This Cable Charges Your Phone Faster – Sort Of

By Chris Mills on at

You might think that plugging a USB cable into a USB socket would mean your phone always juices up at the same speed — but you would be sorely mistaken. Charging your phone is a surprisingly complicated thing to get right, a problem that this particular crowdfunding campaign is on a mission to solve.

Let's get one thing clear from the outset: the SONICable, an Indiegogo campaign that has so far made $268,203 (£177,072) selling people a dream of faster charging, will not magically cut the time required to charge something in half, as its ad campaign claims. Well, not always. Let me explain.

Not all USB ports are created equal. The amount of power you can get from a USB port varies: a standard charge-and-sync-capable port — the kind you'd find on a computer — generally provides 0.5mA of power, whereas wall chargers, especially those for big modern phones or tablets, can go all the way up to 2.1A.

Most phones, on the other hand, will draw 1.5mA of power (and some can take even more). If you plug a 1.5mA-powered phone into a standard 0.5mA PC port, therefore, it will still charge — just a lot slower.

This is where the cable comes in. You see, a 0.5mA PC port can be 'tricked' into providing more power if the sync capabilities are disabled. Mac laptops have been doing this with iDevices automatically for a while, which is why your iPhone charges at an optimal rate off a Macbook, but not a PC. This 'trickery' can be done in a few ways — using a piece of software on compatible PCs, or by using the SONICable, which has a button that disables syncing (and consequently speeds up charging off PC ports).

Other than that, the SONICable looks like a pretty decent, if expensive ($27/£17.82) phone cable. It comes in microUSB and Lightning varieties, with a 1.2-metre cable and dual-sided USB port, with shipping still expected in March despite high demand.

Just remember: if you charge your phone off a recent Macbook, or you use a wall charger, this cable won't do shit for you. But if you're tied to a locked-down office PC as your only option, this could be ideal. [Indiegogo]