A battery pack or a power bank is the simplest way to ensure your phone or laptop never runs out of juice. Picking the right power bank is a bit more complicated though.
Depending on your needs, there are several options. Some offer the convenience of integrated cables, others will give you quick charging tech, and some can even power up laptops. Here are six of the best battery packs for different purposes.
A Few Numbers Before We Start
Not everyone needs a high capacity battery pack. Smartphones generally have about 3,500 mAh batteries, while tablets pack in around 11,000 mAh. The term “mAh” denotes milliampere-hours, and that’s the number you will see on power banks; a larger number means longer battery life.
It isn’t a direct translation of how much power the battery pack holds since some juice is lost while converting to direct current. It’s a bit like how your 1 TB drive only has 931 GB of actual storage space. But you can safely compare two power banks with their advertised mAh numbers.
Everyday Use with Integrated Cable: EasyAcc 6,000 mAh ($19/£12.59)
The power bank you use on a regular basis needs one feature above all else: an integrated USB cable. There are different ways to do this, but we like EasyAcc’s approach the best.
EasyAcc uses a single type of cable that’s built into the case. This cable flips out, and you can connect it to the phone. Simple enough, right? You can buy an EasyAcc power bank with Micro-USB cable or an EasyAcc with Lightning cable.
The device also has a regular USB port, in case you want to use a longer or different cable like the USB Type-C.
Apart from EasyAcc, two other brands do integrated cables well. The Jackery Bolt has two cables: Lightning and Micro-USB. And Belkin’s MIXIT Rockstar carries one custom-sized cable at a time, but ships with both options in the product box.
Safest for USB Type C: Kanex GoPower ($64/£97)
Everyone is happy that we are moving to a single port for everything with USB Type C (USB-C). But on the flip side, a bad charger can be dangerous with USB-C.
Going by the reliable, ever-expanding spreadsheet made by experts, the safest (and best) power bank for USB-C is the Kanex GoPower USB-C. Its 15,000 mAh battery can charge everything from phones to MacBooks.
Speaking of MacBooks, this one almost seems designed by Apple. It has that distinct brushed aluminum body to go with its sleek profile. It’s pretty large though, so you’ll need to put this in a bag — not your pocket.
You can charge two devices simultaneously, one via USB-C and one via regular USB-A. The USB-A port (it’s boxy and rectangular) offers Quick Charge (or Rapid Charge, it’s the same thing). A safe guess would be that it’s a 2.4A charging port, which charges phones faster than the standard 1A port.
For Power Hungry Devices: Anker PowerCore+ 26800 ($110/£57)
Which devices a battery pack can charge depends on how much power the pack can deliver. Low-powered battery packs can’t charge certain devices like the Nintendo Switch or a new MacBook. And that’s what makes the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 a clear winner.
It can charge three devices simultaneously: with one port for a USB Type-C cable, and two ports for a Lightning or Micro-USB cable. Just make sure you buy a USB-C cable that won’t destroy your devices.
The PowerCore+ also recharges itself fully in less than five hours, so having only a small amount of time to access a power plug should still be enough.
Traveler’s “Charge Anything” Pack: RavPower Universal Travel Charger ($146/£118)
The RavPower Universal Power Bank Travel Charger is, as the name suggests, ideal for travelers. That’s mainly because of the built-in AC outlet, which lets you use the battery like any power outlet on a wall. Connect a plug and you’ve got electricity.
It’s an incredibly handy device for those who move around often since this lets you charge a lot more than just phones and tablets. Of course, there is a USB outlet for those, as well as a USB Type-C port. Unfortunately, without a qualified technical analysis, we do not know how safe USB-C port is.
It’s a bulky and a costly gadget. But with the utility it offers, it’s a must-have gizmo for globetrotters and travelers.
Emergency Charger in Wallet: TravelCard ($29)
You won’t always carry a battery pack with you. And that’s when you’ll run out of power. But what if the power bank was always with you, sticking in your wallet for an emergency?
The last time MakeUseOf looked at power banks, the TravelCard was but a Kickstarter campaign. Since then, it became one of the best budget tech gifts for geeks.
It is the shape and size of a credit card, and less than 5mm thick. That means it fits easily into your wallet in one of the card slots. When you’re running low on power, take it out and pop open the integrated cable. With 1500 mAh of battery backup, you should be able to charge your phone enough to get basic functionality.
TravelCard has separate units for iPhones (with a Lightning connector) and Androids (with a Micro-USB connector). Currently, it doesn’t have a USB Type-C option.
Also, be warned that power will trickle to your phone slowly. It’s best to not use your handset while it charges through the TravelCard, or use tricks to increase charging speeds.
For Camping and Adventures: ZeroLemon ToughJuice v3.0 ($70)
When you’re going to be far away from civilization for a few days, you need a whole lot of power and a way to keep it safe. ZeroLemon’s ToughJuice meets both requirements and offers a bit more.
The 30000 mAh of battery is a lot, so you can share it and charge up to five devices simultaneously, with four USB ports (including one Quick Charge 3.0) and a separate USB-C port. All the ports are protected from water and dust by rubber flaps. The toughened exterior has dual plastic layers for shock absorption.
All put together, you should be able to take this with you on any adventure, along with one of the best rugged smartphones.
Which Power Bank Do You Use?
This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the battery packs out there, and there are plenty of other good ones on the market. Which power bank do you use? Why would you recommend it to others?