The best USB charger 2017/2018
Desktop chargers, multi-port USB chargers or whatever you want to call them may not be the sexiest tech gadgets we can think of, but beyond our core mobile computing devices – our laptops, our tablets, our smartphones – we can’t think of a more useful gadget to have around the home. It’s not so much a question of why would you want a desktop charger, but why wouldn’t you want one? Desktop chargers let you charge multiple phones, tablets and other USB-powered devices from a single mains outlet, and are great for freeing up some suitcase room on your travels.
When choosing a desktop charger it’s important to consider the number of USB outputs it offers, the rating of each, and the total output of the device. A 10-port desktop charger is of little use if it can simultaneously support only three of those ports at full-speed. That said, it isn’t unusual for a desktop charger to be unable to run all its ports at maximum power at once.
Many of the desktop and travel chargers we review here support intelligent technology that lets them recognise the attached device and automatically deliver the correct amount of power. Others will offer slow- and fast-charging ports for your phone, tablet or other USB devices. Also see our round-up of the best power banks and best charging cables.
The Tronsmart Titan is the best desktop charger we’ve come across, faster and with more Quick Charge ports than any other, and for roughly the same amount of money as its rivals.
With a name like Titan, the size of this thing shouldn’t be underestimated.
At 292g and 160x81x28mm it’s a beast, and roughly twice the size of the other desktop chargers in our chart. But the Titan is designed to sit on your desk and stay there, rather than go with you on your travels as a compact multi-charger. The design is functional, a matte black box with flashes of gloss at the edges.
Lying flat on the desk a Tronsmart logo is visble from the top, and around the back is a dedicated power switch that lets you turn off the charger without unplugging it from the mains – this will prove attractive to those who worry about trickle-charging devices munching away at their electricity bills. From the front you can see five USB ports, each with a green plastic prong inside. In the world of charging green (or blue) is used to signal speed.
And this desktop charger from Tronsmart has loads of it to hand.
We’ve seen desktop chargers that support one or two USB ports compatible with Qualcomm Quick Charge. All five ports on the Titan support the technology, plus there’s VoltIQ intelligent device recognition for phones and tablets that do not, allowing the Titan to deliver an optimum charge to suit the device. Quick Charge 2.0 is a technology (now superceded by Quick Charge 3.0 and Quick Charge 4.0) that allows phones and tablets with certain Qualcomm Snapdragon processors inside to support faster charging that can see charging time reduced by up to 75 percent.
The technology is usually seen in flagship devices but is becoming more commonplace, hence the need for five suitably equipped ports on the Titan. When compared to other desktop chargers the Tronsmart Titan also has the highest maximum power output. Rated at 90W, it can deliver a full 18W to each of its five USB ports simultaneously.
This means it will be as efficient with one phone plugged in as it would with five.
If, like us at Tech Advisor, you’re a bit of a gadget hoarder, a device that can simultaneously charge five phones or tablets at high-speed is a must-have. You won’t find a better one than the Tronsmart Titan.
Charge all your devices from a single mains power outlet with this super-fast multi-port USB charger. With Quick Charge 3.0 support it’s a great fit for flagship phones.
The Tronsmart U5PTA is one of several Quick Charge 3.0 devices we’ve tested. Quick Charge 3.0 is a recent revision to Qualcomm’s fast-charging technology (now up to QC4), and it can charge compatible devices up to four times faster than a conventional charger. It’s backward-compatible with Quick Charge 1.0 (up to 40 percent faster than a standard charge) and Quick Charge 2.0 (up to 75 percent faster charging), which will be handy if you aren’t eligible for a phone upgrade just yet.
This Tronsmart is a five-port USB charger, and only one of these ports supports Quick Charge 3.0. That’s not really an issue, since right now you’ll be lucky to have one QC3 device, let alone five.
The four remaining ports are rated at 2.4A (12W), but with a maximum output of 7.2A shared between these ports the Tronsmart can’t simultaneously run all four at full-speed. VoltIQ technology allows it to recognise your device type and deliver the optimum charge to each, however, ensuring that the available power is distributed in the best possible way.
Should all four connected devices demand a lot of juice, the Tronsmart can supply 1.8A or 9W to each, which is still pretty fast. Looks might well be the deciding factor here. We’ve always found desktop chargers incredibly useful because we don’t like having to search for a vacant wall socket everytime we need to charge our phone, nor having to decide which device’s charging should take priority over anothers. (And who wants to fill their hand luggage with phone-, tablet- and camera chargers when it should be filled with bikinis and shoes?)
It can get to the stage where you have so many USB cables coming out of plug sockets that everything starts to look a bit messy.
A desktop charger such as this lets you clear away all that clutter, so it makes sense that the device itself is small and unobtrusive.
The Tronsmart U5PTA is a compact device, no larger or heavier than most desktop chargers we review at 165x156x56mm, and ideal for taking with you on your travels. A black rectangular plastic brick with matt sides and gloss edges, it’s designed to lie flat on a desk, with all the legends save the Tronsmart logo hidden from view on the bottom of the device. The USB ports each have a black prong, while the Quick Charge 3.0 port is blue, making it instantly recognisable.
As with most such devices the power supply is built-in.
