Cheap Vs. Expensive Phone Chargers, Do You Actually Need a Brand-Name Cable?

Jon Bitner
·7 min read

Advertiser Disclosure: At Slickdeals, we work hard to find the best deals. Some products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation, but this doesn’t change our opinions.

If you’ve ever gone hunting for a replacement phone charger, you know that products today come with a wide variety of price tags. Purchase directly from the original manufacturer and you could easily spend upwards of $29.99 on a new charger, while third-party companies offer bundles of three for just $9.99.

While cheap third-party products can be tempting, they often come with some very real drawbacks. Whether it’s shoddy construction or poor charging speed, you may regret trying to save a bit of cash with the knockoff cables and wall adapters.

What Makes Some Phone Chargers So Expensive?

Before heading out to your local gas station and picking up a dozen iPhone chargers for $4.99, be sure to consider the following drawbacks.

Charging Speed

Charging speed is determined by a few variables, but primarily comes down to how many watts of power a charger can provide. Typically, the more watts at your disposal, the faster the charge – as long as your phone can support it. For example, an original Samsung charger might deliver 15 Watts, while a third-party charger might only be capable of 5 Watts. When we compare performance, you’re looking at a charging time that’s three times longer with the cheap brand as you are with the expensive Samsung one.

This sluggish charging speed is one of the main reasons you’ll want to avoid underpriced phone chargers. In fact, many knockoffs charge at rates nearly twice as slow as those directly from the original manufacturer.

phone charging
Credit: iStock.com/BBuilder

Unfortunately, this problem isn’t unique to iPhone or Android smartphones – both platforms have dozens of products on the market that result in poor charging times.

Android users, however, have a more difficult time replacing their chargers than iPhone users. That’s because Apple has developed an MFi (Made for iPhone) program to certify products that meet various parameters – such as safety, reliability and charging speed.

So, if you’re in the market for a new iPhone charger, just look for the MFi logo on your prospective purchase and you’re good to go.

Due to the wide variety of Android smartphones on the market, a similar program isn’t available for the platform. That means a charger might look good on its Amazon or eBay listing but not live up to the hype in real life – and there’s no certification process to make your job easier. Your best option in this case is to stick with trusted brands such as Anker and Belkin, or scan the reviews of anything you plan to purchase online.

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You’ll also want to review the specs for your phone to see how many watts the original charger provided and do your best to match those numbers. There’s not much harm if the numbers aren’t a perfect match, but you’ll get peak performance out of equipment that matches your phone’s specs.

If you’re looking for a new wall adapter, the Anker PowerCore III Fusion 5000 PD is a powerful charger compatible with both iOS and Android devices. It also doubles as a portable charger that provides a full charge for phones such as the iPhone 11 and Google Pixel 4.

As for the actual charging cables, the Boost Charge lineup from Belkin is among the best in its class. Available in various lengths, built with braided nylon for added strength and MFi certified on iOS devices, the Boost Charge cables are a great alternative to official cables from Samsung or Apple.

Quality Components and Durability

hiker holding charging phone
Credit: @przemekklos via Unsplash

Beyond better charging speeds, expensive chargers are typically built to much higher standards than their cheap counterparts. Better wiring, more durable internal components and sturdy overall construction means you’ll get more life out of chargers from Apple, Samsung, Belkin or Anker.

If you travel frequently, this becomes even more important. Constantly rolling up your cables and throwing your power adapter into a bag won’t do much harm to high-end chargers, but opt for that $4.99 bundle from your local gas station and they won’t withstand much punishment.

Safety

Poor construction lends itself to unsafe operating conditions – frayed wires, overheating power adapters and even damage to your phone are all possibilities. To be fair, most phones on the market nowadays are smart enough to limit their power intake to prevent internal damage, but it’s still possible to see long-term effects such as shortened battery life or weakened charging capacity when using shoddy chargers.

Frayed wires pose the most immediate safety hazard, as low-quality cables are prone to cracks and tears – exposing the internal wires they’re supposed to protect. If this ever happens to your charger, get rid of it immediately and pick up a new one. Frayed wires are not only incredibly unsafe, but they change the way electricity is distributed to your phone, resulting in slower charging speeds and possible damage to your battery.

Additional Benefits

Along with better charging speeds, quality construction and safe operation, expensive phone chargers often include several additional features. Some might come in a smaller size or offer multiple charging ports, while others include a foldable plug or braided cording. Whatever it may be, expensive phone chargers often provide much more bang for your buck.

Best Deals and Discounts on Phone Chargers

mobile phone chargers anker apple samsung on blue green backgroud
Credit: Slickdeals

If you’re in the market for a new iOS or Android phone charger, here are a few of our favorites. Phone chargers don’t often see promotions, so it’s best to set up a Deal Alert if you’re hoping to pick up one at a discount.

Universal Chargers

Apple Phone Chargers

Android Phone Chargers

*Use coupon code 93XQM64 at checkout

Tips for Buying a Phone Charger

Person holding stack of a different electric wires
Credit: iStock.com/Andrii Atanov

Not interested in any of the above products? No worries – there are dozens of great phone chargers available on the market. Unfortunately, there are just as many bad ones floating around, too. Before picking up a new phone charger, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Stick to trusted brands: Anker, Belkin and RavPower all offer excellent chargers at an affordable price. That doesn’t mean all other manufacturers are bad, but if you haven’t heard of them, you’ll want to do a bit more research before pulling the trigger.

  • MFi certification: Looking for a new iPhone charger? Make sure the product is MFi certified and features the MFi artwork printed on its packaging. These products are held up to rigorous standards and are guaranteed to work well with your iPhone.

  • Beware incredible deals: Sellers on Amazon and eBay can often be a bit misleading with their product listings. That means if an online deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you’re only buying from trusted sellers with a positive reputation – otherwise you might not be getting what you hoped for.

More to consider:

Our editors strive to ensure that the information in this article is accurate as of the date published, but please keep in mind that offers can change. We encourage you to verify all terms and conditions of any product before you apply.