Why Your USB Cable Might Not Charge Your Android Smartphone

A cable is a cable is a cable, right? Not quite. While there shouldn’t be any difference from one USB cable over another—it’s mostly the protective covering around the cable and a bunch of marketing—some have found that their Pixel 4 smartphones get fussy depending on which USB cable you’re using to charge them. Pick the wrong cable, and you might find yourself with a paperweight instead of a fully charged device when you wake up to start your day.

Android Authority spent some time connecting the Pixel 4 to various chargers and cables, and here’s what (little) they were able to find out:
“Google’s Pixel series relies on USB Power Delivery (PD) as the primary charging technology. This is the technology you’ll find on Google’s chargers. It works wonderfully, clocking in at around 15W. The Pixel 4 charges just fine with other chargers that support USB Power Delivery over USB-C to USB-C connectors, including older Pixel chargers and third-party USB PD products.

So, USB-C to USB-C works just fine. However, I simply couldn’t get the Pixel 4 to charge with other USB-A chargers at first. Quick Charge ports, USB BC 1.2 power banks, and even standard USB ports on my PC and laptop wouldn’t work. It was only when swapping out to another cable that I was able to get the Pixel 4 to connect to these devices. However, every other phone I tested, including the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a, works just fine with this same cable.”

Senior features editor Robert Triggs ended up testing 18 different USB cables with his Pixel 4, and it seems like he struggled to make 5A cables work with his device. That’s “five amps,” or the maximum current allowed by USB-PD these fancier cables (with purple-colored connectors) can allegedly support. The strange thing? These cables seem to be able to charge other smartphones, just not the Pixel 4.

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