While Apple doesn’t focus on charging speeds during iPhone and iPad announcements, recent Apple products do support fast charging - the issue is that the majority of products don’t ship with a powerful charger to take advantage of the tech. Surprisingly, you can actually get up to 50 percent charge on an iPhone in as little as 30 minutes using Apple’s fast charger.
With a lack of clarification on what models support fast charging and the maximum supported charge, we set out to explain which iPhones and iPad support it, and how to use it.
What is fast charging and how do I use it?
Fast charging has been readily available on Android smartphones for a few years now, but Apple fans may be unfamiliar with what it offers. It essentially does what it says on the tin: it allows your device to be charged faster than if you were using the charger that shipped with it. The only exceptions to this are the iPhone 11 Pro range and all models of iPad Pro, which ship with a powerful 18W charger to take advantage of the fast charging tech from day one.
If you’ve got any other iPhone, however, chances are you’ll be using Apple’s standard 5W charger. It’s more than enough to supply power for a basic recharge, but it’ll take a while, and the low power means it’s not able to transmit a fast enough charge to power a high-capacity device like an iPad.
Non-Pro iPads these days ship with a 12W charging brick, and handily, you can also use this to charge your iPhone too. It won't be quite as quick as the 18W fast charger, but it’ll offer a marked improvement from the slow charging available with the 5W charger. It’s worth noting that if you’ve got anything older than an iPhone 8/8 Plus, you’ll be capped at a maximum of 12W regardless of the charger you use.
If you do get your hands on an 18W fast charger, Apple claims that regardless of the model of supported iPhone, you’ll get around 50 percent charge in 30 minutes. That’s still not quite as impressive as what you can get on some Androids, with the likes of the Oppo Find X2 Pro offering incredible 65W fast charging that’ll provide half charge in around 15 minutes, but it’ll still provide a noticeable reduction in overall charge times - especially when you need a quick top-up before you leave the house.
Which iPhones and iPads support fast charging?
As we alluded to earlier, not all iPhones and iPads can handle the 18W fast charging now available. You can take advantage of the 18W power with the following devices, and those with an asterisk (*) feature a fast charger in the box:
- iPhone 8/8 Plus
- iPhone X
- iPhone XS/XS Max
- iPhone Xr
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max*
- iPad Pro 12.9in*
- iPad Pro 11in*
- iPad Pro 10.5in*
- iPad Air (third-gen)
- iPad mini (fifth-gen)
If your iPhone or iPad isn’t listed, it’ll likely support a maximum of 12W.
Fast charging using an official Apple charger
The official Apple 18W fast charger consists of two parts - an 18W USB-C power adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable, or a USB-C to USB-C for iPad Pro users. While some Android chargers use standard high-wattage USB-A cables for fast charging, Apple requires a USB-C power adapter that delivers USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) to provide the maximum amount of power possible.
The good news is that if you have a recent MacBook, you might already have a compatible charging brick. Despite being capped at 18W, iPhones and iPads can handle the 29-, 30-, 61-, 87- or 96W USB-C power adapters that come bundled with various models of MacBook. You’ll still have to buy a USB-C to Lightning cable if you’re using an iPhone, but USB-C equipped iPad Pro users are good to go.
While you might be concerned about plugging a 96W power supply into an iPhone or iPad, remember that the power is regulated by the device itself and it’ll never draw more than it can handle, and the charger can't force your device to accept a higher wattage either.
Fast charging using third-party alternatives
While it’s great being able to charge your iPhone and iPad quickly, you might’ve noticed that Apple’s official option is a little pricey at a combined £48/$48 for the 1m cable and charger.
You’ve always got the option of opting for third-party alternatives, but Apple is quite strict about who can manufacture official USB-C to Lightning cables, so there aren’t many. One solid (albeit premium) option we recommend is Nomad’s USB-C to Lightning cable - it comes in various lengths, and is wound in Kevlar braid to stop it from breaking and fraying. You’ve also got a five-year warranty from Nomad, a full four years longer than Apple’s standard one-year warranty for its products.
In terms of charging bricks, you’ve got a multitude to choose from at a range of price points - you just need to make sure it’s minimum 18W and supports USB Power Delivery, otherwise known as USB-PD. If you want a cheap-and-cheerful option, we’d recommend the 30W USB-C wall charger from Anker at only £19.99.