An in-depth explanation on external batteriesIf you’re going on a long drive, lengthy outdoor expedition or cross-country trip, you’ll need a power bank to keep your devices on. All external battery packs are primarily designed to keep power hungry modern gadgets juiced up, but no two devices are the same. There are compact power banks that will charge your smartphone just once, and high-capacity ones that can charge your device 10 times over. The power capacity of a power bank is indicated in its mAh rating. Manufacturers have done a great job to make modern power banks more powerful and versatile. But no single external battery is 100% energy efficient. In fact, the industry-standard energy efficiency is somewhere between 60 and 70 percent. That’s because these energy storage devices lose power through heat generation and voltage conversion. Power banks also vary in terms of inputs and outputs. A micro-USB input connection is used to charge the power bank. Typical output ports include micro-USB, full-size USB, and lightning ports. There’s an increasing number of new packs that support USB-C standards and Quick Charge 3.0. Even more interesting, devices with solar panels and DC/AC outlets are slowly creeping into the market.
Best quick-charge: Anker PowerCore 20100 mAh
Source: AnkerThe Anker PowerCore 20,100 mAh delivers quick charge 3.0 and ultra-high capacity at a fair price. If you own a smartphone or tablet that supports QC3 (Quick Charge 3.0), this external battery pack will give your device a quick boost on the go. Each of its two ports delivers 2.4 amp of electron juice, and the Anker PowerCore can charge an iPhone 7 seven times over, or a Galaxy S6 five times over. This external battery is built from 6 18650 Panasonic 3400mAh batteries (NCR18650B) to yield a total storage capacity of 20,100 mAh. It takes 10 hours to fully recharge the unit with a 2-amp charger, so you can leave it plugged in overnight. If you’re looking for a power bank that can simultaneously charge two devices super-fast, the Anker PowerCore does not disappoint. The unit ships with a travel pouch, micro-USB cable, and is covered by an 18-month warranty. Note: don’t plug in your devices while the Anker PowerCore is recharging as this can cause overheating and degrade the circuitry’s lifespan.
Powerful pack for long-haul travel: RAVPower 22000 mAh Ace
Image: RavPowerThe RavPower Ace delivers one of the highest outputs amongst batteries that we have laid our hands on. Sporting an extensive 22000 mAh capacity, and delivering 5.8 Amps across its three ports (2.4 per port), the RavPower Ace is definitely one of the top battery packs available in the market right now. It charges your devices as fast as the Anker PowerCore 20100 mAh but has more storage for those long-haul trips. It takes about 10-11 hours to fully recharge this battery pack with a 2.4 Amp AC adapter. However, once full, this battery pack can charge the iPhone 7 up to 8 times, and the Galaxy S7 up to 5 times. If you’re looking for a power bank that bundles both high capacity and fast charging to keep your devices juiced through long travel hours or camping night outs, the RavPower 22000 mAh will suffice. This mobile charger power bank has triple USB charging ports (simultaneously recharge up to 3 devices), which can come in handy especially if you’re traveling with family, or a group of friends.
Best stylish: Mophie Powerstation
Image: GottaBeMobileIf you want something neat and that doesn’t make your car or living room look like a generator room, Mophie powerstation is the way to go. This is an elegant external battery for universal smartphone or tablet charging. There are varying battery capacities to choose from, from a low-capacity 2000 mAh, a medium 6000 mAh, and a high capacity 15000 mAh option. Depending on the specific model, you get two full USB charging ports available, so you can simultaneously power up your handsets. The LED indicator shows the battery level and charge status, and works with mophie smartphone app via Bluetooth. From the ultra-sleek design to the beautiful aluminum finish, Mophie powerstation is the external battery pack of choice for users who are concerned about aesthetics and are willing to spend a little bit more for that classic, polished look.
Best budget: AmazonBasics Portable Power Bank
Image: MyBooThangStarting at 5,600 mAh all the way to a 16,100 mAh version, AmazonBasics Portable Power Bank is an excellent choice if you’re on a tight budget. These power banks ship with a detachable micro-USB cable. However, I suggest that you still use your phone’s original cable. Depending on the capacity of the model you settle on, AmazonBasics Portable power bank can keep your Android phone juiced through a couple of days. The 5600 mAh battery pack can keep your device charged about 2-3 times over. The 16,100 mAh version is a better model and can charge your device 6-9 times, depending on the specific smartphone you’re using. There are two USB charging ports available, so you can charge 2 devices at once.
