Most consumers would name weak battery life as their main bugbear with smartphones.
With manufacturers bringing out handsets packed with more features than ever and phone networks offering very competitive rates on data and calls, we’re using our phones more than ever.
But with more phone functionality comes more battery issues, and in a world where we’re so reliant on our mobiles, we all dread running out of battery.
Luckily though, the advent of quick charge technology on top-end handsets means you can now charge your battery up to 75% faster than with regular charging.
So does your phone have fast-charging? Are there any downsides you need to know about? And are there any alternative ways to keep your phone battery from dying?
Read on and we'll explain all.
1. Do I have fast charging on my phone?
If you’ve bought an Android phone in the last few years, it’s likely that you have fast charging enabled on your device.
Handsets from the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7 ranges, the newer Sony Xperia phones, the OnePlus 3 and selected Google phones come with a fast-charge mode.
Got a different Android phone? To see if your phone is fast charge-compatible, check out Qualcomm’s list of quick charge devices.
2. How do I get fast charging to work?
To use fast charging, you need to have both a special fast charger and a phone that supports fast-charge technology.
You may need to buy that special charger to go with your supported device, because they aren't always included with the phone at the point of purchase.
You should be able to switch fast charge 'on' or 'off' by going to the 'battery settings' section on your phone.
3. Can I use fast charging on my iPhone?
Apple phones don’t have fast charging. Still, there are a couple of tricks you can try to get your iPhone to charge quicker.
Low power mode
As part of the iOS 9 update, a low power mode feature was added to help users get the most out of their battery. So if you've running a phone with iOS 9 or above, you'll be able to fast-charge your phone.
When low power mode is switched on, it automatically changes some settings to save battery power, such as disabling automatic fetching of new emails and reducing screen brightness. It will still let you make and receive calls and texts, though.
Low power mode will help you save power when you’re out. But it will also make your phone charge quicker if you enable it while it’s plugged in.
You can enable low-power mode in the 'battery' category in the settings section of your phone. The battery indicator in the status bar will turn yellow while low power mode is enabled.
When your iPhone’s battery reaches 20%, a prompt will appear automatically, giving you the option to switch on low power mode.
Your iPhone will automatically disable low power mode once the battery has reached 80%.
As some Apple fans have noticed, using an iPad charger will make iPhones charge much quicker.
While Apple don’t advertise this, according to their website , the more powerful 12w charger is compatible with all of iPhone models.
Compare iPhone deals on our dedicated comparison page.
4. Will fast charging damage the battery?
The jury’s out on this one. There is speculation that quick chargers could reduce the long-term life of your battery if you use it too often, but there doesn’t seem to be any hard evidence linking battery damage with frequent fast charging.
Using the wrong charger
First off, don’t worry about damaging your phone if you use the wrong charger.
Whether you plug a quick charger into an older device, or use a regular charger on a phone that’s fast charge-enabled, the regulator in your phone will prevent it from damaging your battery.
So, you won't harm your device; it just won't charge any faster.
Quick chargers generate more heat than regular chargers. The more power you push through your phone, the more stress it puts on the battery and the more heat it generates.
Don’t worry though. Although devices can get quite hot, quick charge phones are built to be safe.
To be 100% safe, it's probably a good idea to use fast-charge only when you need an urgent battery boost and stick with regular charging for general charging.
5. Are there cheaper or better alternatives?
There may be cheaper, better solutions to your power needs. Despite the drawbacks, quick chargers are excellent for one too-common scenario: when your phone is dying and you need to charge it up quickly before you leave.
Whe fast charging is a quick and efficient way of getting more juice into your phone, there are alternatives that are cheaper, more effective alternatives out there.
Here, we take at some of the best workarounds:
Change the settings on your phone
We’ve already mentioned Apple’s low power mode, but there are comparable battery-saving features for most Android phones too.
You can set individual apps to conserve your battery or you can switch on power-saving mode to help keep your battery going for longer.
Check out our pick of the best Android phones.
Battery saving apps
As well as managing your battery in the settings of your phone, there are also some great apps out there to help you survive without plugging your phone in.
Our personal favourite is Battery Doctor. It tells you how much time you have left before your phone needs charging and has lots of handy features to conserve the battery.
It even estimates how long your phone will last if you perform a particular task. So, you can check if you have enough battery left to watch YouTube or play Angry Birds on the train home.
It's free to download and is available for both Apple and Android.
External battery pack
The obvious advantage of an external battery pack is that you can charge your phone on the go.
Instead of having to wait for your phone to charge up before you leave the house, or getting stuck with a dying battery when you’re nowhere near a plug socket, you can simply plug your phone into a portable charger and carry on.
External battery packs need to be charged though, so you’ll need to make sure it’s got enough juice in it before you can count on it resuscitating your mobile.
Although they’re portable, they can be a bit bulky. Still, if you can get a reasonably priced, lightweight one, we recommend keeping it charged up and in your bag for emergencies.