USB Power Delivery 101: Improving Your Charging Experience

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First introduced in 2014, USB-C (the next-generation USB port) is now seeing wider adoption across smartphones and laptops, bringing with it some powerful benefits. For USB-C devices that support USB 3.1 Gen 2, speeds up to 10Gbps are possible – up to twice as fast as USB 3.0. What many people don’t realize is that USB-C devices with Power Delivery support are also changing the way people charge their devices.

What kind of power was supplied before Power Delivery?

Virtually all USB devices have some ability to deliver power, though not all USB devices support the Power Delivery specification. For example, USB 2.0 devices provide a minimum of 500 mA at 5V (2.5W) and USB 3.1 devices increase the power to 900 mA (4.5W), but neither of these are capable of Power Delivery 3.0. Newer USB-C devices without Power Delivery support provide a current up to 3 amps at 5V, or 15W total.

What changes with Power Delivery?

Power Delivery was created to standardize charging across all future USB devices, reducing the need to have a different charger for each device. Although Power Delivery 3.0 can supply up to 100 watts of power, it is flexible enough to accommodate the power requirements of a range of USB-C devices including smartphones, external hard drives, printers, monitors, laptop computers, and more.  A laptop, like the new Apple MacBook Pro, may require 100W of power, while a Google Pixel 2 may only require 10W or 18W of power. A 100W USB-C power adapter will safely charge either of these devices, adapting to the power requirements of each.

Power Delivery Comparison

USB 2.0
UP TO 2.5W
USB 3.0 / 3.1
UP TO 4.5W
USB-C with Power Delivery
UP TO 100W

Two-way power

Another innovation in the Power Delivery specification is the ability for any supported device to either supply or receive power. You could power your laptop with a power bank, or recharge that same power bank with your laptop. Your smartphone could recharge a Bluetooth headset, or provide power to an external hard drive.

So what does this all mean?

With a growing number of devices supporting Power Delivery, it will become more convenient, faster, and safer to charge the devices you own. For example, when a smartphone supports Power Delivery, you can get a half day’s worth of usage out of a 15 minute charge. Now that’s some fast charging!

Some popular devices that support Power Delivery

Laptops & Tablets

  • Apple MacBook Pro 2015 and newer
  • Dell XPS 12”, XPS 13”, XPS 15” via Thunderbolt 3
  • Dell Venue 8 Pro and Venue 10 Pro
  • Google Chromebook Pixel
  • HP EliteBook Folio G1 Notebook PC
  • HP Spectre x2
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet
  • Samsung Galaxy TabPro S 12”

Smartphones

  • Apple
    • iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
    • iPhone X
  • Google
    • Pixel and Pixel XL
    • Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
  • Samsung
    • Galaxy S8
    • Note 8

 

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