Slower Charging on the Pixel 6 Isn't Really a Big Deal

It's the expectation set that's the problem

Key Takeaways

  • Tests have found that the Pixel 6 doesn’t utilize the full power of Google’s 30W charger.
  • While it may be disappointing, Google never promises that the Pixel 6 will charge at 30W speeds.
  • Experts say that charging at slower speeds can actually be better for your phone’s battery, as it doesn’t generate as much heat, which can damage the battery and cause a reduction in its overall lifetime.
A closeup of a slim smartphone with a charger connected.

Flavio Coelha / Getty Images

The slower charging speeds of the Pixel 6 shouldn't be considered a dealbreaker, as Google never actually promises 30W charging, and charging at a lower power rate is can be safer for your phone.

One of the significant changes with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro this year was that Google wouldn't be including a charger in the box. The move was made to cut down on waste, and it's one that many other phone manufacturers have been making in recent years, too. For those who don't already own a USB-C charger, though, Google does offer a 30W charger that can be purchased separately.

The company promises that the 30W charger will charge your phone up to 50 percent in 30 minutes. What tests have found, though, is that the Pixel 6 doesn't make use of the full 30W provided by the charger. While it might be disappointing to learn that the Pixel 6 won't charge your phone as quickly as some others can, smartphone battery experts say charging at such a high power rate can lead to excess heat: the number one killer battery killer.

"Charging a battery at lower rates than it can support will not damage it. On the contrary, fast-charging technologies might slightly reduce the lifetime of a battery if they generate extra heat during the charging process," Radu Vrabie, a battery expert working with Power Bank Expert, told Lifewire in an email.

This seems to be a case of 'marketing talk' in which the official performance of a product is from controlled lab tests.

Generating Heat

One of the biggest problems that smartphone batteries have faced over the years is heat. Because heat can be such a damaging factor, it's often recommended that you don't leave your smartphone in direct heat and close apps when you aren't using them—to reduce the power draw on your device. Both of these options can reduce the internal temperature of your device, which ultimately means less of a negative effect on your overall battery life.

Overheating can be a massive problem for smartphone users and has seen some severe implications in the past—with faulty batteries in Samsung's Note 7 lineup even exploding because of issues with overheating. Of course, most times, you don't have to worry about your new iPhone or Android melting or exploding. Instead, the damage is much harder to see, and it comes in the form of lowering your phone's overall expected battery lifetime.

In the case of the Pixel 6, the 30W charger appears to top out at 22W, and after reaching the 50 percent mark, Android Authority found that it dropped to 13W. This is a trickle compared to the full 30W power rate the charger is capable of, and while it could be considered safer, it's also much slower.

A screenshot of the Google specs page for the Pixel 6 phone.

Talking Heads

One of the biggest points of contention in this situation is that Google boasts such extreme charging speeds on its device pages. As Android Authority noted in its testing, the company never outright gives the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro charging rates when talking about its 30W charger. 

"On the Pixel 6 sales page, Google states that the phone will reach a '50% charge in about 30 minutes' sing the Google 30W charger. They make no claims that the Pixel itself will charge at 30W, though," Vrabie noted in our conversation. "The only statement they make is about the charging time. "While Google hasn't outright said the speeds, though, it's easy for consumers to feel misled in this situation. Presenting a 30W charger with your new phone seems to imply that it will support 30W of charging, even if you don't say it does.

"This seems to be a case of 'marketing talk' in which the official performance of a product is from controlled lab tests," Vrabie noted. "This happens a lot; for example with electric cars and their maximum range."

Ultimately, though, the slower charging rates of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro aren't a bad thing. Sure, it isn't convenient, but it also means your phone isn't pumping a load of juice into the battery, generating excess heat and increasing the risk of your battery's life cycle being cut down due to that extra heat.

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