Updated April 2022
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Buying guide for best iPhone chargers

The iPhone is one of the most popular smartphones available. Since its introduction, it has created its own ecosystem of accessories, from cases and cables to camera lenses and more. One of the most fundamental accessories for any iPhone is one that many people might overlook: an iPhone charger.

An iPhone charger charges the iPhone’s battery. Without an iPhone charger, your only other recourse is a computer with a USB port or a low-power, unsecured charging station in an airport lounge or cafe. With a weak or low-powered source, your iPhone could take hours to recharge. Get a poorly made or knockoff charger and you run the risk of damaging your iPhone, your cable, your belongings, or even yourself.

iphone charger
iPhones are designed to only draw as much power as they need, so higher-power chargers won’t damage them, as long as they’re compatible.

How to buy the best iPhone charger

Types of iPhone chargers

  • Wall chargers or power adapters are chargers that plug into an AC outlet and connect to your iPhone with a cable. A small wall charger was bundled with every iPhone until 2020.
  • Wireless charging pads charge compatible iPhones without the need for a cable. Apple added wireless charging support to iPhones starting in 2017 with the iPhone 8. Wireless charging pads usually need a wall charger as well.
  • Car chargers plug into your vehicle’s power port, or what used to be called the lighter port. They can usually offer more power than a built-in USB charging jack, if your vehicle has one, making them handy for frequent travelers and commuters.

Volts, amps, and watts

When shopping for iPhone chargers, you come across the terms voltage, wattage, and amps. Amps, usually expressed in milliamps (mA), measure the strength of the electric current. Volts (V) measure the amount of current a charger can supply. Watts (W) measure total power. A charger’s wattage is equal to its output voltage multiplied by its amperage. For example, a 5-volt charger at 1.1 amps gives 5.5 watts of power. The more watts a charger offers, the more powerful it is, and the faster it can charge your iPhone.

Size

The size of an iPhone charger, particularly a power adapter, is often related to how powerful it is. Generally, larger chargers can output more power than smaller, more portable ones. Larger chargers can also offer more than one charging port. Smaller chargers, however, are lighter and often cost less.

MFi certification

MFi stands for Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad. It’s a program run by Apple certifying that an accessory is compatible with its products and safe to use. It’s a good idea to check if a third-party iPhone charger is MFi-certified. Chargers for non-Apple products, like Android smartphones, can often be used to charge the iPhone with an appropriate Lightning cable, but it’s better to have an MFi-certified charger. Avoid chargers that look or feel shoddy or have misspelled specifications.

Before September 2012, iPhones used a 30-pin connector instead of Lightning, which you may sometimes still see in older accessories.

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iPhone charger features

USB-A and USB-C

Wall chargers and car chargers typically offer USB ports to connect to the iPhone via cables. These ports are almost always USB — either the familiar, flat, rectangular, non-reversible USB-A, or the smaller, reversible, rounded USB-C. USB-A and USB-C ports have different charging capabilities. USB-A cables can handle 5.1 volts at 2.1 amps, or 12 watts, at the maximum. USB-C can handle up to 95 watts, although such powerful chargers are most suitable for charging laptops.

Fast charging

Some iPhones feature fast charging capability. These iPhones can use chargers with higher voltage and amperage to charge to a certain level faster. A fast-charge-compatible iPhone charger must output at least 18 to 20 watts and use USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) over a USB-C-to-Lightning cable. Note that even without fast charging, a more powerful charger — such as Apple’s 12W iPad charger — will charge an iPhone faster than a 5W charger. Other fast-charging standards include Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, but Quick Charge isn’t compatible with iPhones.

MagSafe and Qi

Wireless charging pads compatible with the iPhone are based on two technologies: Qi and MagSafe. Qi is a widely available charging standard introduced in 2008 that maxes out at 7.5 watts. iPhones starting with the iPhone 8 are compatible with Qi wireless charging. MagSafe is an Apple-specific standard based on Qi introduced in 2020. It allows compatible iPhones, such as the iPhone 12 and later, to charge at up to 15 watts. A MagSafe-compatible iPhone can charge from a Qi charger and a Qi-compatible iPhone can charge from a MagSafe charger, but in both cases, only at Qi’s maximum watts and speed.

