At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), new smartphones unsurprisingly came to light. I won’t bore you with all the details; Joe Maring and Jacob Roach of Digital Trends have already written an excellent roundup of the best MWC 2023 announcements.
A key quality of life feature we chose as a theme was loading speed. Apple, Samsung, and Google, the top phone brands by coverage (though not all by sales), all maintain average fast-charge speeds of just over an hour, even with the latest iPhone 14, Galaxy S23, and Pixel 7. By comparison , a phone from Xiaomi, Oppo or OnePlus can get you moving in 30 minutes or even less. It’s time to demand more from our phones.
Fast charging exists, but not for you
At MWC 2023, Realme introduced the Realme GT3. This phone, which is likely to hit European and Asian markets but not the US, will charge a 4,600mAh battery from empty to full in less than 10 minutes. It does this with a maximum charging speed of 240 watts and custom battery technology. That speed is a far cry from the paltry 30W (at best) you’ll get on an iPhone, Galaxy, or Pixel.
While this speed feat is incredible, it is only possible because of the work that has already been done in the past. Whether branded as Warp Charging, SuperVOOC, or SuperCharge Turbo, top-tier Android phones have been hitting ridiculous charging speeds for over a year now.
“Plug in your phone and prepare to be amazed at the charging speed on offer here. Since being fully depleted, the 12 Pro’s battery has dropped to 48% in 10 minutes, 86% after 20 minutes, and full in just 23 minutes. This is an incredible rate of speed, and it’s one of the fastest charging systems I’ve tested so far,” noted Andy Boxall of Digital Trends in a review of the Xiaomi 12 Pro.
For the OnePlus 11, Boxall noted: “Fast charging means I don’t worry about it going down to 10% during the day. If you do, in less than 25 minutes you will be back to 100%. That’s life-changing, and I haven’t missed wireless charging, or actively thought about charging the phone. It just happens when it needs to, and it doesn’t really affect my day.”
In other words, super fast charging, far from being a spec sheet filler, is something that is actually useful in your day to day. You may not need to get close to a butterfly from 200 feet away, but you’ll always appreciate a phone that fully charges when you’re in the shower.
Apple, Samsung and Google are slacking off
By comparison, Samsung, Apple and Google phones take over an hour to charge. Samsung is in at just over an hour with its recent phones, while Google is particularly atrocious, with its fast charging often taking two hours to reach 100%. The iPhone is in the middle, taking an hour and a half for a full charge on the latest devices on average. Compared to the massively accelerated charging speeds of Android phones from China, these phones fall short.
There’s a part of me that wants to argue that upload speeds don’t matter much. These phone companies advertise that their phones last up to three days. As anyone who has used a modern smartphone will know, that only applies if you sacrifice the “smart” and “phone” parts of the smartphone.
My experience with Tensor-powered pixels and another writer’s experience with the iPhone 14 Pro show that these slow-charging phones also have low stamina. That means these phones have to spend a lot of time on the charger if you’re going to make it through the day. That’s a problem if you’re doing something like taking a lot of photos of an event, on a vacation or day trip, or if you’re doing something that requires you to be away from a charger for long periods of time.
Things are (little by little) getting better
Good steps towards progress are being made here. Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Plus support 45W charging. That’s pretty fast and closes the gap between Samsung and faster Android phones. Although it is not an iPhone in terms of acceptance, it is one of the most used smartphone models of the brand.
At the same time, however, neither Apple nor Google are currently expected to change their charging speeds with the iPhone 15 or Pixel 8. For Apple, any fast-charging technology would have appeared in a patent or something, and it’s already found its way. . at the rumor mill. That hasn’t happened. As for Google, the company hasn’t found a hardware upgrade it wouldn’t want to be late for, relying on software to carry the experience.
The thing about these major tech upgrades from these massive regional brands is that, at the end of the day, you’re probably going to end up carrying an iPhone or a Samsung if you’re in the US or Western Europe. Why should you commit?