We surveyed more than 1,100 Wirecutter readers to find out about their power needs, and then tested 19 top models with six iPads to find the best USB wall chargers. Our main pick charges four devices and costs less than a single-port Apple-branded charger, but if your needs differ we have a slightly pricier runner-up with a folding plug, an upgrade with six ports, and even a tiny two-porter for traveling lightly.

Advertisement

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. This is a condensed version of The Best Multiport USB Wall Charger; read the full charger review here.

Almost all of the readers we heard from told us they regularly need to charge multiple devices, so we looked at units with at least three high-speed charging ports. From a group of 45 chargers, we cut out the mediocre ones that require you to futz around figuring out which ports are “high-speed” and which are limited. We wound up with 18 finalists—all of which had automatic device recognition to optimize their charging speed—and tested those using a USB ammeter.

Advertisement

We eliminated four that couldn’t charge an iPad Air 2 at its top speed of 2.4 amps through each of its ports. We then put the remaining 14 chargers through their paces, using a collection of six iPads of different sizes and generations to make sure they could keep at least three ports going at full tilt (except when considering 2-port travel chargers). We even have a few Quick Charge 2.0 suggestions.

Then, since people are concerned about vampire devices sucking up power when they’re not using them, we also used a Kill A Watt electricity-usage monitor to test for idle energy drain and found that our picks drew virtually zero kilowatt hours over the course of a week. For more information and buying advice, check out our full review.

Four reliably fast ports for cheap: Best overall pick
Anker’s 36W 4-Port USB Wall Charger

Anker’s 36W 4-Port USB Wall Charger is the best multiport USB charger for most people. It can fast-charge up to three full-sized iPads at once or four at a slower rate. (Alternatively, you can fast-charge two iPads and two smartphones.) It’s the most powerful charger that plugs directly into a wall outlet (it doesn’t have an attached power cord), and best of all its unique sideways orientation lets you connect to either the top or bottom plug of a wall outlet without blocking the other. It’s also physically small compared to the competition, and quite affordable

Sponsored

All of Anker’s chargers, including our picks, use what the company calls Power IQ to regulate the power output. Circuitry in the charger recognizes whether you’re plugging in a smartphone, tablet, or other device, and whether it’s Android, iOS, or something else. It then uses this data to deliver the appropriate amount of current for the fastest charging speed. That means you don’t have to worry whether any of its ports are “fast” or not when you’re plugging something in. While this type of circuitry isn’t unique to Anker, it was among the first to implement it and has a long track record of success with it.

Speaking of Anker’s track record, Anker’s reliably high-quality charging accessories are well regarded not only by us, but by customers on Amazon and third-party reviewers. And their chargers have an 18-month warranty to back that up.

Advertisement

The biggest drawback to the Anker 36W is that it can’t provide enough juice to fast-charge four large tablets at once. Plug in three iPads, and they’ll all charge at the max rate, but the current to each will drop a bit when a fourth is connected. We’d love to see Anker update this charger to handle 48 watts. That way all four ports could simultaneously provide 2.4 A of current. It would also be nice if the prongs folded up for better protection in transit.

Four ports with folding prongs: A runner-up pick
Anker PowerPort 4

Almost all of the nice things we have to say about the Anker 36W apply to the Anker PowerPort 4. In fact, the PowerPort 4 partially solves two of our major nitpicks with the Anker 36W: It has folding prongs and four more watts for slightly faster charging if you’re using all the ports at once. That said, we still prefer the Anker 36W for most people because the PowerPort 4’s design creates some issues of its own.

Advertisement

The PowerPort 4’s prongs do fold, but they’re oriented such that the charger blocks the bottom wall socket if you plug it into the top one. It also has an annoying blue LED that can’t be turned off at night. Furthermore, the extra four watts still aren’t enough to provide fast charging simultaneously on all four ports. Finally, it typically costs between $5 to $10 more than the 36W model. It’s still a very good charger and we recommend it if you want folding prongs or if the Anker 36W is unavailable, but we think the 36W is the better value.

Two ports, smaller size: a pick for travelers
iClever Dual USB Travel Wall Charger

The iClever Dual USB Travel Wall Charger gives you two USB ports that can simultaneously provide a full-speed 2.4A charge in a package that’s barely bigger than Apple’s single-port iPad charger. Like Apple’s charger, it has folding prongs for protection during transit. Unlike Apple’s charger, it costs well under $20. That means you’re getting twice as much charging ability for about half the price, with barely any size penalty. It’s perfect for traveling.

Six ports, but corded: Upgrade pick for more devices
Anker’s 60W 6-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger

While four charging ports is a lot, some people will need even more. Anker’s 60W 6-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger is the best option for them. Again, most of the nice things we said about the Anker 36W apply to the 60W, but the 60W is stronger. With two more ports and nearly twice the wattage, it’s considerably more powerful than the Anker 36W. In our testing, the Anker 60W successfully provided 2.4 amps of current to each of our two control iPads, even with the other four full-size iPads connected. But you can’t connect it directly to a wall socket. Instead, it connects to an AC outlet using a five-foot-long, detachable power cord. That’s more clutter, to be sure, but it also lets you place the unit away from your wall outlet—handy if that outlet is hidden under a desk.

Advertisement

These picks may have been updated. To see the current recommendations, please read Wirecutter’s guides.