At Gizmodo, we independently select and write things we love and think you’ll enjoy too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we can collect some of the sales or other fees through the links on this page. VAT – prices are accurate, and items are in stock at the time of shipment.
When you travel, there are two kinds of people: those who drain their phone’s battery until it’s dead and those who don’t dream of leaving the house without their trusty power bank.
It’s never too late to be a reliable power bank person. People with portable chargers tend to be in that Type A character profile. They are the ones who arrive 30 minutes early for an event or are stressed due to a tight deadline. But can you blame them?
After all, how could people do without Google Maps in the past? We know the answer, but navigating anywhere without a phone is impossible for those born in Generation X, Y, or Z. The same goes for choosing the best restaurant in the area or figuring out which bus to take home. While you can always resign to carrying your charger or using a public phone charger, there are two negative caveats.
First, no one wants to be that person crouching in the corner of the room and trying to drain the dead phone battery. And there is not always an outlet available. The other problem is juice jacking, a serious security risk for your device. Especially when you consider how much of your personal information can be stored on your smartphone. The latter can, of course, always be remedied by a data blocker.
So grab a portable power bank if you want to make sure your phone battery stays green. That way, you are prepared for anything.
Here’s everything you need to consider when buying a portable phone charger, along with some of our top picks.
How many recharges do you get?
As smartphones have become more sophisticated, with larger battery sizes and more energy-demanding technology, the market for portable chargers has also increased. It’s not hard to find a portable charger, but it’s important to ensure it meets all your needs.
If you want to charge your smartphone, there’s an incredibly rough calculation you could do to determine how many times you could set your phone from a fully charged power bank.
Take the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, for example, a phone with an internal battery of 5,000 mAh. A 20,000 mAh power bank can charge it four times when fully charged, right?
Not quite, although you should see more than three charges if the power bank is relatively new and certainly fully charged.
The reality of power transfer is inherently lossy, and the actual transfer rate of the current will also affect the amount of charge it can deliver to a given device. Like your smartphone, a power bank’s internal battery will also lose capacity over time, so if you’re using an older model, you may not see its full capacity when it comes to using your devices.
How many devices do you need to stay informed?
Image: iStock/Anatoliy Sizov
Most high-capacity power banks have multiple outputs, which is handy if you plan on powering more than just your smartphone or want to be nice to your friends and family if they get stuck in a power outage.
It is also worth coordinating connector types here. While USB-A is the usual standard, since most charging cables end with that rectangular plug anyway, some power banks offer USB-C or Apple’s Lightning connectors, although the latter is quite rare in the output sense. When you charge the power bank, you should get a compatible cable whether your device uses micro USB, USB-C, or Lightning, but usually not an actual plug charger.
What kind of power do you need?
There is a certain universality when charging smartphones from a power bank, as you can plug just about any phone into any power bank and get the electrons flowing.
If a power bank can deliver a higher wattage to your connected device, it may charge faster, but this is not guaranteed. However, that’s not the whole story if you want to charge faster, especially if you need a power bank to support your laptop’s power supply. Some power banks support standards like Qualcomm’s Quick Cha,rge if your phone supports that standard, meaning you can use your phone much faster, but there are alternative standards like Oppo’s VOOC are usually not mentioned in the power bank specs.
It’s a little more complicated if you want a power bank to run power to a laptop or other high-wattage device. You are looking for a power bank that offers standard Power Delivery, or PD.
It is possible to power laptops with the right mix of power banks, cables, and devices. However, this can be a bit hit and miss as the device and power bank must effectively negotiate the safe power delivery level. Used. Many laptops may use the power bank as an external power source – so they drain the battery but don’t actually “charge” it while in use – which is a safer option than taking your laptop apart.
Our recommendations for high-capacity power banks
Anker PowerCore 13,000mAh Portable Charger ($49.99)
Anker’s charger has 13,000 mAh on board in a compact frame with two USB-A outputs and up to 3A output. This is a good option if you need a quick juice kick.
ROMOSS 20,000 mAh portable charger (now $34.19, down from $40.99)
The 20,000 mAh charger from ROMOSS has QuickCharge support, three output connections, and claims compatibility to charge the Nintendo Switch.
Charmast Power Delivery Power Bank (Now $62.99 with the coupon, below $69.99)
Charmast’s Power Bank has 26,800 mAh to dish out, and there are plenty of ways to do it, with two standard USB ports, a USB-C port, and a Quick Charge compatible port. It’s rated at up to 18W, and Charmast claims compatibility with the Nintendo Switch and selects Apple MacBook models.
iMuto 20,000 mAh Portable Charger ($47.99, down from $59.99)
iMuto’s power bank has 20,000 mAh on board, two USB-A outputs, and a simple digital display, so you can easily see how much power is left. It also has a built-in flashlight, so even if your phone doesn’t have juice, you can only use it to find your way in the dark.
OISLE Magnetic Wireless Mini Power Bank (Now $85.99, Down From $94.99)
OISLE’s magnetic power bank has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing and compact portable chargers on the market. This cute little guy comes in five colors and is about half the size of your phone. Unlike other chargers, its biggest draw is that you don’t have to worry about a dangling cable to get from A to B. You can even put it in your back pocket while you wait rather than fish it out of your bag.
Another nice feature is that the logo lights up in three colors to indicate how much battery juice is left. However, compared to the other portable chargers mentioned, this one has a low capacity of only 4,225 mAh. Translation? Slow charging speed, but ideal for supporting your phone before the battery runs out on the way home.
Anker PowerCore 20,000 mAh portable charger (now $68, less than $78)
Anker is one of the best-rated consumer technology brands out there. If you’re looking for a portable charger with a little more power, the Anker PowerCore 20,000 mAh portable charger is a solid battery option. This power bank has two USB-A ports for dual charging, with a 2.4A output for each port.
Zhonghang 26,800mAh solar power bank (now $69.99, down from $89)
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you know how important it is to have enough battery power. With a battery capacity of 26,800 mAh, the Zhonghang power bank can reach five to six full charges for most iPhone and Samsung models.
You can even charge this power bank with sunlight and a built-in LED flashlight. It’s also waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof to withstand anything thrown at it.
ZHAM Solar Power Bank (now $79.99, down from $99.99)
As taken above, the ZHAM Solar Power Bank has a 33,500 mAh that claims it can charge your iPhone 13 times or your Samsung S8 up to seven times.
Also known as the “outdoor man’s favorite battery bank”, it features an LED flashlight. While you might be tempted to claim that your phone already has a flashlight, your phone certainly doesn’t have four flashlight modes that can help you flash a distress signal if you’re ever stuck in a pickle.
Editor’s Note: Descriptions and features are taken from manufacturer/seller claims and user reviews on Amazon.