Apple has announced new rules for third-party chargers that'll guarantee much faster charging for your Apple Watch Series 7, Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra and models to come. Later this year, third party charger makers will need to use Apple's fast charging module in all their Apple-approved chargers.
This is a really big deal, because the other Apple watch charging module – which manufacturers can and generally do use instead – doesn't deliver fast charging, and that means charging your Apple Watch is a slow process. And while the Apple Watch is Apple's best smartwatch, its battery life still isn't the best: if you want to use it all day and all of the night, you need to take it off for quite a while to recharge it every day.
All Apple Watch chargers in the MFi (Made for iPhone) programme have to use Apple's own charging modules, and most of them use the version that doesn't have fast charging. Apple is now changing that.
What's changing with Apple Watch chargers?
As reported by AppleInsider after conversations with third party manufacturers, at the moment any company making products under the Apple "made for iPhone" branding have to use one of two Apple-supplied charging modules. The newest module charges the Series 7, 8 and Ultra much, much faster. If you have an Apple Watch Series 7 or later, Apple says that you can expect your battery to go from flat to 80% in about 45 minutes. That's been my experience too.
There are two reasons why third party products don't use that one. The first is that Apple has had a shortage of the faster charging modules, which according to Bloomberg were in short supply from July 2021 onwards. And even more importantly, the fast charging module is more expensive for manufacturers to buy – so for one or both of those reasons, many of them went with the cheaper, slower module. Even Apple does it: the MagSafe Duo doesn't support Apple Watch fast charging.
Apple is now changing the rules and retiring the slower charger. Manufacturers who want to make products with the slower charging puck have got until 31 August 2023 to submit their plans to Apple, and Apple will stop supplying the slower charger on 30 September. What that should mean is a serious boost to the number of third party products with fast Apple Watch charging; personally I'm looking forward to seeing it in more travel chargers so I can get speedy smartwatch charging without having to remember to pack a separate charging puck.