Proprietary USB-C fast charging was once a necessary evil, now it’s just an evil

OnePlus 9 Warp Charge 65T Review

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Your next smartphone probably won’t ship with a charger in the box. I’m not just talking about expensive flagship devices: we’ve noticed an increasing number of mid-range devices following this trend. the Galaxy A53 Y Nothing Phone 1, two popular budget options for 2022, don’t ship with a charger. And if there is one thing we have learned from the disappearance of headphone jackis that more companies will follow suit over time.

Given this inevitability, it’s about time manufacturers abandoned proprietary charging protocols in favor of universal standards, and here’s why.

Our guide: How fast wired and wireless charging works

No charger (owner) in the box: a worrying future?

Google 30W USB-C Power Adapter standing on a wooden beam

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Although Samsung and Nothing received some criticism for making the charger a separate purchase, it is true that many users can get by without buying one. This is because both companies rely on the universal system USB Power Delivery standard for fast charging. Despite what the name would have you believe, Samsung super fast charging it is not a proprietary standard. Instead, it is based on the USB-PD Programmable Power Supply (PPS) specification.

In practical terms, you can use any PPS compatible charger, even a third party one, to charge a modern Samsung device. However, the same is not true for many other smartphone brands, including Xiaomi, one plusand Oppo, to name a few. These brands are at the forefront of fast smartphone charging technology today, with their respective protocols supporting up to 150W of power. However, if you used a USB-PD charger with these devices, they historically only drew 18 or 27 W from the wall.

Modern smartphones with proprietary charging can charge at breakneck speeds, but only support a measly 27W via USB Power Delivery.

Needless to say, this disparity is cause for concern. Most of us do not have a SuperVOOC charger, so if Oppo stopped including chargers in the box, you’d have no choice but to buy one. You can usually mix and match chargers from OnePlus, Oppo and Realme, but that’s just because they’re all based on the same underlying technology. By contrast, USB Power Delivery has become almost universal these days and you’ll find it’s compatible with everything from Macbooks to Bluetooth speakers.

Related: 100W, 150W, 240W? Wired charging power has become useless

This divide is compounded by the fact that brands are now engaged in a cut-throat race to achieve the fastest load times possible with each new generation. It’s common to see new smartphones support twice the charging power of their direct predecessor. OnePlus, for example, jumped from 30W to 150W in a span of just three years. While the brand currently offers chargers in bundles with new devices, what happens if that commitment ends?

Even if you have the correct proprietary charger, it may be slower than your new device supports. Then if you upgrade to a new charger, the old one becomes practically useless as it won’t fast charge any of your other devices. In short, it is a vicious circle. Not to mention the additional e-waste it generates.

Why a universal charging standard makes sense

Belkin Boost Charge Dual USB C PD GaN Modes

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Based on everything we’ve discussed so far, it’s clear that proprietary charging technology does not belong in a technology landscape that is increasingly moving toward interoperability.

Adopting a universal standard like USB Power Delivery will not solve the USB-C fragmentation problem overnight, but at least it will allow us to share chargers between more devices. Many devices such as laptops already support 100W charging via USB-PD today. And the new 240W spec should make the standard even more ubiquitous going forward. To that end, USB-PD compatible chargers should continue to get cheaper as more and more devices support them.

The widespread adoption of USB Power Delivery will lead to more competition and lower prices.

Already today, for the price of a Samsung or Google-branded charging brick, you can choose a third-party adapter that offers more charging power or multiple ports. Sadly, this isn’t possible in the world of proprietary charging, where you have no choice but to spend $30-$50 on an adapter of your own that may not even work with any of your other devices.

Our picks: The best wall chargers.

The problem extends far beyond the world of wall chargers. Portable power banks and car chargers do not support proprietary protocols. What’s worse, it’s also not always possible to find your own option. As with wall outlets, charging power in these situations will often drop to 10W or 18W, which is unacceptable to most modern smartphone users.

Proprietary load: the beginning of the end?

Oppo phone charging using SuperVOOC

Harley Maranan / Android Authority

As much as I hate to admit it, proprietary charging protocols are likely to stick around, at least for the foreseeable future. Brands have long claimed that their respective charging technologies do a better job of preserving battery health than the competition.

Earlier this year, Oppo claimed that its Battery Health Engine in the Find X5 Pro it allowed the battery to endure 1,600 charge cycles before losing 20% ​​of its capacity. Xiaomi also made a similar, albeit more conservative, claim when it introduced its HyperCharge fast-charging technology.

Proprietary protocols may not go away overnight due to battery health issues.

In fact, you’ve probably heard countless times that battery health can deteriorate significantly without proper precautions. oppo He says that managed to avoid this potential danger by using a proprietary algorithm that constantly adjusts the charging current. He also fine-tuned the chemistry of his lithium-ion batteries for greater longevity.

Related: 6 Common Battery Myths You Probably Believe

Even if we take claims about battery health at face value, it’s not clear why these measures can’t be implemented alongside universal standards like USB-PD. After all, the latest USB programmable power supply specification already supports variable voltage and current levels.

However, if proprietary protocols are really necessary, the least manufacturers can do is improve compatibility with open standards. We’ve seen a handful of moves in this direction, such as Oppo’s line of mini flash chargers with support for SuperVOOC and USB-PD PPS charging. While the company has yet to show any inclination to sell them outside of China, OnePlus has apparently made the first move.

The OnePlus 10T ships with a 150W SuperVOOC charger that also includes support for USB-PD, up to 45W. movement be a sign that the days of proprietary single-use chargers are numbered.

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