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Best USB car adaptors 2020

Juice up your devices with the best of the fast-charge adaptors as we test eight USB car adaptors

Charging your phone while you drive makes a lot of sense, especially if you use it for work. And if you have one of the latest smartphones, you’ll need a suitable USB adaptor to make the best of its fast-charge ability.

12V car sockets usually provide 5V of current, but most adaptors boost the output to 9V, and feature standard USB sockets or the latest USB-C type. Depending on your device, you may need an adaptor or a specific cable, which will add to the cost, unless it’s included.

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You should check the wattage capabilities of an adaptor; 7.5W-10W is currently enough to fast-charge the latest iPhone/Android devices, but many tablets and notebooks can also be charged via USB-C, which means a much higher wattage will be required. Overall, the adaptors tested here charged at the same rate whether under load (running a sat-nav app) or without.

How we tested them

Using a standard 12V car socket, we connected each adaptor to a Samsung S10e with around 50 per cent charge. After 30 minutes we noted the charge increase. Points were awarded for build quality, power-on LED, charge performance, number and type of sockets, wattage and cabling, all of which was balanced against price.

Verdict

Nekteck’s Type-C charger combined power, flexibility and the best charge result with a good price to take the top spot. But the Olixar was close behind, performing well above its tiny stature and price, as did the high- wattage Anker.

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  1. Nekteck USB Type-C Car Charger with PD Power Delivery
  2. Olixar USB-C Power Delivery & QC 3.0 Dual Port 36 W Fast Car Charger
  3. Anker PowerDrive+ III Duo A2725

Reviews

Nekteck USB Type-C Car Charger with PD Power Delivery – Best buy

  • Price: Around £19
  • Number of outlets: 1 x USB, 1 x USB-C
  • Contact: www.nekteck.com
  • Rating: 5 stars

Nekteck’s first offering literally charged to the top of the pile with some impressive figures, not least the joint best charge figure of 35 per cent. It was one of only two to come with a separate cable (USB-C to USB-C) and although its blue LED power light was a bit weedy, we loved the stylish aluminium head, which contained the two sockets. With a quoted 57W total capability, the USB-C socket was rated at 45W, so it would be ideal for charging larger products such as a compatible laptop. A worthy winner with a great tech spec at a reasonable price.

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Olixar USB-C Power Delivery & QC 3.0 Dual Port 36 W Fast Car Charger - Recommended

  • Price: Around £13
  • Number of outlets: 1 x USB-C, 1 x USB-QC
  • Contact: www.mobilefun.co.uk
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
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Despite its apparent lack of frills, this Olixar came close to winning. At 55mm long, it was the second shortest on test, so ideal for easy carrying. But it was still technically adept, offering Power Delivery 3.0 on the USB-C socket and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 on the standard USB socket. This gave a choice of plug types, and they could be used at the same time without circuitry damage. Rated at 18W each, it meant a handy 36W in total. We liked the impressive 32 per cent charge increase and the great price. A good choice if you don’t need lots of watts. 

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Anker PowerDrive+ III Duo A2725 - Recommended

  • Price: Around £20
  • Number of outlets: 2 x USB-C
  • Contact: www.anker.com
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

Firmly aimed at serious tech-heads and committed fast-charge users, this was the first of only two products to feature twin USB-C sockets with no standard USB option. The 32 per cent charge figure was up with the best, and as ever we liked the build quality, which is backed up by an 18-month warranty. The large head made fitting and removal easy, and the circular blue power-on LED was clear to see. With the sockets rated at 18W and 30W, the 48 W total made it powerful enough for more power-hungry devices, including our 12-inch MacBook.

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Nekteck 27 W USB-C Car Charger Adaptor with Built-in Type-C 3.1 Cord

  • Price: Around £13
  • Number of outlets: 1 x USB, 1 x USB-C
  • Contact: www.amazon.co.uk
  • Rating: 4 stars

This is the joint cheapest on test, and we were impressed with the 34 per cent charge figure of this device. The design was similar to its winning sibling, albeit with a smaller aluminium head because the USB-C plug was on a hard-wired flying lead. The head featured a standard USB socket and a very small blue power-on LED. With a combined wattage of 27W, it’s fine to power-up many tablets as well as a couple of phones. Like all those with flying leads, it was a bit more cumbersome, despite the plug itself being just 60mm long.

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Belkin USB-C Car Charger

  • Price: Around £25
  • Number of outlets: 1 x USB-QC
  • Contact: www.halfords.com
  • Rating: 4 stars

Having a single socket made the Belkin unique in this test, but it proved to be powerful, using Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology. The adaptor itself was neatly compact at just 46mm, but could supply up to 18W when required. Also in the box was a 1.2-metre USB to USB-C extension lead, making it versatile, and which should be quite enough for in-car charging. Performance was good, easily boosting the Samsung phone to a joint best 35 per cent charge increase. Despite lacking a socket over all the others, it was still £25, which is a touch pricey.

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Scosche StrikeDrive Power Delivery 3.0 Dual USB-C Car Charger

The second of the USB-C-only adaptors featured a large head (45mm x 25mm x 35mm) for its twin sockets, which made access easy, and there was a suitably large blue LED. We liked the design, but it might be cumbersome if the 12V socket is in a tight space. It had no cable or flying lead, but offered plenty of wattage for larger charging requirements (2 x 18W) and produced a very respectable charge increase of 30 per cent. It was nicely made and performed well, but couldn’t compete with the price and spec of the Anker twin C adaptor.

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Halfords USB Charger with coiled USB-C Cable

  • Price: Around £15
  • Number of outlets: 1 x USB, 1 x USB-C
  • Contact: www.halfords.com
  • Rating: 3 stars

Halfords clearly saved a little on development costs of this unit by using the same triangular design as previously seen on its standard USB triple charger. This is no bad thing, because it’s attractive and easy to grasp when removing. In the head was a single standard USB socket rated at 2.4A, plus an attached coiled flying lead with USB-C. This could extend to a maximum of 1.5 metres, but at that point there was a lot of tension on the cable and one metre would be a more practical stretch. It was well priced, but only a 24 per cent battery increase puts it down the list.

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Huawei SuperCharge Dual Port Car Charger

A matt-silver finish marked the 27.5W Huawei out and offered grip as well as style. Happily, it did include a USB-C cable, which added value to a price that was already reasonable. Whereas most multi-socket adaptors had at least one USB-C socket, it bucked the trend and went with a couple of standard sockets. One was marked as 5V/1A and the other was a quicker charge (4.5V/5A or 9V/2A) and coloured violet. However, regardless of which socket was used, the best charge increase we could achieve was 20 per cent, some way off the top results.

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