You don't need to wait all day to fast-charge your iPad. Here's the best way to juice up quickly!
The iPad has sported 10 hours of battery life since its inception in 2010, but the capacity of those batteries has changed dramatically over the years: The new batteries in the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro are 30.4 and 41 watt-hours respectively — that's a 5-16 watt-hour difference from the original iPad's 25 watt battery. As such, you need a lot more juice if you want to fully charge Apple's latest iPad line.
But Apple's charging methods have also improved. The company still includes an annoyingly-slow 12W USB Charger in the box — which takes a whopping 4-5 hours to charge a 12.9-inch iPad Pro — but if you're willing to pony up a few extra bucks, you can take advantage of the iPad Pro's support for quick-charging to charge your iPad in half that time.
And even if you don't have an iPad that can take advantage of quick charging technology, we also have some great tips for reducing your charge time below.
The science behind charging your devices
How exactly does charging work on your iPad? Let's break it down.
- Watt (W): Total power and capacity of either a battery or an adapter.
- Amps (A): The current at which power can flow between a charger and a battery.
- Voltage (V): Amount of power being pulled from an adapter.
When you charge an iPad, iPhone, or computer, you're resupplying its battery (measured in watt-hours) from a power source like a wall outlet, usually via an adapter. That adapter controls how much power you can get (volts) from that outlet, and the speed at which you get it (amps). Those two factors multiplied result in the adapter's total available power.
So how can you tell which adapter is best for your device? It's not about total watts — it's all about the amperage and voltage. Modern iPhones and iPads support charging up to a current of 2.4A at 5V, while older devices charge around 1A at 5V. To get the best adapter for your device, you want one that charges at the appropriate amperage (1-2.4A) while supplying the right amount of voltage.
A 5W iPhone adapter will pull just 1 amp at 5V, for instance, while USB ports on a computer can deliver 0.5-2 amps, and the 12W iPad adapter can deliver up to 2.4 amps.
The new 29W USB-C Adapter is special because it supports 5V charging at 2.4A (~12W), but it also supports USB Power Delivery for compatible devices, which allows them to charge at a much higher voltage (14.5V) and lower amperage (2A). Because the amperage is lower while the voltage is higher, it's more efficient from an electrical standpoint and offers more power to devices that can take advantage of the technology.
What iPads support fast charging over USB Power Delivery?
Currently, you can quick charge the following iPads:
- iPad Pro 10.5
- iPad Pro 12.9 (first generation)
- iPad Pro 12.9 (second generation)
For some great graphs on just how quickly Apple's USB-C adapter can charge the iPad Pro, check out MacStories.
All other iPads aren't configured to get any benefit from charging with the 29W adapter and USB-C, though you can use our quick charging tips below to slightly improve your charging speeds.
What do you need to quick charge your iPad Pro?
To take advantage of USB-C's Power Delivery standard, you need two things: a cable, and an adapter.
USB-C to Lightning cable
You can't use the USB-C power adapter without a USB-C to Lightning cable (or a USB-C to USB-A adapter). When Apple originally released this cable in 2016, it was designed for folks to connect Apple peripherals to the USB-C exclusive MacBooks — but iPad users can take advantage of it, too.
You can grab this cable from Apple for $19. There are third-party options available, but remember that only Apple-made products are guaranteed to fast charge your 10.5- or 12.9-inch iPad Pro — until we have confirmation that third-party cables work reliably, we're wary to recommend other options. (No one wants to accidentally fry their iPad trying to get a fast charge, after all.)
Apple 29W USB-C power adapter
This adapter is the key component to fast charging your iPad Pro. Unlike the larger MacBook and MacBook Pro USB-C power adapters, this one has the combination of voltage and amperage needed to efficiently fast charge your iPad Pro. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't offer an iPad Pro option with this adapter included in the box, so you'll have to grab it from Apple for $49.
There are third-party options available; as with the cord situation above, however, until we have confirmation of a great third-party option we're wary of trusting unknown adapters. You might end up spending money on one that doesn't have the right voltage or amperage and end up charging your iPad at normal speeds — or worse, damaging it from improper power delivery.
Best tips to fast-charge your iPad
Whether you're trying to quickly charge your iPad Pro, a baseline 9.7-inch iPad, or iPad Mini, these charging tips can work for any adapter and help you get back to your tablet as quickly as possible.
Make sure it's asleep
This might seem obvious or completely out of the blue depending on your habits, but putting your iPad to sleep is a great idea if you want to fast charge. When you let your iPad rest, it keeps the battery from being simultaneously drained by the display and backlight while it's also trying to accept a wall charge.
Turn on Airplane Mode
By enabling Airplane Mode, you're able to put the Wi-Fi radio (and cellular radio if you have an Cellular + Wi-Fi iPad) to sleep, which immediately takes a load off the battery.
Just power it off
We need rest to recharge; so, too, does the iPad. If you can spare using your tablet for a little while, shut it down and let it focus entirely on charging.
If you have to use your iPad, be gentle
If you absolutely have to keep using your iPad while it's charging, you can minimize the extra battery drain by turning off unnecessary connections, like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular data. Also, turn down the screen brightness and avoid using battery-draining apps; you can also disable Background App Refresh and Location Services.
Don't use the iPhone charger or your computer's USB port
The iPhone 7's 5W USB charger isn't terrible for charging the iPhone, but you do not want to use it to charge your iPad — it only charges devices at 1000mA in comparison to the iPad's standard 2400mA charger. USB ports on a computer are even worse, offering a paltry 500mA charging amperage. If you have no other options, you will get some charge, but it's not going to be quick.
Got any others?
Got any other tips for fast charging the iPad or iPad Pro? Sound off in the comments below.