About three years ago, 10 major mobile devices manufacturers, including Apple, Nokia and Samsung, committed to a voluntary agreement to work towards a universal charger based on a micro USB connector, in an effort to reduce unnecessary waste. But no such universal charger has been settled on, and Apple appears to have backtracked on the idea with the introduction of a new proprietary Lightning charger for its iPhone 5 that is likely to be the standard for several generations of future iPhones.
Not withstanding this seeming setback, many manufacturers have already adopted the micro USB connector for their chargers. Devices having this charging port are now very common place and is not unusual to see a single charger being used across numerous devices in homes and workplaces
However, just because the plug fits into your charging port does not mean you are using the right cell phone charger for your phone. Unfortunately, such mistakes can be costly!
But why is this?
For a replacement charger, it is important to get one with the right voltage. While the device may work with chargers with voltages that are close, it is often at the expense of shortened lifespan of the batteries being recharged. Some devices, however, are quite tolerant of voltage variations and will work just fine. Others, not so much. Problem is, how do you know this detail about your device? There is no easy way to know which category your device falls into, so it is best to simply get the right voltage from the start.
Also, the ampere rating of your charger is very important. This is usually represented by notations like “1.0A” on your chargers. Many people are confused by amperage ratings and what they mean when it comes to power supplies and replacements.
One easy way to look at it is this:
Voltage is provided by (or pushed) by the power supply.
Amperage is taken by (or pulled) by the device being powered.
In other words, while the voltage is a constant and should match, the amperage is something that varies based on the devices need. A device will “pull” more amps when it is working hard than when it is not. The voltage will remain the same regardless.
The amperage rating of a power supply is the maximum number of amps that it is able to provide if needed.
Thus, as long as you replace your power supply with one that is capable of providing as much or more amps than the previous supply, you’ll be fine.
If you replace the power supply for some reason with one that has a maximum amperage rating that is less than the previous and less than what your device actually requires, then you may end up with a burnt out or (at least) overheating power supply, and the device itself may not function, or may not do so well.
Rule of Thumb
Your choice of a replacement charger for your mobile device should be guided by the following:
- Make sure that the voltage matches as closely as possible.
- Make sure that it is rated to provide the same amperage or more.
For those who use their laptops to charge their mobile devices, they probably would have noticed that it takes a bit more time to get a full charge using this means.
Most laptop USB ports are of USB 1.0 and USB 2.0 specifications and do not deliver more than 500mA (0.5A). This is a far cry from the recommended requirements for a lot of devices. Apple’s iPad charger provides 2.1A at 5V. Amazon’s Kindle Fire charger outputs 1.8; My wife’s Nexus 7 needs 5V/2A and my fancy Samsung S3 needs 5V/1A.
Probably better are quality car chargers that can output a range of 1A to 2.1A.
If you use a standard USB charger, these devices will probably charge, but slower than the stock charger.