It has been about two years since Apple, Samsung and Google, among others, stopped including a free wall charger with new smartphones. And if you’re still missing that free brick in your box, it’s time to consider upgrading your next charger to GaN — a compact, powerful, energy-efficient charging technology that can be used with any mobile device.
Gallium nitride (GaN) is not a new material in electronics. In fact, it was used to make LEDs in the 1990s. However, as this semiconductor material has become cheaper, many well-known brands such as Anker and Belkin have started producing GaN chargers instead of the existing silicon charging technology currently found in most phones, laptops and tablets. Many of the best USB-C chargers we’ve tested use this new standard.
Curious about these smaller, more portable, more powerful, eco-friendly chargers? Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering adopting the vibrant, emerging GaN technology.
The biggest advantage of GaN is the amount of power you can put into such a small device. Because the GaN technology produces less heat, the components can be placed closer together, allowing faster charging in a smaller size. For anyone tired of lugging around a huge power brick to charge your laptop and another to charge your tablet and phone, you can now replace them all with one smaller, more efficient charger. This is great news for both business travelers and those who come to the office a few days a week.Read:Apple plans fix for bug that users say makes iPhone 14 Pro camera shake uncontrollably
GaN chargers range in capacity from 20W to 200W. And as you might expect, the higher you go, the more expensive the device will be. You can also choose from several configurations ranging from one USB-C port to two or even three, and some even have a USB-A charging port for those with older cables.
20W GaN chargers can quickly charge a smartphone, but in general you need about 65W to charge your laptop. This varies, so you should check with the device manufacturer for your particular model. For example, a MacBook Air needs 30W to charge, but the power-guzzling 15-inch MacBook Pro needs 87W to charge at high speed.
USB-C Power Delivery (PD) 3.0 and PPS charging technologies
These new GaN chargers use USB-C PD and the latest charging technologies, supporting up to 240W of power and allowing the devices and chargers to talk to each other to determine optimal charging power. So when you plug in a laptop that needs 65W of power, the charger will identify it and automatically adjust the power to other ports.Read:The Story Behind Mortal Kombat’s Iconic Dragon Logo
Many GaN chargers will help you figure out how to get the optimum power by including the information on the package.
Ready to buy one for yourself? Here are some of the latest GaN chargers that can quickly charge your iPhone or Android phone, as well as your tablet and laptop, and even your wireless headphones. One caveat is that you can charge faster using the USB-C port on the charger, so while some have USB-A ports, they charge more slowly. You may also want to consider getting a new USB-C to USB-C or Lightning cable to ensure you upgrade to the fastest speed.
Belkin’s 65W BOOSTCHARGE PRO Dual USB-C GaN Wall Charger lets you charge a laptop and quickly charge a smartphone at the same time. You get 65W of power using only the top port and 45W when you combine it with the bottom 20W port.Read:iPhone 14’s crash detection is terrifying with false alarms
With its powerful length of 2 inches, it can charge an iPhone 13 from 0 to 50% in 28 minutes and a Samsung S21 to 50% in 27 minutes. When you’re done, you can fold the prongs for easy storage.
Belkin also makes a 45W 2-port charger for $35.99.
OtterBox comes with a new line of GaN wall chargers in three fast charging sizes: 72W, 60W and 30W.
The star of the Premium Pro product line is the 72W three-port model that supports laptop charging. Use the single port for 60W of power or charge two devices at 30W each. There’s also a 12W USB-A port to charge a third device, such as a headset or mobile device, more slowly.
OtterBox also has a Premium Pro line of fast car chargers that range from 30W to 72W. Personally, my phone battery usually needs to be charged by midday, so a 72W car charger that can charge my phone to 71% in 30 minutes is ideal. Like their durable phone cases wrapped in a tough exterior, OtterBox says the chargers are drop-tested and all come in white or black.
In addition to its recently announced line of GaNPrime chargers ranging from 65W to 150W, all with different combinations of USB-C ports and USB-A, Anker also offers this small 30W wall plug.
I took the Anker 511 (which is our current top pick for a basic phone charger) on a recent business trip and it was all I needed to charge all my devices. Yes, iPhone, iPad and laptop. Normally I would carry a charger with at least two ports, but I wanted to see if this one compact device with only one port could do it all, and it did. Beautiful.
Sure, there was a lot of plugging in and out, and I needed both a USB-C to lightning and a USB-C to USB-C cable, but cables are a lot lighter to carry than chargers. And smaller too – Anker says the device is 70% smaller than Apple’s 30W charger. The $23 Anker 511 Nano 3 Charger has folding prongs and is available in purple, as well as misty blue, green, white, and black.
Mophie’s Speedport GaN wall chargers are available in a variety of capacities and ports ranging from 20W to 120W. Mophie is also strengthening its environmental awareness by using 50% post-consumer recycled plastics.
If you need to charge many devices at once and aren’t on the go, the $99.95 120W model is designed for desktop use rather than wall charging, so it won’t occupy all the outlets on your power strip. It has 3 USB-C ports and a USB-A port to charge four devices at once or provides 100W of power for charging a laptop when only the top port is used. It comes with a power cable that plugs into a wall outlet, as well as a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box.
Nomad’s $69.95 dual port 65W GaN power adapter is the most powerful charger (they have 20W and 30W) with the ability to charge a laptop at the full 65W or transfer power between the two ports. divide. No USB-A port is included. Not a space hog, the compact charger takes up only one outlet with collapsible prongs for easy travel and storage.
With GaN chargers ranging from 45W to 200W in both wall outlets and desktop models, Ugreen’s 100W charger ($67.99) seems like the perfect size to throw in your bag for all your mobile devices. The 4-port GaN charger has three USB-C ports that only support 100W charging, and a 22.5W USB-A port, perfect for your phone or earbuds. If your laptop requires less than 65W, you can charge multiple devices at once, but you should consider using a power strip, as the charger can become heavy and can pull out of the outlet if too many cables are plugged in.