I was asked the other day by a customer “why does my phone take longer to charge on my PC than mains” so thought would go into a bit of detail about charging your phone, tablet, ebook reader etc through USB, this mainly applies to devices that have a standard USB either mini or micro port on the device but also does apply in some respects to other devices like iPhones, iPads, or Android tablets that have a 5volt charging connector.
Well lets start with voltage most devices charge using 5v though some devices are slightly lower or higher ie 4.8v or 5.2v, with only minor difference in the voltage you would normally be OK using a 5 volt charger for these devices. That is the same either using a mains wall charge or USB ports on your laptop, PC etc as all USB ports output at 5v.
Now lets move onto ampage the differences in this does determine the charging time of your device. First the difference between milliamps and amps, well this is just a different scale ie 1amp is 1000 milliamps, and 0.5 amp is 500mA. When talking about USB ports in this section it is mainly about USB 1.1 or 2 ports, will go into USB 3 later in this article. On your PC or laptop their are most commonly two types of USB ports standard downstream port (500mA), a charging downstream port and on some equipment there is a dedicated charging port (1500mA). So this is why you may had noticed your device charges faster in one USB than another as the more milliamps normally means faster charging, though most manufactures don’t label these ports, so it can be trail and error to find these ports.
So with this information what would happen if your device say came with a 600mA wall charger is it safe to plug into a higher ampage port, well the short answer is yes it would charge with no problems at all and will chafe faster. This is true for most devices produced over the last few years. If you device is older and does not support higher ampage then it just will not charge, but will still be seen by your PC as a USB device.
The same applies to wall chargers either dedicated chargers or these USB sockets that you can plug a USB cable into. Some of these go over 2amps (2000mA) so again these type would be safe to use on any device without any damage. Again as the higher ampage will charge the device quicker. You are just best to try if phone,tablet etc does charge then you will be able to charge quicker. If device didn’t charge then you will have to stick to a charger or port that is the same or less ampage than the original charger. The ampage is normally on a sticker or imprinted on the charger its self. Also sometimes USB cables are rated in ampage, but this really makes no difference as it is down to the port or wall charger that determains the ampage.
So I hope this makes makes a bit more sense in the differences between ports on your of or wall chargers. Just a bit if quick info on USB 3, all USB 3 ports output at 900mA so really should be any difference in charging time of these ports.
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