Those of us with many Apple devices end up with lots of cables and there seems to be a lot of confusion about which cable is the right one to use with the iPad and the iPhone in order to get a battery charged.
The reality is that there’s only one cable that Apple ships out with any of the iPhone/iPad/iPod devices these days. In fact, you can verify that on the Apple store’s page for their one cable. The bigger question is where do you plug the other end in!
You have 4 choices of where to plug in the ‘power’ end of the cable.
- the iPad wall adapter (10 watt)
- the iPhone wall adapter (5 watt)
- your mac’s USB port
- your pc’s USB port
And each one has a different impact on your results. The key is in the power rating of each of these devices.
The iPad brick
If you have an iPad and an iPhone, you’ll note that the power ‘bricks’ are different sizes. The iPad’s power brick is bigger because it is a 10 watt whereas the iPhone charger brick is 5 watt. And, each of the devices is tuned for it’s own brick. The best choice (assuming you’re not needing to sync your device) is to plug your iPad into the wall with the iPad brick.
And, you can plug an iPhone into an iPad brick. But it will only charge as fast as it normally would on an iPhone brick. The iPad brick doesn’t speed up charging of iPhones or iPod touches.
The iPhone brick
Interestingly, you can plug the iPad into an iPhone brick, but it won’t charge as fast as the iPad does – there aren’t as many watts flowing down the cord. But it will charge. You will likely find tho that the plugs may get hot – mine does when I plug the iPad into the iPhone brick.
The mac USB options
Where most people have trouble is in picking options 3 and 4 – plugging into a mac or a PC. Tho most people don’t have any trouble with plugging into the USB ports on the back of a mac or iMac because Apple has always put high power USB ports on the back of your mac. There may be some older macs with lower power USB, but I’ve read reports from folks as far back as 2006 macbooks that seem to work, so you’d have to dive into the specs of the machine to know for sure.
But most people won’t have the same success plugging into a keyboard USB port or a USB hub. When I plug my iPad into the keyboard of my iMac, I get a “not charging” message of the iPad and that’s because these are low powered USB ports.
The biggest area of problems is those with windows PCs. Many people discover that plugging an iPad into their PC’s USB ports get the ‘not charging’ message because their PC has low powered USB ports. Not all USB powered ports have the same output power ratings! They think that Apple has made a mistake and are upset. The problem tho is with their PC. And what many have discovered is that tho you may get the ‘not charging’ message, there still may be charging going on but it is at a slower rate than you would have gotten if you were using the iPad brick to plug into the wall.
So for these folks with low power USB ports, you’ll need to either plug it in and wait on the very slow charging (assuming you get any charging at all, and you’ll have to do your own experiments to know for sure) or plug into the iPad brick that came with your iPad.
I’ve also read that there are some good generic (non-Apple) cables and some inferior ones. If you buy a generic cable that is really thin, most reports are that the cable is under powered for the iPad (not thick enough wire) and will heat up when trying to charge the iPad. They also won’t be as fast. I really wish Apple wouldn’t charge $29 for all their accessories like the cables… tho I now have a ton of them lying around the house.
The best solution?
Obviously, the two best solutions are the iPad brick or a high powered USB port. And, if you’re going to travel and want to take only one brick – take the iPad brick! You can use it to charge your iPhone as well as the iPad.
Disclaimer: I’m not an engineer – only have read lots of posts about this issue and tried to summarize them for you… please don’t blame me if you try something and your device blows up.