Right now, the hot smartphone story is wireless charging. But even if you have a phone that can do it, there are plenty of times it isn’t an option.
We’ve all been there: Tethered to an outlet on the airport floor or tied to a coffee shop table for what feels like days, charging your battery back from the brink. With no wireless charging pad in sight, you’ll need a cord to get the job done. But which are the best charging cables? And did you know that how fast that battery charges has more to do with the quality of the cord you’re using than the battery itself?
But wait, I shelled out close to 1000 clams for a state of the art phone, you’re probably thinking. Of course, the charger that comes included (typically in the form of a USB cable) is going to be start of the art, too. Right?
The reviews speak for themselves. Seriously, Apple’s lightning to USB cable costs $19 to replace and has a shockingly low one star rating averaged from over 1000 reviews left on their site. Android’s charging cables aren’t any better: Countless forums chronicle technical issues with charging cables found within months of receiving them, despite being included with their fancy (read: expensive) new phone.
What’s worse is the impulse to replace shoddy cords with the cheapest thing you can find on the Internet. (Raise your hand if you’ve bought one of those off-brand, but cheap charging cords on Amazon to fix the problem… only to have them stop working just a few weeks into use.)
OK, but what’s the solution? I found it in the form of Belkin’s MIXIT DuraTek Lightning to USB Cable, whose MSRP is $10 more than the Apple cable, but SCORE! On Amazon they’re within $1 of each other.
Here’s what I love about this cord—and how it stacks up against the rest.
It Comes in (Apple-Friendly) Colors
Labelling your charger so it doesn’t get confused with others that are floating around in your household has long been an exercise in futility. I have used my trusty labeler to tag my chargers in the past, but somehow my 16-year-old always walks out the door with a charger he thinks to be his, leaving me scrambling to find a back up cord to charge my phone.
Belkin solves all that by providing a USB cable in a range of colors—black, gold, silver and rose gold—that can be coordinated to match the shade of the iPhone you own. Brilliant.
Its Fast (and Optimal) Charging Speeds
Aesthetics aside, this fast-charging cable really delivers when it comes to the length of time it takes your smartphone to reach 100 percent battery life. Here’s why: It supports 12W/2.4A charging, compared to the 5W/1A adaptor that comes included with iPhones. (Yes, even the brand-new iPhone X.)
What does that mean exactly? Let’s get a little technical for a sec: The watt (W) is the total power or capacity of a battery or an adapter (aka the plug the USB cord goes into). Amps (A) stand for the current at which power can flow between your phone’s battery and the charger.
Basically, this Belkin cord is designed to optimize how much power your iPhone gets and the speed at which it gets it when you plug your phone into the wall—charging your phone more than two times faster than your regular cord. (FYI, for anyone freaked out about using anything other than an Apple-made charger, take a peek at this note about the tech specs here— not to mention that Belkin is a trusted Apple partner and has been designing products to support Apple’s phones forever).
It’s Built to Last…and Last
Even if you are using the charging cord that came with your smartphone, one of the leading causes of its demise is fraying internal wires that cause it to short out. Not the case with Belkin. The DuraTek cable is made with abrasion-resistant nylon and flexible insulation that minimizes wear and tear when you crumple up (or, worse, yank) your cord in and out of the wall.
Not only that, it comes with 18mm of strain relief where the cable joins the connector head (the part that plugs into your phone) so it’s less prone to breakage when bent over and over again.
The bottom line: To phone manufacturers, cords are an afterthought. To you and I, they’re the difference between missing an important call, or being late for a meeting, or seeing the latest viral video before anyone else. So why not up your cord game?