should choose a charger with multiple ports. The cost and space savings of a single-port charger aren’t significant enough to justify such chargers’ limited output in most cases. It’s almost always a better value to choose a charger with two or more ports, whether they be USB-A, USB-C, or a combination of both.
- The fastest possible output:
- USB-A ports with 12-watt or QuickCharge 3.0 output: USB-A charging maxes out at 12 watts (5 volts, 2.4 amps) for Apple devices and many Android phones, though some of the latter can charge faster with Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0 standard. Considering the generally low prices of these chargers, you won’t find significant savings by choosing a charger slower than 12 watts.
- USB-C ports with 18- to 45-watt output: USB-C ports allow many phones to charge faster—with the right cables—drawing power at either 15 watts or 18 watts (USB Power Delivery, or USB PD). Although having higher output doesn’t hurt since your device will draw only as much power as it’s rated for, paying more for power you won’t use doesn’t make much sense, so there’s no reason to buy anything over 45 watts specifically for your phone. Those more powerful and more expensive chargers are better options if you need to charge a tablet or a laptop.
- Power-to-dollar value: Simply put, we considered how good of a value each charger was for the total power it could put out across its ports. We used this as a comparative figure, which allowed us to rule out models that were unnecessarily expensive.
- Size: Although absolute size is not the top determining factor, we naturally prefer small chargers to larger ones. We think accepting a little more volume is fine if that means more power or more ports, but all other things being equal, smaller is better.
Based on those criteria, we tested 16 models, including some with just USB-A ports, some with just USB-C ports, and some with both. To find the top options in each category, we put the finalists through a number of tests.
- USB-A ports: We tested the maximum power draw from each port by plugging in a variable power load and an ammeter. This setup allowed us to finely control the power flow and determine whether it matched the advertised rate. We started with the power load set to 0 amps and then turned it up until it matched the promised amperage, ensuring the voltage stayed within 4.75 volts to 5.25 volts. Then we repeated that test on each charger’s other ports, confirming that every port behaved as expected and that, combined, they matched the right output.
- USB-C ports: USB-C uses digital communication between devices to verify charging speeds in a way that USB-A doesn’t; with the right tools, you can interpret exactly what’s going on in the communication between the charger and the device you’ve plugged in. We used the Total Phase USB Power Delivery Analyzer and its Data Center Software to measure and record this data, including the advertised power profiles, the steady state output, and whether any errors occurred in charging.
- Combined power output: After testing each individual port, we tested the combined output when each was pushed to the maximum. The best chargers support their fastest rates on each port at the same time, without added devices slowing anything down.
Our pick: Anker PowerPort PD 2
The Anker PowerPort PD 2 is the best charger for getting maximum charging speed on your phone no matter what cable you use. It provides both a 12-watt USB-A port and an 18-watt USB-C port, so you can charge your phone two to three times faster than with the charger that came in the box with your phone. And with two ports, the PowerPort PD 2 offers good charging speeds for two devices at the same time; most other models this small and inexpensive can’t support fast charging from both ports at once. The power adapter is small and light, making it ideal for carrying in a bag. And it comes from Anker, a company with a history of top-performing chargers and an excellent warranty.
Although USB-C is smaller and faster than USB-A and works with more kinds of devices, it’s not nearly as ubiquitous yet and will likely take a while to get there. The PowerPort PD 2 cleverly combines the benefits of a USB-C charger with the convenience of USB-A, which means you can charge most phones released since 2017 or so at full speed if you have a USB-C cable (or for iPhones, a USB-C–to–Lightning cable) while also powering a second from the USB-A port at a respectable rate using the older cables you already have.
In our testing the PowerPort PD 2 performed exactly as promised, becoming the smallest USB-A and USB-C combo charger we tested to live up to expectations. You can expect an iPhone XS to charge to about 35 percent in a half hour using the USB-A port and closer to 50 percent on the USB-C port. That’s fast enough to make a noticeable difference every day, compared with the 5-watt charger most iPhones come with, which can reach only 17 percent in the same amount of time. Charging from USB-C is standardized into different power levels, and the most common ones to fast-charge phones are 15 W (5 V, 3 A) and 18 W (9 V, 2 A). Our tests confirmed that the PowerPort PD 2 can offer either one of those, and we observed it charging a depleted iPhone XS in line with those levels—about 8.9 V, 1.9 A. Our readings found no errors. The USB-A port was able to support 5 V, 2.4 A power draw with no issue, even when the USB-C port was charging at the full 18-watt rate. A comparable charger we otherwise like, the RAVPower USB C Power Delivery Charger (RP-PC108), can do one or the other but drops to 15 watts total when both ports are in use at the same time, which means both devices will charge slower.
