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Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 can charge a phone to 80% in 35 minutes

September 16, 2015, 4:47 PM UTC
A 26131
A 26131
Photograph by Getty Images

This week Qualcomm introduced the latest version of its Quick Charge technology, which manages the way that power flows into your handset and lets it charge to 80% in 35 minutes. According to Qualcomm, this is about 38% faster than the previous generation of Quick Charge technology.

The secret sauce behind the newer tech is an algorithm called the Intelligent Negotiation for Optimum Voltage (INOV) that figures out what power level to request when charging to deliver the maximum amount of power transfer without blowing out the electronics. That is the delicate balance to achieve when charging batteries. As they fill up, the chip managing the power transfer must decrease the amount of current so as not to overfill the battery, which would damage the device. That’s why almost all of these devices can now do a rapid charge to roughly 80% before they must slow their power transfer to a relative trickle to avoid causing problems.

Of course, as a user who’s desperately gulping power while waiting for a flight or awkwardly crouching near an outlet at a Starbucks, the science doesn’t matter nearly as much as getting as much juice in your phone as quickly as possible. Which is why features like Quick Charge are decent selling points for mobile phones, right up there with a good camera. Once you’ve had faster charge times, they’re hard to give up. And since Qualcomm (QCOM) introduced the tech in 2013 many high-end Android handsets have had this ability to charge quickly.



Yet as this story from 9to5Google points out, Apple (AAPL) has focused instead on longer battery life instead of quick charging for its phones, leaving iPhones charging at about two hours. Like the author of that piece, I would like to see Apple focus on some type of rapid charging technology. I say that not because quick charging is a gimmick, but because as I watch my nine-year-old daughter handle her devices I see she has an expectation of a long battery life and a much more cavalier attitude about charging.

Short of truly wireless power that charges devices over-the-air, the next best thing is a combination of rapid charging and super long battery life that lets us go all day before letting us top off with minimal fuss and quickly pick our devices up again.

As for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, we’ll see it in devices that ship next year, and it will be compatible with earlier versions of the technology. Consumers can use USB ports on their computer or Quick Charge compatible power adapters. For Quick Charge enthusiasts, the wait for the latest version might be as agonizing as waiting for a dead phone to power back on.

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