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From the Editor's Desk: Charging an arm and a leg (and a Note 10+)

I'm fascinated by batteries. The very idea of a battery is interesting: this silent, static object that holds within it power, electricity — light, movement, energy. Batteries, especially rechargeable ones, are fascinating because they are both simple — stored energy released as components need them, and then filled back up through another source — and incredibly complex. The very makeup of today's modern lithium-ion battery is something to behold, and requires a considerable amount of engineering prowess to install safely into a product like a phone.

I'm thinking about batteries this week because of the Galaxy Note 10+, which is the first phone to use the burgeoning and increasingly widely-used USB-PD standard to hit peak charging speeds of 45 watts. To most people, the size of a battery matters more than the speed at which it recharges, but capacity is just one of the three pillars that makes up one's smartphone uptime experience, the other two being discharge rate (the rate at which the components and the operating system consume energy), and recharge rate (the speed at which the battery can fill up again).

Samsung doesn't want another Note 7 disaster, which is why it's prioritizing safety as it markets super fast charging.

To date, most high-speed charging solutions have used proprietary standards developed by the companies that sell the phone; that way they have more control over how the wall adapter that creates the current, and the cable that carries it, interact with the battery. The two most well-known standards are Huawei's SuperCharge, which reached 40 watts this year with the P30 Pro, and OPPO's Super VOOC, which pushes 50 watts. OnePlus's Warp Charge, an offshoot of OPPO's solution, hit 30W this year with the OnePlus 7 Pro.

Of course, there are caveats with all of these solutions. SuperCharge requires a specialized AC adapter and cable, and the charger itself is considerably larger than what you may be used to with older phones from a few years ago that topped out at 10 watts. OPPO's SuperCharge goes even further, dividing the phone's battery itself into two cells so it can accelerate top-up speeds by working independently.

OnePlus's new Warp Charge standard hits 30 watts, topping off the phone at just over an hour.

OnePlus's new Warp Charge standard hits 30 watts, topping off the phone at just over an hour.

There are other fast charging solutions, of course, which brings us to Samsung. Until this year's Galaxy S10 5G, all of its phones maxed out at 15W and used an offshoot of Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0 standard called Fast Adaptive Charging. The Galaxy S10 5G introduced 25W charging, nearly halving the time it took to top up the phone, but to my (and perhaps your) chagrin it wasn't available on the other S10 devices. But to reach those speeds, it also required Samsung's own charger and cable.

So now we're talking about the Note 10 and 10+. While the Note 10 supports charging speeds of 25W, and the Note 10+ 45W, they have now standardized on the widely-used USB-C standard, which technically means it should be easy to find third-party chargers to help it hit those high speeds. Alas, that's not the case — at least not yet. Likely due to concerns around battery temperature and safety (something the company has a vested interest in upholding), both phones can only reach their respective maximum charging speeds using a little-known subset of the USB Power Delivery standard called PPS, or Programmable Power Supply. As I explain in this article, PPS makes it possible to alter the default voltage and amperage that the USB-PD standard supports — typically 5V/3A or 9V/2A.

Not to get too technical, but PPS tries to minimize power loss, and thus heat, by slowly increasing the voltage and decreasing the amperage of the charge as the phone climbs towards 100%. The 25W charger that comes in the box of both the Note 10 and Note 10+ reaches 11V/2.25A, which equals 24.75W (you calculate wattage by multiplying the voltage by the amperage). The 45W Super Fast Charge adapter, which costs $50 directly from Samsung, presumably goes as high as 15V/3A to hit those crazy charging speeds, but no one has one yet to verify.

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I spent part of my Friday experimenting with charging my Note 10+, trying to figure out whether there are any ways the device could hit those 45W speeds without Samsung's first-party charger. I have USB-PD chargers from Anker, Aukey, RAVPower, Huawei, Mophie and more, and while many of them technically support 45W power delivery, using a voltmeter I determined that none of them could get the Note 10+ to charge faster than 15W.

I then used Samsung's in-box charger with the in-box cable and promptly hit 25W charging. But when I swapped out the cable for another one, the one that came with my Huawei Matebook X Pro, it dropped back down to 15W. Turns out that in addition to needing a PPS-capable wall adapter, you also need an e-marked USB-C cable. Again, without getting too technical, that's a cable that's certified to transfer wattage up to 100W and speeds up to 10Gbps as based on the latest USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard. The problem is that you can't tell whether a cable is e-marked just by looking at it. While there's a tiny chip on the inside of the cable near the plug, you probably don't want to have to take apart your cable to check.

So how can you tell? E-mark isn't a brand or a feature, it's just a necessity of the USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard, so you're going to want to look for USB-C to C cables that are rated for 10Gbps transfer speeds — those must be e-marked to be certified. They may cost a bit more but they're worth it. (All of Apple's C-C cables are e-marked, for what it's worth.)

As for adapters, you won't find a lot of PPS-capable chargers yet. The standard is still very new and companies haven't prioritized them because until now there haven't been any major products to require it. Expect that to change in the near future. In the meantime, you can pre-order Samsung's own 45W USB-C adapter, and use the cable that came in the box, to reach those crazy speeds. You should be able to go from 0-100% in around 40 minutes.

