A Guide to Buying USB Chargers and Docks for Mobile Phones

Like if this guide is helpful
A Complete Guide to Buying USB Chargers and Docks for Mobile Phones

Mobile phones have become increasingly demanding in terms of battery usage, and many users have discovered that they need to have more chargers to compensate for high battery use during the day. Some phones allow for battery swapping, but many new mobile phones coming out have fixed bodies, meaning that swapping batteries is impossible. Luckily, there are many ways in which mobile phones can be charged, ensuring that battery life is available whenever needed.

Different Connector Types

The first thing that has to be considered when looking at a charging cable is that chargers usually come with one of three standard connectors – mini USB, micro USB, and Apple 30 pin. Mini-USB is found in older devices like satellite navigation devices, cameras and older phones. Micro-USB is very similar in shape to mini-USB, but it is much smaller. It is impossible to fit a mini-USB connector into a micro-USB port. Mini-USB is rapidly becoming the new standard with most Android smartphones. Apple’s 30 pin connector is used for its iPod, iPhone, and iPad lines. It is a thin rectangle, almost three times the width of micro USB and is interchangeable between all Apple devices. It is important to keep the type of connector in mind as an incorrect connector will be useless.

USB Cables

The most common way to charge a phone is to hook it up to the USB cable that comes with the phone and connect that to a powered PC or laptop. Almost all smartphones will come with one, and savvy users will quickly notice that most smartphone USB cables are interchangeable between smartphones as most of them are mini-USB to USB cables. The only exception to this rule is iPhones and other Apple products. They tend to use their own proprietary 30-pin connectors to charge and interact with computers. While the port is still USB, the part that connects to the phone is exclusive to Apple products such as iPods, iPhones, and iPads. The important thing to remember is that different chargers can charge at very different rates, despite having the same connector. Bigger and more powerful devices such as tablets will require chargers that operate at a higher amount of charge, due to the size of the battery that is to be charged, and cables will have different charge rates that reflect this. For instance, a tablet or iPad will require a much larger charger than an iPod Nano, and using a Nano cable to charge an iPad will most likely result in a very slow charging time for the iPad. Using the correct cable with the correct device is the best remedy for this problem. It should be noted that the reverse is a much better option, and that charging with a cable that has a higher charge rate will result in efficient charging. The device may get a bit hotter than usual, but no damage to the device will occur.

Plug Chargers

Most mobile devices will come with the USB charger and a plug connector that can be plugged into a wall socket to allow for charging. The wall socket adapter is localised to specific countries, which can become an issue if the phone is purchased in a different country. The wall socket adapter can be purchased separately from the USB cable meaning that the same charging cable can be used in many different countries with many different voltages by simply changing the plug adapter.

Car Chargers

While most of the time charging at home or at a PC/laptop is sufficient, many smartphone users find that having a charger in the car is ideal for long distance driving or for situations where having an extra boost of battery life during the day. Again, the chargers are usually adapters that fit into the cigarette lighter socket and then work off of a USB to micro-USB or mini-USB cable. It's also possible to get chargers that are a single unit, which many find to be more convenient than having two separate pieces to keep track of. Generally, car and wall socket chargers provide faster charging than charging over USB due to the difference in power being put out. Wall sockets and cigarette lighter sockets typically put out around 12 to 13A, which is more than enough to charge even the most run down battery. A USB port can only provide up to 1500mA (or 1.5A), meaning that charging via the USB cable is much, much slower than using the wall socket or cigarette lighter sockets, and the USB cable should only be used as a last resort or during an emergency.

Mobile Phone Docks

Mobile phone docks are traditionally used to connect speakers to the mobile phone. The concept was popularised by Apple for use with their iPod and iPhones, but now most smartphones have a wide variety of docks that can be used. Some docks also offer charging capability, making them useful as extra chargers around the house. As with cable chargers, compatibility is the main concern when looking for a mobile phone dock. Apple docks will work with Apple products, while other docks will work with a variety of smartphone models. Some docks will have speakers, while others are simply charging stations, and it's important to check whether or not the dock is compatible with a brand of mobile phone model. When considering which mobile phone dock to buy, review if a simple charger or something with more features is needed, and then look for docks compatible with the mobile phone that the dock will be used for. Most manufacturers will actually have their own docks for their mobile phones which are guaranteed to be compatible, and will provide the best experience for that particular brand of phone.

Wireless Charging Docks

Another trend in mobile phone charging is wireless charging, where the dock charges the phone wirelessly using induction. This reduces the amount of cables lying around and provides a trendy and aesthetic way to charge a mobile phone. As this is not possible with all models, it's very important to first make sure that the smartphone in question allows wireless charging, and then ensuring that the wireless charging dock works with the mobile phone.


There's a large number of options available when charging a mobile phone. Charging from a wall socket or cigarette lighter socket is faster than charging from a USB port, but all of the charging methods work on having a USB cable attached to the correct adapter. It's also possible to purchase mobile phone docks that can double as a charging dock and audio station for a variety of mobile phones. Wireless charging is becoming more and more popular and will soon be adopted by more phones, making wireless docks an attractive option for phones that are compatible with the wireless charging standard.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides