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Aldi isn’t going to replace the local auto parts store anytime soon, but the grocer is known to trot out a few car-related accessories from time to time, including storage solutions, car covers, cell phone holders, and even tire inflators.
USB car chargers can be found in a lot of places, from big box stores to your local pharmacy. They make use of the venerable cigarette lighter socket, which has in recent years become the go-to place for plugging in electronics in a car. Aldi has previously sold USB car chargers, and the grocer has returned with a new model.
The Auto XS 12 Volt DC USB Car Charger is an ALDI Find, which means it’s only around for a short time. At the time of this post, it retailed for $4.99, the same price previous Auto XS chargers have run. That’s on the lower end of costs for chargers, especially when you consider that it comes with two pieces. Both pieces are stamped with the name Kaiyuan Factory, which we assume is a China-based production facility. (We assume most, if not all, USB chargers on the market today are made in China.)
It’s backed by a 2-year warranty, serviced by MACVAD Limited, a New Zealand-based supply company that has serviced some other Aldi products. The e-mail on the packaging points to [email protected], and the company appears to have offices in Chicago.
As mentioned, the package comes with two pieces: a compact USB charger and a splitter.
The splitter plugs into the car socket and basically turns one car socket into two. Both ports are compatible with 12 volt devices, like USB car chargers. I tested both and they seem to work fine. The splitter also notes that it has a replaceable 5A fuse, and it has a screw that can be removed to open the casing.
The compact USB charger, on the other hand, is where the USB ports are. It can be used with the splitter or used separately.
It’s worth noting that the compact charger is pretty small, smaller even than the older Auto XS model.
The real test of a USB charger is performance. The packaging claims that the USB has 5V 2.1A of dedicated adaptive power per USB port, allowing it to charge two devices simultaneously at “full speed.” To test this, we tried out a pair of Android-powered smartphones, one of them an older model and one of them a newer one. Both of our phones are capable of fast charging or turbo-charging.
Both phones did charge with the USB charger … but not at fast speed. Instead, both charged at a normal speed, which is to say slow. This is unfortunate, as our older phone would fast charge with our older Auto XS charger, but not this new one.
So what does this mean? Well, if you need a cheap charger that can put a little juice in your cell phone while it’s in the car, this will charge it. If, on the other hand, you need something capable of doing a real fast-charge to a device — something most smartphones made in the last couple of years are capable of — this does not appear to do it. At least, it wouldn’t do it for us. Keep in mind that fast car chargers are generally more expensive, but in our experience they’re preferable, especially if your device is going to be running for things like navigation.
The Auto XS USB Car Charger isn’t a bad product, especially for $5 and especially given that it comes with a splitter. But it’s also important to note that we only found it to be good for regular-speed charging. If you need something that can turn your car into a fast charger, this may not cut it. Whether or not this is what you’re looking for will depend on your needs.