In need of an iPhone 15 charging cable? Here's how to find the best USB-C charger cord

Apple’s recent shift from a lightning connector to USB-C for the iPhone 15 is a welcome relief for many of us who want all of our go-to tech accessories to play nice in the sandbox together.

After years of carting around a separate connector just for iPhones, the same charger we use for most headphones, laptops, and gaming consoles now works for the newest iPhone, and that’s great all the way around. No longer needing a proprietary connector means less cord clutter overall. But it also means we have to be careful what we plug into!

Steer clear of super cheap gas-station chargers and $10 eBay or Marketplace knock-off cords and bricks that might fry your brand-new phone faster than, well, lightning. (Pardon the pun...)

Can you use any USB-C charger for iPhone 15?

Those cute-colored charging cords and bricks that you get at gas stations can be fine in a pinch, but those are the kinds of cables that cause the most problems. One of the biggest ways to know you have an issue is if you feel your device getting physically hot while you’re charging it.

Stick with reputable sellers, such as Apple, Anker, Belkin, Cable Matters, and Monoprice, or one that says it’s been certified by a trade group called the USB Implementers Forum, or USB-IF. Their website says it tests connectors it recommends through 10,000 plugs and unplugs.

USB-C cables can cost as little as $10 and as much as $160. Upsells on expensive cables are one of the oldest tricks in the consumer electronics playbook, but it does pay to get a USB-C charger that won’t overheat, catch fire, fray, or stop working a few months into the job. I usually spend anywhere from $20 to $30 on my cables and bricks, which is in line with what Apple charges (Apple’s prices are $19 for a new 1-meter USB-C cable and $19 for a 20-watt brick.)

Are all USB-C connectors the same?

Apple’s own USB-C connectors are usually the best to use with your Apple gadgets, says Hank Hulan, senior manager in Consumer Electronics Engineering and Quality at Asurion. “Apple chargers will be fully tested and UL (Underwriters Laboratory) certified.” That’s not always the case with bargain basement cables and chargers. “Apple chargers will also be compliant with California Energy Efficiency standards (analogous to Energy Star for appliances) and are tested against numerous EU and APAC safety regulations,” he explained.

Hulan’s colleague, Asurion Innovation Lab Technologist Nate Friend, who’s busy testing all of the latest Apple gadgets for these exact kinds of issues, agrees, “Apple chargers and cables have confirmed compatibility, whereas other chargers may not work as expected,” Friend explained in an email.

Which is faster USB-C or Thunderbolt 3?

Cheap chargers may take longer for data transfers, noted Friend who offered this tip: a USB-C 3.0 (Thunderbolt) cable from Apple should be your go-to for the fastest iPhone 15 Pro data transfer speeds.

Is it safe to charge iPhone from laptop?

When I asked Apple about chargers, the company directed me to their support page, which states that you can also "use a 20W USB-C power adapter or higher-wattage USB-C power adapter – like the one that came with your Mac laptop," with your iPhone for faster charging or plug your iPhone into the USB-C port on your computer.

Some tech repair experts say it’s possible to fry your phone if you plug a low-quality charger into a high-voltage outlet, but for the most part, having a dedicated USB-C charger from a reputable manufacturer should be enough to keep your gadgets safe.

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“It’s highly unlikely that you'll actually damage your phone using the ‘wrong’ charger, Hulan says. “Phones have advanced circuitry including a PCM (power control module) that prevents "overcharging." The worst case is that you use an underpowered charger, and it takes longer than normal to reach full charge.”

My advice? Don’t overthink it. Get a decent cable that manages fast charging and be sure to label it. Keep it dry; don’t stuff the ports with sand, lint, or crumbs. Believe it or not, dropping your power adapter can cause some of the worst damage to your overall charging capabilities, so make sure all your accessories are in good working order to keep your new fancy smartphone charged up and ready for the next adventure!

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech columnist and on-air correspondent. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

Contact her at JJ@Techish.com

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Best USB-C charger cable for Apple's new iPhone 15