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You don't need Google's new 30-watt charger for your Pixel 6 because the phone can't charge at 30 watts

Google Pixel 6 Pro Hardware Bottom
Google Pixel 6 Pro Hardware Bottom (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

You know you're a smartphone enthusiast when you pay attention to all the details of every new phone. That describes many of us (myself included), and it also means we love to see how things work in the "real world" compared to how a company says they will work.

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are no different. I read the complaints, have some of my own, and love to see how they will be addressed because that's my job. I would do it even if it weren't, though, especially for batteries and charging. That's why a recent test at Android Authority caught my eye just as it did many others.

I'll let you read through it and decide what you want to take away from it all, but I'm also going to put in my two cents because I can't help myself: don't buy Google's new 30-watt USB C charger for your Pixel 6. You can get a better charger for the same amount of money or less, and your Pixel 6 doesn't need a 30-watt charger.

With that out of the way, here's what the fuss is about. Google claims the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will charge from zero to 50% in 30 minutes. Google also released a new 30-watt USB C PPS charging adapter alongside the phone. Most folks, myself included, would take that to mean you need the new charger to get the advertised charging speeds. You don't.

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central 2.6 amps at 9.1 volts DC = 23.66 watts. (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

It just so happens that I have done a bit of testing myself to see what is what here. I have a power station on my workbench that can charge devices via USB A, USB C using the PD standard, and USB C using both the PD standard and PPS (Programmable Power Supply, an extension to the Power Delivery standard by the USB-IF). It also has a built-in meter to tell me exactly how many volts and how many amps are being delivered. Best of all, it can freely supply up to 100 watts.

You don't need one of these either, but it tells us how the Pixel 6 charges. Google is correct in saying that you can charge the phone to 50% in 30 minutes. Everyone with the phone and a charger capable of supplying at least 25 watts can quickly test this. What you can't test without an actual meter is what voltage and amperage are being supplied. Thanks to Ohm's law and people who do have meters, we know the Pixel 6 (both regular and Pro) will charge at 22 to 26 watts during the most power-hungry phase of the charging cycle and not any higher. You can see the full testing curve at the Android Authority post if that's a thing you want to see.

As usual, Google causes confusion by not saying everything.

It's a lot less dramatic and more boring this way, but it turns out that Google didn't lie. It just didn't put a charger in the box, debuted a new 30-watt charger, and said the Pixel 6 would charge to 50% in 30 minutes. What Google didn't say is that it takes about an hour to get the next 50% because it charges low and slow to keep the heat down. That's what we should be outraged about.

A high output charger is still nice to have

Aukey GaN USB Charger

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

None of this means you shouldn't want to buy a high-output USB C charger, but in 2021, 30 watts isn't exactly a high-output charger.

The beauty of all fast-charging systems, whether it be "regular" USB PD or something crazy like OnePlus Warp Charge, is that you're not going to overcharge your device by supplying too much voltage or too much current. If the two pieces can't communicate, it just falls back to the tired old 5 volts that USB supplies to any and everything.

I have a 100-watt GaN charger from Aukey, and it's great. It's small and can still fast charge my phone. It can also charge my headphones and my Pixelbook. It can charge anything, and if whatever I'm plugging into it follows the USB Power Delivery standard, it charges fast.

A high-output USB C charger is nice to have and worth buying anyway.

My 100-watt charger cost me about $40. That's only $15 or so more than Google's 30-watt charger. You can also buy plenty of other chargers that deliver more power and cost the same. You could even buy a 30-watt charger that costs a lot less than buying one from Google. What is important to know is that the best USB C charger doesn't come from Google because most expensive doesn't mean best.

Don't let all this confuse you. If you bought your charger from Google because you knew there wasn't one in the box, you will be able to charge your phone just fine. If you use last year's Pixel charger or a charger from Samsung, it will also be fine. If you buy a recommended charger from Amazon, it will be just fine. As long as you buy a certified USB PD charger and use the proper cord, you're not missing out on anything.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

