That Will Never Die on You
Have Portable Chargers Become a Necessity?
The short answer is—yes, they have. How and why are different questions, though.
First of all, just in case, what is a portable charger or a power bank? It is a one-size-fits-all rechargeable battery to power up all your gadgets. There were times when the batteries in phones were retractable and those of us who needed their mobiles to be online at any moment carried replacement batteries around. Basically, a portable charger is a similar thing but whereas a replacement battery only fits the one gadget it is made for, with a power bank, you can charge a range of them depending on the number and type of ports it has. Also, almost none of today’s smartphones, tablets, or even laptops come with dismountable batteries, let alone gadgets like smart watches and eReaders. We use those a lot, for work as well as entertainment, don’t we? And that’s why you need a good portable charger to stay LIVE.
How Do You Decide on a Portable Charger?
|Parameters to consider||Description|
|Capacity||That’s the amount of energy your portable charger is able to hold. Chargers come in a wide range of options when it comes to capacity. The larger capacity is likely to result in a higher price, this is one of the main parameters that affect the cost. When you think about purchasing a portable power charger, first calculate the power of all the gadgets you carry throughout the day that you might need to charge. Sure, it is rare to find yourself in a situation when all your gadgets die at once but just to be on the safe side. If you don’t use the charge for one gadget, you can use it to charge the other twice. It’s not like the charger cares, right?
The battery capacity of your gadgets is always included in the specs sheet and/or packaging and if you’ve lost those, Google can help. Tablets need more battery than smartphones (usually) and laptops even more than that. Add all the numbers and you will get the approximate capacity you need in your portable power bank.
|Charging Time||There are two parts here. The time the charger takes to get charged is usually longer than it takes to charge your phone, of course. At least, if it is a charger with capacity for more than a single phone charge. However, unless you are in a hurry when you power up the charger, this parameter matters little.
What we usually do care about is how long it will take to charge the phone from the portable power bank. Sometimes, this is also pointed out on the manufacturer’s website, Amazon page, or in the specs. The time depends on the types of ports the charger has, since they differ in bus speeds. Some good portable chargers have special fast-charging ports along with slower ones for when you’re not in a rush.
|Size and Weight||Since this is an item you carry around at all times, you don’t usually want it to be bulky and weigh a lot. These devices are made with portability in mind so it’s not like they are too heavy or large but since everyone has their own parameters for how much to carry around you will need to check this.
Chargers with more capacity generally do weigh more, though there are exceptions to this rule.
|Ports||The number of them as well as types. Most gadgets today are charged with a USB port but you can encounter other options as well. And with more than one port, you can charge several devices simultaneously. Do keep in mind that this can sometimes make the process a bit slower.|
Best Portable Chargers to Carry with You
Anker PowerCore II 20000, 20100mAh
- Fast adaptive charging for gadgets and the charger itself
- Convenient 8-light LED wheel shows the energy left
- Two ports for simultaneous charging
- The AC adapter is not included
- Longer and heavier than it looks
- No pass-through charging
Anker is one of the leaders when it comes to charging devices, and for a good reason. Their PowerIQ technology is extremely convenient for those of us who own a plethora of gadgets. PowerIQ is a chip-based system that is able to detect what type of device is connected to its port and determine the maximum power it allows to pass through during a charge. So, instead of forcing a single specific wattage through the charging port, Anker PowerIQ devices automatically adjust the power for the fastest possible charging without overloading your gadgets.
The Anker PowerCore II 20000 features the second generation of PowerIQ (the PowerIQ 2.0) that offers two important upgrades. The first would be that between the two USB ports to charge your gadgets, one is 12W (the older PowerIQ) and the other is the actual PowerIQ 2.0 18W port, a faster one. This expands the range of adaptable charging. The second change is the support multi-directional charging, meaning that powering up the charger itself takes way less time than we are all used to. However, that needs a charger with the Quick Charge functionality support (Anker Fast Charger, optimally) which you will need to purchase separately.
