Save Yourself the Anxiety (And Money) And Get a Power Bank for Your Phone Already

Save Yourself the Anxiety (And Money) And Get a Power Bank for Your Phone Already
Image: iStock/Melena-Nsk
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When travelling, there are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who will ride their phone battery down until it’s dead and those who wouldn’t dream of leaving home without their trusty power bank.

It’s never too late to be a reliable power bank person. People that own portable chargers tend to sit in that Type A character profile. They’re the ones who arrive 30 minutes early for an event or stress over a tight deadline. But can you blame them?

After all, how did people in the olden days get around without Google Maps? Look, we know the answer but for those of us born in Generation X, Y or Z, it feels impossible to navigate anywhere without a phone. The same goes for choosing the best nearby restaurant to eat at, or figuring out which bus to take home. While you could always resign yourself to bringing your wall charger along, or use a public phone charger, you face two negative caveats.

First of all, no one wants to be that person squatting in the corner of the room, trying to juice up your depleted phone battery. And there’s not always a power point available either. The other issue is juice jacking, which is a serious security risk to your device. Especially when considering how much of your personal info can be stored in your smartphone. Of course, the latter can always be fixed by a data blocker.

So, if you want to ensure your phone’s battery stays in the green, grab yourself a portable power bank. That way you’ll be prepared for anything.

Here’s everything you should consider when buying a portable phone charger, along with a few of our top picks.

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 charge it’s able to put out on 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 support 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, which 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.

Our recommendations for high-capacity power banks

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

power bankAnker’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 (now $34.19, down from $40.99)

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

Charmast Power Delivery Power Bank (now $62.99 with coupon, down from $69.99)

power bankCharmast’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 ($47.99, down from $59.99)

Save Yourself the Anxiety (And Money) And Get a Power Bank for Your Phone AlreadyiMuto’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 in-built flashlight, so even if your phone is lacking in juice, you could still use it by itself to make your way in the dark.

OISLE Magnetic Wireless Mini Power Bank (now $85.99, down from $94.99)

Save Yourself the Anxiety (And Money) And Get a Power Bank for Your Phone Already
Credit: Amazon

OISLE’s magnetic power bank has got to be one of the most aesthetic and compact portable chargers on the market. This cute little fellow comes in five colours and is about half the size of your phone. Unlike other chargers, its biggest draw is the fact that you don’t have to worry about dealing with a dangling cable as you try to get from A to B. In fact, you can tuck it into your back pocket while you wait rather than fish it out of your bag.

Another cool feature is that the logo lights up in three various colours to indicate how much battery juice remains. However, in comparison to the other portable chargers mentioned, it does have a low capacity of just just 4,225mAh. Translation? Slow charging speed, but ideal for sustaining your phone before its battery completely depletes on your way home.

Anker PowerCore 20,000mAh Portable Charger (now $68, down from $78)

Save Yourself the Anxiety (And Money) And Get a Power Bank for Your Phone AlreadyAnker 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 (now $69.99, down from $89)

Save Yourself the Anxiety (And Money) And Get a Power Bank for Your Phone Already

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time in the great outdoors, you know how 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 even able to recharge this power bank with sunlight, and it even has an in-built LED flashlight. It also happens to be water-proof, dust-proof, and shock-proof, so it’ll withstand whatever is thrown at it.

ZHAM Solar Power Bank (now $79.99, down from $99.99)

Save Yourself the Anxiety (And Money) And Get a Power Bank for Your Phone Already
Image: Amazon

Awfully similar to the Zhonghang previously mentioned, the ZHAM Solar Power Bank boasts a 33,500mAh which claims it can charge your iPhone 13 up to six times or your Samsung S8 up to seven times.

Dubbed the “outdoorsy man’s favourite battery bank”, it features an LED flashlight. While you may be tempted to argue your phone already has a torch, your phone definitely doesn’t have four strobe light modes which can help you flash an emergency signal if you’re ever in a pickle.

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