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Definition: USB charger

A device that transfers power to smartphones, tablets and myriad portable devices. USB chargers plug into an AC outlet and provide a USB Type A or Type C socket to cable DC power to the device. At the device side, various USB sockets along with Apple's Lightning interface have been used. Type C and Thunderbolt are the latest, and various proprietary plugs and sockets are also used for watches and other products. See USB power.

Adapters for Laptops
Laptops have traditionally used a two-element plug and socket for an AC-to-DC power adapter; however, they increasingly use USB Type C and Thunderbolt for power as well as data. See Thunderbolt, power adapter and USB.

Type A and C USB Chargers
For years, USB chargers provided only a Type A USB socket (right) for connection to the device. Today, Type C is the standard, and combination A and C chargers (left) accommodate both types of USB cables.

What's Inside
Open up a typical charger and you find a couple of chips and several discrete components.

Chargers Are Everywhere
Passengers can charge their devices by plugging them into a USB port on an airplane.