The Best USB Car Charger
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Anker 24W Dual USB Car Charger Anker 24W Dual USB Car Charger See Price

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AUKEY Quick Charge 3.0 AUKEY Quick Charge 3.0 See Price

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SCOSCHE USB Car Charger SCOSCHE USB Car Charger See Price

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Moshi Revolt Duo Moshi Revolt Duo See Price

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Incipio Car Charger Incipio Car Charger See Price

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The Best USB Car Charger

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Remember the days when you dreaded charging your phone on the go? Car cell phone chargers used to be so agonizingly slow, it hardly seemed worth the effort.

Times have changed. Instead of those clunky wired battery chargers that plugged into your 12V socket, all you need now is a USB cable and a compact little charger adapter. You can pick these up anywhere, but you want one that gives you a fast charge, right? So you're probably wondering: what's the best USB car charger on the market today?

In this cell phone car charger review, I'm going to share our top five picks with you, including the features - plus pros and cons - of each one. First, though, let's look at some of the characteristics you might see in these handy devices.

Best USB Car Chargers: Our Top Picks

Anker PowerDrive 2 Review

  • Pros
  • Affordable
  • Dual ports
  • "Smart" charge Technology - detects device charging needs
  • Soft illumination for locating in the dark
  • Cons
  • Not Qualcomm Quick Charge compatible

Anker is known for its solid, reliable charging products, and the PowerDrive 2 is no different. With Anker's proprietary PowerIQ technology you get the ideal power match for your device. You can use this compact dual-port adapter with smartphones - including Android devices and Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad Air.

In addition to a softly glowing light and two ports that support full-speed charging of two devices at once, the PowerDrive 2 also has all of the protections you want in a phone battery charger. Your device will be guarded against surges, overheating, and overcharging.

The one downside is that this dual USB car charger isn't compatible with Qualcomm Quick Charge. Your devices will charge at their normal full-speed rate. Overall, it's tough to beat the price ($9.99 on Amazon at the time of this writing), as well as the Anker reputation. Best of all? You get an 18-month instead of a one-year warranty.

Pro Tip: Anker also makes a "plus" version of the PowerDrive 2 with Quick Charge compatibility. That model will set you back more than double the price of the original, however.

Aukey Quick Charge 3.0 Review

  • Pros
  • Dual Qualcomm Quick Charge compatible USB ports
  • Backward compatible with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0
  • "Smart" charging technology
  • Two-year warranty
  • Cons
  • Protrudes from the 12V socket a bit more than some
  • No light

This dual USB charger gives you Quick Charge compatibility in both ports. That's a big advantage if you're charging two tablets or other devices with high power needs. Aukey calls its device detection ability AiPower Adaptive Charging Technology. This means the same thing as "smart" charging in that it figures out what your device needs and delivers it.

As with most quality car charger adapters, the Aukey CC-T8 has protections against overheating, overcharging, and uneven power currents. You'll need to supply your own micro USB cable or iPhone charger cord. You'll also have to rely on your device's battery charger indicator to ensure it's charging because this model doesn't light up to tell you it's on or help you find it in the dark. On the plus side, you'll enjoy a generous 24-month warranty, which is unusual in the industry.

Scosche USBC242M Review

  • Pros
  • Very compact design
  • Can be used with most devices, including GPS and portable speakers
  • Optimized for Apple devices
  • One-year warranty
  • Cons
  • Not Qualcomm Quick Charge compatible
  • Some complaints about the light being too bright

The Scosche reVOLT is a versatile 24W/4.8A dual USB charger with a sleek, low-profile design that sits nearly flush in your car's power socket. While it's not designed to quick charge, this unit features two USB ports that are optimized for Apple products like the iPhone and iPad Air. Scosche claims that their reVOLT is the fastest iPhone car charger available.

Our favorite feature: the low-profile design of the reVOLT maximizes your dash area - a huge plus if you've got a smaller car with a crowded console. The two flat sides with grooves in the back allow for easy removal even with the flush fit. Some users have commented that the light is brighter than they prefer, so keep that in mind. Additionally, you won't be able to take advantage of your device's Quick Charge capability. Still, the price point is great (around $11 on Amazon at the time of this writing) and all the features are there - especially if you have an Apple device.

Moshi Revolt Duo

  • Pros
  • Sleek, stylish design
  • Dual ports
  • "Smart" power management
  • Gentle light
  • Cons
  • Not Qualcomm Quick Charge compatible
  • Higher price point

If there's one feature that's quickly elevating the Moshi Revolt Duo to the top of the charging world, it's the understated, elegant design. The Moshi (now known as the Moshi Car Charger Duo) is low profile and sports an anodized aluminum cover plate that looks classy in any vehicle interior. With 10W/2.1A per port, you can use it as an Android or iPhone charger. It'll even charge your tablet.

