New Handset Chargers Aren't Quite Smart, But Power Phones 50 Percent Faster

That cell phone you charge every day may not use much juice as compared to your computer, refrigerator or air conditioner, but in terms of energy efficiency, phone chargers can waste a fair amount of electricity. To help combat wasted power and speed up the charging process, T-Mobile has introduced three new Micro USB chargers that can charge your handset between 20 percent and 50 percent faster — one model plugs into a vehicle’s cigarette lighter, while the other two are for use in wall outlets. The latter two enjoy a Level 5 Energy Star rating, the highest rating for a consumer electronics device.

Given the massive growth in the number of handsets sold worldwide, energy consumption required to power these devices is a concern — most charging units continue to drain a small amount of power even after the handset is fully charged. AT&T recently introduced a “smart charger” to fight this “vampire power” effect, but sadly, the new T-Mobile chargers don’t have that kind of smarts. Instead, the new chargers use an efficient LED indicator to signal the owner to unplug them. Even without the ability to turn themselves off when not in use, the new chargers support a CTIA initiative to reduce standby energy consumption by up to 50 percent.

The devices do support a current initiative aimed at providing a more universal charging solution, however. Several top handset makers agreed last year to use the Micro USB interface for charging handsets and T-Mobile’s new offerings follow suit. All three chargers provide a second USB port as well, which allows for charging of other portable electronics that support USB power. The new T-Mobile handset chargers range in price from $29.99 to $39.99 and are available now online and in select T-Mobile stores. National availability in T-Mobile retail locations is expected on July 19.

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