If you’re lucky your phone can last a full day before you need to reach for a power cable. On the other hand, if you need to top off your phone while you travel—or if your phone is getting a little too old to last the day—a portable charger can keep you online. Here, we’ve rounded up the best chargers for your needs.
When picking a portable charger (sometimes called power banks), the main thing to consider is the capacity, measured in milliamp hours (mAh). Smaller portable chargers may have 3,000-5,000 mAh batteries, while larger power banks can have anywhere from 10-20,000 mAh reserves. The higher the mAh rating, the more times you can recharge your phone, and some bigger batteries can even recharge tablets or even some laptops.
Pay attention to that number when you’re picking the charger that’s best for you. If you have a specific gadget it mind that you want to charge on the go (like, say, your Nintendo Switch), it helps to know the gadget’s battery capacity so you have a rough idea how many times you can recharge the device. The Switch has a 4,310 mAh, so if you wanted to charge it twice you’d want a portable battery pack with at least 8,620 mAh (and then some, to play it safe).
With that in mind, let’s take a look at our top picks for difference scenarios.
The Discreet Power Bank For Your Everyday Recharge
It’s 7PM and you’re down to 20%. Normally you’d be home by now, but you’re out late and won’t be able to get to an outlet for a couple hours. You don’t need a massive brick to recharge, you just need a little bit of juice before you make it home.
If that sounds like your situation, Anker’s PowerCore+ mini ($20) is probably for you. This device is a hair larger than your average tube of lipstick and has a 3,350 mAh battery—which amounts to around one full charge for most phones. It’s small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, so you can keep it on you even if you don’t need it that particular day.
The Wireless Charger You Can Take With You
If your phone supports wireless charging (as many modern phones do), you might have gotten used to being able to just drop your phone onto a charging pad and walk away to top off its battery. Most power banks, however, still need a cable.
The Cloele Wireless Power Bank ($70) doesn’t. You can set it on a table, set your phone on top of it, and you’re charging immediately. The downside is this might make it harder to charge in a bag or your pocket (since it might not be easy to make sure your phone and power bank stay pressed against each other in your bag), but if you can find a place to set your phone down while you’re out, then you won’t have to carry a cable around to stay charged.
The Fast-Charging Powerhouse for Future-Proofers
Many portable chargers don’t support fast charging because they don’t necessarily need to, and it can make the gadget more expensive. The Anker PowerCore 20000 PD ($100), however, spares no expense.
It supports fast-charging through USB Power Delivery, uses a more modern USB-C port, and packs a massive 20,100 mAh battery. As we discussed in our full review for this gadget, the PowerCore is designed for the future. More and more phones will support fast charging and probably come with a USB-C cable (if they’re not an iPhone, that is) as time goes by, so if you buy this power bank today, you probably won’t need a new one for a long time. As a bonus, it includes a fast-charging wall block, so you get two modern conveniences for the price of one.
The Rugged Power Banks to Take a Beating
The thing about portable chargers is they’re, well, portable. Which means they need to take as much wear and tear throughout the day as you do. If you work in an office and carry a backpack, that’s fine. If you work outdoors or in a rough environment like construction, you might need a more rugged battery that can take a hit.
On this front, we have two recommendations. First, the Zendure A series—starting at $30 for 6,700 mAh—is designed to take a beating. The company even demonstrates that their batteries can be run over by a car without breaking. Alternatively, ZeroLemon offers an absolutely massive 30,000 mAh battery ($60) with one USB-C port and one QuickCharge 2.0 port, plus three regular USB ports.
While ZeroLemon doesn’t go so far as to promise you can run over your battery with a car, it is designed to be dropped, tossed, and banged around without breaking. In addition, each of the ZeroLemon battery’s USB ports has a rubber cover to make sure that you don’t get dirt and dust in them, which can damage the ports and prevent them from working over time.