- USB PD is a fast charging standard that can deliver up to 100W of power for charging phones, tablets, laptops and other electronics.
- It takes advantage of the universal USB-C connector and cable format that most modern devices use.
- Intelligent power management optimizes charging speed by communicating voltage/amperage needs between charger and device.
- Key benefits are faster charging, universal compatibility across brands, and reversible charging between devices.
- USB PD aims to eliminate proprietary fast charging standards that are fragmented across manufacturers.
USB Power Delivery (USB PD) has rapidly become one of the most widely used fast charging standards for phones, tablets, laptops and other electronics. But what exactly is USB PD and why does it matter for tech users?
This in-depth guide covers everything you need to know about USB Power Delivery, how it works, its key benefits, and what devices support it.
What is USB Power Delivery?
USB PD is an open, universal standard that enables much faster charging speeds compared to standard USB. The PD specification greatly increases power output to allow charging larger devices like laptops, as well as rapid charging for smartphones and tablets.
PD takes advantage of the USB-C connector and cable format. USB-C has emerged as the standard port on most modern mobile devices, laptops and other electronics.
While older USB ports max out at around 15 watts, a USB PD charger can supply up to 100 watts of power. That’s enough to quickly charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro which requires up to 96 watts.
PD uses intelligent power management to optimize charging speeds. The charger and connected device communicate to determine the optimal voltage and amperage levels based on what each one supports. This allows a single PD charger to fast charge smartphones, tablets, and high-powered laptops at their maximum rate.
Key Benefits of USB Power Delivery
- Faster charging speeds – Up to 100W power output for larger devices like laptops
- Universal charging standard – Works across brands and device types
- Flexible power management – Optimizes charging speed for each connected device
- Reversible charging – Enables devices to charge each other
- Reduced e-waste – Eliminates the need for multiple proprietary chargers
USB PD Removes Proprietary Barriers for Faster Charging
Many tech manufacturers have created their own proprietary fast charging standards over the years. Examples include Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, OnePlus Warp Charge and Oppo’s SuperVOOC.
The downside is these competing standards are not compatible across brands. A Quick Charge phone wont fast charge properly using a Warp Charge brick. This leads to frustration for consumers and contributes to e-waste as old chargers become obsolete.
USB PD aims to eliminate this fragmentation. PD’s universal approach allows any compatible charger to deliver the fastest possible charging speed on any device. Users don’t have to worry about matching brands – one PD charger can efficiently power smartphones, tablets, laptops and more.
Bidirectional Charging Made Possible by USB PD
Unlike older USB technology, USB Power Delivery supports two-way or reversible charging. This allows properly equipped devices to charge each other.
For example, a Samsung Galaxy S23 phone and an iPhone 15 that both have USB-C PD can charge one another by simply connecting them. Need to provide a quick boost your Bluetooth headphones? A PD enabled phone can share its battery life.
This flexibility helps reduce battery anxiety since you can replenish from a wider range of power sources when away from a wall outlet.
USB PD Adapts the Best Fast Charging Innovations
The USB Implementers Forum consistently refines the Power Delivery specification to further improve charging capabilities. The standard has adopted advanced techniques original developed separately by manufacturers.
For example, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge increases voltage levels to deliver more power. On the other hand, Oppo’s SuperVOOC boosts amperage levels. USB PD combines these methods along with fine 0.1 volt and 0.02 amp increments to achieve optimal charging.
Higher power profiles up to 240W were added to support larger devices. And Programmable Power Supply (PPS) allows the charger to finely tune voltage and amperage in real-time based on the device’s needs.
Which Devices Support USB PD?
USB PD adoption continues to accelerate. It’s supported on flagship phones from all major brands including Samsung, Google Pixel, OnePlus, LG and Motorola.
Apple fully adopted USB PD charging on all iPhone models starting with the iPhone 8. And most new Android phones released in the last 2-3 years also include compatibility.
On the laptop side, USB-C PD charging can be found on recent MacBooks, Dell XPS ultrabooks, HP Spectre and Microsoft Surface devices. Many gaming laptops also now support USB PD fast charging up to 24W.
Smartwatches like Samsung’s Galaxy Watch series, fitness trackers, wireless headphones and even the Nintendo Switch gaming console all charge via USB PD.
How to Use USB Power Delivery Chargers and Cables
Taking advantage of PD fast charging is simple if your devices support it. Be sure to use USB-C cables and wall chargers designed for Power Delivery. These will have “PD” or “USB PD” markings on them.
For ultimate convenience, consider a USB-C PD power bank. Top models like Anker’s PowerCore III Elite can charge phones from 0 to 50% in just 30 minutes. They’ll even charge many laptops thanks to high 45W+ output levels.
You can also find USB PD ports on charging hubs and multi-port wall chargers. They allow simultaneously fast charging several devices.
One cable and charger for all your devices – that’s the key promise of USB Power Delivery. As more gadgets adopt the standard, your charging experience will become simpler and more streamlined.