The Moshi features protection from overheating, irregular current, and overcharging. It comes with a one-year warranty, which is extended to two years if you register your purchase. This is a beautiful car charger, no doubt about it. The one thing we don't like? At $25, the price is a bit steep compared to others on our list. The quality from this small up-and-coming company, however, may just be worth the cost, especially if you've been through several cheap charger adapters (and who hasn't?).

Incipio USB Car Charger Review

  • Pros
  • Captive Lightning cable and USB port
  • Unobtrusive LED power indicator
  • One-year warranty
  • Cons
  • Not Qualcomm Quick Charge compatible
  • Protrudes from socket more than others

Need both Android and iPhone car chargers? The Incipio 4.8A USB and Lightning Car Charger is just the ticket. The lightning cable is captive (built in), while the other port is a standard USB, both delivering 2.4A. Use the USB for another lightning cable, a micro USB cable, or whatever you need. You can charge your tablet, smartphone, and other compatible devices at full speed.

What we love: the Incipio features a small LED light rather than an integrated glow, so distraction is kept to a minimum while still allowing you to find the charger in the dark. It's a bit spendy at $40, but we think the price is worth the versatility of two different charging options - plus the included Lightning cable.

Key Considerations Before Buying a Car Charger

There are a few things to keep in mind before investing in a mobile charger adapter:

  1. Quick Charge: Are you set on having the full benefit of your phone's quick charge option when you're on the go? Be sure the charger you're buying is Qualcomm Quick Charge enabled. The company has a list of equipped devices on its website so that you can see if your phone supports this option.
  2. Number of Ports: Most people probably only need one or two ports in their car charger. If you've got a whole family full of mobile devices, however, there are adapters available with up to six USB ports. Just keep in mind that it's best to buy a reliable brand rather than an off brand. It'll work better and last longer.
  3. Cables: Most car chargers require that you supply your own charging cable. It's tempting to save money by purchasing a discount cord, however, these typically won't charge your device as quickly as a manufacturer's original cable. I've noticed that if I use a very cheap cord, sometimes my phone even loses power when plugged into the car! Bypass that frustration by using a high-quality cable.
  4. Size, Shape, and Location: Take the configuration of your dash into consideration. For instance: if your cup holder is in close proximity to your 12V socket, you'll want a low-profile adapter so nothing gets blocked.

How to Choose a Car Charger

Myth: all car charger adapters are equal. Truth: the best USB car charger is the one that gives you the features you want and need. That may not be the same for everyone. Here are some things you should know about car chargers.

Quick Charging Technology

There are two main types of fast charge technology - USB-PD (USB Power Delivery) and Qualcomm Quick Charge. As far as high-end smartphones go, most are equipped to accommodate the Qualcomm technology. The current Quick Charge standard is 3.0, which touts a charge up to four times faster than usual. You can check out the experts' take on these dueling technologies at Ars Technica.

What you need to know: even though your Android device probably has the ability to accept a faster charge via Qualcomm Quick Charge, not all car phone chargers can deliver it. That's why your phone may charge more slowly than you'd like in your car.

Pro Tip: As of this time, Apple does integrate quick charging technology into its hardware.

Smart Charging Technology

A "smart" charger works with your device to deliver the optimal amount of power. For example: if your car charger has dual USB ports, each device you plug into it will receive the right amount of power for its specific needs. This is why it's best to use the cable that comes with your device rather than a "charging only" cable. The car adapter uses information transmitted via the data lines in your cord to figure out how much power to deliver.

Methodology

In creating this list of the best USB car chargers, we took into consideration a variety of factors:

  • Brand reputation: there's nothing more frustrating than putting your hard-earned money into a product only to have it break a week later. Name brands may not be so important when you're buying a bag of frozen peas at the grocery store, but when it comes to car chargers you want the best possible value.
  • Customer reviews: for this list of the best USB car chargers we looked closely at what users had to say about each item. There are always going to be a few disgruntled customers, however, reviews are generally a solid guideline for your buying decisions.
  • Design: function is the most important thing, of course, but you want your accessories to blend in with your car's interior - so we made sure our list was full of attractive - and high-quality - products.
  • Versatility: these days, families have a wide variety of devices with different charging needs. The best USB chargers can support multiple power configurations and cable types.
  • Price: the old adage "you get what you pay for" is definitely applicable in the electronics accessory industry. Everyone loves a great deal but go too cheap and you may end up with an inferior product that leaves you frustrated.

Recap

Just as you shop around for the cell phone plans, it's wise to make sure you're getting the highest quality for your money when it comes to anything into which you plug your device. You want to protect your investment, and we're here to help you do just that. For more accessories to pair with your device, check out our buyer's guides to wireless earbuds and BlueTooth speakers.

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