Which USB Charger and Cable is Right for Me?

Posted by Angus Jones ,30th Jun 2023

Which USB charger and cable is right for me?

By Angus Jones

Chances are you have recently bought a new smartphone, and there is no USB charger in the box. Maybe you bought a new wireless smart security camera, again without a USB charger. Did you know that many laptop PCs can now be charged from a USB charger and cable? At this point, do you think that’s OK? I have a bunch of old chargers lying around the house, but are they fit for purpose? This guide will look at not only the right chargers for your devices but also the right cables.

USB or Universal Serial Bus is a computer industry standard that establishes a specification for power supply, cables, and communication. A USB charger or charging module is a mains-powered transformer that can feed electricity into a cable to power or charge a connected device.

To charge a device you need a USB charger and cable. Cables are interchangeable.

Why might my current USB charger and cable not be suitable?

The latest smart phones will boast just how fast they can be charged. Even wireless headphones might say you can get 2 hours of use from a 5-minute charge. If you read the small print, it will say that you need a US charger with a certain wattage output to achieve this. Over time chargers have been designed to meet the requirements of different USB standards (see table below). Thus, if you have an old USB charger, the output may not even power or charge your device; if it does, it may do it very slowly.

USB Year Watts Power Direction USB Cable Type Speed
USB 1.1 1998 1.25 2.5V, 500 mA 1 Way A to B 12 Mbps
USB 2.0 2000 4.5 2.5V, 1.8A 1 Way A to B 480 Mbps
USB 3.0 2008 9 5V, 1.8A 1 Way A to B 5 Gbps
USB 3.1 2015 100 20V, 5A 2 Way C 10 Gbps
USB 4 (Future) 2019 240 48V, 5A 2 Way C 40 Gbps

What do I need to know about USB cables?

Since the USB standards were born, there have been 14 different connectors. The original goal of USB was to make it easier to connect external devices to PCs. The cables are designed to carry power and data and as our need for power and data has increased, the humble USB cable has had to evolve to keep up. Even to the point where once power could only flow in one direction, now it can flow both ways.

The following table summarizes the plugs you could find on your cable.

To further complicate this, Apple likes to do their own thing and has its own different charging accessories - cables (plugs) & connectors. The latest is the Lightning connector.

How do I pick the right USB charger for me?

A laptop with a USB charger will need more Watts of power to operate. A smart phone that supports fast charging will also need a charger capable of supplying a greater wattage if you want to reduce charge times. A budget or mid-tier smartphone will charge off any charger sold in the last decade.

To charge your latest device faster or perhaps a laptop needing higher wattage (more power) with USB-C, you need a charger with USB-C Power Delivery (PD). A USB-C PD charger recognizes that your device can accept a higher wattage and then provides that higher wattage. All the leading manufacturers, including Apple, are supporting PD.

When choosing a USB-C PD wall charger, ensure that the wattage output is large enough to support your device.

Charger Wattage Devices Cable

9 - 16 W Smart phone, cameras USB-A to any
PD 30 18 - 27 W Smart phones, cameras, drones USB-A to USB-C
PD45 27 - 45 W Tablet, Notebooks USB-C to USB-C
PD100 45 - 100 W Laptops, Displays Needs 5A USB-C Cable

A USB-A outlet (larger socket in the picture above) will deliver 5 Volts at 1.8 Amps as standard, which is what most people have been buying in the last decade. This is the same socket you will find on your PC. Most charge cables available today have a USB-A socket on one end and then the appropriate socket on the other to suit your device, for example, Apple Lightning, USB-C for Android phones, or USB-micro for many peripherals.

USB Charger features to consider when buying:

  • Power Delivery (PD) – Required if you wish to fast charge or power a device requiring higher wattage
  • Cable Type – choose between USB-C or USB-A
  • Cable Plugs – if choosing a USB-A cable, make sure you have the right plug on the other end to suit your device
  • Multiple outlets – some wall chargers will have more than one outlet enabling you to charge multiple devices at once
  • Travel Friendly – look for chargers that support 100-240V power inputs so the charger will work in any country (Travel adaptor also required)
  • Charge protection – shuts the unit down when unsafe
  • Warranty – ensure you buy with an Australian-run organization that will offer warranty support through your retailer or direct
  • Price – not all wall chargers are the same, and a USB-C PD charger provides additional benefits over USB-A, justifying the extra cost

Cables are just too much hassle

Convenience also comes into this equation, and wireless charging of our devices means you do not have to plug a cable into your phone. You can simply use a wireless charger where you lay your phone on a charging pad, and it will charge the battery wirelessly. The current standard for wireless charging is Qi. The device will support wireless charging when you see the Qi logo on an earbuds case or smartphone.

A wireless charger is great for households with Apple and Android phones as both are compatible, no searching for the right cable.


Laser offers a range of USB-C PB wall chargers

PD20 – USB-C 20 watts wall charger

PD30 – USB-C 30 watts wall charger

When selecting your cable, it is worth considering the durability of the cable, its length, if it will support fast charging, and if it is certified to be used with your device (Apple-supported cables will have the Made for iPhone logo).

To get the full benefits of the USB-C standard, a USB-C connector needs to be on both ends.

SUMMARY – USB Charger and Cable

A USB charger is needed as more devices, such as smartphones, are now shipping without wall chargers. Although an old wall charger or connection to your PC will do the job, a new Power Delivery (PD) - rated charger will unlock additional wattage to allow fast charging and powering more power-hungry devices like laptops.

A good quality cable with the correct connectors, some available with lifetime warranties, will pair with your charger to give you the best experience and reliable charging no matter where you are in the world.

Those people wanting freedom from cables should consider a Qi wireless charging solution.