Thursday, March 19, 2015

Is Your Micro-USB Cable Is Charging Properly?

How to Test If Your Micro-USB Cable Is Charging Properly

By Justin Dennis
Different chargers are going to charge your Android device at different rates, and some broken chargers might not be charging your device as quickly as they claim they can.
If you’ve ever run into issues charging your device, or you’d just like to test out how effective your charger is, read on. Today, we’re going to step through how to measure the amperage your charger is delivering to your smartphone or tablet.

Download Ampere

The first step is to grab this handy app from the Play Store called Ampere, which will do the measuring for you. It should work on any device running Android 4.0 and above, though the developer has noted in the description that certain models aren’t behaving quite right, like the HTC One M7 and M8.
Once you have that downloaded, open it up, and you can get to testing.

Testing Your Charger

For this, all you’re going to need is your charger and a place to plug it in — either a wall outlet, a computer (like the brand new Dell XPS 13), or a portable battery (like the amazing Lumsing Powerbank).
For the most accurate measurement of your charger’s full capabilities, plug it into its official USB to wall outlet adapter, and plug that into your nearest outlet. We’ll discuss in the next section how plugging into your computer can change your results.
Above, you can see some of the information provided by the app. It takes about 10 seconds to measure the charge of your phone, which is what you see on the left. On the right is the settings menu, which you will probably never have to visit.
There is an option to buy the Pro version to remove the adverts that display along the bottom, but they’re so unobtrusive that it’s barely worth the $1.13 to get rid of them. The other reason you may want to get the Pro version would be for the persistent notification that displays battery info in your notification tray.
The app will use orange text when you’re not plugged in and blue text when you are plugged in. When not plugged in, you can see how much energy your phone is currently using. This number will vary depending on how many things your phone is trying to do at once.
Below, you can see my phone with the brightness set to low (left) and the brightness set to high (right). Clearly, the brightness of my screen is quite a major pull on my battery, but other factors can influence this too, including apps updating in the background, Wi-Fi or cellular signal strength, and more.
The app itself uses a very modern Lollipop-based design, which is easy on the eyes. Tapping the circular icon to the left will take you to your full battery stats. Negative numbers mean that your phone is losing charge, and positive numbers show how much charge it is gaining.
Keep in mind that if your phone is working extra hard and using more amperage than usual, then you might get a lower number when testing your charger, and that’s not your charger’s fault.
For instance, if your phone is sucking up -240mA as mine was doing above, and your charger is supplying you with 600mA, then you’re really only going to be charging with 360mA.

What Should You Expect?

Every charging cable is different, but your best bet for measuring your wall charger is looking at the label on the adapter. Somewhere on your USB to wall outlet adapter there will be either a sticker or an imprint in tiny font that details your adapter’s specifications. Below, you can see the charger I was using for this.
You’re looking for the area where it says Output. In this case, the output is 1,000mA. So I should expect about a 1,000mA charge, minus whatever my phone is sucking up (240mA-510mA depending on my brightness).
Your charger and phone will be different than mine, though. But don’t worry, if you’ve used the app and determined that you’re getting less of a charge than your adapter says you should be getting, there are some steps you can take.

Make Adjustments

If you’re not getting a charge as fast as you want, there are ways to increase your charging speed.
For instance, switching your phone into airplane mode and keeping the screen off while it’s charging will allow it to charge much faster. If you’re not willing to go that far though, we have some other tips for squeezing the most battery life out of your device.
Also, plugging your phone into a computer or a wall outlet may seem like they do the same thing, but they’re much different. Computers can’t output the same level of amperage as a wall socket can. Below, you can see my charger speeds when plugged into the wall (left) and when plugged into my computer (right).
It’s also recommended that you use the charging cable that your phone or tablet shipped with, rather than a third-party charger. The hardware manufacturer has tested your device with that cable specifically, and you know it has the right amperage.
If your phone supports wireless charging, that’s going to be even slower than charging from your computer. It’s convenient for sure, but still quite slow.
And, for complete optimum charging, keep it cool. Heat is bad news for batteries, and one of the big things you should avoid to keep your battery healthy. Place it in a cool spot, take it out of its case, and it should charge a bit quicker.

How Did Your Charger Do?

It’s pretty nice that all Android devices use micro-USB charging cables, even if the charging world is still pretty fragmented. Though, it can be frustrating that not all micro-USB chargers are created equal.
Let us know in the comments about the results of your tests. Did your charger actually measure up to what it claimed? Any surprising results from your tests?
Image Credits: USB cable Via Shutterstock  Source:

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