BUSINESS Technology

Tech review: The best multiport USB wall charger

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology.

After surveying more than 1,100 Wirecutter readers and using six iPads to test 18 top models, we can safely say that Anker's 36W 4-Port USB Wall Charger is the best USB wall charger for most people. At only $20, it's essentially the same price as Apple's single-port 12W USB Power Adapter, but the Anker model can push out three times as much power and charge four devices at once. In fact, it can simultaneously charge three full-size iPads at full speed while also charging a smartphone. Our readers said they prefer chargers that plug directly into an outlet, and this is the most powerful one we tested to do so. Additionally, Anker's charger lives up to its advertised power output; some of the competition does not.

How we decided

We whittled down a list of 45 chargers by knocking out those that had only one or two high-speed-charging ports (except for super-compact chargers, mentioned below); had no high-speed-charging ports; or had a mix of faster- and slower-charging ports, requiring you to figure out which one is the "right" port if you want to charge your tablet as fast as possible.

We brought in 18 units for hands-on testing. First we connected an iPad Air 2 to a USB ammeter, which measures power transfer. Then we measured the electrical output of each port83 in all looking for figures around 2.4 amps, the maximum power draw of the tablet.

We tested the remaining chargers with a collection of six iPads to ensure that the power draw didn't drop as we added more devices. We used our ammeters to measure the average draw of an original iPad Air and a fourth-generation iPad, the models that draw the highest current, on each charger while keeping the other ports on that charger connected to the remaining iPads.

Our pick

Anker's 36W 4-Port USB Wall Charger is the best multiport USB charger for most people. It's the most powerful charger that plugs directly into a wall outlet, letting you fast-charge up to three full-size iPads at once or four at a slower rate. (Alternatively, you can fast-charge two iPads and two smartphones.) It's also physically small compared with the competition, and it's affordable. Anker has built a strong reputation in the mobile-accessory field with well-designed products that often work better than the competition, usually at lower prices.

Anker's 36W 4-Port USB Wall Charger is the best multiport USB charger for most people. (The Wirecutter)

The circuitry in the charger can tell whether you're plugging in a smartphone, a tablet or another device, and whether it's Android, iOS or something else; it then delivers the appropriate amount of current for the fastest charging speed.

The runner-up

Although four charging ports is a lot, some people will need even more. Anker's 60W 6-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger ($36) is the best option. It's considerably more powerful than the Anker 36W, and it offers two additional ports. Instead of plugging directly into an outlet, it uses a 5-foot cord.

Anker's 60W 6-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger ($36) is the best option for people who need more than four charging ports. (The Wirecutter)

A tiny travel pick

For an impressive amount of power in a tiny package, we recommend Aukey's 12W / 2.4A Home Travel USB Wall Charger. You get as much juice as you would with Apple's iPad charger and an extra charging port, in a much smaller package (a scant 1.4 by 1.2 by 1.2 inches with its prongs folded in) for half the price.

Aukey’s 12W/2.4A Home Travel USB Wall Charger next to Apple’s iPad charger. (The Wirecutter)

In closing

Anker's 36W 4-Port USB Wall Charger is the best multiport charger for most people, but you can find other good options depending on the number and kinds of devices you need to charge.

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This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation, please go to TheWirecutter.com. The Wirecutter's extensive research and testing is supported by a small commission from the purchases made by its readers.

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