The power brick is larger than what comes with your phone but not huge. It’s about 2.5 inches square and 1.1 inches thick, and it weighs less than 4 ounces. Folding prongs make it convenient for travel. It’s roughly double the volume of the Apple 12W USB Power Adapter—even though it’s the same thickness, it’s wider and taller. That might make it a tight fit in the smallest pockets of a purse or gear bag, but because it’s more than twice as powerful as smaller chargers like Apple’s, we think the size is a fair trade-off.
Anker’s 18-month warranty is on a par with many of its competitors’ warranties. Whenever Wirecutter staff has had to take advantage of the protection, they’ve found the process to be quick and easy.
Best small phone charger: Anker PowerPort III Nano
We think most people are best served by a charger with two ports since it adds versatility in pretty much any situation, whether you charge around the house or toss it into your bag for commuting or traveling. But if you value a charger’s size above all else, the Anker PowerPort III Nano is a great option that can fast-charge just one phone. It’s 40 percent smaller than the next-smallest fast charger we’ve found, but it’s still able to safely deliver 18 watts of power over USB-C.
The PowerPort III Nano’s most noteworthy feature is its size. Measuring 1.2 inches long (not counting the prongs, which don’t fold down), and 1.1 inches wide and tall, its dimensions are almost identical to those of the Apple 5-watt charger that has come packed with most iPhones for the past decade. The Anker charger is less than half the volume of Apple’s directly comparable 18-watt charger that ships with the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. It’s also smaller than the Samsung 25W USB-C Fast Charging Wall Charger, but it should charge most Galaxy phones at about the same speed.
Unlike the multiport chargers we prefer, the PowerPort III Nano has only a single USB-C port. Our tests with the Total Phase testing hardware showed proper 18-watt power draw and support for the 15-watt level as well, which makes this charger compatible with USB-C devices that don’t use the Power Delivery standard. As with all the other chargers we recommend, this means you should see most phones charge to about 50 percent full from empty in half an hour or so.
Upgrade pick: Scosche PowerVolt Power Delivery Dual USB-C Fast Charger
The Scosche PowerVolt Power Delivery Dual USB-C Fast Charger is a rarity: a power brick with two USB-C ports. During our initial research and testing, it was one of only two available and the only model of its kind to be certified safe by the USB-IF. The Scosche charger delivers the promised 18-watt performance from both ports, meaning you can charge two phones at full speed at the same time or fast-charge your phone and another USB-C accessory. It’s as small as anything else with the same power, and it’s our choice for anyone who has more than one USB-C device.
When plugged into the PowerVolt with a USB-C–to–Lightning cable, an iPhone XS will charge from zero to about 50 percent in 30 minutes and to 80 percent in an hour, compared with about 17 and 33 percent over the same respective time periods when you use the charger that comes with the phone. Both the Scosche and the Aukey PA-Y16—the only other dual USB-C charger available—performed as expected when we ran them through the Total Phase test; they’re also the same size and price.
The one thing that sets the PowerVolt apart from the Aukey, its only direct competitor with two USB-C ports, is that it has USB-IF certification, which means an independent lab has verified that it meets a set of criteria for safety and performance. Although we didn’t rely on the existence of USB-IF certification in evaluating every charger in this guide, that stamp of approval sets the two otherwise-equivalent models apart.
The PowerVolt is roughly the same shape as, but just slightly larger than, the Anker PowerPort PD 2; it measures about 2.6 by 2.5 by 1.1 inches, or just about 0.1 inch longer and wider. Its ports are situated in the same place, stacked horizontally on the face opposite the folding prongs. Unlike the Anker, it lacks a status light, which could be a negative if you like to be assured the charger is plugged in or a positive if you’re a light sleeper and you plan to keep this charger by your bed.
Scosche’s warranty is one of the best we’ve seen. The PowerVolt is covered for three years, double what Anker offers. When we’ve tested the company’s customer service, we’ve been impressed by the fast response times.
Budget pick: Anker PowerPort II
If you don’t care about getting the absolute fastest charging speeds, or if you just want the most affordable option that still delivers full USB-A power from two ports, we recommend the Anker PowerPort II. It’s about the size of Apple’s single-port 12W charger that has come with past iPads, but it includes two ports that can simultaneously charge two devices at 12W each.
This means you get the fastest (non–Quick Charge) charging rate that USB-A offers. We confirmed these speeds with our power-load and ammeter setup: An iPhone XS went from zero to 35 percent charged in a half hour and a little over 70 percent in 60 minutes, compared with 50 percent and 80 percent charged in the same respective periods with a USB-C charger like the PowerPort PD 2.
