Power Delivery, Quick Charge and more: the battle of the fast charging standards

Power Delivery, Quick Charge and more: the battle of the fast charging standards

Fast charging is a point of contention among smartphone owners. The new USB Type-C standard aims to create a unified standard with Power Delivery. Qualcomm’s expensive Quick Charge, or proprietary solutions like Samsung Adaptive Fast Charge, Huawei SuperCharge and OnePlus Dash, would then be rendered obsolete. Let's take a closer look and compare these standards.

Fast charging: Not bad per se

Chargers have become smart. Over the past several years, the microcontrollers of batteries and chargers have significantly improved. Components communicate with each other and constantly negotiate the ideal voltage and current so that the battery doesn’t get too hot or prematurely age. At the same time, the charging rate is able to be increased, allowing for several hours of battery life after charging for a few minutes. The USB Implementer’s Forum has adopted the Power Delivery standard for the Type-C port specifically for this reason. It’s a costless, royalty-free and universally compatible alternative to the standards of smartphone manufacturers and the chip giant Qualcomm. A Power Delivery charger charges all Type-C smartphones quickly and gently. Liz Nardozza, Press Spokesperson for USB-IF explains:

“In USB Power Delivery, connected ports negotiate the voltage, current, and direction of current flow via the CC (communications channel) pin in the USB cable. The mechanism functions irrespective of other USB methods with which power is being negotiated. You can find more details in the USB PD 3.0 specification.”

USB Power Delivery is an open industry standard that can be used royalty-free. However, the license is subject to a few standards for companies that wish to adopt USB 3.0.

In its Compatibility Definition for Android 7.1, Google has denoted Power Delivery as STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. The next step for Android O could be making that a MUST. If manufacturers fail to comply, then they cannot update their devices to Android O. And what would come next? Nardozza explains:

"It’s up to OEMs to demonstrate their willingness to implement USB PD and eliminate proprietary standards. USB-IF’s PD is a solution with many benefits and sees numerous advantages in an open industry standard for fast charging, among them...

- No licensing fee

- Less electronic waste worldwide, since consumers would not have to purchase as many charging accessories

- Ease of use: Chargers work with all manufacturers, so that consumers can replace them with alternatives as often as they wish

- OEMs save money on developing, manufacturing and storage, since the open standard reduces the amount of different chargers - Global support: IEC for Europe, CCSA for China (negotiations underway)

You might have noticed when charging your phone with a friend's charger that it can sometimes be slower than charging with your own. But, uniform standards will fix that - if only smartphone manufacturers would go along with it.

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Power delivery rocks batteries. / © NextPit

Then what does Qualcomm do better with Quick Charge?

Of course, we asked Qualcomm what’s better about its Quick Charge solution. Credit must be given to Qualcomm for creating an important technological foundation. Qualcomm brought up pain points and brought to light many weaknesses in the current USB standard.

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Quick Charge is unnecessarily expensive for many manufacturers. / © NextPit

Quick Charge 2.0 was the first to surpass the former limit of five volts. Higher voltages would become possible without damaging the battery. Thanks to the increase to nine volts, the impedance between cables, connectors, PMICs, PCBs and a number of additional components could be reduced, explained a Qualcomm spokesperson. Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 introduced INOV technology, which works out the ideal charging voltage between the charger and battery. Furthermore, Quick Charge uses AICL to work out the ideal current. Automatic Power Source Detection (APSD) helps the battery identify the charger and adjust the incoming current flow accordingly; helpful in a world with a hundred different chargers.

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The number of different chargers is too high. / © NextPit

As you can easily see, quite a few of these technologies are now incorporated into Power Delivery. So, what’s the point of purchasing an additional fee-based licensed standard when the included Type-C port already charges quickly and carefully and other technologies become obsolete as incompatible chargers disappear?

How do PD and Quick Charge 4 work together?

Quick Charge 4 is compatible with Power Delivery, which raises the question of what Quick Charge 4 brings to the table. Power Delivery is already proficient in technologies for negotiating current and voltage. Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4 can intervene to take control with regard to the device’s so-called thermal budget; in other words: It makes sure that the smartphone does not get too hot when charging. The fact that Quick Charge and PD can co-exist is due to the fact that Power Delivery is solely a protocol for negotiating voltage and current. Quick Charge 4 has simply learned to speak this language, but does the same thing as Quick Charge 3 with a few upgrades. Thus, QC4 is exclusive to Type-C.

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Huawei allows for two fast-charging technologies to run in parallel. / © NextPit

What does Samsung have to offer with Adaptive Fast Charge or Huawei with SuperCharge?

We still see dedicated fast-charging devices, even in Type-C smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Huawei Mate 9 or P10/Plus. However, Adaptive Fast Charge or Supercharge have nothing over Power Delivery. When we connected the devices to our PD-compatible Anker PowerPort+ 5 table charger, both devices charged at practically the same rate as the included charger.

