Quick Charge 5: Cooler, Faster and More Efficient

For the 5G era, new tech promises 50% charge in five minutes

For those who think wireless charging is the future, here’s a reminder that wired charging is keeping its lead with speed and efficiency.

This week, Qualcomm announced the launch of Quick Charge 5, which it claims is the fastest commercial charging technology for widely available Android devices. The last time the company released an update to the charging tech was in 2017, when it rolled out the Quick Charge 4+.

Qualcomm says that its Quick Charge 5 solution can refuel smartphones from 0% to 50% in less than five minutes, and provide a full charge in under 15 minutes. The new platform is also said to be cooler than its predecessor by up to 10 degrees Celsius, 70% more efficient and four times faster. Quick Charge 5 is compatible with versions 2.0, 3.0, 4 and 4+ of the technology, and with existing handsets powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platform. This is the first commercial solution to support fast charging at over 100W.

Quick Charge 5 will also support USB Power Delivery and USB-C, meaning that it could be part of compatible laptops in the future. Together with the backward compatibility with older versions of the standard, this might lead to a world where just one cable can quickly power all our devices.

There are essentially three types of wired charging in use: USB-C, Micro USB and Apple’s proprietary Lightning port. However, the EU has been pushing for a single charging standard to reduce electronic waste (see One Cable Fits All).

Apple uses its own Lighting port rather than USB in its iPhone models, although it did begin adding support for the Qi wireless charging standard when it launched its iPhone 8 in September 2017. The company has been adopting USB-C in its iPads and laptops, although it appears to be resisting a similar move for the iPhone. There are also strong signs that Apple will no longer include the power supply or headphones in its upcoming iteration of iPhones (see Process of Elimination).

Qualcomm isn’t alone in introducing a new fast charging solution. Earlier this month, Chinese smartphone-maker Oppo announced a technology that can charge a phone in 20 minutes. However, the commercial launch is still some months away as the company’s 125W charging technology remains in the demonstration stage. Vivo also announced its 120W charging platform this month.

However, Qualcomm is in a strong position to push the technology broadly into smartphones. The new standard is expected to be included in smartphones later in 2020, with supporting accessories likely to follow. Quick Charge 5 is supported by the Snapdragon 865 and 865 Plus, as well upcoming higher-end system-on-chips in the Snapdragon line. Xiaomi is one of the first customers for Quick Charge 5, according to Qualcomm.

Battery life and faster charging have consistently been some of the most requested features among smartphone users in CCS Insight’s consumer research. This newer charging standard will be a welcome evolution, particularly given the extra demands of 5G devices. The hope is that Qualcomm’s move will not only galvanize support within the Android ecosystem, but also encourage Apple to transform the charging experience on its own devices.