This portable cell phone charger has 20100mAh of power. It is enough to charge the iPhone 8 6.6 times and the latest iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy S8 4.6 times. All this pretty quickly thanks to the support for Adaptive Fast Charging and Quick Charge in addition to the PowerIQ 2.0. With average use and this charger at hand, you can stop worrying about looking for an outlet for approximately a week before you need to feed some energy to your portable power bank.
Powered with LG batteries, the Anker PowerCore II 20000 has every type of protection you can imagine: high voltage, short circuit, static resistance. Whenever you use this device, rest assured that your gadgets are completely safe. And as a cherry on the top, this portable power charger comes with a travel pouch, making it a perfect companion for hiking and business trips.
- Attractive price for the capacity
- Both microUSB and Lightning input ports
- Very sturdy
- Built-in flashlight
- Quite heavy
- You’ll need to push the power button to start charging the battery
- No Quick Charge
This portable power charger is a favorite among Apple crowd thanks to its two input options: you can charge this battery via either a micro USB cord or your iPhone’s Lightning charging cord, there are ports for both. With this, there is no need to bring along the micro USB one if you have your Apple charging cable: charge the battery with it then switch to charging the phone from the battery using the same cable. Perfect for decluttering your bag or desk.
The 20000mAh power is ample for charging an iPhone 7 at least four and a half times and older versions even more. One full charge for an iPad will have some energy left for some other gadget as well. And with two output USB ports, 3.4A each, you can simultaneously charge both your iPhone and iPad and the speed of charging will be quite decent.
This AUKEY model does support the pass-through charging, though, according to the manufacturer, it is recommended to try and not overuse it. The reason stated is that it may decrease the portable charger life when input and output powers do not align correctly. When simultaneously charging the battery and your gadget, try to do it with input current being higher than the output and refrain from charging devices with capacity higher than the power bank offers.
The AUKEY company has made their external portable chargers highly protected both from inside and outside dangers: the hardware includes safety against overcharging, overheating, and excessive current flow, and on the outside, the housing is very sturdy, able to withstand certain drops (though it is not recommended to throw the device into the wall, of course).
Some customers find the control of charging a bit weird in that you need to push the button after you connect the charger for it to start, well, charging. This does seem somewhat unnecessary though we can’t say the inconvenience is a major one seeing all the pros and the price this unit is sold at.
iMuto X6 30000mAh
- Great capacity
- Quick Charge 3.0
- Digital display shows energy level
- 3x USB ports
- Big and heavy, not something you carry around every day
- Older (and slower) micro USB port
- Does not work with MacBook Pro
Now, though this portable cell phone charger is indeed rather big and heavy (for a powerbank, at least), it is not unreasonably so, in our opinion. After all, it holds 30000mAh of power, which is kind of a lot. With this amount of power, you can charge an iPhone 7 at least 10 times, a Samsung Galaxy S7 over 6 times, and an iPad Air 2.5 times. What’s more, you can charge all three simultaneously since there are three USB ports in it while it has become more or less traditional for a portable power bank to only have two.
Most portable chargers have light indicators to show the level of power left. These indicators can be of different kinds and scales, from color distinction to having a number of lights that blink out of life when the energy level drops to some degree. We are used to these systems but they are still far from precise, usually. The iMuto X6, however, has a digital display that shows exactly what part of the energy is left, in percents, like the indicator on your smartphone. The indicator is not on constantly to lower the drain on the battery but you can turn it on by pushing a power button. It is a very convenient option.
This high-capacity portable cell phone charger supports the Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology, swiftly charging all your gadgets at 5V/3.4A—that is, if the device being charged allows these numbers. The iM-Power technology implemented in the charger smartly detects your device when you plug it in and checks the maximum supported power to not overload the gadget and uses it to charge as fast as possible.
All in all, this is hardly a device you carry around in your pouch or even backpack every day, like to school or for work, but it is a great helper for traveling, especially somewhere without constant access to the grid (i.e. hiking, camping, road trips). It even has a waterproof pouch for exactly these uses.
