USB wall chargers are commodities, churned out by anonymous factories and sold for low prices everywhere around the world. But chargers that are both safe and fast enough to use with Apple’s products are less common, particularly when they are capable of charging more than one device at a time. RAVPower’s Dual 2.4A USB Wall Charger ($50, currently $13), Bolt 4-Port Desktop USB Charger ($70, currently $17), and Bolt 6-Port Desktop USB Charger ($70, currently $27) have such low street prices that they seem too good to be true. But they’re all great chargers, and worked well with the large collections of iPhones and iPads we tested.
Each of the chargers is around 1.1″ thick, very solidly built, and available in your choice of black or white. The two-port version (RP-UC11) is the only one that’s made from glossy plastic, measuring 2.1″ x 2.1″ with two 2.4A USB ports, and flip-out wall blades on the side opposing the ports. By comparison, the four-port (RP-UC07) and six-port (RP-UC10) versions are made from matte plastic, the first with a 2.3″ x 3.5″ footprint housing two 2.4A USB ports and two 1.2A USB ports, the second measuring 2.7″ x 4″ with four 2.4A USB ports and two 1A USB ports. RAVPower ships the latter two with detachable wall cables and gives them rubber anti-slip bottom rings, as they’re designed to sit on a flat surface with cables connected.
The only hitch with all three chargers is your need to self-supply all of the Apple device cables you need. But this is a very common limitation of USB charging solutions, and it’s possible to pay a higher price for a comparable solution such as Griffin’s PowerDock 5, which similarly doesn’t include cables. Budget but Apple-certified Lightning cables from Anker and Amazon cost $10 to $11 a piece.
Given their prices, we were impressed by the performance of all three chargers. During charging, none emitted a high-pitched squeal — a tell-tale sonic sign of imperfectly designed chargers — and regardless of the combination of iPads and iPhones we connected, everything worked without generating unreasonable amounts of heat or short-outs. The two-port charger is only a little larger than Apple’s one-port iPad 12W chargers, but can displace two of them on crowded wall outlets and power strips. While the four-port charger is a really nice middle-of-road option for families with a few devices, the six-port version is a great choice for owners of multiple tablets and iPhones. You get more ports than most USB charging docks, plus the higher-speed 12W output demanded by third- and fourth-generation iPads, a rarity in chargers. Using a power demand sensor RAVPower calls “iSmart,” the ports automatically adjust to devices’ power needs, so they’re safe to use with whatever you might connect.
Although we wouldn’t universally recommend budget-priced power solutions, RAVPower’s two-, four-, and six-port USB chargers look and feel good, work well, and offer great value for the dollar. The six-port version is particularly impressive because of its compact size, but they’re all worth considering. A single user with two devices will be very well served by the two-port model, families with lots of devices will love the flexibility of the six-port version, and couples may want to consider the four-port option in the middle. For these prices, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them.