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Adaptive Fast Charge: It sounds cool, but it’s incompatible with competing smartphones. / © NextPit

Why Samsung, Huawei or OnePlus with Dash still even bother is already questionable in light of Power Delivery. There are no longer any apparent financial arguments in favor of proprietary development, and the customer will be happy about quickly charging his or her Samsung smartphone with a buddy’s Huawei charger. OnePlus could even save on expensive marketing videos like this one:

Power Delivery is already bearing its first fruits, and many mid-range smartphones will hopefully catch up this year. Then we could be done with hot batteries and waiting eternally for your buddy’s charger to get the job done. And since manufacturers can forego royalty fees and proprietary development, they can invest the budget in other components or perhaps even environmental protection.

Are you a quick charge loyalist or do you think common standards are better? Leave your comments below!


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  • Russell Lindemann Aug 12, 2018 Link to comment

    Hi All! I have an Essential PH-1 phone and LOVE the Power Delivery charger that came with the phone! I can charge the PH-1 from dead to 100% in 1.12 hours. Most other phones (ie; Samsung, One+) take 1-1/2.

  • Wojciech Wróblewski Jan 14, 2018 Link to comment

    For me it was a revealation that My Galaxy S8 DOES support Power Delivery and so does the Dex station. I take a multiport adapter for my trips because there is always more than one device to charge. Dragging the OOTB power adapter wasn't an option (and the Dex wouldn't work with the QC port although the voltage and apmperage underneath is the same).
    First I powered the Dex station with a Samsung power bank that (as the only one) had Samsung's Fast Charging (and was like 2-3 times overpriced for the capacity). It also has one port so I had to drag another powerbank to charge my mobile monitor in places where the power outlet was too far from a table or desk.
    Thanks to this PD unification I already have a multiport adapter with PD ( so I can plug in the station, the monitor and some other stuff to one charger where the power outlet is near) and I'm also waiting for a multiport powerbank with PD for places where I can't rely on a charger. The power bank with the capacity of 20000 mAh is actually cheaper than the 2 times smaller power bank from Samsung.

    So yes, I'm all in for the PD instead of proprietary charging standards.

  • Nikolay F Aug 2, 2017 Link to comment

    While the battle is ongoing you can do like I did. I look and find for chargers which support both standards :).
    For my car I got the LinkOn Power Delivery and Quick Charge car charger. So far it works well and it is very compact.

  • Anik Jun 15, 2017 Link to comment

    The problem is always the authenticity of a charger. What happens if or when your phone's original charger doesn't work anymore? You'll have to decide whether buy a new original (very expensive) chsrger, which in most cases is also quite difficult to find, or quickly buy the first (cheap) charger you find on Amazon or eBay, at the risk of messing up your phone, which normally you don't really think about because the average consumer doesn't know or care that much about the specs and they think (or hope?) that all chargers are compliant to the industry standards. That's why we should absolutely encourage a standardised charging technology that should also be cheap to produce, so that even the companies who don't comply with the normal standards to save money decide to embrace it.

  • Mark G. Jun 8, 2017 Link to comment

    I use chargers and cable from a great manufacturer JuicEBitz - they sell a dual USB "JuiceBrick" output DC5/3.1A with intelligent charging. This means both ports deliver the required charge as needed by the type of device. They also sell high quality USB cable with 20AW - 24AW fully shielded, this is the most important aspect of the charging system as poor cable will impact on the consistency of the charge & can lose a lot of charge before it reaches the device.

    Peace 🖖🏼

  • My1 Jun 8, 2017 Link to comment

    honestly one thing I certainly dont like is that wan too many USB-C devices had QC3, making sure that most multiport chargers with a USB-C Port included use QC3 on the USB-C. right now I have only seen one of those that does USB-PD, which is sad as hell.

  • Alex Garcia Jun 7, 2017 Link to comment

    Nothing can touch dash charge tho!

  • Doug Jensen Jun 7, 2017 Link to comment

    You neglected to note that the USB C spec specifically states that proprietary charging technologies, such as QC3, are forbidden. Despite that, for example, my LG V20 and OEM charger violate the spec by including QC3--as do a number of other phones and after-market chargers. Benson Leung explains all this in detail.

    • Robert Dunn Jun 7, 2017 Link to comment

      But then I won't be able to use my old QC3 chargers with it. As long as it doesn't hurt anything, what's the big deal?

      • Doug Jensen Jun 7, 2017 Link to comment

        Why do you suppose that the USB C spec forbids QC3? You can find out by doing a Google search on Benson Leung (a Google engineer) and and Nathan K -- reading the reasons and learn a lot more about USB C. A non-compliant USB-C charger destroyed Leung's laptop. Amazon has been deleting USB C cables, chargers, and external batteries that violate the USB C spec. Some manufacturers have responded to Leung by redesigning their USB C products. Others have not--caveat emptor.

      • My1 Jun 9, 2017 Link to comment

        well even if usbc isnt android is strongly against it and it may be just a matter of time until it gets axed into oblivion

    • Doug Jensen Jun 7, 2017 Link to comment

      BTW, I don't use the OEM AC charger that came with my LG V20, I use a USB C compliant charger--PD charging is fast.

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