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Can You Use Any Charger With Any Cell Phone, Laptop, Camera, or Tablet? 

Every cell phone, laptop, and tablet appear to come with their own charger.  If you’re like me, you have probably compiled a number of chargers through the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, laptop, camera, or tablet that is not the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Kinds of Chargers

In this guide, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, tablet computers, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  While some devices have chargers with a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.

Laptop chargers are rather unique to the device they come with.  However, there can be some generic chargers that boast the capability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of this charger”head” and may not be the best charging amperage or voltage for your device.

Micro USBs are theoretically designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in most smartphones, Android apparatus, and tablets.  Micro USB chargers typically have the same voltage, but may draw different amps.  I will explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (depending on its listed amps and voltage).

For older devices using a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

For a charger to be used on another device, it’s essential that the plug  of the charger (the”head”) fit snugly to the charging port of the device.  Micro USBs are the same across the board so far as charging heads, while laptop chargers are usually specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is only one part of this equation.

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you will get a label with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A).  For notebook chargers, this charging brick is often halfway down the charger and typically looks exactly like it sounds — a brick. For other types of chargers, like a smartphone charger, this information is usually located at the base of the charger, where it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you’re trying to control, the voltage and amperage required will be seen on the battery that came with the device or on the company’s website.

Voltage is how much power the charger will draw in the apparatus, or just how much is being”pushed” to the device by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to approximately 5V, while a notebook can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage needed by the device. 

Amperage is how fast power is”pulled” into the device, or how much power is used by the device.  The amount of volts will never change, but the amount of amps that the system pulls may change based on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device are the max amount of amps that may be pulled by the device.  The amount found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled at once. In order to swap chargers, the amp number on the charger must equal or exceed the amp number recorded on the device’s battery. If a unit is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp requirement, it may burn out the power supply and kill the device.

So for those who have a modern USB device (smart phone, tablet, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy quicker charging (as long as the voltage is equivalent ).  *Site Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB interfaces that use the newest Battery Charging Specification.

If The Micro USB  Charger’s Voltage Isn’t 5v…

Some devices might have their voltage listed using a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%.  If this is true, you may use a charger rated at 4.75 to 5.25v because that score is telling you is that the device can take 5v minus 5 percent of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v plus 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting point to note is all chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That is pretty much how they work.  There has to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the proper direction to charge the battery.  When you look at your car, it has a 12V battery, but average alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.

Stay Away From Cheap Knockoff Chargers

The issue with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is they often don’t support the energy needs of the device, or aren’t built to keep a steady flow securely.  Overall, it’s best to stay with the charger designed for the device you are using.

Now You Know How To Safely & Effectively Swap Chargers

I hope this article was able to assist you.  Now you know how to safely and effectively use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other device.  Make certain to follow what we said and you should be ready to go!