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The Best Car Chargers of 2022

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Editor's Choice Product image of Anker PowerDrive III Duo
Best Overall

Anker PowerDrive III Duo

With a pair of USB-C ports and ultra-fast charging, this portable car charger is a winner. Read More

Pros

  • USB-C ports versus USB-A
  • Fast charging

Cons

  • Large faceplate could get in the way
Product image of AmazonBasics USB-C Car Charger

AmazonBasics USB-C Car Charger

AmazonBasics Dual Port USB Car Charger isn't the quickest charger we've tested, but it does the trick. Read More

Pros

  • Very small and compact
  • Has two charging ports
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Did not charge as quickly as some of the others
  • No quick charge technology
Product image of iOttie HLCRIO161

iOttie HLCRIO161

This wireless charging cradle makes it easy to mount and dismount your phone, but charges devices very slowly. Read More

Pros

  • USB-C cord can be unplugged from cradle
  • USB-A port on car charger
  • Auto-sensing arms

Cons

  • Charges very slowly

Many modern vehicles now have everything you need to charge smartphones, tablets, and laptops, built right into them—even base model vehicles include USB ports that can charge multiple devices simultaneously. However, if you need a few additional ports to use on a road trip, or have an older vehicle, you'll need to invest in a charger that can be plugged into a 12-volt port or, if your ride’s of a certain age, a cigarette lighter.

After months of testing a selection of plug-in 12-volt car chargers and wireless charging docks, we can confidently say that the Anker PowerDrive III Duo (available at Amazon) is the best car charger you can buy. It charges reliably, is well-built and its quick-charge port allows for super-speedy top-ups of your phone’s battery.

Here are the best car chargers we tested ranked, in order:

  1. Anker PowerDrive III Duo
  2. AmazonBasics Dual Port USB Car Charger
  3. iOttie Auto Sense Wireless Automatic Clamping Mount
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Anker PowerDrive III Duo is a fast, reliable 12-volt charger for modern USB-C devices.

Best Overall
Anker PowerDrive III Duo
  • Watts: 18
  • Ports Two USB C ports
  • Fast Charging: Yes
  • Wireless Charging: No

Anker’s PowerDrive III Duo charger is sleek in design and well built. It’s designed with modern phones in mind. Featuring dual USB C ports it can charge two devices simultaneously. To charge phones that aren’t equipped with USB-C, such as an iPhone, you’ll need to buy a USB-C to Lightning cable.

The PowerDrive III Duo proved to be the second-fastest charger we tested, topping up my smartphone to 99% in just an hour and 17 minutes. This is thanks, in part, to the fact that one of the PowerDrive III Duo’s two USB-C ports is equipped with Anker's proprietary PowerIQ Fast Charging technology, which intelligently identifies the device that’s plugged in to deliver the fastest charge possible for it.

Like the other chargers in this guide, the PowerDrive III Duo has overload protection. It also has tech baked into it to keep the charger from overheating while in use, prolonging the life of the charger.

The only thing we didn’t like is that the PowerDrive III Duo has the largest faceplate of all the ones tested for this guide—an odd design decision, when you consider the small size of USB-C ports compared to older charging standards. This could be annoying if your vehicle’s 12V port is in close proximity to any other ports or controls in your dashboard.

Pros

  • USB-C ports versus USB-A

  • Fast charging

Cons

  • Large faceplate could get in the way

Other Car Chargers We Tested

Product image of AmazonBasics USB-C Car Charger
AmazonBasics USB-C Car Charger
  • Watts: 18
  • Ports Two USB A ports
  • Fast Charge? No
  • Wireless Charging?: No

The AmazonBasics Dual Port USB Car Charger features two USB-A ports and is small enough to easily blend into your vehicle’s dash or center console. Unfortunately, it was the slowest charger we tested for this guide. That said, the charge times of all of the hardware we tested were separated by mere minutes.

The AmazonBasics charged our iPhone XR in just under an hour-and-half. However, when it came to charging the iPhone to 100%, it clocked in at just over two hours.

Pros

  • Very small and compact

  • Has two charging ports

  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Did not charge as quickly as some of the others

  • No quick charge technology

Product image of iOttie HLCRIO161
iOttie HLCRIO161
  • Watts: 10
  • Ports One USB A Port, Integrated USB C cable, Qi Wireless charging
  • Fast Charge? No
  • Wireless Charging?: Yes

The iOttie Auto Sense Wireless Automatic Clamping Mount’s design includes a proximity sensor that opens the wireless charger’s arms, automatically, when it senses a smartphone nearby. A second after the phone has been placed in the charger, the arms close, holding the handset in place. The iOttie comes with an adjustable foot knob that allows the wireless charger to accommodate handsets of varying lengths. Devices can be charged using the iOttie’s integrated USB-C cable (attached to the charging cradle or detached for charging devices other than a smartphone) or USB-A port.

