Is USB-C technology enough to ensure charging compatibility between devices? DXOMARK metrics and analysis on the current state of the wireless market.

Following the adoption of new legislation by the European Commission on charging devices in the EU, DXOMARKan international leader in evaluating the quality of camera, screen, audio and battery performance of smartphones and other electronic devices, has conducted numerous tests on various chargers and smartphones to assess their compatibility.

Late last year, the European Parliament passed the proposal to introduce a single charging port for all new smartphones and tablets sold in Europe to reduce waste and the carbon footprint of electronic products in the Union. By autumn 2024, all new smartphones, tablets, cameras and other electronic devices coming onto the market in the EU must be equipped with a USB-C charging port. A regulation that, together with the tendency of some manufacturers to remove chargers from smartphone packaging, will lead to more and more users mixing chargers and smartphones. To understand what this means in terms of compatibility, DXOMARK has conducted several tests and comparisons combining official and compatible chargers.

DXOMARK cross-load tests

DXOMARK’s battery quality engineers performed extensive cross-charging tests on the following devices: Apple iPhone 13, Xiaomi 12 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Oppo Find X5 and Google Pixel 6. For this first round of testing, DXOMARK focuses on charge time and power measurements.

For accurate results, all phones tested were charged using their original (or brand-recommended) chargers, competitor phone chargers, as well as popular third-party chargers (Amazon Basics, Force Power, Belkin, and Anker).

You can see the full analysis on the DXOMARK website

Countless smartphones for as many charging protocols as possible?

After the advent of Qualcomm Quick Charge technologies and the USB PowerDelivery standard a few years ago, many manufacturers now offer even faster proprietary charging protocols, up to 150 W at OnePlus, for example. Each of these charging protocols requires the use of a specific charger and appropriate cable, creating a complex system that requires consumers to clearly identify which device corresponds to the chargers in their possession.

This trend is being embraced by most smartphone brands developing their own fast charging protocols exclusive to their latest flagships. So Realme, Oppo and OnePlus use SUPERVOOC, Huawei works with Super Charge and Vivo and IQOO work with FlashCharge. The number of charging protocols has therefore exploded in recent years, as has the number of chargers and cables owned by consumers. A number that increases even more if we consider tablet or laptop chargers.

In order to move towards the new European legislation to reduce e-waste, some compatibility between brands and devices is necessary. However, the reality is more complicated.

USB-C charging: a more complex charging process than it seems

While most devices currently available on the EU market come with a USB-C connector, the built-in charging protocols often differ between brands. Efficient charging of your phone depends not only on the charging port, but also on the technology built into the charger (and cable).

DXOMARK testers observed that a standard protocol was activated between incompatible devices, allowing for 10W charging power. Charging is therefore possible, but with suboptimal performance.

However, if a charger and a smartphone use at least one common protocol, the charging power can be up to 30W. Better results, but a performance that is still well below the proprietary technologies of Android smartphone brands, which more and more frequently exceed 100W.

What about third-party chargers?

Unfortunately, third-party chargers face the same problem as they don’t have access to the smartphone manufacturers’ proprietary charging protocols. In other words, even if a smartphone can reach forces of Charging with their official chargers, in most cases, third-party chargers have to resort to standard charging standards like USB PD 3.0, 2.0 or even 1.0, which offer lower charging speeds, as can be seen in the graphic below.

The table presented here shows the power peaks recorded when charging the different phones, first with third-party chargers, then with their proprietary chargers and those of competing brands.

DXOMARK Cross-Charging Tests – Top Performance

For example, while USB PD 2.0 is well optimized for the iPhone 13, its use on most other devices results in significantly lower performance compared to bundled chargers and their proprietary protocols. Of all the phones tested, the performance of the cheapest charger in the group, the Amazon Basics model, was particularly disappointing.

A significant impact on the daily use of smartphones

These performance differences therefore imply much longer charging times than with the proprietary chargers of these devices. While the Oppo Find X5 only takes 45 minutes to fully charge, it takes almost 2 hours, more than double that of most chargers tested.

DXOMARK cross-charging tests – time to full charge

A clear need to standardize charging protocols between manufacturers

While most smartphone manufacturers are striving to improve the charging experience for their users, DXOMARK observed a persistent lack of charging compatibility between brands during these tests, which currently leads to a need to multiply chargers to achieve the most convenient experience

In order to include as many devices as possible and reduce the number of chargers their consumers use, manufacturers of smartphones and other electronic devices must converge and join forces to harmonize charging protocols for a truly unified solution across brands. In addition to this legislation, we also see new initiatives in other parts of the world. In fact, in China, smartphone makers Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi have announced they are joining forces to create a future common standard for fast charging.

DXOMARK is a French technology company, international leader in the quality assessment of cameras, screens, audio and batteries for smartphones and other consumer electronic devices (such as cameras and connected speakers).

As a private and independent company, DXOMARK has set itself the goal of supporting manufacturers in the development of ever higher quality products for the benefit of the end user.

To help users in their choice, DXOMARK provides on its website – dxomark.fr, .com and .cn – the largest quality rating database returned in the form of ratings.

DXOMARK, based in Boulogne-Billancourt, employs 120 people, including 100 engineers and technicians, who have been carrying out thousands of tests every year for the past 10 years in 16 technological laboratories designed in-house. More than 150 of these labs, 100% dedicated to quality measurement and optimization, have been sold to consumer electronics and technology companies around the world.

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DXOMARK also makes the results of quality tests conducted on smartphones, speakers and cameras on the market available to the public on its website dxomark.com to help consumers select the most qualitatively efficient devices.

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