How to accurately measure (and understand) your smartphone's charging speed

From fast charging features to wireless charging, it’s no surprise that charging Android devices has become more complicated in recent years. Look at the specs for chargers, and you’re likely to see different wattage or amp numbers that can vary between phone models and brands, adding more uncertainty.

The bottom line is that you want your Android to get a reliable charge with a charger that can fill up its battery ASAP. But higher charging wattage (and wattage can go ridiculously high) doesn’t always equal better results. You need a way to judge how your charger performs. And we can help. Here are the best ways to keep an eye on your smartphone charging speeds.

Download and use the Ampere app

You can turn to an app for a cost-efficient, relatively-speedy method to gauge your charging performance. We recommend the Android-friendly Ampere app for the quickest results.

  1. Download the Ampere app on your Android device. You can find it on the Google Store. There’s a pro version, but the free download is all you need.
  2. Look for the charging information for your phone to find its charging wattage or similar numbers. Specs pages or manuals should have this data for you. Google, for example, tells you the minimum mAh for the Pixel 7 and recommends a 30W charger. You need these specs to make quick comparisons.
  3. Charge your device with the typical charger you use. Your battery should be depleted enough so that it’s actively charging for the most accurate measurements.
  4. Open the Ampere app, and let it run, so you see Measuring at the top of the app. The bottom of the app detects and shows information about your device’s battery, including its voltage, max capacity, and charge levels, which you may find useful.
  5. Ampere returns an mA (milliampere) value at the top, including a minimum and maximum number as well as an average charge. Now you have the numbers to do a little calculating: Watts = Volts X Amps. Round up your mA and voltage numbers to the nearest number, and convert mA to amps by dividing it by 1,000 (2900mA would become 3A). Now you can find wattage by multiplying them together.
  6. Compare wattage numbers with the specs on your Android charger and device to see if you’re getting optimal performance. If your calculations show that your phone is charging at 10W, but you know it’s rated for 15W fast charging, then you have room for improvement.

Fast chargers show around 3,000mA on today’s devices. Slower chargers may show around 1,000mA, a sign that you may be able to improve performance. Ampere can also show discharge times as you use your battery.

Alternative: Purchase a voltage meter

Your primary alternative is to purchase a voltage meter or similar device that can measure the electricity flowing into your Android device. It’s mechanically accurate and one of the best ways to diagnose a faulty or irregular charger. Still, it’s expensive, and you’ll need some electrical math to analyze the results. If you’re interested, here’s what to try:

  1. Purchase a voltage meter. Affordable versions are available for testing consumer devices like phones. This USB-C meter from Plugable is one of the best options, currently available for around $25.
  2. The meter acts as a middleman between your charging cable and your device. Plug it into your device, then plug your charging cable into the meter.
  3. The meter shows a running measurement of the electricity flowing into the device, including input voltage and mA/A values. You can convert these to wattage using the formula above or the amp values to compare different chargers.

A physical device allows you to switch between cables and chargers quickly to see if any make an immediate difference. However, they come with limitations. This Plugable model, for example, does not support extended USB-PD power ranges of 28V or above.

Can changing chargers improve my Android charge speed?

It may help, but there are many factors at work. If your Android device supports a fast charging protocol, you may be able to switch to an upgraded charger for better results. For example, say you have a phone that supports UBS PD (Power Delivery) up to 25W of charging power, but the charger you use is limited and only supports up to 10W of charging. A new USB PD charger could lead to faster charging results.

Changes like these depend on the Android model you have, how new your phone is, and other details that can vary, so pay attention to the wattage and other specs when making comparisons. The charger your phone ships with often produces the best results. Other times, you may be able to find an upgrade.

You’re ready to test!

With these tools, you can check how effectively your Android charges at any time. Use these tools to diagnose problems with your battery or find the optimal way to charge fast. When you keep your battery healthy, you have low battery surprises again.

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