Xiaomi 10000mAh Mi
- Fairly compact for the capacity
- High-speed two-way intelligent charging (up to 18W)
- Supports pass-through charging
- Easily scratched
- Battery charging takes quite some time
This one is a good portable power bank to have with you every day, it is not too heavy neither bulky to be considered a nuisance in a handbag yet it offers a great capacity, enough to keep your gadgets energized for up to a week (depending on your gadgets capacity, your average load, and number of gadgets, of course). It is also highly efficient, conserving the power inside without losing much when not in use.
The Xiaomi Mi has two USB ports to charge your gadgets at up to 18W, which is quite fast by today’s standards. You can actually charge two devices simultaneously and the speed won’t drop much. As for charging the external portable power charger itself, there are also two options here: the usual micro USB port and the lightning port. The micro USB cord is supplied but is quite short so the battery will have to be left right beside your laptop or outlet. If you have an Android device with a micro USB charging port (for example, a Samsung smartphone), though, you can use its cable as well. The lightning cord is not included but your iPhone charging cable can be used to both charge the battery and the gadget from it. Or you can purchase a lightning cord separately if you wish.
The charger also supports pass-through charging, however, the difference in power between input and output currents can cause disruptions and slow down the charging so we recommend using it carefully. This portable power bank is offered in black and in white.
Poweradd Pilot 4GS Pro 12000mAh
- Affordable price
- Compact size yet high capacity
- Both micro USB and Lightning cables included
- No pass-through support
- No known compatibility with netbooks
The Poweradd Pilot 4GS was originally a portable power charger mostly geared towards iPhone users as it only had a Lightning input port. You could, of course, charge Android gadgets with it but you had to carry around a Lightning cord to charge the battery in addition to the micro USB cord that came with your Android phone or tablet. Not a major issue but nonetheless irritating for some of us. The Poweradd Pilot 4GS Pro has dealt with it, the model now has two input ports so whether you are an Apple fan or you prefer the devices from other manufacturers, one cord in your handbag is enough. Also, both cables are included in the purchase.
As far as high-capacity portable chargers go (and this one is high-capacity with 12000mAh), the Poweradd Pilot 4GS Pro is neither bulky no overly heavy. In fact, it is a bit smaller than iPhone 7 Plus, although just a little thicker. The weight is less than 13 ounces, not the lightest but not too heavy for the offered capacity.
The model offers two output USB ports able to operate simultaneously, charging your gadgets at 5V/3A DC power. It is a good power for charging, faster than many regular chargers. It takes about an hour to fully charge an iPhone 6 with an included cable. There is a power button near the input/output ports and a power level indicator—four lights that blink out one by one as the power is transferred from the charger to your gadgets.
The last parameter might be of less importance for some users and of more to others. If you are a business person, a student, or simply enjoy stylish accessories, this external portable power bank is a strong competitor on the market for the likes of you. It is sleek and attractive, its anodized finish does not retain fingerprints and is scratch-resistant to a degree.
- Really compact and stylish design, light weight
- Durable metal housing can withstand drops
- Adaptive charging at a decent speed
- Rather small capacity
- Single output port
If you are looking for a portable phone charger to put in a small pouch or handbag pocket, something small and lightweight for everyday use when you are on the go, take a look at this model. It weighs under 5 ounces and can fit in a palm, meaning it will take next to no space in your bag. It can not boast huge capacity, only a couple full charges for an iPhone 6 (a bit less for more powerful smartphones) but for casual backup power, it is more than enough. And then you can recharge it in the evening to use the next day.
The RAVPower 6700mAh small portable power charger has a single USB output port, so you can only charge one gadget at a time. The iSmart technology enables an adaptive charging, therefore, it is hard to tell the times for every specific model: iSmart determines the fastest possible charging speed that would not damage neither the charger nor the phone. But the charging process is quite fast nevertheless, it takes an hour or so to power up a completely drained iPhone 6. It would be great to have an option of a Lightning input port to charge the power bank with the same cord you charge your iPhone but alas, this portable cell phone charger uses a micro USB. However, if you are an Android gadget user, this will be a plus for you.
With its stylish and sturdy aluminum body with anodized finish, as well as more than affordable price, this model is a choice of students and business persons to have in a bag “just in case”. It looks cute, it is light, and it offers ample power to always stay online and never miss any news, messages, or calls because your phone has died on you.
