Your brand new $1,000 iPhone XS (or slightly cheaper iPhone XR) comes with a charger in the box, but it’s not very good. According to Apple, the iPhone 8 and anything newer than that phone actually support fast charging to the level of restoring up to 50 percent charge in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it’ll be a bit pricey if you want to get those speeds, since Apple still doesn’t include any of the things you’ll need in the box.
There’s actually two ways to charge your iPhone more quickly than with the bundled power brick: the slightly faster, slightly more expensive way; and the much faster, much more expensive way.
True fast charging
If you want to charge your iPhone at the fastest possible speed — again, that’s Apple’s claim of 50 percent charge in 30 minutes — then you’ll need to use USB-C. Specifically, you’ll need a USB-C to Lightning cable, and a power brick that supports the USB-C Power Delivery (USB-C PD) specification. Unfortunately, neither of these things are particularly cheap.
USB-C to Lightning cable:
If you want to get a USB-C to Lightning cable, you’ll need to get one from Apple. Full stop. Apple controls the Lightning side of the specification, and it hasn’t allowed third-party manufacturers to make their own USB-C to Lightning cables yet.
Given that this is a cable you’ll be plugging into a $1,000-plus dollar phone on one end and a high-powered charger designed to pass as much charge as possible in the shortest amount of time on the other, I cannot emphasize enough that I recommend you play it safe and stick with Apple’s offerings here.
Hopefully one day Apple will open up the floodgates and let authorized third-party Lightning to USB-C cables exist, but for now, you’re stuck with two options: Apple’s one meter cable, or Apple’s two meter cable..
- Aukey USB-C to Lightning Cable is $19.99 at Amazon
- Apple USB-C to Lightning Cable is $26.99 at Amazon
USB-C PD power brick:
Here you have a few more options, since the USB-C side of things is an open standard. The bad news is that USB-C PD bricks are still kind of expensive. The other problem is that Apple isn’t saying what the maximum fast charging speed is for the new phones — only that it achieved those fast charging results with its 29W, 61W, and 87W USB-C chargers for the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Since Apple’s USB-C chargers start at $49, it’s probably worth looking elsewhere unless you’ve already got a new MacBook.
Still, we’ll work under the assumption that you want something in the range of that 29W option, since the iPhone is still a phone. With that in mind, here are a few good choices for chargers that won’t destroy your wallet. Given that USB-C is still a wild west of standards compliance, it’s worth checking reviews and sticking to brands you know (again, we’re trying to avoid frying your $1,000+ iPhone here). We haven’t tested these, but they’re from reliable brands and ought to do the trick:
- Anker PowerPort Speed 30W USB-C is $25.99 at Amazon
- Aukey 27W USB-C charger is $21.99 at Amazon
- Apple 29W USB-C charger ($49)
Slower, but cheaper
The alternative to USB-C fast charging is charging through an iPad charger (or really, any 12W, 2.4A brick), which Apple added support for with the iPhone 6. The benefit of this is that these are cheaper, easier to find — you may even already have one — and you can use a regular USB Type-A to Lightning cable, like the one in your iPhone X box.
The downside is that while it’s faster than the brick that comes with your phone, it’s still not quite the true quick charging speed that a USB-C brick should offer. Think along the lines of two hours for a full charge, instead of three, according to a non-scientific test by 9to5Mac.
You’ve got a lot more options here, but if you’re looking for some recommendations, we’ve included some below.