Are All Chargers and Devices Interchangeable?

Nowadays, most of us have multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, or eReaders. With all of these devices comes a variety of different chargers to keep track of, which raises the question as to whether some of these devices can use the same charger. While the latest versions of devices that use Micro-USB chargers and connectors are now supposed to be standardized, meaning they could be used with all devices that use Micro-USB, this does not mean that all chargers for all other devices are interchangeable.

Are All Chargers and Devices Interchangeable

Smartphone Chargers

For smartphones such as Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones, Micro-USB connectors are now used. These differ from the old style chargers these devices used to have. Apple has created a Lightning to Micro-USB adapter that complies with the European Union’s regulations for having a common charger for smartphones.

Read also: Battery Charging Tips for Smartphones

Apple Devices and Chargers

For Apple products, as of 2012 the company now offers a standardized Lightning connector for their latest versions of iPod Touches, iPod Nanos, iPads, iPhones. All of the newer devices have the Lightning connector and connect to any Lightning charger that is a certified Apple product. Older Apple devices and chargers feature a 30-pin dock connector, but with a special Apple connector, these older 30-pin dock chargers can be connected to newer Apple devices that use a Lightning connector.

To avoid any unwanted incident, Apple had urged its customers to stay away from using any unofficial chargers to charge their iDevices.

Laptop Chargers are Still Not Standardized

When charging a laptop, always remember to use original manufacturer’s laptop chargers. No standard type of charger yet exists for laptops, so it is important to use one specifically designed for your make and model of computer.

Read also: How to Charge a Laptop Without its Charger

Micro USB Chargers and Devices

Micro USB devices offer the ability to be mixed and matched, as any Micro USB device should be compatible with any Micro USB charger. You may also connect the Micro USB cable to a laptop USB port to charge your devices.

Concerns About Safety

HP recently came out with a laptop that was the first of its kind because it used an ARM chip like the ones used in smartphones. This was supposed to allow consumers to charge the HP Chromebook 11 using a standard Micro USB connector, however, this didn’t work out too well. This model was recently recalled and pulled from store shelves due to issues with an overheating charger and damage being caused by it. Most laptops require more charging power than a Micro USB can offer. For consumers who still have the laptop, it is highly recommended to discontinue using the original charger that was supplied with the product and use another UL Listed Micro USB charger. Even products that have been UL listed may develop problems and should no longer be used if they have been recalled.

Stick With UL Listed Products

Most chargers you can purchase are “UL (Underwriters Laboratories) Listed” and it is important to only buy products that are. UL works an as independent certification organization that tests products for safety and checks for such issues as products that might overheat, catch on fire, or cause electrocution. Never purchase any kind of charger that has not been approved by UL, and check for the trusted “UL Listed” logo somewhere on the product to be certain. Unlisted products have not gone through safety testing and may be dangerous to use. Stay away from super inexpensive products that have not been tested and invest a little more money into one that is a high quality, name brand, UL listed item.

Understanding Volts and Amps

Voltage and amperage are two factors that determine why devices and chargers may or may not be compatible with each other. Example, all USB connections operate with 5 volts of power. This means connecting all USB devices to USB chargers should be okay.

When dealing with Amps, things get a little trickier. Chargers have a higher current of power which is measured in amps, intended to power a device more quickly. For example, a charger for a tablet may provide more power in amps that one from a Smartphone. Using the charger for the Smartphone on the tablet would likely result in much slower charging, however, if you connected the tablet charger to the phone, even though it won’t be able to charge at the same rate as the tablet, it may charge slightly faster.


Although we are making progress in the standardization of some products, we still have a long way to go before every device can work with any charger. For now, Apple devices are interchangeable with the new Lightning charger, and Micro USB seems pretty standardized. However, consumers will still need to stick with their original laptop charger for now.


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