Why you should trust us
Nick Guy was the accessories editor at iLounge for a little more than three years. During his tenure, he reviewed more than 1,000 products, including numerous charging solutions. He’s since covered everything from power banks to USB wall chargers to car chargers and wireless charging systems here at Wirecutter.
Sarah Witman has been a science writer for more than four years, covering a wide variety of topics from particle physics to satellite remote sensing. Since joining Wirecutter in 2017, she has zeroed in on the best solar battery packs, the best USB-C cables and adapters, and more.
Mark Smirniotis is an editor at Wirecutter who covers power products like surge protectors, rechargeable batteries, and portable jump starters since 2015. He’s also written about USB-A and USB-C power banks, and he has researched hundreds of models and tested dozens of options to find the best picks.
Who this is for
Recent Android phones like the Google Pixel do come with fast-charge–capable chargers, but some smartphones and tablets still come with slow chargers. Most anyone can can benefit from a USB-C PD charger, whether it’s replacing a slow stock charger or picking up a second unit to charge your phone elsewhere in the house, at work, or while traveling.
If you have one of the latest Apple devices—the iPhone 8 or newer, or the 10.5- or 12.9-inch iPad Pro or newer—a charger with USB-C PD output ports will let you take full advantage of their fast-charge capabilities. And if you have a recent Android phone, picking up a second USB-C PD charger will let you charge as fast as you can with the included charger. This means getting far more power in far less time, especially when your battery is very low.
If you have an older Apple device or an Android phone with a Micro-USB port, the picks in this guide won’t actually charge your device any faster than our favorite USB-A chargers. They are backwards compatible, though, and will charge older devices just fine so long as you have a USB-C–to–Micro-USB cable.
How we picked
A USB-C charger can charge an iPhone more than twice as fast as the power brick that comes with it, noticeably faster than an iPad’s stock charger.
We also used a Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester to test any USB-C–to–USB-C cables included with the chargers to make sure the cable follows that official standard. Nonstandard cables have been known to cause problems, including destroying the devices they’re meant to charge.
Our multiport wall charger pick: Anker PowerPort II PD
The Anker PowerPort II PD‘s USB-C port charges even the most power-hungry, 18 W smartphones as fast as possible, which is almost three times faster than what the charger that comes with an iPhone can do. Since it also includes a USB-A port for charging a second device, it’s much more versatile (for only a few dollars more than the competition). It’s well-built and safety-certified, and Anker has a strong reputation for putting out great products and standing behind them if something goes wrong.
iPhones ship with slow chargers that are good enough for overnight but leave a lot to be desired for charging quickly. Even a maxed-out $1,450 iPhone XS Max comes with a 5-watt charger, which charges the phone at only a third the speed of our pick. In our testing, the PowerPort II PD’s 30-watt USB-C port charged the iPhone XS to just under 50 percent battery life from empty in half an hour and 80 percent after an hour. But Apple’s charger only charged our phone to 17 percent and 33 percent in the same periods of time, respectively. And the PowerPort II PD’s 30-watt output is enough to charge a 12-inch MacBook or 2018 13-inch MacBook Air at full speed, or charge even more demanding USB-C computers slowly.
This charger’s big advantage over the competition is the inclusion of a second port; this is the only wall charger we tested that has one. We measured the USB-A port at 12 watts on an iPad (the fastest Apple’s tablets can charge over USB-A), but Anker says it’ll put out up to 19.5 watts with supported devices, including any Quick Charge 3.0 smartphones such as the HTC One A9.
This charger looks and feels a lot like an Apple product. It’s mostly made of glossy white plastic, except for its gray face. It doesn’t feel chintzy or overly light like some third-party chargers do. We trust Anker due to years of positive experiences across a wide range of its products. Not only do the products work well, they’re generally inexpensive, and the 18-month, customer-friendly warranty protects you in case something goes wrong. Wirecutter staff and readers have reported it’s easy to get in touch with Anker if something goes wrong and not much of a hassle to get your product swapped as long as you have the right documentation. This specific model is also UL-certified, meaning the design has been tested by UL to be safe in normal use.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The PowerPort II PD is the largest USB PD charger we tested, measuring almost the same size as Apple’s 61W USB-C Power Adapter, making it less convenient for travel than smaller models. The fold-down wall prongs are parallel to the height of the charger, so the body might block other outlets, especially on certain power strips. We don’t think the PowerPort II PD’s charge indicator light is bright enough to be a problem for most people, but some of the editors at Wirecutter have a strong dislike for this type of status light in a dark room. If you share that dislike, you might need a sticker or piece of tape to cover it.
A smaller pick for just your phone: Aukey 18 W Power Delivery Wall Charger PA-Y18
Aukey’s 18 W Power Delivery Wall Charger PA-Y18 is the model to choose if you’re only interested in charging a single device at top speeds and want the smallest device with which to do so. It charges as fast as any other USB-C charger, but the big difference is that it’s small enough to fit in the smallest pockets on a laptop bag or purse.
When it comes to charging performance, the PA-Y18 lives up to expectations. It matched every other charger we tested in terms of USB-C charging speed, bringing the depleted iPhone XR to 48 percent of capacity in half an hour compared to 17 percent from the Apple 5 W charger. It doesn’t have a second USB port, but we wouldn’t expect one in such a small body.
The PA-Y18 measures a little under an inch and a half in each dimension (about the same as the Apple 5-watt charger), with prongs that fold up when you’re not charging. All you’ll find on the face is a USB-C port and a logo; there’s no light to distract you. It feels like a solidly built charger that’s not going to fall apart during use.