So here we are, with Samsung technically supporting an open charging standard after all these years, one that enables super fast charging at that, but it's so ahead of its time that the industry hasn't caught up yet. It's better than walling off the phone to a proprietary standard, for sure, but still frustrating nonetheless. Thanks to Android Police for doing a lot of the legwork on this story.

Here's what else is going on this week:

  • Speaking of batteries, Apple caused a bit of a firestorm by acknowledging that third-party battery installs are considered "unauthorized repairs" and has begun blocking access to the new battery health section of iOS. The company says it's doing this to ensure the safety of its users, since batteries from non-approved sources have the potential to be lower quality and even dangerous. Still, there's an argument that once you buy a phone it's your property to do with what you like, and this appears to be battery DRM.
  • The T-Mobile/Sprint merger is chugging along and is expected to be approved in the coming weeks. In the short-term it could be a boon for customers; in the long-run, though, unless the newly-leveraged Dish can pull a facilities-based rabbit out of its hat, US consumers are in for a rude price awakening. Take it from this overpaying Canadian.
  • Huawei's been given another 90-day reprieve to purchase components and renew IP from U.S. companies. The deal was expected to expire tomorrow, so this last-minute deal lets them work into November. Is the Commerce Department just going to keep kicking this can down the road? Sure hope we see some resolution soon.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have an excellent Sunday!

