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Is Android USB-C cable, charger completely compatible with iPhone too?

The USB-C simplification began with the European Union guidelines a couple of years ago. Late last year, with the iPhone 15 series, Apple made the transition from Lightning ports to USB-C as the charging standard (it had to be done, by the end of 2024). Yet, that poses a question which still doesn’t have a clear answer. Or at least, perceptions seem to be weighing in on conversations – Are a USB-C cable and charger, originally meant for Android phones, completely compatible with your iPhone too?

Research firm TechInsights, in its latest study, has monitored how an iPhone behaves when charged with some USB-C cables meant originally for Android phones. (Representative Image)

Some of this ambiguity was borne out of initial complaints with iPhone 15 Pro phones, which struggled with heating issues on early iOS versions, something that was later fixed with a subsequent software update, iOS 17.0.3. Apple never explicitly claimed USB-C charging cables from other brands, as the culprit behind heating complaints, but there is a belief they may have been a factor. Research firm TechInsights, in its latest study, has monitored how an iPhone behaves when charged with some USB-C cables meant originally for Android phones.

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“Our study involved capturing the charging profile of the iPhone 15 using Apple’s USB-C cable and comparing it to a certified Android USB-C cable,” writes Ali Khazaeli – Battery Subject Matter Expert- Reverse Engineering at TechInsights, in the report. In terms of specifics, Apple’s latest iPhone 15 Pro phones draw the maximum possible charge speeds from the 30-watt charger.

Samsung restricts its fastest flagship phone charging speeds to 45-watt, with both companies (and Google too, if we factor the Pixel 8 Pro’s 30-watt wired charging) holding steady while competition around them (Android phones lead the momentum) now uses much faster charging speeds as a unique selling point.

Xiaomi’s latest flagship phone, the Xiaomi 14, has 90-watt fast charging. The OnePlus 12 tops out at 100-watts, and even their latest mid-range Nord CE4 supports the same charging technology. These are just some examples.

The first test done by TechInsights involves comparing the architecture of Apple’s USB-C cable with one that’s sold by Samsung. The planar and x-ray comparison of the two cables illustrates that the configuration and layout of the connectors as well as the innards is very similar in both cables, with neither holding an active element that may be missing in the other. The second series of tests combined Apple’s 30-watt charger, Samsung’s 45-watt charger, Apple’s USB-C cable and Samsung’s USB-C cable meant for the Galaxy S23 Ultra flagship phone, in multiple combinations.

In tests that used a Samsung 45-watt charger with a Samsung USB-C cable and a Samsung 45-watt charger with an Apple USB-C cable, the charge speeds as well as battery and the test phone’s temperatures (the test phone being an iPhone 15, all tests done at room temperature of around 22 degrees Celsius). This should comprehensively put to rest the argument about genuine USB-C cables for Android phones causing charging issues on the latest generation iPhones.

“The temperature profile of the three cases is identical, revealing that using an Android cable or charger does not lead to extra heat generation,” notes the report.

There however are caveats to the research. TechInsights testing reveals that the SuperVOOC or Voltage Open Loop Multi-Step Constant-Current Charging branded chargers made by Oppo and also for OnePlus phones, charge the iPhones at a much lower speed than what a high-speed charger (such as a 65-watt one would, for example) is expected to deliver. This fast charge incompatibility is something that HT has noticed when attempting to charge an iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max phone with a SuperVOOC charger, irrespective of USB-C cable in play.

With the new rules that dictate USB-C as the standard charging tech for a wide variety of tech including computing devices, smartphones, tablets and smart home accessories, EU had stated the dual-reason for pushing this though – consumers will save money they’d have otherwise spent to buy new chargers, and more than an estimated 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually will be saved in the form of disposed or unused chargers.

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