Multiple ports

If you have more than one device to charge, you may benefit from an iPhone charger that can charge more than one device at a time. Look for a power adapter or car charger with more than one USB-A port, or a USB-A and a USB-C port, or some other combination. Some wireless pads offer two charging areas for two devices, or a pad for a smartphone and a smaller pad for a smartwatch like the Apple Watch. These chargers often split their total wattage or amperage among their ports.

wireless charging pad
DID YOU KNOW?
While wireless charging may seem futuristic, the technology behind it has been around for over 100 years.
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iPhone charger accessories

Cables

Wired iPhone chargers like wall chargers and car chargers need to connect to iPhones with Lightning cables. These USB cables have either a USB-A or USB-C connector at one end and an Apple Lightning port on the other. Cheap and flimsy charging cables may conduct power poorly, break easily, overheat, and cause electric shocks or even fires. Good charging cables are sturdy, durable, pliable, and stand up to constant use.

Travel adapters

International travelers may want to invest in travel adapters and outlet adapters for their iPhone charger. There are 14 socket and plug types in use in the world, with seven types being the most common in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. You can get a travel adapter that offers charging, or get a kit with the most common plug adapters for your existing charger. Line voltage (the voltage that goes into your charger) also varies internationally, usually 110V to 120V or 220V to 240V. Dual-voltage chargers, such as Apple’s chargers, can handle these line voltages without a separate transformer.

How much do iPhone chargers cost?

Inexpensive

You can pick up a cheap USB charger that costs below $9 at almost any supermarket, gas station, or convenience store. There are a few good buys in this price category, but there are also many slipshod, poorly made, unbranded chargers with low wattage or amperage that lack MFi certification. It’s best to avoid these if you can.

Mid-range

The majority of good wall chargers and car chargers cost between $9 and $40. Among them are Apple’s own chargers, plus respected brands like Belkin, Anker, and Scosche, which often boast more wattage or more ports than Apple’s chargers do. You can also find basic wireless charging pads in this price range.

Expensive

There are a few power adapters and wall chargers that cost above $50, most with the kind of power that can recharge laptops, or with multiple charging ports. Many wireless charging pads can be found in this range, particularly those with multiple pads for multiple devices, or stands and high-end finishes.

With iOS 13, Apple introduced smart charging, which allows compatible iPhones to learn your daily routine and wait to charge past 80% until needed.

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iPhone charging tips

  • Keep it cool, but not too cool. The iPhone’s battery generates heat as it charges. It charges best when in a cool, comfortable environment, and when it isn’t covered with other objects. Never charge an iPhone when the ambient temperature is 95°F or above. At the same time, cooling your iPhone to 32°F will cause damage. Never freeze an iPhone.
  • Wall outlets charge fastest. Power adapters plugged into wall sockets, especially USB-C chargers with fast charging, will charge your iPhone faster than wireless pads, car chargers, or battery packs, and much faster than most computers’ USB ports.
  • Remove thick cases. Some cases make the iPhone too hot for efficient charging or interfere with wireless charging. Remove these cases before you charge your iPhone.
  • Turn the iPhone off, or disconnect it from the cellular network. For fastest charging, turn your iPhone off. If you want to keep it on but still charge faster, turn off its cellular connection, or even its Wi-Fi connection, from Settings or Control Center.
iphone charger
iPhone battery capacities have grown from 1,400 milliamp hours (mAh) in the original 2007 iPhone to 4,352 mAh for the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

FAQ

Q. How often should you charge an iPhone?

A. Apple recommends recharging an iPhone when its battery hits 20% to avoid running low when you need it or emptying its battery completely. It’s recommended to charge your iPhone frequently and incrementally instead of always running it near empty and then charging it to full.

Q. Is it okay to leave the iPhone charging overnight?

A. While the iPhone battery likes frequent incremental charges, charging your iPhone overnight won’t overload the battery. However, keeping your iPhone charging for long periods of time will eventually eat into your battery’s maximum capacity. It isn’t a huge worry, but if it concerns you, unplug your iPhone if you wake up in the night.

Q. Can you use old iPhone chargers on new iPhones?

A. You can use any of Apple’s power adapters to charge your iPhone as long as the adapters are still in good working order, from the original 5W power adapter to the 95W USB-C power adapter that charges Apple’s laptops. Older third-party adapters should also remain compatible as long as they meet the wattage and amperage requirements and are MFi-certified.

 

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