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10 tips to keep your mobile devices charged and happy

Richard Baguley | Feb. 14, 2013
Your mobile devices contain batteries that are miracles of engineering, holding amounts of energy that their predecessors couldn’t come close to equaling. Properly using this potential can help your mobile batteries last longer on the road. Here are our tips for optimum battery performance.

The batteries that your mobile devices contain are miracles of engineering. They hold amounts of energy that their predecessors couldn't come close to equaling. Properly using this potential can help your mobile batteries last longer on the road. Here are our tips for obtaining optimum battery performance.

1. For the quickest Tablet charge, use the original charger or a charger specifically designed for it.

iPads and other tablets have large batteries, so they come with chargers that can output lots of juice to recharge them quickly. For example, the iPad's adapter can output up to 2100mA (2.1 Amps), which is more than double the amperage that a typical USB port can support. This extra power output makes a huge difference. In our tests, charging an iPad took 5 hours, 9 minutes with the iPad charger (which can deliver up to 2100mA), but it took 10 hours, 13 minutes with an iPhone 5 charger (which maxes out at 1000mA). In a similar test with a generic USB travel charger, the charger took more than 24 hours to build up a full charge in the same iPad.

As these tests demonstrate, to reduce charging time to a minimum, you need to use either the original charger or one designed specifically for your device. Some devices contain circuitry that won't allow the battery to use the charger's full capacity unless the charger contains a special authorization chip: otherwise, the device will charge at a much slower rate. For instance, when we tried to charge an iPad 4 with a Samsung Tab 10.1's charger, the process took over 19 hours to complete, even though the Samsung charger can deliver the same amount of juice as the original iPad 4 charger. That's because the iPad 4, not recognizing that the charger could deliver a larger flow of power, limited the incoming current to an unnecessarily low level. The same was true of the reverse situation: When we tried to charge a Samsung Tab 10.1 tablet with an iPad 4 charger, the process took more than 15.5 hours. In contrast, the original Samsung charger completed its work on the Tab 10.1 in 4 hours, 46 minutes.

2. Most cell phones don't need a specific charger.

Cell phones, which carry smaller batteries than tablets use, don't require high-current chargers. As a result, you can use a generic charger to transfer power to them, without suffering a severe slowdown in charging time. When we timed how long an iPhone 5 took to reach a full charge when fed by various chargers, the differences ranged from 2 hours, 4 minutes with an HTC travel charger to 2 hours, 59 minutes with a Samsung charger. The original iPhone 5 charger took 2 hours, 16 minutes-so you won't suffer much of a penalty for using a third-party charger with your cell phone or other small device.


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