- A very powerful portable charger
- 14 different laptop connectors
- 4x USB ports charge your gadgets simultaneously
- Pass-through charging is possible
- Big and heavy device
- Incompatible with high-current laptops (over 5A)
Well, first of all, this is hardly your traditional portable cell phone charger that you can put in your backpack and carry around all day every day. For starters, your back will most certainly feel it achingly. Strictly speaking, it is not a phone charger at all, though it does have the USB ports to charge smartphones and tablets, and not one or two but four, all working at the same time. The main scope of application for this brick of a device is charging laptops, though. For this very reason the charger is this big and heavy—a laptop, even something small like a netbook, for example, needs much more energy than most gadgets. MAXOAK delivers.
The capacity of this portable power bank is 50000mAh, and depending on the power of your laptop, you can have up to three, sometimes four full charges as a backup. Seeing the price and the overall bulkiness of the device, we do recommend you to check the compatibility beforehand, though, since there are restrictions to this charger: it can charge devices with DC current not higher than 4.5A/90W. That being said, the list of supported laptops is still quite extensive.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are four USB ports for your smartphones and tablets; two of them are faster ones—2.1A each, and two are slower, 1A each, all signed so that you know what to expect when you plug in. Besides the USB ports, there is a 12V/2.5A port for digital cameras and, finally, a 20V/5A port for a laptop. In the box with this portable power bank come 14 connectors for different laptops, they basically cover all supported models.
Four light indicators show the remaining power. The battery itself is charged via the 2.5A port as well and it takes from 6 to 8 hours to fully charge it, meaning you can leave it plugged in overnight to grab in the morning, put in your briefcase/backpack, and go wherever you need. There is a protective case for safety.
It is a perfect power bank for laptops and other gadgets when you want or need to work outdoors and have neither possibility nor desire to look for a charger every couple hours. Nature photographers, travel bloggers, and other users who tend to spend a lot of time unplugged but using tech will find this charger an irreplaceable purchase.
RAVPower HyperAir 10400mAh
- Offers both wired and wireless charging (Qi-enabled devices)
- Triple temperature control prevents overheating
- Fast wireless charging for select devices
- Only one USB output
- Expensive, even if understandably so
Now this is something quite innovative in the world of portable chargers. The RAVPower 10400mAh portable power bank is at the same time a wired and a wireless charger. If you have a Qi-enabled smartphone, like iPhone 8 / 8 Plus / X, an LG V30, Google Nexus 6, or Samsung Galaxy 9 / 9+, you can simply put it on the top of this charger and never deal with wires anymore. If your gadget is not Qi-enabled, it is no problem anyway, use RAVPower as a traditional power bank! Pretty neat.
Furthermore, for select iPhones and Samsung smartphones, it offers wireless charging at higher power: 7.5W and 10W respectively. The usual power for a portable charges varies between 3.5W and 5W.
It is not a “pocket” model since it weighs around 11 ounces but it is compact enough to barry in a backpack if the need arises. The 10400mAh of power is quite a decent capacity, so the weight does not come as a surprise. On the bright side, you will be able to fully charge your smartphone up to four times depending on its battery.
There is only one USB output here but you can charge two devices simultaneously if one of them is Qi-enabled and the other is not. The device also supports pass-through charging (charging external devices at the same time as the battery is charged), however, according to the manufacturer, it can lead to overheating and therefore not recommended to use too much. During traditional use the HyperAir technology prevents overheating thanks to its triple temperature control but there is a limit to it, of course.
To draw a line, we’d say this is a good portable cell phone charger for those following the latest trends, owners of Qi-enabled gadgets. For those who lack those, this device loses most of its benefits and its price will bite.
As you can see, portable chargers come in a wide variety of models and are geared towards all kinds of customers with different requirements. You can have a charger to put in your pouch or pocket but it will most likely hold limited backup charge. Or you can have a highly powerful device capable of powering up a laptop several times but it will take up space and will be rather heavy. Or you can find just about anything in-between those two extremes to satisfy your peculiar needs. We hope we’ve helped narrow down a selection at least a little.