Wireless recharging has become increasingly popular over the past few years due to its convenience — just drop your phone on a pad and pick it up later — but wired charging is faster, and some ultra-high-speed options have emerged this month to power next-generation phones. Today, Qualcomm is adding its latest innovations to the mix under the name Quick Charge 5, a wired platform that promises to fully recharge upcoming phones in 15 minutes or go from zero to 50% in only five minutes.
Earlier this month, Chinese phone vendor Vivo unveiled Super FlashCharge 120W, using a custom USB-C cable and charger to deliver similar recharge times — a 4,000mAh battery could go from zero to 50% in five minutes, or zero to 100% in 13 minutes. The real-world value of such a solution could be fantastic, enabling phone users to quickly refuel their devices at public charging stations before flights or at other times when they’ll be away from outlets, assuming special cables are available. By comparison, Quick Charge 5 uses a standard 3-Amp USB-C cable and promises the aforementioned speeds when recharging the larger 4,500mAh batteries found in plus-sized phones. Moreover, unlike Vivo’s proprietary and yet to be commercialized solution, Quick Charge 5 is widely available to Android OEMs now and should start showing up in phones over the next two months.
That’s why Qualcomm is billing Quick Charge 5 as the “first commercially viable fast charging platform to support more than 100W charging power in a smartphone.” The chipmaker is obliquely referencing both Vivo’s solution and a Xiaomi-developed 100-watt alternative that was announced in 2019 but never released, which Xiaomi blamed on thermal issues and rapid battery degradation. Interestingly, Qualcomm says Xiaomi is one of Quick Charge 5’s first customers and suggests it has solved the thermal issues, delivering 70% greater charging efficiency than Quick Charge 4 while running cooler by a full 10 degrees Celsius.
Some of the performance improvements come from delivering twice the voltage at twice the speed — accessories will support a range of 3.3 to 20 volts. And they should be safe. There are now eight levels of voltage protection, three levels of current protection, three levels of thermal protection, and three levels of timer protection within the charging subsystem, enabling Quick Charge 5 to adjust for voltage behavior and ranges, as well as different electrical current and power behaviors, among other factors.
The platform can work with one or two internal batteries at once and is compatible with USB-PD (power delivery) and USB-C standards, while also performing checks to confirm the power input and output characteristics of potentially ultra-fast devices. Quick Charge 5 accessories will be able to deliver top-speed recharging for Quick Charge 5 phones, initially including Snapdragon 865 and 865 Plus devices, while also supporting the prior peaks offered by Quick Charge 2.0 through 4+ platforms and other Snapdragon mobile chips. In each case, the wired charging speeds should be multiple times faster than current Qi-based wireless charging.
Qualcomm says Quick Charge 5 will primarily benefit Android phones but that iPhone 7 and later devices will be able to take advantage of “fast” but not Quick Charge speeds when connected to Quick Charge 5, 4+, and 4 accessories. New power management chips for Quick Charge 5 — SMB1396 and SMB1398 — promise over 98% efficiency and notably include support for wireless input, though it’s currently unclear how much faster a wireless charging solution using the technology might become.
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