We’ve all suffered the ignominy of a dead phone. The accusing looks and hushed criticism of shunned family and friends. That blank screen on the commute home that leaves you at the mercy of your chatty fellow traveler. The sudden loss of Google Maps as you turn into an unfamiliar neighborhood. The sinking feeling as you realize your phone alarm didn’t go off because you forgot to plug it in last night. Why oh why, must our smartphones die?
We feel your pain and that’s why we’ve been checking out some of the best external chargers on the market. Until there’s a real breakthrough in battery technology a portable charger might be the best solution. We’ve got something here for you whatever your needs may be, from a bucket load of power for a camping trip, to a pocket-friendly top-up for the daily commute. These are five of the best portable chargers that money can buy.
- Capacity – 23,000mAh
- Outputs – 3 ports
- Weight – 560g (19.75oz)
- Price – $100
When you absolutely, positively gotta charge every device in the room, accept no substitutes. This versatile charger has three output ports. There are two USB ports, a 1A port for your smartphone, a 2.5A port for your tablet, and also a multi-voltage port with a wide selection of adapters for laptops, digital cameras, and other devices. The LCD display gives you an exact read on the remaining battery as a percentage and the output voltage.
The box is packed with accessories, including 10 different laptop adapters, the power adapter plug and cable, and four mobile connectors (micro USB, mini USB, Nokia, and Samsung). There are no Apple adapters included. It also comes with a soft bag sporting a handy pocket and an elastic closure.
It’s not the most portable device in the world. It’s about the same size as a Nexus 7, a bit shorter and wider, and almost twice as heavy. It does have a pretty stylish brushed aluminum panel on top, and that helps to ensure that it doesn’t get too hot during charging. This is a good solution for travelers with multiple gadgets and it’s relatively quick to charge. You can expect at least five full charges for a high-end Android smartphone.
- Capacity – 10,400mAh
- Outputs – 2 ports
- Weight – 236g (8.35oz)
- Price – $25
This is a good looking, pocket-friendly solution to your battery life woes. There are two USB ports, one offering a 1A output and one with a 2.1A output. The power button brings the four LEDs to life; each represents 25 percent of the overall battery. It turns itself off within a few seconds if there’s nothing plugged in to charge. The pack will charge anything that can plug into a USB port and it takes a charge itself via a micro USB port on the side (you’ll have to use your smartphone charger plug because there isn’t one supplied).
All you get in the box is a USB to micro USB cable and a soft, velvety, drawstring carry pouch. It’s comfortable to hold in the hand and fits easily in your pocket or in a bag. It also looks pretty good, with a brushed aluminum panel and your choice of white, black, or champagne gold for the plastic body. It will charge your Android smartphone two to three times over, or keep your tablet ticking for a few extra hours. Overall this is a great value, portable charger for everyday use.
- Capacity – 12,000mAh
- Outputs – 3 ports
- Weight – 300g (10.56oz)
- Price – $46
A couple of nifty features make this Anker offering worth considering. It offers three USB ports with a combined output of 4A. In the latest version they’re all smart ports and the “PowerIQ” technology is supposed to ensure that anything you plug in charges up at the maximum rate. It has a round LED indicator with ten separate lights to show the remaining charge in 10 percent increments. It charges itself via the microUSB port and there is a cable included, but no charger plug. You do get a soft velour drawstring travel bag, though.
To turn it on, you just shake it. It’s comfortable to hold with a kind of soft touch finish that comes in black or white, but it is quite fat, thick, and heavy, so it’s not going to be slotting into your pocket. You can expect three full charges for an Android smartphone. It’s a speedy option, both at charging itself up and at charging your devices.
- Capacity – 5,600mAh
- Outputs – 1 port
- Weight – 154g (5.44oz)
- Price – $30
It claims to be the smallest portable external battery with a 2.1A output, which means it can charge the latest Android smartphones at a decent speed through its single USB port. There’s a micro USB port for charging it up and it comes with a cable, but no plug. There are three LEDs to show the remaining battery and it blinks when the charge is very low. You have to tap the power button to turn it on or check the remaining status, but you can also double click it to turn on an LED flashlight, which could be handy for campers.
The Jackery Bar is genuinely portable and it will slip into your pocket or bag easily. It’s comfortable to hold and the aluminum helps to dissipate heat. You can get it in black, grey, or orange. You can get a couple of charges out of this for a high-end Android smartphone.
- Capacity – 5,000mAh
- Outputs – 1 port
- Weight – 133g (4.69oz)
- Price – $20
This charger has a single USB port with a 1.5A output. There are four LEDs to indicate 25 percent battery segments, and the last one flashes when it goes below 5 percent. It comes with a couple of micro USB cables of different lengths and it charges via the micro USB port, but it doesn’t come with a charger plug. It’s a pretty no frills device, which is reflected in the price.
It’s comfortable to hold and the white or black plastic body can be contrasted with colored ends in a variety of different shades. It’s smaller and a little fatter than most phones, but it will fit comfortably in your pocket and it doesn’t weigh much. You won’t get more than two charges out of it, but it should serve well in an emergency, and it’s small enough to have in a bag and forget about.
So there you have it – a portable smartphone charger for every eventuality. If you’ve got a favorite external battery pack, then tell us about it. We’ll update this list in the future.