Everyone wants their mobile tech charged and fast. To do this its important to know your charging options because all chargers are not created equally. The speed all depends on the adapter or commonly referred to as the plug. This is the part that you plug into the wall and most of the time has a USB port of some sort on one side of it. Here I will be writing only about the power adapter sizes that Apple sells on their website. Some of these options can be expensive and if that is the case you might be able to find a good 3rd party one with other retailers like Amazon.
But first what is a “W”? “W” stands for Watt which is an International System of Units (SI) of measurement for power. A watt is equal one joule per second. In short more “W”s more power, more power faster charge sometimes.
Apple’s first two charging adapter sizes are 5W and 12W. The 5W can be found shipped in the box of the iPhone and iPod line and the 12W can be found in the box of the iPad series. Apple sells both of these adapters using USB-A which uses standard cable that is included in their boxes. To activate fast charge on your iPhone you can use the 12W adapter.
More powerful than the 12W and 5W are the 29W, 61W, and 87W adapters. All of these power adapters use USB-C connector compared to the USB-A on the 5W and 12W. It’s important to note that if you purchase a 61W or 87W you will only get 29W of power out of it when paired with a mobile device. This is to protect the battery because too much power could overwhelm the it which can then cause it to degrade quicker and not keep its charge as long. Also if you buy one of these you will need to be sure to purchase a USB-C to lightning cable.
From 2016 and onwards MacBooks will be charging using USB-C but before then there were two versions of MagSafe. The first version of MagSafe was released in 2006. It was included on the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air. The next version of MagSafe, MagSafe 2, was released in mid-2012 on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The great thing about both versions of MagSafe is that they where magnetic, so when you tug on the cable it would just unplug instead of pulling your whole computer. Both versions on MagSafe are not backward or forwards compatible without a MagSafe to MagSafe 2 converter adapter for US$10. Another problem with these cables is that they are fixed. By fixed I mean that you cannot unplug the MagSafe cable from the adapter. This becomes a problem when you want to get a faster charger like an 87W MagSafe 2 or 85W MagSafe because you have to purchase a whole charger instead of just the adapter.
This is where USB-C shines. With USB-C you can just purchase a new adapter. USB-C charging on MacBooks made its debut in 2015 with the MacBook then went to the MacBook Pro in 2016. USB-C on the MacBook is great. You can either use the ports for power, USB-C, or Thunderbolt 3 (MacBook Pro, iMac, and iMac Pro only). This multifunction port is what makes it so useful.
Now back to charging, with USB-C Apple offers three charging adapters to accompany your USB-C to USB-C cable. Those would be the 29W, 61W, and 87W adapters. The 29W is included with the MacBook and 61W with the MacBook Pro. Just like with your iOS device for a quicker charge you can purchase an additional power adapter. The downside of it though is the lack of the magnetic connection. With USB-C if you trip over the power cable chances is your MacBook is coming with you. If you believe that this may be a problem for you companies are currently creating magnetic USB-C chargers. The top rated on is the Griffin BreakSafe. With the BreakSafe, you plug the USB-C adapter into your MacBook. Then when it is time to charge you connect the magnets on the cable to the magnets on the adapter. Although it’s not the most practical replacement to MagSafe, because the magnets are not built into the USB-C port, it should do for the basic user.
So which power size is the best for me?
This is the question that I’m sure many of you readers are currently asking yourself. To start out with the most popular device the iPhone and iPad. Most people are on their mobile devices all day and could always benefit to the faster charge of the 12W adapter. Now for USB-C to lightning on the other hand isn’t very necessary unless you also own a MacBook or another computer with a USB-C port on it because you can also use this cable to quickly sync and charge your iPhone or iPad using iTunes on your computer.
Now for MacBooks, on the other hand, the question to ask yourself is “how portable is this MacBook”. If you mostly keep your MacBook plugged into your workstation (on a desk) and occasionally move it around then chances are the included 29W or 61W will work just fine for you. On the other hand, if your MacBook never sits still then you might like to consider upgrading to a higher wattage like 87W.