It’s been a minute since you’ve been able to get a USB phone charger bundled with most new flagship smartphones. That means you actually need to think about which one you should get instead, and how much you ought to spend. But the bright side is that, if you pick the right charging brick, it can act as a multi-purpose device that can top up a variety of gadgets while also reducing how much gear you need to carry while traveling.

That said, before you buy anything, there are some important things to consider. Are you looking for a fast charger strictly to pair with your phone, or do you want something that can charge a tablet or laptop as well? Alternatively, if you want something that can recharge a bunch of smaller devices, you need to know how many you intend on powering up simultaneously, as that will dictate the number of ports you need. Finally, some phones like those from OnePlus support proprietary charging protocols that are faster than what you’ll get with standard USB-PD. And in those cases, you may be better off with a first-party phone charger. But regardless of what you need, Engadget’s list of the best fast chargers should cover practically any situation.

Editor’s Note (April 2024): While we’re still waiting for more new chargers to come out so we can do a full update to our guide, some appealing options have hit the market recently. At the end of March, Pluggable announced a super slim two-port 40W USB-C adapter that seems like a great travel companion for keeping a phone and a tablet topped up simultaneously. One neat feature is its smart power allocation tech, which allows the charger to dynamically shift how much juice each device gets to best maximize efficiency.

Meanwhile, for those looking for something beefier, UGreen released an entire new line of devices. The most notable of these is a 160-watt GaN charger, featuring four ports (three USB-C and one USB-A) that can split power output between multiple devices at once or charge one laptop at up to 140 watts. This gives UGreen’s brick a ton of flexibility while still being able to refill even a beefy 16-inch MacBook Pro at top speed. Alternatively, Satechi’s latest 145w charger offers similar (though slightly lower) power output and comes with an assortment of international plug adapters, which could be a real luxury for frequent travelers. But perhaps most importantly, both of these devices cost $40 to $50 less than our current favorite high-wattage charger (Razer’s 130W GaN adapter), so we’re looking forward to testing these out in more depth soon.

How we tested

The methodology for my fast charging experiment is intended to be as straightforward as possible. I drained each device to 10 percent battery, plugged in a power brick and then recorded the amount of charge added every 10 minutes for an hour. Each adapter was plugged directly into a standard 120-volt outlet (without the use of a power strip or any extension cords), and when possible I used the cable that either came included with the battery charger or one made by the same manufacturer as the device. If that wasn’t an option, I used certified 100-watt USB-C cables made by Anker, Apple and others.

Because the charging rate for devices varies depending on how much juice you have, I wanted to measure how well each adapter was able to match each gadget’s optimal charging speed. Generally, charging is slower between zero and 20 percent before speeds ramp up until the battery hits 80 percent, at which point things slow down again to protect and preserve the health and longevity of the power cell. For charging stations with multiple ports, I always selected the port with the highest power output while also not having multiple devices connected.

The five devices we used to test the chargers are the iPhone 13, a Galaxy S22 Ultra, a Nintendo Switch (a launch model from 2017), a 2021 Dell XPS 13 and a 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

As for the devices themselves, I selected an Apple iPhone 13, a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, a Nintendo Switch (a launch model from 2017), a 2021 Dell XPS 13 and a 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro. This assortment was chosen to cover a wide range of power draws from 20 watts (iPhone 13) all the way up to 140 watts (M1 Max MBP). Also, every system was tested while idle (i.e. no additional apps or games running) in order to ensure consistent results.

One important thing to note is that while the USB Implementers Forum has approved support for USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) charging at up to 240 watts, adapters that actually support that power output don’t exist yet. Additionally, while there are a handful of cables that can handle more than 100 watts of juice, they are somewhat rare or hard to get.

What is GaN?

When looking for chargers, you may notice that some are marked as GaN, which stands for gallium nitride. This is an important distinction because, compared to older adapters that use silicon switches, GaN-based devices support increased power efficiency and output, allowing manufacturers to create more compact chargers that run cooler and support higher wattages. Depending on the specific power output, GaN chargers can be 30 to 50 percent smaller and lighter than silicon-based alternatives. That might not sound like much, but when they’re sitting in a bag alongside a laptop, phone and any other accessories you might have, cutting down on excess bulk and weight can go a long way.

Chargers we tested

With so many different chargers of varying power outputs to test, I broke things down into three categories. There are the 30-watt and under chargers, which are primarily designed for smartphones and other small mobile devices. Then we move up to 45 to 65-watt chargers (give or take a watt or two) that can handle things like phones along with a number of thin and light laptops. Finally, we have chargers that output 100 watts or more, which are good for pretty much anything besides the biggest and most power-hungry gaming laptops. Many of these higher wattage adapters also feature multiple ports, so can you top up additional devices at full speed. However, because not every power brick supports multi-device charging, I didn’t include that as a testing metric.

You can see a full list of the chargers we tested below:


Number of ports: 1 | Ports: USB-C | Dimensions: 1.12 x 1.12 x 1.39 inches | Compatibility: Phones, tablets, laptops (limited) | Cable: Not included

$20 at Amazon

When it comes to charging small devices, 30 watts is by far the most popular as it covers most cell phones along with some larger devices like the Nintendo Switch. In our testing, all of the 30-watt chargers performed equally well, with each one able to get the iPhone to around 80 percent battery charge in less than an hour while also completely refilling the Galaxy phone in 60 minutes. However, as you can see, these smaller, low-wattage bricks struggled to refill both the XPS 13 and especially the MacBook Pro. Yes, you can do it, but it’s rather sluggish (the XPS 13 even surfaced a slow charger notification), and because I tested each device while idle, there’s a good chance these chargers may not be able to keep these laptops topped up while under load.

The Anker 711 (middle right) is our favorite 30-watt charger thanks to its fast speeds and compact size. The Anker 711 (middle right) is our favorite 30-watt charger thanks to its fast speeds and compact size.

The Anker 711 (middle right) is our favorite 30-watt charger thanks to its fast speeds and compact size. (Sam Rutherford/Engadget)

However, the one thing that sticks out is the performance of Apple’s 20-watt brick, whose lower output caused it to lag behind — every other adapter provided faster charging. While it was able to keep up with rival devices when refilling the iPhone, its wattage is so low it couldn’t even trickle charge the XPS 13. Dell’s power management did not even recognize that a charger was plugged in. That means this adapter is much less useful if you need to quick charge more power-hungry gadgets in a pinch. And I should mention I didn’t bother testing the old 15-watt Apple power cubes, which can’t even support the iPhone’s full 20-watt charging speeds. Anyone still using one of those really ought to upgrade.