Here’s why your car’s USB port charges your phone so slowly

The issue is automakers still rely on specification that was designed and formed in April 2000 by USB implementers’ forum. Top tech giants like Intel, HP, Nokia, and Phillips jointly led the initiative to develop what was required then.

By: | Published: September 5, 2017 12:20 PM

A USB port in a car has become standard equipment on vehicles these days and is often place right beneath the infotainment system or on the infotainment system. For instances cars like Ford Ecosport and almost all Maruti Suzuki cars features the single USB charging port below the infotainment system along with the AUX port. Whereas in cars like Renault Kwid and Duster have it right on the infotainment system. Most of the times car owners simply plug-in the USB to the port and to the phone and leave it to charge as they begin to drive expecting the phone to charge the same way it charges through the regular power socket but in reality the car’s port in most of the cases is useless. These ports supply about 0.5 amp of charging power far less than required to charge the modern smart phones. Beyond that the use of GPS, Bluetooth while driving depletes the power even faster. It’s almost like you are not charging your phone at all. For reference, your phone’s power bank or portable chargers are available with a power output delivery of 1amp, 2amp and many modern ones have a maximum output power of up to 5.4 amps that allows charging two tablets simultaneously very quickly.

As per global mobile accessory maker Ventev, almost all cars have USB ports that are not capable of charging smart phones. “The USB ports in your car seem like a convenient feature, but often don’t provide enough power to charge your device while using it. Instead, they often only slow the speed at which your battery drains — your phone will use power faster than the car USB port can supply it,” the company wrote on its website’s blog page. Globally, except for a few Acura models that support 2.4 amp of power on its USB socket which would just charge your phone just fine.

The official international charging output specification for both USB 1.0 and 2.0 devices is 500mA of current according to global car maker Mazda. Most of the modern connect technologies on the cars and SUVs utilizes the USB 2.0. But personally the front USB ports in almost every car I’ve driven does not charge my phone enough, regardless of its claims. The front USB ports are also responsible to support technologies like Apple Car Play and Google Android Auto and the data transfer is the other reason on slow or no charging at all. This might not be the case on the cars which have USB charging on the rear as for many the sole purpose is just to charge the phone, but it will still be at a very slow pace.

The issue is automakers still rely on specification that was designed and formed in April 2000 by USB implementers’ forum. Top tech giants like Intel, HP, Nokia, and Phillips jointly led the initiative to develop what was required then. Battery charging specification 1.2 that was reworked in 2010 tried to create a distinction between standard ports for transferring data and charging ports and allowed such devices to consume 1.5 amps. Of course automakers are right but we also know that a higher capacity USB charging port is not difficult to achieve.

Till then of course you have the cigarette lighter which would require a USB adapter and has a good supply of 10-12 volt of current enough to juice up your phone. Other charging technologies which are in works are wireless charging and inductive charging that would use USB 3.0. While these are not must have features in your car but is a thought every single time I see wires hanging out in and around my dashboard.