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Google "strongly recommends" against proprietary fast charging in Android phones

By Jos ยท 18 replies
Nov 9, 2016
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  1. Fast charging is quickly becoming a standard in high-end smartphones, but now there are several different fast charging “standards” on the market ─ Qualcomm's Quick Charge, OnePlus' Dash Charge, and Motorola's Turbo Charging, to name a few. This creates an interoperability problem and Google is not so fond on the practice.

    In a newly released Android Compatibility Definition document issued for Android Nougat, the company now says it's "strongly recommends” that device makers don't support proprietary charging technology that modifies voltages beyond standard levels, or otherwise creates "interoperability issues" with standard USB charging.

    The company stops short of an outright ban but it’s very clear about its stance.

    The document reads, “While this is called out as 'strongly recommended', in future Android versions we might require all type-C devices to support full interoperability with standard type-C chargers.”

    This doesn't mean that you won't see fast charging on Android devices. Google has embraced its own version on its new Pixel devices. But the company would like to ensure it works without locking you into a brand and having to buy specific chargers, that’s part of the appeal behind USB-C standardization after all.

    Permalink to story.

  2. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,050   +1,384

    Isnt fast charging kinda bad for your battery too? im not sure.
    But for once I agree with them on something. the point is to keep usb as...universal as possible.
    Skidmarksdeluxe, Kotters and Teko03 like this.
  3. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +322

    The problem with fast charging is overheating. If you have well ventilated batteries it's not a big deal.

    But considering phones are tightly sealed and don't radiate heat well - adding to the already volatile nature of LiION, I would say that you're looking at a Galaxy Note 7 moment if you aren't careful.
    jobeard and Reehahs like this.
  4. Mr Dude

    Mr Dude TS Enthusiast Posts: 64   +47

    I thought market fragmentation was the name of the game for google?
    petert, Skidmarksdeluxe and ghostf1re like this.
  5. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 799   +333

    This is nonsense, the cables and ports and everything is identical. The only thing that "Breaks the standards" is the part that plugs into the wall that will either output way more amp's or raise the voltage beyond 5V.

    If thats their main beef then those manufacturers can just remove the usb port off their chargers and use another port or hardwire the charge cable in.

    I have a oneplus dash charger and that thing is amazing! Google's fast charge doesn't even come close to it.
    Not only that but oneplus put the charge circuits in the charger at the wall so the only thing that heats up is that and the phone stays cool.
  6. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,435   +1,894

    they aren't talking about the now but about what might happen in the future: proprietary chargers that make regular chargers not work or work incorrectly.
  7. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 799   +333

    No actually they specifically refer to qualcomm using 20Volts over standard usb3 connectors, which I agree is a hazard cause if you plug a different phone in there it will most likely catch fire at some point.

    So they should just make the connections on the charger non standard or something or allow a new usb standard with specially coloured connectors or something.
  8. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,962   +577

    The device can still negotiate the voltage and amps. Charging circuits for decent devices will limit this. The main issues I see are cable ratings. The device should be able to prevent excessive charging.
  9. Berkk

    Berkk TS Rookie

    Not quite fast charging is different procedure it increases the volt and ampere to charge faster which would be technically fine I am not going into detail
    The thing with fast charging is it heats up which have negative effect on battery as well as electronics
    and especially if you use it while charging it is then bad for battery
    but technically fast charging wont effect battery life along so you may use it
    battery life is defined with cycles for example 5000 cycle means 5000 times charged recharged if you heat it or recharge while charging(for example play games while charging) than it will effect and your battery will last less than 5000 but if it made for fast charging it should give same performance too
    jobeard likes this.
  10. Skjetne

    Skjetne TS Enthusiast Posts: 36   +13

    This is exactly what EU is trying to combat- proprietary chargers.
  11. fktech

    fktech TS Maniac Posts: 526   +138

    Just one more costly "standard."
  12. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves TS Booster Posts: 192   +45

    Your last paragraph is exactly why google wants to standardise on the official USB Power Delivery spec. Google's Type C charger is capable of delivering just as much power but your phone only supports it's own charging type so it can't take advantage of it which is why it's slower.

    If everyone uses the same standard then you can plug any charger into any device and get the full amount of power that device supports. Not more having to be 'intelligent' chargers and hope they work or hunting down one that supports the same charging type as your phone. It'll just work.

    The official USB power delivery spec supports up to 100W so there's certainly no shortage of power available for anything except the most powerful laptops.

    As for breaking the standards:
  13. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,208   +669

    They are talking about respecting the IEEE standards for USB-C, not about 'kind of respecting' them. IEEE lays out standards for two reasons:
    1. Safety
    2. Compatibility & Interoperability

    Yes, you can design circuits to convert from one power configuration to another - but it will be less efficient. Less efficient means power lost, and power lost means heat generated. It is better that everything operates to the same standards so that you don't need to convert between different Amp and Voltage requirements, unless absolutely necessary (like going between AC and DC, 120V 'wall power' stepping down to 5V for semiconductors, etc).

