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Quick Charge 2.0 won’t lead to a standards war

Last updated on July 23, 2020

In my recent column for CNET, I discussed Quick Charge 2.0, the proposed standard from Qualcomm (a client of Reticle Research) that promises to dramatically improve charging time for smartphones and tablets. Quick Charge is pretty exciting for people who find themselves fighting for a few precious minutes of juice at a spare outlet throughout the day or who want to avoid having to keep a power stick awkwardly connected to their phone for too long.

As I mention in the column, greater power via the USB connector is also coming via the USB Implementer Forums’ Power Delivery (PD) initiative and has the potential to finally standardize connectors across virtually all devices within the home. But there are some drawbacks. PD adapters require new USB cables and could be larger depending on how much power they deliver.

A blessing and burden of being so close to the center of the mobile universe as Qualcomm is that it must often consider or even support competing standards even as it advocates its own. The company has shown this with its support of multiple wireless charging standards and there’s no reason we couldn’t see similar coexistence with both technologies operating over the same charging accessories.

Where will it all shake out? One likely scenario is to think of Quick Charge as being focused on devices that use USB connectors now (mostly smartphones and tablets) and PD as bringing larger devices into the USB connector fold. We saw some excitement around this with the HP Chromebook that Google promoted last year.

With more devices supporting both standards, consumers can one day look forward to bringing one charger and cable with them that will work with everything from their smartphone to their laptop . But until that day, there’s no need to hold back getting more juice to the mobile devices that need it most urgently today.