Fast charging vs slow charging – which is better?

Traditionally, charging our smartphones or tablets took hours if the battery was empty or had very little charge left in it.  These day, with all the advancements in mobile processing power, our reliance on our gadgets and the need to always be connected, we need our devices to have as little downtime as possible due to dead batteries – enter fast, quick or rapid charging.

Fast or rapid charging (in a nutshell) is a battery charging technology that charges the battery faster than “normal” by increasing the charging power as supported by the device.  A device manufactured without fast-charging capability will not charge the battery faster than it was designed to even if you use a fast charger on it.

A more technical explanation:

Lithium Ion/Polymer Battery, (the kind found in smartphones and tablets these days) charge using a two (2) step process.

  1. Your smartphone’s charger supplies a constant current to the battery until the peak cell voltages is reached;
  2. Once that peak cell voltage is accomplished the peak voltage is maintained while the current drops to about 10% of what it took to get the voltage to its 100% mark. It is at this point that your battery is really fully charged.

Here’s the kicker – Some of the fast-chargers on the market only complete the first step in the two-step process resulting in the battery not being allowed to really be fully charged, but instead it will be at about 80% of its charge capacity even though it says 100%.  Getting the additional 20% or so could take as long as an hour and a half or more to be realized.

I should probably mention here, (just in case you haven’t already picked it up) that if you want maximum capacity out of your smartphone or tablet’s battery, you cannot rush the charging process because the second charging stage or step is the most important for achieving such.

You should also know that aggressive charging will decrease your battery’s lifespan.  The gentler you charge and discharge lithium ion/polymer batteries, the longer they will last and maintain their charge capacity.  Additionally it is a very good idea to use the charger that your device came with (from its manufacturer) – just because a charger fits does not mean that you should use it.

So which is better?

While fast charging is convenient, charging your device’s battery at a slower rate will not only generate less heat and stress the battery less, but will also be better for the battery’s prolonged health.  Remember, excessive heat is NOT good for your device or its battery, but then again neither is leaving your phone on the charger all night long.

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Author: Jervis Dabreo

Jervis A. Dabreo (1979 - ) is a Grenadian author, blogger and high school teacher with a passion for technology and empowering others.

5 thoughts on “Fast charging vs slow charging – which is better?”

    1. That was very informative especially the advice on the appropriate charger for your phone. I am guilty of using any charger once it fits. Now i know better. Thanks

  1. I have a slightly different opinion on what’s better for the battery regardless wether it’s Li-Ion or Li-Polymer.

    It’s not the charger but the OS of a smartphone which completely controls the charging process. Admittedly I only know some details about iPhones not Lumias.

    If fast charging or the actual current intensity becomes unhealthy the OS will slow down the process.

    1. Actually when it comes to Android, the kernel and the device’s hardware determines whether or not the battery can be fast-charged. Changing the OS (upgrading or downgrading) has very little to do with that particular feature. It’s for that very reason you can have two devices running the same version of Android, using the very same type of fast-charger and one benefits and the other does not simply because the device does not have that capability.

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