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What is Power Delivery?

Everything you need to know about the Power Delivery standard and its fast-charging potential.

June 23, 2021

One of the coolest things about technology is that it’s always changing. 
But, one of the most confusing things about technology is also how it’s always changing.

With a steady stream of new features and evolving functionality, it can be hard to keep up with the latest options out there, let alone keep all the terminology straight. 
But we’re here to help. Today, we’re taking a closer look at an increasingly popular charging technology: Power Delivery. (Sometimes also referred to as USB PD or USB C PD). 
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Chances are, if you have looked into upgrading any of your gadgets lately, you’ve encountered “Power Delivery” when comparing devices. And while the term itself seems intuitive – you want power, it’s going to deliver it – the full story behind big-P Power + big-D Delivery is actually a bit more nuanced. You see, when it comes to charging phones, tablets, laptops, etc., Power Delivery is really about maximizing speed. 

Here’s what you need to know:  
To start, Power Delivery is a standard. 
This means that, unlike some features which refer to a certain part or physical component, Power Delivery is more like a recipe for engineers. As a standard, it outlines technical criteria and specifications to let engineers know that if their product meets the specified criteria, it will deliver a specified output or performance. In the case of Power Delivery, that specified output is an increased capacity for faster charging. 
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Also worth noting, Power Delivery is a non-proprietary standard. This means the magic of Power Delivery is open for any engineer or developer to use. Unlike some fast-charging technologies that have been created by a manufacturer to ONLY work for or with their own products, the widespread availability of Power Delivery makes it easier to reap its benefits. When you go to replace a charging cable, or upgrade the one in your car, or even plug in at a friend’s house, there are a lot more options and Power Delivery compatible products on the market. This makes it far easier to make the most of Power Delivery’s fast-charging feature than that of the alternatives exclusively tied to single brand’s proprietary tech. 
 
Its power is backed by intelligence.
So, now let’s talk more about how Power Delivery makes faster charging possible.
 
At the most basic level, it’s because it is built to handle more power. Charging speed is determined by the amount of power a device’s battery pulls. Power Delivery = more power = up to 2X faster charging. 

Simple, right? 

Well, okay. There is actually a bit more to it. 

First of all, because today’s mobile devices are downright power hungry, delivering the amount of power necessary to adequately accommodate these devices while also optimizing speed is a tall order. When you look at the older charging methods most of us have been relying on for a decade or so, these adapters and cables provide a mere 15 watts of power to the connected device, at best. The time it would take for one of these legacy methods to charge a newer iPad or Galaxy tablet could rival the duration of a top-notch Netflix binge …aka, too long. But now with Power Delivery, charging methods can manipulate voltage in order to transfer more power. Like, much, much more power. We are talking the potential for 100 watts to be delivered to a connected device. That’s nearly 7X more power than what those old charging accessories offer. So, when we say Power Delivery provides more power, we mean enough to charge newer devices (and even larger items like laptops) in record time.   

Secondly, it’s also an important factor that not all devices can actually take the full amount of charging oomph that a Power Delivery has to offer. Each device has its own sweet spot – that perfect amount of power to maximize charging speed, without pulling too much and overheating and frying itself in the process. This is another crucial point where Power Delivery really shines. It doesn’t just offer more power, it offers intelligence too. The Power Delivery standard, using chips included on both PD-enabled devices and Power Delivery charging equipment, enables the device and charger to communicate, negotiate even, and determine what is the precise amount of power needed for both speed AND safety. And then that is the amount of power delivered. No more, no less. 
Oh. And it’s fundamentally future-proof.
Another important note about the Power Delivery standard is that it was designed for the USB Type-C connection. Not only are USB Type-C and Power Delivery well-matched in their shared goal for faster, more efficient charging, they are also both increasingly being used by the major technology manufacturers. 
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As more smartphones, tablets and laptops are brought to market with USB Type-C power cables and connectors, charging accessories designed for Power Delivery can fit the USB Type-C inserts without adapters (which are clunky, easily lost and can actually slow charging speeds) ensuring you are ready to maximize the charging potential of the latest devices right now, and the upcoming devices of tomorrow. That’s future-proof functionality that’ll keep you from wasting time waiting for your phone to charge for years to come.

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