What's the best way to charge your iPhone X or iPhone 8?

Using the supplied cable and charger isn't the best way to charge your new iPhone X or iPhone 8. But it's also not the worst.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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Charging your iPhone used to mean finding a cable (and hoping it wasn't frayed) and hooking it up to the nearest charger. But the iPhone X and iPhone 8 bring with them new charging features.

Here's everything you need to know about charging your new iPhone.

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First off, the standard USB Lightning cable and charger is the same old fare, and will charge the iPhone X/8 no slower or faster than chargers that Apple has been shipping with new iPhones for years. It charges at the usual 4.85V/0.95A (give or take) and will take about two hours to charge the iPhone 8, and about three and a half hours to fully charge your iPhone X or iPhone 8 Plus (about 15 minutes faster than the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus because the batteries are smaller).

Using a higher-power USB charger -- such as the Anker Premium 5-port 60W USB charger -- predictably results in faster charging.

Alternatively, you can charge the device faster using a 24W charger, such as the charger supplied with the iPad (this feature was introduced with the iPhone 6). If you don't have an iPad charger, you can pick up a third-party charger, such as the Anker Elite Dual Port 24W. This can shave a good 30 to 60 minutes off a full charge, and is handy if you don't do an overnight recharge or require regular recharges throughout the day.

But regular old charging is old-school for the iPhone X/8, because built into these devices are two new features.

The first is wireless charging. Basically, what you need for this is a Qi-compatible wireless charging pad and you're ready to go. Apple will be releasing its own charging pad in 2018 called the AirPower, and this mat will allow hardcore Apple fans to charge their iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods (as long as they buy the new wireless charging case) all on the same mat.

Until then, you have to rely on third-party wireless charging pads, which, to be honest, aren't bad at all. I've tested a number of cheap fast charge wireless pads -- such as this $15 pad from RAVPower -- and found them to be acceptable.

Here are some observations I've found using wireless charging.

  • Standard plastic/silicone/rubber/leather don't seem to affect wireless charging. In fact, I've found that charging can be faster on some wireless pads when the iPhone is in a case.
  • Charging using third-party 15W wireless pads is faster than using the bundled charger.

All in all, wireless charging works, and it works well.

Then we come to the fast charge feature. And this is where things get interesting.

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The first thing you're going to need for fast charging is a USB-C to Lightning cable. But it can't be any old cheap, third-party USB-C to Lightning cable. It has to be Apple's USB-C to Lightning cable. Yes, it has to be that one. The one that costs $25, or $35 if you want a 2-meter long one (charging that much for an additional meter of cabling is just so Apple).

I've tested dozens of third-party cables, and none supported fast charging. I'm told by contacts within the industry that third-party cables are coming, but for now, you must have the Apple's special megabucks cable.

You also need this cable if you own a new MacBook Pro and what to be able to fast charge your iPhone from it (although for basic data sync or regular charging, you can use a third-party cable).

As far as USB-C chargers go, you can either use an Apple USB-C charger (the cheapest being the 29W USB-C charger that retails for $50), or any Power Delivery compatible charger, such as the Anker Premium 5-port 60W USB charger.

You can also fast-charge from any power bank that supports Power Delivery, such as the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C powerbank.

Some observations about fast charging the iPhone X/8:

  • It's fast! It'll take an iPhone X/8 from flat to 50 percent charge in about 30 minutes.
  • Fast charge works whether the iPhone is locked or while you're using it, with the speed of charging only slightly affected by using the handset while it's charging (so for the fastest charge, stop fiddling with your iPhone).
  • There's no discernible warmth from the iPhone while fast charging, so you can still use it.
  • When the charge hits 80 percent, the iPhone switched from fast charge mode to regular charging to complete the charge.

Apart from the crazy cost of Apple's USB-C to Lightning cable, I think that fast charging is the best option for charging the iPhone X/8, with wireless charging being good for an overnight charge or for charging the handset during the day.

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