    IEEE also doesn't define standards lightly. They go through years of reviews, calls for comments, industry input, etc - all to make sure the standard that is developed is one that is sustainable and achieves its goals. This is actually the problem in this case; IEEE hasn't defined a quick charge standard, to my knowledge. I'll need to flip through the IEEE library and newsletter, but I don't believe there is any QC standard built-into the USB3.1 standard (which contains the USB-C standard). I also haven't heard of them working on one, but if they aren't, they will probably begin work in the next couple of years. Safe money is that it will be pretty close to Qualcomm's QC3.0, as theirs is designed to run cool and Qualcomm has a good amount of influence in IEEE.

    So right now, Google is calling for everyone to respect a standard that doesn't actually exist yet. Safe to interpret this as "everyone should start using my standard, and unless IEEE beats me to defining one, we'll just make it an Android requirement in the future"
  14. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves TS Booster Posts: 192   +45

    The USB 3.1 standard doesn't include the USB Type C standard except in the sense that they're bundled together in the same download.

    That download also includes the latest version of USB's 'quick charge' standard, USB Power Delivery 2.0


    p.s. IEEE? What relation do they have to the USB standard?
  15. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 799   +333

    Here is the thing, there is very good reason to change the voltage and amps on these things, the higher your voltage the less A you need to deliver the same wattage. The less A the thinner the conductor needs to be.
    So the current 20V fast charge setup is sort of great because it means you can use existing cheap usb cables and wont easily fry them (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#USB_Power_Delivery_.28UPD.29)

    My concern is this means you need a step down circuit in the phone that takes that 20V input and convert it to 3.7-4V to charge the battery with. That generates a ton of heat in the phone and going forward phones are not going to get smaller batteries. The problem will just get worse over time. The current standard sort of sucks until either phones use higher voltage batteries or something similar.

    The oneplus (rulebreaking) charger uses standard 5V but puts 4A over it which is higher than the recommended 3A set by the standards, this means you need fancier thicker cables and using a cheap regular cable might lead to fire hazards. I've tested my charger with normal USB-C cables and it still does the fast charge.
    The advantage is the phone doesn't heat up so much because there is no complex conversion circuit needed in the phone.

    Maybe a better call would be for the ieee to enforce a thicker gauge of wire in usb3 cables. Or set up a usb power only cable standard with special rainbow coloured cables or something.
  16. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,208   +669

    Huh, learned something new. The fact I missed it somewhat illustrates Google's point: companies are ignoring the standards.
    I also thought that USB-IF was a 'sub-council' within IEEE? Are they not?

    I'm not going to argue electrical physics here - beyond pointing out, that while W=V*I, and increasing V allows for a decrease in I, it is more complicated than that because of V=I*R. Therefore, W=R*I^2. So increasing V, while decreasing I and maintaining W, requires an exponential increase in R - and R is what generates heat and results in inefficiency.

    Increasing the voltage (or really any value) has tradeoffs, and they are not made arbitrarily.

    High voltage batteries have been a holy grail for decades now. But you just can't seem to get that great of potential energy between the anode and cathode of an electrochemical device (and still have it be safe). I suspect we won't see high voltage batteries until we figure out how to make one out graphene or mass-produce carbon nanotubes.

    But making special 'quick charging' cables is not really option without changing the connector as well. FCC rules require that any plug-receptacle combination, whether intended or not, can not be dangerous to operate within designed specifications. So if it fits in a USB socket (actually fits, not like 'paper clip fits in a USB socket'), the worst thing it can do is 'nothing'. Creating a cable standard with thicker gauge wire would help with charging, but if you mistakenly use one of the older thin-gauge wires, it could cause a fire. So you would need a USB-C2.0 or USB-QC plug, defeating the point of USB-C in the first place.

    Better to just accept that our phones will have to take 2-3 hours to reach full charge, and 30-60 minutes to get half a charge. It is still worlds better than what it is like with out any QC.
  17. I'm not sure how you made that work. Because the DASH cable has an extra pin in it I believe so unless it sees that pin it'll top out at 1.5 Amps from what I and others on the OnePlus forums have seen. Also apparently all the components that heat up have been put in the chargers themselves rather the phone? Not sure about that one but yeah. It still heats up but not by much.
  18. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves TS Booster Posts: 192   +45

    ~4v is the voltage of a lithium-ion battery where are the cells are connected in parallel. That's not the only option, if you connect them in series that you increase the voltage. 20V was specifically chosen because it's close to battery voltage used in a lot of laptops.

    I don't know that much about phone hardware but how much else in there works at that voltage? I'm guessing the SoC doesn't. Most computer chips use one and a bit volts. Maybe the LCD backlight? LEDs are typically about 3v aren't they?

    I've never heard anyone mention any link between the organisations and there's nothing obvious on their web pages or wikipedia.
  19. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,877   +1,526

    I had a lovely Nokia that used an intelligent charging system, monitoring current until it reached a trickle level and then a pop-up would say "You can disconnect now".

    Haven't seen that level of monitoring and control in any other device :sigh:

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