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Five-minute fast charging for smartphones – is there any point?

Honor Magic 6 Pro in hand, with a green cable plugged into the USB port, showing the charging progress on the screen

Realme is the latest phone manufacturer to trial 300W fast-charging – but is anyone really asking for it?

Realme isn’t a name you’ll see on our best smartphone list any time soon, as the Chinese brand announced its departure from the UK phone market earlier this year, but it’s still making waves that could affect the next generation of handsets.

In a recent interview with The Tech Chap, Realme Global’s head of marketing, Francis Wong, revealed the brand is currently trialling ridiculously fast 300W charging. The mention was brief, however, and didn’t give any indication of what kind of charging speeds users could expect or what models might support the feature.

Despite usually being at the forefront of charging improvements – the Realme GT3 is currently the fastest charging phone in the world, supporting up to 240W – Realme actually isn’t the first brand to claim this feat. Last year, Xiaomi’s sub-brand Redmi posted a video to the Chinese social media platform Weibo demonstrating its own 300W charging.

We have a little more information here, with a clock showing how swiftly the phone charged: the battery hit 50% in just over two minutes and made it to 100% just before the clock ticked over to five minutes. That’s impressive, although it should be noted the model used in the video had a 4,100mAh battery, which is relatively low-capacity by modern standards.

Xiaomi 14 in hand, close up of the charging port

Here we are over a year on from that video, and we’ve still seen no Redmi device that supports 300W charging speeds, so I suppose it’s still possible for Realme to claim the accolade as the first brand to bring the feature to market.

My question, however, is do we even need it? Of all the innovations and advancements, is ludicrously fast charging particularly high up on consumers’ wish lists? Especially when high-end features such as telephoto cameras and fluid 3D gaming have yet to trickle down to more affordable handsets.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a speedy charge as much as the next person – if I’ve forgotten to plug my phone in overnight, a twenty-minute blitz yielding enough charge to get me through the day is invaluable – it’s just that I feel like we’ve already hit upon a fairly decent balance between good stamina and nippy charging.

Honor Magic 6 Pro, rear view, on a geometric patterned grey cushion

The Honor Magic 6 Pro, for instance, lasted an exceptional 33 hours in our looping video battery test and supports 80W wired charging. There was no charger bundled in the box, so I wasn’t able to properly put it through its paces, but my 67W charger filled the massive 5,600mAh battery in under an hour.

And then there’s the Xiaomi 14, a compact handset whose 4,610mAh battery lasted 26hrs 12mins in our tests and yet supports even faster 90W charging. Once again, I didn’t get a charger with my review sample, but Xiaomi claims a full charge can be achieved in just 31 minutes. My 67W charger got the job done in around 45 minutes, so I have no reason to doubt that figure.

The OnePlus 12 may be the best example here, as its battery test score of 29hrs 52mins is exceptional enough by itself but the brand goes one step further and actually includes a nippy 80W fast charger in the box. OnePlus states that this block can take the 5,000mAh battery from empty to 50% in just 12 minutes and on to full in around half an hour.

Close up of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro's rear cameras, with a brightly coloured striped background

And that’s just the flagship-level phones. In the mid-range we’ve got the Motorola Edge 50 Pro (review currently in progress) and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro Plus with 125W and 120W charging, respectively. Even their cheaper siblings offer decent charging speeds; the Motorola Edge 50 Fusion (also in progress) comes bundled with a 68W charger and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro supports 67W charging that can apparently fill the battery to 50% in 17 minutes and 100% in 44 minutes.

It may well be that I’m in the minority here, and 300W charging phones prove to be a huge success, but regardless, I maintain this is the wrong focus. The cost of living is more prevalent in consumers’ minds than ever right now, and the expense of developing this technology, not to mention the heat management systems that will need to be improved alongside it, could better be spent in bringing more appealing features to the budget phone market.

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