-Daniel

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

35 Comments
  • Wait, the Note 10 doesn't have any fast charging "issues", you guys just don't have the charger yet. Fast charging only works with it's included adapter and cable, that's completely fair. Reviewers are just gonna have to order the Samsung charger and get your articles/videos out a bit later than usual. There are no issues though
  • The "issue" is that Samsung doesn't make it clear you need a special USB-PD charger to support 25W or 45W speeds. The company claims to support USB-PD but uses the little-known PPS feature to get those high speeds. I'm not saying there's an "issue" as in there's something wrong with it.
  • I see nothing wrong here , they have come up with a charging solution that's gonna charge the note 10+'s 4300 mAh in 40 min while keeping overheating in check , good for Samsung , great for us too
  • Click bait title stating there were issues with the Note 10 charging. Wait for the damn charger like the rest of us lol.
  • Heh. I thought the same: issues already?!
  • Wait what????? "SuperCharge requires a specialized AC adapter and cable, and the charger itself is considerably larger than what you may be used to with previous phones" You mean the charging brick that's exactly the same size as most other brands provide? I get my Huawei plug and Google pixel plug confused all the time. If it wasn't for the fact one has a small USB type C hole and the other has a bigger USB 2 hole they'd look identical. You'd think you were describing the big iPad bricks in that article
  • "previous phones" is key there — I'm talking about compared to older chargers from a few years ago, like the super-compact 7.5-10W chargers that came with phones like the S6 and S7. Yes, the Pixel's charger is massive but it still only supports 18W charging — no idea why. But proprietary charging methods like SuperCharge and Super VOOC rely on upping the amperage to 4A or 5A, which necessitates a larger brick since the heat is kept at the source and not in the battery.
  • The Galaxy S6 and S7 actually already came with 15W charger. But those were pretty compact, indeed.
  • Try this AUKEY PA-Y10 PD 3.0 charger with 3-16V 3A PPS search for it on Amazon: AUKEY USB C Charger with 56.5W
  • I currently got the PA-Y12 60W PD one, It also states it supports PPS (3-21V/3A). I haven't got my Note10+ yet, but I'll be sure to test it out and see if it achieves 45W. I can't see reviews of people testing Aukey models yet, only Anker. Would be cool if anyone could report these chargers as compatible.
  • Hi Daniel, there's a slight error in the article. It states the Note 10+ is the first phone to support USB PD. However, the U12 Plus from last year supports USB PD, QC 4, and QC 4+. I've been using a 30 watt USB PD charger for several months.
  • It's the first phone to support 45W charging through USB-PD. Sorry for the confusion!
  • No prob! I'm just glad the "issues" had nothing to do with smoke and flames!
  • By the way, thanks for the info Daniel. I have some heavy duty braided cables and assumed they would be fine, but are not. They still hit a peak charge rate of 2% per minute on the U12 Plus, but I just ordered E-marked cables, a 60 watt PD charger, and a USB C meter. It will be interesting to play around with ;)
    My current meters are all USB A, which is useless on PD cables.
  • Got all the stuff, and the U12 Plus maxes out at 18.63 watts, but no complaints since it's an older phone.
  • I'm just going with the KISS principle: use the Samsung-approved charger.
  • In that context, KISS = Keep It Samsung, Silly!
  • Quite frankly, I'm pleased Samsung is being so cautious.
  • True. But I'm kinda perplexed as to why samsung charges 1200 dollars for the Note 10 plus, but if you want to charge at its max advertised rate, you gotta drop another 50 bucks for a special Samsung charger. For 1200 dollars they can include that charger in the box....
  • I don't think you have to buy from Samsung. It's just that the cable must meet a certain requirement and the power brick must aswell. This is probably not a way to earn more money but a way to sustain the device's health.
  • Hi Daniel. Google feed sends me so many articles about technology it's ridiculous. I have read articles that made me sit and think did this author do any homework before the wrote this. You on the other hand... made me happy.. it was actually something that was informative. Made me think and go huh. Just wanted to say thank you. And now I am following 62 people on Twitter. Keep up great articles
  • On batteries, the fact the note 10 S-pen has a battery makes it far less interesting than last year... Although it is understandable given the new gyro features that no-one will use once the novelty wears off. Even with PPS complicating things I'm glad Samsung has gotten behind USB-PD. I wonder if my Mu One would charge it at full speed... It does support 15V/3A and 20V/2.25A but I've no idea about PPS... maybe I'll email them... Interesting article, i suspect Jerry will be proud.
  • Jerry's always my inspiration for investigations like this 😁
  • are there any car chargers for the note 10+ that can charge at the same speed like the wall charger at 45w?
    and even more important : any power banks that can charge that fast?
  • I have not found any car chargers with that capacity. I do have a pair of powerbanks with USB C outputs, but they are limited to 15 watts.
  • Just get one of those car adapters that convert to a power plug then you can use your 45 watt charger
  • Hard to believe that Samsung the top phone company wouldn't release such a car charger and power bank to go along with its flagship phone...
  • I like that they’re supporting an industry standard, but I don’t like that even with an 87w Apple charger you don’t get the 45w charging on the phone. Makes me curious...was PPS created specifically for phones? If so, why? Wouldn’t every device benefit from it?
  • It would have been nice on Samsung's behalf to mention it required PPS, people were inclined to believe a 45W adapter and above with PD would work. I have an Aukey 60W PD charger, that states it supports PPS (3-21V at 3A), so let's see. Worse case, I'll opt for Samsung's offering until a proper solution presents itself. Good on Samsung for moving to PD 3.0 with PPS. Looking forward to testing speeds and temp.
  • There is not an adapter that will give you 45w outside of Samsungs adapter. I have a few PD 3.0 PPS charger bricks from Amazon including the new Aukey 63w PPS. Also using E-Marked cables which are in most cables that are at least 5a, come to find out. The highest I got was 26w. If you want 10 mins faster charging you will have to wait for the official adapter.
  • Seems like no third party is an option for now, Aukey's current offerings do not work, they charge at the same rate as the 25W or slower. As for E-Marked cables, there is plenty around just make sure it's a 3.1 Gen2 100W/5A, I would vouch for Belkin as they are certified to work and I got two myself.
  • Hi, I have the T480 Lenovo computer with the 'ADLX65YLC3A' charger for 65W. I also purchased the Galaxy note 10 plus which is the first phone who can be charged at 45W. I read online that the charger that can maximize the phone's charging abilitis must have: It needs to support the latest USB-PD revision 3
    It needs to support charging speeds of at least 11V/4.05A or 15V 3A (which together add up to 45W)
    It needs to support the PPS, or Programmable Power Supply, standard. Does this Lenovo charger can be the one? Dolev.
  • I also have the Baseus BS-EU907 45W and I was wondering if it can crack the note 10 plus full charging potential.
  • I am unable to confirm that the Note 10 is achieving 25 watt charging with the Samsung supplied charger and cable even with battery down to less than 10%. The most I have been able to see is 9.1 volts and 2.09 amps for 19.02W. What am I doing wrong? I am using: USB C Power Meter Tester, Eversame USB Voltmeter Ammeter Load Tester with Braided USB C to USB C Cable(1.5Ft/50cm) - Test Speed of Charger Cables - PD 2.0/3.0 QC 2.0/3.0/4.0
    Amazon ASIN B07MGQZHGM (I can't post URL's) Even purchased this cable to substitute for the cable supplied with the tester but no difference.
    USB 3.1 Type C Gen 2 Cable 3.3ft, CableCreation 10Gbps USB C to USB C Cable Built in E-Marker C
    ASIN B01FM52776 If this tester is incapable of testing both PPS and USB-PD to see the 11V/2.25A (24.75W), which one would you recommend?
  • I have the Galaxy note 10 plus I purchased four 45 watt chargers from Samsung Direct I completely discharged the phone and tried to recharge the phone with the 25-watt and the 45 watt charger and there's only a 6 minute difference in time I've seen some online videos reviewing the 45 watt charger and having the same problem does anyone know what's going on? Did Samsung ship the wrong power cable with the charging block. Theoretically the phone should charge in 40 minutes. I've contacted Samsung initially they told me to ship my phone back to them or try to exchange the chargers but I explained I got four of them. Today they escalated the problem because there's online reviews showing the 45 watt charger not working. Does anyone know if this is a problem with the charger, the cable, software or firmware on the phone? I asked Samsung if they could please test the 45 watt charger on their note 10 plus they said they would get back to me. I am using the cable that came in the box with a 45 watt charger. Based off this article it's conceivable that they didn't ship the right cable with the phone. If anyone knows what's going on please let me know