Measuring about 2.2 inches square and just over an inch thick, this Anker model is about 0.3 inch wider and taller than a stock iPad charger but the same thickness. It’s small enough that it can easily fit in a bag or even some pockets.
Best for charging more than two devices: Anker PowerPort 4
The Anker PowerPort 4 offers four USB-A ports in a compact design, making it ideal for a couple who’s traveling (or one person who uses a ton of gear). It’s what I personally carry when my wife and I are on the go, charging our iPhones and Apple Watches from a single outlet.
The PowerPort 4 is one of the fastest multiport chargers we tested across all of its ports. Despite its advertised 40-watt maximum output, we measured 12-watt draw from all four ports at the same time, for about 48 W total. Unless you have a Quick Charge–capable device, that’s as fast as USB-A can charge, and many multiport chargers like this can’t provide that much power to every port at the same time; for example, the last two ports on the RAVPower 60W 6-Port Desktop Charger with QC 3.0 (RP-PC029) maxed out at 10 watts when the others were in use during our tests. Even if the speeds do drop a bit in practical use, you can still be sure of fast USB-A charging across all the ports.
At just over an inch thick, the PowerPort 4 is the same thickness as all of the other Anker chargers we recommend in this guide. It’s ever so slightly wider and taller than the Anker PowerPort PD 2. Rather than requiring a cable between the wall outlet and the charger’s body as most multiport chargers do, the Anker PowerPort 4 plugs directly into an AC outlet (without covering the second outlet), so it’s less bulky to carry than an adapter that requires a cable.
The RAVPower USB C Power Delivery Charger (RP-PC108) is an impressive runner-up to the Anker PowerPort PD 2 if you value size over power. It’s roughly the same thickness as our top pick but about half an inch shorter and narrower. The USB-A port supports the same 12-watt power draw, and the USB-C port supports 18-watt charging. But here’s the rub: Unlike on the Anker, the ports on this charger don’t both support full-speed charging at the same time—if you charge on both ports, the combined speed drops by roughly 50 percent.
The Aukey Amp 36W Power Delivery Wall Charger (PA-Y16) performed just as well as Scosche’s dual-port USB-C charger and has almost exactly the same dimensions. But the Scosche has the advantage of USB-IF certification, meaning it’s been independently verified to perform as expected.
The Nekteck PD 39W USB-C & 12W USB-A Travel Charger is more powerful than the models we recommend, and it comes with a USB-C–to–USB-C cable. But it’s physically larger, and the extra power is superfluous for charging a phone.
The RAVPower 30W 3-Port Wall Charger with USB-C (RP-PC060) we received for testing didn’t support USB PD over its USB-C port, which meant slower charging, especially when the phone’s battery was nearly empty. Plus, its total output was only 30 watts across the three ports, so you’d get slower speeds if you were charging on all of them at once. RAVPower has updated this charger’s listing to say it now supports 18 W charging, though, so we’ll test the new version at a later point.
The RAVPower 60W 5-Port USB Charging Station (RP-PC059) is better suited for a desk than a bag, and its amperage reading in the Data Center software was all over the place, in contrast to the smooth levels we saw from better-performing chargers.
ESR’s Dual-Port 36W PD Charger has the same ports and power output as the Scosche PowerVolt, but it’s not USB-IF certified. In this case, we think you should spend a few extra dollars for the peace of mind of USB-IF certification.
Aukey’s Minima 27W arrived in packaging calling it “Minima 30W,” and the hardware we received has different power profiles than what’s listed on the company’s website. That strangeness aside, the Minima is larger and more expensive than the Anker PowerPort III Nano, and the extra power is more than necessary to charge a phone.
The RAVPower 36W Quick Charge 3.0 Wall Charger (RP-PC006) is larger than the Anker dual–USB-A chargers we recommend for about the same price. Its only advantage is QuickCharge 3.0 support, so if you have a compatible phone, you may prefer it.
The ZMI PowerPlug 4-Port Charger is shockingly cheap. (At this writing it’s selling for $10, and the company told us the price would never be above $20.) Each port is rated for 2.4 amps. Although our tests confirmed this, a tiny bump above that power-draw level—even as small as 0.01 amp—caused the variable load to reset. The other chargers we tested offered more wiggle room at their maximum output without resetting.
We determined that the RAVPower 60W 6-Port Desktop USB Charging Station with iSmart (RP-PC028) and the RAVPower 60W 6-Port Desktop Charger with QC 3.0 (RP-PC029) were both too large for travel and that we’d prefer a similarly priced model with USB-C if we were using our charger at a desk.
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