How to check if your Android smartphone or tablet gets enough juice from its charger
Batteries are one aspect of the modern smartphones that tend to get a lot of attention these days. With all this talk about smartphones with large batteries, optimized power consumption, and quick charge technologies, it’s sometimes easy to forget that using a compatible charger is of great importance.
For both of our tasks, we’ll use a free little app called Ampere. Go to the Google Play Store and download Ampere now before we dive in.
A. How to check if your phone is charging as fast as possible
There are two scenarios to consider in this case, and we’ll treat each one individually.
1. You have a working original charger that you can test
Step 1. Open the app and connect the original working charger. Ampere will now measure how many mA of current your phone’s battery is getting.
Step 2. Unplug the original charger and plug in the charger that you want to verify. If the current intensity is smaller than with the original charger, the battery will take longer to charge.
2. You don’t have a working original charger nearby
If you don’t have an original charger that you can use as a benchmark, you’ll have to get creative. Here’s a method that we recommend, but please note that it’s not bulletproof.
Step 1. Do a Google search and find a listing for the original charger your Android device came with. Note the current intensity (usually listed in mA or A).
Most smartphones come with chargers that can actually deliver a higher intensity than what the battery can draw. That is because the phone also needs some juice to do stuff such as keeping the screen on, powering the CPU, and transferring data through Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection.
Step 2. Take a charger that you want to test, plug into your smartphone. Now open Ampere and let it do the measuring.
Step 3. If your smartphone charges with somewhere around 0.8 x the current intensity from the original charger, you’re probably good to go. If not, then you should look for a more powerful charger.
B. How to determine how much current your phone eats up
Step 1. Open Ampere.
Step 2. Go to the settings panel by tapping on the gear icon in the upper left corner of the app. Now tap on "Basic Settings".
Step 3. Enable “Enhanced measurement“. Now go back to the app’s home screen, where Ampere will do some measuring, then display the intensity of the current which is drawn from the battery.
Use this measurement to fine-tune your settings. For example, try changing the brightness level, enabling the mobile data connection, or turning off the Wi-Fi, and check for changes in the Ampere results.
C. Charging your Android smartphone with beefier chargers.
While manufacturers want us to use the original charger, most of us have tried charging our smartphones with a beefier charger, such as the one that come with modern tablets.
One very interesting thing that we found out while experimenting with Ampere’s measurements on various phones and chargers is that phones place a limit to how much current they are willing to receive.
For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha comes with a 1.35A charger, which charges the phone at 1.25A most of the time, sometimes a bit lower when we had mobile data and location turned on as well as the display at its full brightness. When we swapped the phone’s original charger for a 2A battery pack, we were surprised to learn that the Galaxy Alpha simply doesn’t accept more than 1.25A, and it doesn’t use the extra intensity.
To make sure that this wasn’t an isolated result, we’ve also test-driven a Google Nexus 4. Again, the 2A charger could only feed the phone with about 0.7A of current, which is roughly what the phone gets with its original charger.
We’ll need to dive deeper into this before drawing any definitive conclusions, but it looks like charging your phone with a beefier charger will not hurt your battery, as smartphone makers impose limits to how much current the battery draws.