17 Comments
  • Bad form Google. Disingenuous money grab disguised as environmentalism.
  • And... Don't buy Anker's 30w Nano II charger to replace their 18w Nano charger if you have the latter. The charging times are almost identical on the Pixel 6 Pro.
  • Okay, basic electronics lesson here. If the phone charges at 26 watts at its peak, then how is a 30 watt charger overkill? It's not like the market is flooded with 26 watt chargers, plus the extra capacity is sure to make your chargers last longer. Second point, while I agree the slow second half of charging can be frustrating and maybe Google should give an option to speed it up, the reason for that, in addition to keeping the heat down, is extending the durability of the battery. Heat kills batteries no matter the chemistry as does putting too much current through them. Quick chargers get around the current limitation by raising the voltage during the charging cycle but when you get towards the end you have to lower the voltage back down to avoid overcharging the battery. At that point your only option for speed is to raise the current back up which creates-- more heat. Of course if you don't care about having to replace your battery more often then again like I said maybe they should add an option to use higher charging current. Phone batteries are also a lot different than laptop batteries, less cells and smaller cells. So expecting them to charge at the speed of a laptop charger and hand the same durability is a bit unreasonable. Kinda like the difference between my tiny whoop 1s batteries and my full sized quad 4s-6s batteries. Makes a huge difference.
  • First point — paying Google pricing for a 30-watt charger is the wrong move when better products can be bought cheaper, or your money could be spent on a higher wattage charging brick. Second point — charge pumps are a thing. There is no reason that I can't send 20 VDC and 20 watts to the device and let internal circuitry buck or boost it as needed based on battery health other than it does not have the correct caps and dc to dc conversion circuitry inside. If OnePlus can solve this then a two-trillion dollar valued company like Google can. Finally, it's part of my job to find everything wrong with all the companies we talk about here. Google charges a premium price for the Pixel 6, even if it's less than what Samsung charges. We deserve "premium" ideas and engineering that offer a meaningful change from year to year in exchange.
  • 'There is no reason that I can't send 20 VDC and 20 watts to the device and let internal circuitry buck or boost it as needed'. Other than that's not how it works. The power supply (brick) establishes the voltage. The device being charged determines the current it draws, within the limits of the charger. You don't send power to anything. PD of course lets the charging device negotiate with the supply for voltage. After that the device determines the current draw based on its capability to accept it.
    Don't disagree you can get a better price on a 30W charger elsewhere, but you can also get a poorly engineered charger elsewhere. I'm giving Google the benefit of the doubt here. Same goes for higher wattage units.
    Your job description is really, find fault with everything?
  • too bad you cant use the oneplus warp charge for the pixel 6.
  • I'm of the opinion that if your charger is proprietary then it's bad.
  • EXCEPT...the warp charger from OnePlus is included IN THE BOX!!!!!! No extra rip-off. AND it works like a charm. I have the 8T as my backup device (currently) and I can charge it from nearly dead to fully alive (15% to 100%) in the morning while I s**t, shower, and shave. LOL
  • Yeah I just got my 1+9 today and I saw that huge charger. Impressive I must say.
  • Stupid question I have a Pixel 5 and a Pixel 6 Pro inbound. I'm assuming the OEM Pixel 5 charger (cable+power plug) is sufficient and will get me how much charging rate?
  • It should be fine. Just add a few more minutes to that "50% in 30 minutes" part and you won't see a difference after that.
  • This isn't anything new with phones. Apple does the same thing, with peak charging being at 27W on their flagship using their 30W charger (which, at $49, is about twice the price and delivers the same 50% charge in 30 minutes - though to a phone with a 13% smaller battery). An iPhone-centric forum could basically offer a cloned article: "You don't need Apple's new 30-watt charger for your iPhone 13 Pro Max because the phone can't charge at 30 watts" That stated, the difference in time for a full charge via the new charger and the old 18W charger Google used to provide is only about 10 minutes, so I do wholly agree with the recommendation. The curious thing is, since Google has specifically said that the pixel stand 2 will charge the Pixel 6 Pro at 23 Watts when using the 31 watt charger, does this mean that wireless charging will actually be the fastest for the new pixels, or will its charging algorithm similarly slow it down to where it isn't? Also noteworthy that nobody has made comment about the fact that they specifically state the limit of the pixel stand 2's charging at 23 watts when using a 30 watt charger. On a fun aside, this comment left entirely using Google's voice dictation! I freaking love it!
  • I'm curious about the Pixel stand 2 myself. As soon as it becomes available I'm ordering it and will check it out. Crazy how good Google has become with voice dictation, isn't it?
  • And that is exactly what Google needs to stick with - SOFTWARE
    Like Microsoft their hardware is no good.
  • You do realize the voice to text is so good because of Tensor, right?
  • Having purchased two Pixel 6 Pros for my household from the Google Store as a Google One subscriber, I will end up with about $180 credit--which will likely go toward a 2nd gen Pixel Stand and a couple of the 30W chargers. Otherwise, I'd be just fine using Pixel 3 and Pixel 4XL chargers with the 6 Pros. I also have a GaN charger from Aukey (90W) and love it for charging Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel Slate, headphones, etc. (of course in combinations that best take advantage of its type-A and 2 type-C ports).
  • Please stop telling people that 30 watts is not enough for smartphones. It absolutely is. Regardless of which year it is. I puke when I read "30w is not exactly fast charging in 2021". Because it is. You're charging a phone, not a laptop. A phone's battery is not supposed to be huge - that's a fire hazard in your pocket. Moreover, as you this article said actually - the first 50-60% of charging is fast, then the charging rate declines on any phone. So you don't need fast charging past that mark. In other words - fast charging has diminishing returns. So switching from 30 watt to 60 watt is not going to do that much for you. It's just going to make your battery life degrade faster. My iPad charges at around 18 watt. Why would I need my phone to charge at over 30 watt? That's ridiculous, it's a gimmick, it's more marketing than substance.