Something that I learned this week was that the Nexus 5 and many other Android smartphones have two different (and in the case of the Note 3 a third) charging modes. I have verified that this is true of the Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra
I have been finding that my car stereo was struggling to put enough power out through its USB port to even maintain the battery level, let alone charge it whilst I was using it to play music over bluetooth. This seemed strange as it had no problems providing plenty of power to charge my older iPhones even whilst I was using them for navigation and music playback.
A little investigation revealed that when plugged into a standard USB port with a standard cable, a slow charging mode is enabled and that when the same cable is used with the wall charging plug that came with the phone, the Nexus charges much faster. This is known as AC mode.
Proof of this can be seen in the battery status section of the settings App.
So how can we speed things up when in the car or elsewhere I hear you ask?
The options that I have come up with are:
- Use the original charger that came with the phone or another high output 2.0A third party adapter.
- Get a dedicated charging cable (this will not provide the ability to sync if connected to a computer).
- Find a dedicated 12v car charger that has the correct functions.
As my particular issue was in the car, I decided to pursue the second two options and a quick trip to a popular online store highlighted a couple of viable options.
PortaPow Specialised Fast Charging Micro USB Cable and PortaPow 2.5A Universal Dual USB Car Charger. As I have a car stereo which should have a pretty decent output from the on-board USB port I decided to give the cable only solution a go.
And the results are….
A 10 minute car journey using GPS and bluetooth streaming of music and navigation instructions adds around 5% to the battery! The added benefit is that it frees up another normal sync cable to stay in one of the areas where I will normally need them or a spare for a bag or pocket. For the low cost of either of the options above and the benefit of having what is essentially a dedicated charging point for the car it seems almost an essential piece of kit for anyone who ever travels in a car
Post script – A further option is available with a software only solution for users who have rooted (jailbroken) their devices but I am not going to suggest this unless you absolutely understand what you are doing. Those that understand the rooting process and risks that are associated with it will probably already be aware the fast charging options and what is required