Despite all of these clever features, it’s hard to recommend the iOttie: it took five hours to charge my smartphone to 99%, making it the slowest charger we tested.

Pros

  • USB-C cord can be unplugged from cradle

  • USB-A port on car charger

  • Auto-sensing arms

Cons

  • Charges very slowly


How We Tested Car Chargers

A bench power supply and multimeter are plugged into an iphone to measure voltage.
Credit: Reviewed / Christine Persaud

We spent hours testing the power output of every USB charger in this guide.

The Tester

I'm Christine Persaud. I’ve been writing about technology before the iPod was invented. Through my almost 20-year career writing about tech, I've tested a car charger or two.

For me, drive time isn't just for getting from Point A to Point B. It's valuable phone charging time that I won't have to waste once back home when I could be mindlessly surfing Instagram or crushing candies on the device.

The Tests

I spent hours at my desk testing each of the chargers in this guide. For each test, I first plugged a 12V car charger into a bench power supply, to simulate the power generated by a vehicle’s 12V system. Next, I plugged in a USB power meter into the 12V charger’s USB-A or USB-C ports. This allowed me to capture the output voltage and amperage from the charger. Next, I plugged my smartphone, an iPhone XR, into the USB power meter.

Before testing each of the car chargers or wireless car chargers, I waited until my smartphone’s battery ran down to 20%. Once I saw this magic number pop up on my display, I started charging, with a goal of reaching a 99% charge, as soon as possible. I then drained the handset to 20%, once more, before charging the phone to a full 100%, logging its charging speed by how long it took to recharge.

During each charge, I kept an eye on how the voltage and amperage fluctuated throughout the charging period and logged the average range for each. This helped provide the most accurate numbers and ensure there wasn’t an extenuating factor impacting the first results.

Once finished with this round, the best-performing chargers were taken on the road as I ran daily errands to the grocery store and went for leisurely drives so I could log how easy they were to use and how quickly they charged in a real-world setting.

In addition to these tests, I also looked at the design of the charger, its build quality, and what extra features or functions it included, such as fast or, with wireless chargers, auto-adjusting arms for holding a smartphone in place.

What You Should Know About Car Chargers

There are lots of things to consider when buying a car charger to use with your smartphone, tablet or another USB-powered device. Some, for example, come with built-in cables with a male adapter on the end for charging a specific device, whether it be USB-C to charge an Android phone or a multitude of other devices or, Apple’s Lightning charging standard. This can be handy if you’re charging a compatible device, however, you’ll need to pack an extra cable if you want to charge anything that doesn’t use the adapter that the charger is equipped with.

Other car chargers come with multiple ports. One or more female USB-A or USB-C ports and allow you to plug in whatever cable you wish. These 12V chargers are far more versatile, you’ll need to remember to bring the charging cables you need with you or leave some in the car.

In some instances, a 12-volt car charger will feature a ‘fast charger’ port which, as the name suggests, offers compatible devices faster charging than a regular USB or wireless connection can. The reliability of such claims depends heavily upon the quality of the charger and which fast charging technology it employs.

Terms You Should Know

We use a number of terms in this guide that might leave you scratching your head. Here are a few explanations:

USB-C: Also known as Type-C, is the type of charging port found in all of the latest Android smartphones. This standard can allow for charging up to 20 times faster than the older USB-A (the rectangular USB port that many of us have used for years) standard. How fast a USB-C device will charge ultimately comes down to the capabilities of the charger it’s plugged into.

Power Delivery (PD): Power Delivery is a technology built into some car chargers that is designed to determine how much power is required to power or charge the device connected to it. allows the connected device and the charger to determine together how much power is needed and use it. When paired with the right cable, a Power Delivery-equipped charger can handle anything from recharging a pair of wireless headphones to a USB-C-equipped laptop.

Amps: This is the electrical current that is available to charge the device. A smartphone, for example, needs 1 Amp while a tablet needs 2 Amps of power for its batteries to be recharged.

Voltage: Most car chargers offer 2.1 to 4.8 Amps of power, which the vehicle will convert to 5V once the charger is inserted, adjusting the electrical potential of its 12 volts to what is necessary to recharge your phone.

Watts: The total amount of power being supplied to the connected device, calculated using amps multiplied by voltage.

What is the Difference Between Fast Charging and Quick Charge?

You'll see some car chargers advertised as offering Quick Charge technology. This is effectively the same thing as fast charging, with the exception of the fact that Quick Charge is a proprietary charging technology owned by Qualcomm.

What is the Difference Between Wireless Chargers and Qi Chargers?

Wireless charging is a blanket term for any charging technology that requires no cable be inserted into a device, in order to charge its battery. Qi (pronounced "Chee") is the brand name for the wireless charging standard that most smartphone manufacturers adhere to.

Meet the tester

Christine Persaud

Christine Persaud

Contributor

@christineTechCA

Christine Persaud is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

See all of Christine Persaud's reviews

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