Using a USB-C Laptop Charger for Cell Phones and Which Ones to Buy

Not only can you charge a cell phone with a USB-C laptop charger, we highly recommend it. In fact, we have replaced most of our regular phone chargers with more powerful laptop chargers for higher versatility.

We’ll explain how to choose the best USB C laptop charger for use with phones, along with some of the key considerations you should be aware of.

Making sense of USB C laptop chargers and phone charges can be a pain.  Use a USB C laptop charger to charge your phone to ensure fast speeds

But first, we want to address the most important question that people often have.

Can You Use a USB-C Laptop Charger with a Cell Phone?

Yes, you can use a USB C laptop charger to charge almost any USB C enabled device. In fact, we often recommend buying the most powerful USB-C laptop charger that you can. Most modern chargers will adjust the power output for the device that is plugged into it.

Modern USB C chargers automatically negotiate with the device being charged to determine how much power to send it. Meaning that you can use a high-powered laptop charger to quick charge a phone, while you may not be able to quickly charge a laptop using most cell phone chargers.

For other quality considerations when choosing a laptop and cell phone charger, we highly encourage readers to examine the Amazon reviews prior to purchasing. If a charger is of low quality, it will often be quickly reflected in dozens if not hundreds of reviews.

Pop! Automation Top Pick

Anker USB C 736 Laptop Charger

100 watts is enough power to charge a MacBook Pro, and many other high-end laptops. This means that you can plug an iPad, or the most power-hungry phones into it and they will charge at maximum speed.

The Anker 100 watt USB C charger comes with a high-speed USB-C cable and is backed by one of the most reputable brands in the business.

It’s value priced, and there are often coupons which bring the price down even lower.

Best USB C Charger for Road Warriors

Wotobeus 165 Watt USB-C Car Charger

If you’re serious about getting work done on the road this 165 Watt USB-C car charger demands a look. With a maximum output of 140w, it’s powerful enough to charge a laptop along with other devices. The biggest drawback to it is that most cars are designed with a 12v cigarette lighter which limits the total output possible with the adapter. However, the ability to charge multiple devices at once and solid build quality make it worth a look.

Best USB C Charger for Laptops and Multiple Devices

Kenubi USB C 200W 5 Port Charging Station

Productivity enthusiasts will love the Kenbui 200w faster charger. It’s one of the few fast chargers on the market that has 2 100w ports along with additional plugins for USB-C and USB-A to fit all of your charging needs.

Multi-Device USB-C chargers like these are ideal for cleaning up a messy desk, and can even replace the need for a power strip when working from home. You can plug-in a laptop, phones, ipad, and Bluetooth headset to keep your peripherals and devices charged throughout the workday.

It’s important to note that many multi-device chargers will split the power between ports. For example, a 200w charger with 2x 100 watts will often split the power between the two devices to make the output 50w maximum. However, it should be more than enough power to keep a laptop going along with your phone and peripherals.

Note: Not all chargers listed above come with a Fast Charger USB C Cable. The bundles may change over time, please ensure that you read the most description available and purchase a fast charging USB C cable to ensure optimal charging speed.

Best USB C Cable for Fast Charging

Anker 100w 10ft USB C Cable

USB cables are the other half of the quick charging equation. Even the fastest chargers will be limited by a slow cable. These 100w cables from Anker ensure that your device will receive the maximum amount of power possible.

We also appreciate the 10ft length which may seem long for a phone charger, but in our experience laptop chargers have to make it across a cubicle, office, or room at times. Our preference would be to have a longer cable that we can roll up when not in use than to find ourselves short a few feet from the wall.

How to Tell How Many Watts Your Laptop Needs to Charge

The easiest way to identify how much power your laptop needs to charge at full speed is to look at the existing charger. It’s often noted in small text. Laptop chargers will usually range from 65 watts to 100 watts.

Alternatively, you can look at the bottom of many laptops to find the model number when you can enter in as a Google search to determine the charger specifications.

Note: If it’s difficult to read the small text on a laptop charger to identify the wattage, try taking a zoomed in photo of it with your phone. Modern cell phones typically have great cameras that can enlarge and clarify images enough where you can make out small text.

A final approach is to buy a 100w charger. By being on the high end of the power range for most laptops it’s more than likely that it will be able to scale down to laptops that require less power.

Brief History of USB-C

The inception of USB-C marked a significant milestone in the world of connectivity. Launched in 2014 by the USB Implementers Forum, it brought forth a universal connector that allowed for reversible plug orientation. USB-C was revolutionary, offering higher data transfer rates, more power delivery, and a more streamlined design.

It has quickly become the preferred standard for new devices across smartphones, laptops, and other peripherals.

Understanding USB-C Charging Specifications

While looking at USB-C chargers there are a number of specifications that get thrown around. Here are the ones that you need to be aware of.

Power Delivery (PD)

  • PD 1.0: Initial release, up to 100W power.
  • PD 2.0: Improved cable management, reduced complexity.
  • PD 3.0: Introduced Programmable Power Supply (PPS), enhanced power negotiation.
  • PD 3.1: Extended power range up to 240W, enabling higher power applications.

Most modern chargers for sale these days will be at least PD 3.0. USB specifications do change over time. Keep an eye out for the latest technology to future proof yourself from having to buy a new faster charger a few years down the road.

GaN (Gallium Nitride)

Gallinium Nitride is not much of a specification as it is a marketing term. GaN is a material used in the manufacturing of chargers that tends to make them smaller and more efficient. While both are qualities that we appreciate, we would not go out of our way to buy one vs a model that did not have it.

Wikipedia has a great explanation of the different Quick Charge protocols and their history for those interested in a deeper dive into USB Quick Charge specifications.

How to Tell the Difference Between Thunderbolt and USB-C

To determine if a port is Thunderbolt, look for the Thunderbolt symbol or refer to device specifications in the device manual or enter the device model number into Google. USB and Thunderbolt are different standards, but the differences can be confusing.

Thunderbolt is often seen as a more premium option, with higher performance. USB is more universally adopted. They often coexist on many devices, and Thunderbolt’s integration with USB-C has blurred the lines between the two.

  • USB: A widely-used standard for connecting devices, with various speeds and capabilities depending on the version.
  • Thunderbolt: A high-speed interface that includes more advanced features like daisy-chaining and higher data transfer rates. Thunderbolt 3 and 4 use the USB-C connector and are compatible with USB-C devices.

One of the biggest frustrations with the technology is when using a computer monitor. Many monitors support Thunderbolt but not USB C. On the surface, the cables look almost identical but if you attempt to use a USB C cable for a Thunderbolt display it is likely that it will not work, leaving users frustrated and confused.

Not all devices with USB-C ports support Thunderbolt, and it’s worth double checking your device specifications.

Conclusion

USB-C has proven to be a revolutionary connector that has significantly influenced modern technology. Its ability to unify power and data transfer into a sleek and versatile design makes it a vital part of our connected world.

The combination of outdated chargers and cables can make charging speeds of many devices frustratingly slow. By purchasing high power, high speed USB C chargers capable of charging a laptop it will ensure that you will not only be able to have a backup laptop charger at the ready but also ensure that your other devices whether it’s an iPad or a smart phone will also charge as quickly as possible.

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