Tech has well and truly gone portable these days, which is great in terms of flexibility and mobility, but it relies on you having power to run your gadgets. If you’ve left your plug charger at home, your phone isn’t much more than a shiny brick once it runs out of battery. That’s where a power bank can keep you going when you’re on the move.
Having a power bank makes it relatively easy to charge on the go even if there’s no actual charger or indeed power point nearby. There’s also a small security benefit here, because travelling with your own power means that you’re never at risk of so-called “juice jacking” from public access power points.
There is no shortage of power banks you can buy with ease, but picking the right one is more than just a question of matching your budget up to the portable charger that promises the most included power. Here’s what you should consider when comparing and choosing a new high capacity power bank:
How many recharges will you get?
If you’re just looking to recharge your smartphone, there’s an incredibly rough calculation that you could do in order to determine the number of times you might be able to recharge your phone from a fully charged power bank.
Take for example, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, a phone with a 5,000mAh internal battery. A 20,000mAh power bank can recharge it four times if it’s fully charged, right?
Not quite, although you should see more than 3 recharges if the power bank is relatively new and fully charged for sure.
The realities of power transmission are inherently lossy, and the actual transmission rate of the power will also have an effect on how much power it’s able to put out to a given device. Just like your smartphone, over time a power bank’s internal battery will also lose capacity, so if you’re using an older model, you might not see full capacity when it comes to juicing up your devices.
How many devices do you need to keep juiced up?
Most high capacity power banks feature multiple outputs, which is handy if you’re planning on powering up more than just your smartphone, or if you just want to be nice to your friends and family if they’re caught in a power bind.
It’s worth matching up connector types here too. While USB A is the common standard, because most charging cables end with that rectangular type plug anyway, there are some power banks that offer up either USB C or Apple’s Lightning connection points, although the latter is fairly rare in an output sense. When charging up 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 output do you need?
There’s a certain universality when it comes to charging smartphones from a power bank, because you can pretty much plug any phone into any power bank and get the electrons flowing.
However that’s not the full story if you want faster charging, and especially if you need a power bank to back up your laptop’s power supply. Some power banks do supports standards such as Qualcomm’s Quick Charge if your phone supports that standard, meaning you can juice up your phone much faster, but there are alternative standards such as Oppo’s VOOC charging that aren’t usually called out in power bank specifications. If a power bank can deliver higher wattage to your connected device you may find it charges faster, but it’s not guaranteed.
It’s a little more complex if you want a power bank to keep power flowing to a laptop or other high wattage device. What you want to look for there is a power bank that offers Power Delivery, or PD, as a standard.
With the right mix of power bank, cable and device, it is possible to deliver power to laptops, although this can be a little hit and miss, because the device and the power bank have to effectively negotiate the power delivery level that will be safely used. Many laptops may simply opt to use the power bank as an external power source – so they sap the battery but don’t actually “recharge” while in use – which is a safer option than fusing out your laptop, of course!
Here’s a range of high capacity power banks for you to consider:
ROMOSS’ 20,000mAh charger has QuickCharge support, 3 output sockets and claims compatibility to recharge the Nintendo Switch.
Anker’s charger has 13,000mAh on board in a compact frame with 2 USB A output sockets and up to 3A output.
The Mophie Powerstation Plus XL is a slightly different portable battery option. While its 10,000mAh capacity isn’t immense, it supports Qi wireless charging for any device placed on its surface, plus micro USB and Lightning cables built in, which is a rarity. You’d need a microUSB to USB C adaptor for more modern Android phones, though.
iMuto’s power bank has 20,000mAh on board, 2 USB A type outputs and a simple digital display so you can easily see how much power it has left. It also features an inbuilt flashlight, so even if your phone is lacking in juice, you could still use it by itself to make your way in the dark!
Charmast’s Power Bank has 26,800mAh to share out and plenty of ways to do so, with 2 standard USB ports, a USB C port and a Quick Charge compatible port as well. It’s rated for power delivery at up to 18W, and Charmast claims compatibility with the Nintendo Switch and select Apple MacBook models.
It’s not your usual type of charger, and its two USB A ports aren’t rated for particularly fast delivery, but then it is a power bank you could leave on a window sill to recharge itself, with inbuilt solar power cells, as well as a flashlight. If you’re the great outdoors type, it could be a good match for your needs.
Editor’s note: Descriptions and features are as taken from manufacturer/seller claims and user reviews on Amazon.