What is USB Power Delivery (USB PD)?

A label indicating whether a charger or a power bank supports USB-PD can usually be found on the device itself. In this case, even with precise information on the performance data (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

USB Power Delivery is the technical term for the fast charging function via a corresponding USB cable and a compatible charging cable / compatible power bank. Among other things, i-devices from Apple, such as newer iPhone models, use this standard. With the Nintendo Switch, when buying a charger, you should also ensure that it does not support QuickCharge (another fast charging mode), but only USB-C PD for fast charging of the battery. I have summarized further information, various classifications and details worth knowing for you in the following.

What is USB Power Delivery, or USB-PD or USB-C-PD for short? And how does it differ from the regular charging of device batteries using a universal connection? There are answers here!

What is USB Power Delivery, or USB-PD or USB-C-PD for short? And how does it differ from the regular charging of device batteries using a universal connection? There are answers here!

This is behind USB-PD / Power Delivery

The big difference to the regular charging of mobile devices such as cell phones, smartphones, tablets, digital cameras and Co. via USB Battery Charging (USB-BC) is the performance of the USB-PD. Higher charging capacities of up to 100 watts for notebooks such as the Apple MacBook (Pro) and for fast charging of iPhone, iPad etc. are achieved via USB-C Power Delivery. Charging capacities from 15 watts are reserved for the USB-C connection. Usually only up to 12 watts (5 volts at 2,4 amps) are possible via USB-A and / or micro-USB; compatible with USB 2.0 resp. USB 3.0 (now called USB 3.2 Gen 1). 

A label indicating whether a charger or a power bank supports USB-PD can usually be found on the device itself. In this case, even with precise information on the performance data (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

A label indicating whether a charger or a power bank supports USB-PD can usually be found on the device itself. In this case, even with precise information on the performance data (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

USB Power Delivery Profile according to USB-IF

USB Power Delivery / USB PD is the name or specification for high-performance charging of batteries via a universal connection from USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). This has classified different profiles that allow different levels of voltage and current. When using USB Power Delivery, the maximum power is negotiated between the devices via the USB power pins via the UPD protocol. The smallest possible profile is initially used to protect the devices. After a response from the devices, it is increased.

Here is the overview of the USB-PD profiles:

USB PD profile Voltage current Maximum Performance
Profile 1 5V / 2A 10 W
Profile 2 5V / 2A; 12V / 1,5A 18 W
Profile 3 5V / 2A; 12V / 3A 36 W
Profile 4 5V / 2A; 12V / 3A; 20V / 3A 60 W
Profile 5 5V / 2A; 12V / 5A; 20V / 5A 100 W

USB Power Delivery 3.0 (PD 3.0)

What are the advantages of PD 3.0? The new standard enables current and voltage to be controlled more precisely by the end device. This means that the iPhone, for example, can specify the voltage level more precisely for the power supply unit - if it supports USB PD 3.0. The charger reacts to the specifications of the smartphone and then sends the corresponding voltage. In this way, manufacturers of mobile devices can implement a more detailed charging strategy in order to charge the batteries as gently as possible.

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