Aukey 10 Port USB Wall Charger with QC 3.0
Now this is what we call a multi-port charger! If your needs are great, the Aukey offers a staggering 10 USB ports for charging all your phones, tablets, smartwatches and other USB devices at once. And surprisingly, it’s not expensive.
The Aukey 10 Port charger is, as you might expect, a rather large device. Measuring 167x79x27mm and weighing 296g it’s roughly two- to two-and-a-half times the size of the five-port chargers listed here.
In common with the Tronsmart Titan there’s an on/off switch and a 2m power cable so you can cut off power for all devices without needing to reach down to the wall outlet. Whereas the other chargers here feature USB outputs on their side, and can be laid flat or on their edge, this Aukey has 10 ports across its top surface so must lay flat on a desk.
To stop dust and other grime getting into those ports when not in use it supplies plastic port covers, which will be very handy until they get lost. Two of the 10 USB outputs support the fastest Quick Charge 3.0 technology, which we’re beginning to see filter through to desktop chargers though many here are rated QC 2.0. Each of the remaining ‘AiPower’ (another term for smart charging) USB ports is capable of 2.4A (a fast 12W), though the box itself can support a maximum output of only 70W.
This means if you use all 10 ports at once they will operate much slower.
Nevertheless, the Aukey will be a great buy if your family has multiple devices to charge daily.
Zendure A-Series 4-Port USB charger
Desktop chargers are intended to help clear away cable clutter, yet the vast majority of them also add to it by the requirement for a long cable that reaches from the mains to the charger itself. That’s why we particularly like Zendure’s take on the concept, and its A-series multi-port chargers plug directly into a mains outlet. Don’t be fooled by the US plug shown in the picture here, since the Zendure also comes with adaptors for EU and UK plug sockets, making it more useful as a travel charger than many of its rivals.
It’s also reasonably compact, and the 4-Port version measures just 85x63x32mm and weighs 176g (there’s a 1-port version available too). The 4-Port version is better suited to this round-up, offering one Quick Charge 2.0 output and three Zen+ outputs that can intelligently recognise your device and offer anywhere between 1- and 2.4A. The max total output across all four ports is 40W.
A carry case is provided, allowing you neatly pack together both charger and any necessary cables.
SyncWire 4-Port Quick Charger
The SyncWire 4-Port Quick Charger is a more compact solution than many of the desktop chargers in this chart, itself slotting directly into a mains power outlet. This will suit if you want to avoid messy power cables, but only where your sockets are within easy reach.
SyncWire is one of the cheaper options here. It’s built entirely from plastic, but feels well made and sturdy, and yet surprisingly heavy at 191g.
A US plug tucks into the base of the device for easier transportation, and supplied adaptors for the UK and EU will happily slot over this and remain securely in place with no wobble.
If we had one quibble, we’d like to see a bag supplied to keep all parts together.
It’s width isn’t much more than the width of a UK power socket, so it is unlikely to restrict other devices in use. And we like the fact that its height is all above the socket, so you won’t have any skirting board dramas.
In terms of tech the SyncWire supports four full-size USB outputs, with two rated at 1A/5W (not very exciting) and two at 2.4A/12W (very fast though without support for Quick Charge). A LED on the front sits above the SyncWire logo and lets you know when it’s in use.
The total maximum output is 6.8A (34W), which means all four can simultaneously operate at full-pelt.
However, thanks to i-Smart device-recognition tech, each connected device will draw only the power it requires.
We didn’t find the SyncWire got overly warm in use, which is reassuring. Indeed, SyncWire is pretty confident with its USB Quick Charger, offering a lifetime warranty.
Anker PowerPort+ 5 USB-C
You can charge multiple phones and tablets – even USB-C-connected devices – from a single power outlet with the Anker PowerPort+ 5 USB-C desktop charger. It’s on the pricey side for a desktop charger, but in return for your cash you’ll get peace of mind from the fact Anker is one of the best-known names in charging tech, plus new features we’ve not seen elsewhere.
There isn’t a huge amount of difference between desktop chargers.
Primarily they are differentiated by the number of USB outlets they feature, at what speed they are able to charge your connected devices, and the maximum total output that dictates how many of those ports can be simultaneously supported at full-speed. The Anker PowerPort+ 5 USB-C doesn’t lead the pack on any of those fronts, but it stands out as one of the first desktop chargers we’ve seen to support USB-C at 3A, which will be handy if you own one of the increasing number of compatible devices. Anker says it can also charge Apple’s USB-C MacBook at the full 29W required.
The PowerPort+ also boasts four fast-charging (12W) full-size USB ports for charging your other gadgets. With a maximum output of 60W it can easily support all four of these at full-speed, although if you are also using the USB-C port the amount of power available may be restricted.
Fortunately, PowerIQ technology means the Anker PowerPort+ will recognise your device type and deliver the optimum charge – it’s possible that not all your devices will draw the full 12W available from each USB output. Remember that this box will sit on your desk at all times, so appearance is important.
The Anker PowerPort+ is nicely designed with the power supply built in, even if it’s a little larger than some desktop chargers we’ve seen at 103x78x28mm.
Its smooth black casing with rounded corners should fit into any office or bedroom without causing an eyesore.