From charging your phone or laptop in the car to powering your road trip dash cam, a USB charger is a must-have accessory for travel. In this section of our buyer’s guide, we’re taking you through buying a USB-C or car phone charger for on-the-go, whether it’s for work or vacation.
The iPhone 12, 13 and 14 don’t have a charger included, so you’ll need to buy one separately. Whether it’s for travel, home or work, the first consideration when buying an iPhone charger is what generation of iPhone you have. If it’s a 12 or later, you can enjoy the benefits of magnetic wireless charging, which saves you losing cables in your suitcase while also being easy to use with other devices. If you have an older model of iPhone, you’ll need standard wireless or wired charging, for which Apple recommends a 20W charger or higher.
USB-C chargers are compatible for charging most devices, but not all in-car chargers are the same. USB-C port wattage varies from 15W to 100W, and the wattage you need will depend on what you’re going to be charging with it. If you’re charging your phone or powering a dash cam, a 20W charger is plenty. For tablets and high-end smartphones, a 30W charger might be more appropriate. You’ll also want to consider how many extra ports you want to add, which will depend on your number of devices you’ll need to charge.
Apple recommends a 20W USB-C PD or higher, which is the closest alternative to its own-brand charger. However, any charger 20W or above will be compatible, and if it also includes PPS technology, it will optimize the charge for the connected device and potentially charge it faster than an Apple charger.
Charging smartphones and other devices from a car USB port doesn’t harm them in any way, so your main consideration will be which devices you need to charge and where you’ll be placing them in your car — cup holder, dashboard or vent? Also consider any extra accessories you may need, such as power extenders like our 4-Port USB Power Extender. The best USB car charger for you will depend on what you’re charging, but a 30W charger is great for most phones, tablets, dashcams and other devices. Apple recommends 20W or higher for an iPhone car charger, and you may need higher wattage if you’re charging a laptop.
The simple answer is no: fast chargers aren’t bad for your phone. If you’re looking for something that will get the job done quickly while you’re between sightseeing trips or business meetings, look for a fast charger. Each device will have a recommended charge wattage from the manufacturer, which will usually be the fastest charger for that device.