What Are the Differences Between Mobile Phone Chargers and Docks?

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What Are the Differences Between Mobile Phone Chargers and Docks?

With every good mobile phone comes a good mobile phone charger or dock. When buying a new phone, remember to buy a good mobile phone charger or dock. Before buying either one of these products, bear in mind the range of products available today. Each one has its own pros and cons and will suit a different lifestyle. Here's a buying guide describing the differences between the various options.

What's the Difference?

Mobile chargers and docks are essentially the same thing. The difference comes in where they're used. A dock can connect to objects like speakers and computers, whereas chargers connect to the mains supply. Flexibility is an important quality in a charger. The type of charger influences the flexibility and, in many cases, the cost. Making the right buying decision is about knowing what's important and the limitations of each type of charger.

Why Does the Charger Matter?

At first glance, it's a redundant question to ask what type of charger works best. It's common to think of them as largely similar products. They do differ, though. Making the right buying decision influences everything from the cost, the amount of time it takes to charge the phone, and the sort of functions on offer. Some chargers also won't work with certain phone models. It's why some manufacturers have created docks and chargers which work with multiple different models. Get the wrong charger, and it might not work with the phone or the demands of daily life.

How Does It Work?

The charger plugs into the phone via a special cable, which is usually just a smaller USB cable. It uses DC voltage to power the rechargeable battery. From a chemical point of view, it reverses the reactions which power the battery. If it's connected to the mains supply, it needs to take this AC voltage (which is slightly more powerful) and break it down into DC voltage. To do this, it must use an AC-DC transformer. After transforming it, the DC voltage filters through to the battery and reverses the aforementioned chemical reactions.

The Qualities of a Charger

Every charger and docking station has different qualities. Some were designed to charge the phone in the quickest time possible, whereas others work with multiple models. Before buying the phone, always make sure the qualities of the phone match up with any specific requirements. Buying the wrong charger diminishes the value of the phone.

Different Models

Most chargers have been designed to work with only specific models, such as Samsung and Nokia phones. But manufacturers have created something called the Universal Charger. It does exactly what its name suggests. Plug it in to any phone on the market and it will charge it as normal. Research whether the specific Universal Charger works with any necessary models. Some chargers will work with most phones, but there are some models it will still have problems with. Review the product description and any customer reviews before buying. Take note, only a dedicated charger will work alongside multiple models. Other types of charger have set limits as to what they can work with.

Speed and Rapid Chargers

Most standard chargers take between six and eight hours to charge a mobile phone which has zero charge left. For a lot of lifestyles, this isn't acceptable as the phone is an essential communication device which always needs to be ready for whoever might call next. Use a rapid or fast charger instead. Rapid and fast chargers can fully charge a phone in half the time because of the higher voltage. An advantage with speed and rapid chargers is they fit into car auxiliary plugs, so it's possible to charge a phone while driving to work or driving home. There's one disadvantage to using a fast charger, though. Leave them in the phone too long, such as overnight, and it can start overheating. It doesn't automatically stop charging, so the battery can become damaged. An overheated battery needs completely replacing.


Chargers for the safety conscious include wall chargers and trickle chargers. A standard wall charger consists of components like transformers and cables. It converts the AC voltage into DC for transitioning to the phone's battery. It's supplied with a lot of phones upon purchase, and a lot of people still prefer them over the more niche chargers. It's also one of the safest as it won't overheat the battery and it's durable. Trickle chargers work slightly differently. They combine the safety of the standard wall charger with the speed of the fast charger. The difference comes with the sensor inside. This sensor recognises when it's finished charging the battery. If it's still plugged in, it automatically shuts off and prevents it from overheating. It's slightly more expensive, though.


Docking stations work in exactly the same way as chargers. The difference is in what they can do. The type of docking station determines what it can do, and this can add alternate levels of convenience.

Computer Docking Station

The computer docking station connects to the computer via USB cable. This cable allows the transferring of data between device and computer both ways. Most new phones already come with a computer docking station as it's one of the only ways of transferring new pictures and videos. At the same time, it charges the phone. The only issue is it can sap the battery of a laptop which isn't plugged in, which doesn't help with charging on the go.

Speaker Docking Station

The speaker docking station is exactly as it appears. It connects the phone to a speaker. It turns it into a mini entertainment system perfect for parties and small gatherings. Most speakers have already been connected to some other electrical source, which allows for recharging. Some forms of the docking station only have the speakers to amplify sound.

Green Chargers

Green chargers use alternate electrical power sources to charge batteries. Environmental chargers come from manufacturers who want to reduce the amount of energy used on a daily basis. These chargers can involve anything from Nokia's pedal charger, which charges phones via the kinetic energy caused by moving the pedals on a bike, or a solar charger from IST Sidewinder which uses the sun.


There's not an ideal charger for every scenario. Chargers have their own advantages and disadvantages. Browse the following table for the main advantages of each type of charger:


Wall Charger

Fast/Rapid Charger

Trickle Charger

Green Charger

Docking Station





Model Dependent

















Chargers and Docking Stations

The advantages of a charger over a docking station are many, and it's why they're the more popular of the two. It doesn't mean the charger is for everyone, though. Review these advantages to see if they really are the best option.

Chargers Advantages

The main advantage of a charger is the speed. The types of charger on offer means it can take only half the time to charge a phone fully. It's something a docking station just can't do. It's portable. Although newer cars have banished the traditional cigarette lighter holder, manufacturers have replaced it with an auxiliary plug. It works in exactly the same way as before. Put the charger in, and the phone draws its power from the car's battery. Most chargers have no safety issues. Apart from the fast charger, they either have a sensor or some other internal mechanism which prevents them from overheating and damaging the mechanisms.

Docking Station Advantages

More functions: Docking stations can connect to other devices to allocate the phone additional functions it didn't have before. Turn it into a speaker system, or store files from the computer on the phone. There are other niche docking station areas as well, such as mini televisions and radios. Portability: Just like with the charger, docking stations always have some degree of portability. Although the other electronic device isn't always portable, the cables which connect it are. Carry them around and connect it to a similar electronic device, and it works in just the same way.

Buying Mobile Phone Chargers and Docks on eBay

To purchase mobile phone chargers and docking stations on eBay, navigate to the eBay homepage. The main product categories appear on the left in the form of a small menu. Click on Electronics & Technology and Mobile Phones & Communications.. The main page for mobile and smartphone chargers and docking stations can be found through the Chargers & Docks link. On this page is the full range of eBay docking stations and mobile phone chargers. To narrow down the number of search results, use the left-hand filter menu to search by brands like Nokia and Samsung,, price, types like portable and wall chargers,, and the buying format. On eBay there's either the auction format, where the product goes to the highest bidder, or the Buy It Now format, where the product is available at a predetermined price.


Finding the right qualities in a phone charger or docking station can seem like a hassle-filled experience. With this buying guide, it's just a matter of measuring up what each type of charger has to offer and comparing it with a current lifestyle. Think about the amount of flexibility now and in the near future before making a final purchasing decision.

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