Qualcomm's Quick Charge 5 half-fills phone batteries in five minutes
Qualcomm has unveiled Quick Charge 5, its latest fast-charging technology for smartphones – and it promises to get your phone's battery up to 50 percent from absolute zero in as little as just five minutes.
Of course that's an ideal maximum which devices might not actually reach all the time, but even if real-world speeds are a little slower, it's still an impressive jump forward for the tech. Quick Charge 4 promised a 50-percent charge in around 15 minutes.
The fifth incarnation of the tech can fully charge a phone in that time, Qualcomm claims. It supports more than 100 watts of power, which is a power push more often associated with laptops than smartphones, and should start appearing in phones carrying top-end Qualcomm processors in the near future.
"Quick Charge 5, our fastest and most versatile charging solution, will enable consumers to enjoy their devices for longer periods of time, without worrying about the time required to recharge," Qualcomm VP of Product Management Ev Roach said in a press statement.
One of the tricks used here, which we've seen deployed in other fast-charging solutions, is to split the battery up into two separate cells and charge them simultaneously – it's a bit like filling up a bucket of water with two hoses rather than one.
Qualcomm is promising 70 percent more efficiency, a 4x increase in speeds, and a 10 °C (18 °F) drop in average temperature compared with Quick Charge 4. Qualcomm's CPUs remain popular among Android phone makers, so it shouldn't have too much trouble convincing them to adopt Quick Charge 5 too.
While manufacturers seem to have hit a wall in getting batteries to last longer between charges, we're seeing plenty of innovation when it comes to getting them charged more quickly. Oppo recently announced a 125-W "flash charge" solution that can fully charge a 4,000-mAh battery in just 20 minutes.
Essentially, these technologies push more power into the battery at once, while deploying a variety of methods to keep the heat down and the battery stable – this is particularly effective in the first half of a charge, when lithium-ion batteries can be charged more quickly because of the way they're structured.
Any fast-charging solution, including Quick Charge 5, needs a compatible phone, charger, and cable – unless all three components support the tech and the necessary power management, the maximum charging speed won't be available.
Quite how good this is for phone batteries is something of a contested point – it seems to be generally accepted that fast-charging reduces the health of a battery over the long term, but whether it's by a significant amount, or by enough for you to notice before you replace your phone is yet to be established.
What all of these fast-charging innovations might mean is a change in our charging habits: If you can charge up your phone fully in the space of 15 minutes, there's no need to keep charging it overnight, because you can do it during breakfast or dinner.