Though Aukey doesn’t certify any of its products with UL or the USB-IF, the company has a long track record for quality phone accessories and offers a 24-month warranty on its chargers. Even though the company doesn’t offer customer service over the phone, we’ve found their online support to be responsive, generally replying with troubleshooting or exchange instructions within a day.
The best USB PD Car Charger: Nekteck PD 45W Type-C Car Charger
Nekteck’s PD 45W Type-C Car Charger readily charged batteries as fast as every other USB-C car charger we tested it against, and it has enough extra power to charge small laptops, too. It costs the same or less than most of the competition, has an extra 12-watt USB-A port to charge a second device, and is the only car charger we tested that comes with a USB-C–to–USB-C cable in the box.
This charger’s USB-C port charges at 45 watts—a figure matched by only one other car charger we tested (RAVPower’s Type C PD Car Charger)—and it charged the iPhone X to the same levels as other USB PD chargers: 51 percent after half an hour and 80 percent after an hour. Below that port is the USB-A port with a 2.4-amp, 12-watt output that can charge old iPhones or any device with a Micro-USB port as fast as possible without needing Quick Charge compatibility. There are other USB-IF–certified car chargers with a second port, but none of them offer that level of charging.
We also think the Nekteck car charger is the most attractive of the bunch. The oval-shaped head housing the ports is metal instead of plastic, and at just over 1.5 inches tall and an inch wide, it’s unobtrusive.
The included USB-C cable is a nice touch that puts the already strong Nekteck charger over the top as our pick. We confirmed it can power devices at up to 100 watts—far more than the 45 watts this charger puts out. Our favorite comparable cable often costs up to $20 by itself, making Nekteck’s addition a great value. We tested it with a Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester too, and found it complies with the USB-C standards. If you have a USB-C phone, tablet, or laptop, you’ll be able to charge it without having to buy an additional cable for the car.
The best USB PD power bank: Aukey PB-Y13 10000mAh Power Bank with Power Delivery
We tested three USB PD power banks, finding Aukey’s PB-Y13 10000mAh Power Bank with Power Delivery to offer the best combination of ports, performance, size, and value. The smartphone-sized battery pack charged an iPhone XS to 56 percent from empty in 30 minutes and to 83 percent in an hour. Those figures are both comparable to the wall and car chargers we recommend.
The PB-Y13 uses the USB-C port for charging in both directions, meaning that’s how you get power into the battery and how you juice up your gear from it. So long as your wall charger is as fast as our 18 W picks above, that will cut down the recharge time significantly compared to 12 W recharging through a Micro-USB port. Additionally, there are two USB-A ports to charge additional devices at the same time. One supports QuickCharge 3.0 speeds, and one does standard 12-watt charging. The total power output is only 18 watts, though, so if you have devices charged into all three ports, you won’t get full speed from any of them.
The 10,000 mAh power bank can charge an iPhone XS or Samsung Galaxy S9 about three times before it’s depleted. It fits that power into a package about the same size as either of those phones in a slim case. That makes it easy to carry in a larger pocket or small purse, and it will take up hardly any extra space in a laptop or carry-on bag. The Tronsmart Slim we tested is almost exactly the same size, but the Nimble 3-day charger is a bit chunkier, which made it less than ideal to carry on a regular basis.
The biggest downside to the Aukey PB-Y13—and to the similar Tronsmart model—is that they’ll only charge at the faster, 18 W speeds if you plug your phone in while it’s booted up. If you plug it in while it’s dead, it will stick with 12 W even after it boots up unless you unplug and re-plug your cable. The Nimble power bank was the only one we tested that didn’t have this flaw, but at nearly twice the price, we didn’t think it was a big enough difference to justify the cost.
Like Aukey’s wall charger, the PB-Y13 has a 24-month warranty, and online support generally responds to any problems within a day.
Apple’s 18W USB-C Power Adapter, the charger that comes with the 2018 iPad Pros, is also available for purchase on its own. It has only one port, like our pick from Aukey, but is larger and more expensive without any difference in performance. For about the same price as the Apple power adapter, you could buy our top pick from Anker and get the benefit of an added USB-A port.
iClever’s Universal PD30W USB Type C Wall Charger is smaller than our pick from Anker, but larger than the Aukey, with only one port.
Anker’s PowerPort Speed PD 30 is the largest one-port pick we tested, and though it can charge some small laptops at up to 30 W, it doesn’t offer any benefits over our pick when it comes to phone charging.
Anker’s PowerDrive Speed+ 2, Aukey’s CC-Y7 USB-C Car Charger with Power Delivery, RAVPower’s Type C PD Car Charger, and Satechi’s USB-C Car Charger Adapter all charged the iPhone X as quickly as our pick. None of them are USB-IF certified, though, and none of them offer any additional features over the Nekteck charger. Only the RAVPower model matches the 45-watt USB-C output; the rest range from 27 watts to 36 watts. But if we were to pick one model to recommend if the Aukey goes out of stock, it’s the Satechi, as it has the smallest face—about the size of a quarter—and most streamlined design.
Tronsmart’s Slim Portable Charger has a Micro-USB input for charging, but it lacks the second USB-A port our pick has, making it less useful on the go.
Nimble’s 3-Day Fast Portable Charger is bulkier than the Aukey power bank we recommend, and it costs nearly twice as much without any additional capacity or charging speed.
What to look forward to
Anker announced the PowerPort Atom PD 1 power brick, which Anker says will be more efficient within a smaller package. It’s a 27-watt USB-C charger that’s only slightly larger than the standard Apple 5-watt charging brick. Anker also said that even more powerful chargers will join the Atom line in the future: The company will launch the 60-watt, two–USB-C–port PowerPort Atom PD 2 charger and the 100-watt, four-port (two USB-C and two USB Type-A) PowerPort Atom PD 4 charger.
When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commissions.