Most innovative battery pack: ChargeTech 27000 mAh
Image: SuperphenOne of the newest players in the market, ChargeTech manufactures innovative battery packs. ChargeTech initially started out as a Kickstarter project but has now managed to flood the market with multiple external power banks. The brand won Amazon’s The Maker Challenge. In addition to the 27,000 mAh version, they also have 12,000 mAh, 18,000 mAh, and 24,000 mAh battery options available. ChargeTech 27,000 mAh external battery features dual fast-charging USB ports that deliver 2.4 amps of power to your handset(s). Even better, the unit comes with a special high-speed USB that can recharge your battery pack within 2 hours! Plus, there’s an AC outlet so you can power on your laptop and give it about 3 more hours’ worth of juice. I was thrilled by the blue light rings around the USB ports that make it clear something is charging. However, don’t expect to get so much juice-time if you’re going to use this unit with a laptop via the AC outlet. The design is also admirable, and all in all, this comes across the board as an excellent mobile charger power bank.
Best solar powered: GRDE Portable Solar Power Bank 10000mAh
Image: GRDEUSIf you’re more of a green energy person and are looking for a unit that can make use of summer sunlight, the GRDE portable solar power bank will suffice. This external battery bank sports a large solar panel, a strap to hang it from, and a high 10,000 mAh capacity. You get dual-speed charging since the unit is equipped with both a fast 2A USB port, and a slower 1A port (can charge two phones at once). GRDE solar-powered battery also has a fairly good LED flashlight You can charge this battery pack while still using your phone, but be careful not to leave your handset in the sun for too long (risk of overheating). This solar-powered battery pack is highly affordable, and also makes sense if you’re planning for a hike, camping or other outdoor expeditions lasting several days.
Best Pokemon-themed: Esna Pokéball Power Bank 10,000mAh
Image: AmazonAre you a Pokemon Go buff, but then the battery keeps dying? This is the classic custom mobile charger power bank for you. Equipped with a 10,000 mAh high capacity storage, Esna Pokeball Power Bank sets you up for all-day Pokemon fun. The unit itself is shaped like a Pokemon ball, with stylish LED lights and a string so you can clip it to your keychain. There’s also a belt clip for easy storage and carrying of this power bank. The unit needs about 6-7 hours to fully charge, after which the four blinking lights become solid. Use your phone’s USB cable to charge your handset on-the-go. Although Esna Pokeball isn’t really a powerful power bank compared to most other units highlighted in this post, it can be a good charge-boosting accessory especially if you’re a Pokemon diehard.
Best lightweight: Anker PowerCore+ mini 3350mAh
Image: AdvantiOnlineThis is a compact, lipstick-shaped power bank that can juice most devices to full charge. The Anker PowerCore+ is one of the most powerful mini power bank available in the market. Weighing just 2.7 ounces, and measuring 3.7 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches, this is a lightweight mobile charger power bank that you can easily slide into your pocket or handbag. If you’re in a situation where you’re waiting for someone and are worried about your phone’s battery running out, the PowerCore+ will keep your device on without you having to drag the bulkier power bank. This unit recharges in 3-4 using a 1-amp adapter or micro-USB cable. The sleek aluminum design makes it a neat, elegant mini power bank for on-the-go use!
Best multiple ports: MAXOAK 50000mAh
Image: EbayThis is a massive, large-design battery pack with a total of 6 output ports! The 50,000 mAh storage capacity is phenomenal, and this external battery is built with the needs of laptop users in mind. It can charge the Galaxy S6 up to 11 times, and the iPhone 6 about 17 times. The MAXOAK 50,000 mAh battery ships with 14 different charging connectors that work with some of the most popular laptop models in the market. Of the 6 output parts, one is meant for use with digital cameras, and another for use with laptops. The remaining 4 ports are USB (2 are 2.1 amp USB ports for fast charging, while the remaining 2 are 1 amp USB ports for slower charging). The unit measures 8.1 x 5.3 x 1.3 inches and weighs 2.77 pounds. It works great and you can charge almost all your electronic devices from one source. Note: if you’re buying this unit for laptop charging, it’s important to go through the product literature to make sure that it can work with your specific model.
Best jump starter: NOCO Genius Boost HD
Image: eBayNOCO Genius Boost HD 2000 Amps is one of the top battery packs available in the market right now, and the most expensive item in this battery bank review. However, it’s also available in a 400 Amps, a 1000 Amps, and a 4000 Amps jump starter rating versions. The NOCO Genius Boost HD makes a lot of sense if you’re looking for a top-notch external battery that can jump start your trucks, boats, cars, and more. This unit also features a 12V output port for powering 12V accessories such as tire pumps, inverters, etc. The 2.1 USB output port facilitates fast charging of your smartphones and other USB-powered devices. Genius Boost HD has an ultra-bright 8 LED 400-lumen flashlight to turn any dark environment into a visible space. Advanced technology allows the unit to be recharged in just a little over 3 hours. This is an excellent accessory to include in your car accessories, whether or not you’re planning a road trip.
ConclusionThe units above made the cut for our 2017 battery bank review! Let us know what devices work for your specific needs. If you have any suggestion you’d love us to consider for inclusion, share it with us below. What's your experience with these (or other) batteries? Let us know on the Updato forum!
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December 13th, 2018