Why You Still Need a Portable Phone Charger

Why You Still Need a Portable Phone Charger
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When at home or work, keeping your phone charged isn’t too hard. Just plug it in or plop it down on a wireless charging pad, and let that little battery bar fill itself up.

Keeping your phone charged while you’re out and about is a different story, however. There’s a special feeling of disappointment when your phone dies, and you don’t have any way of recharging it. For some, it’s like your missing an essential part of your body.

While making use of the random charging stations that you’ll occasionally see out in the wild might seem like an easy solution, by using one of these stations you’re putting yourself at risk of “juice jacking”.

The best way to make sure your phone’s battery is always in the green is to grab yourself a portable power bank, so you can always be charging while on the go. Just hook your phone up to your power bank, stick it in your bag or pocket, and away you go.

Even when at home or work, there’s also an added layer of convenience. You’ll no longer be tethered to the 30cm radius created by your phone cable when it’s plugged into a wall socket.

Here’s everything you should consider when buying a new charger, along with a few power bank suggestions.

How many recharges will you get?

As smartphones have grown more advanced, with increased battery sizes and more energy-demanding tech, so too has the market for portable chargers. It’s not hard to find a portable charger, but it’s important to make sure it can meet all of your needs.

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 three 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?

power bank
Image: iStock/Anatoliy Sizov

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:

Anker PowerCore 13,000mAh Portable Charger ($39.99, down from $49.99)

power bank

Anker’s charger has 13,000mAh on board in a compact frame with two USB-A output sockets and up to 3A output. This is a good option if you just need a quick juice hit.

ROMOSS 20,000mAh Portable Charger ($34.99, down from $40.99)

power bank

ROMOSS’ 20,000mAh charger has QuickCharge support, three output sockets and claims compatibility to recharge the Nintendo Switch.

Charmast Power Delivery Power Bank ($53.54, down from $55.99)

power bank

Charmast’s Power Bank has 26,800mAh to share out and plenty of ways to do so, with two 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.

iMuto 20,000mAh Portable Charger ($47.49, down from $49.99)

iMuto’s power bank has 20,000mAh on board, two 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!

CXLiy Portable Solar Charger ($38.99)

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.

Anker PowerCore 20,000mAh Portable Charger ($78)

Anker is one of the best-regarded consumer tech brands around. If you’re after a portable charger with a bit more juice, the Anker PowerCore 20,000mAh 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 ($59.49, down from $89)

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time in the great outdoors, you know how it important it is to have enough battery power. With a battery capacity of 26,800mAh, the Zhonghang power bank can achieve five to six full charges for most iPhone and Samsung models.

You’re able to recharge this power bank with sunlight, and it even has a in-built LED flashlight. This charger is also waterproof, dust proof, and shockproof, so it’ll withstand whatever is thrown at it.

Editor’s note: Descriptions and features are as taken from manufacturer/seller claims and user reviews on Amazon.