Smartphones are getting more powerful and larger, and with that comes an increased need for power. As such, smartphone batteries have increased in size, too, with some phones exceeding 5,000mAh in capacity.
But those are generally isolated examples — even with batteries growing in size, most of us will consistently get a day’s use out of our smartphone before it needs recharging. Heavier use pushes that down, of course, and if you’re having a particularly active day, you may need to plug your phone into a charger or put it on a wireless charging pad for a while.
But plugging your phone into a charging outlet isn’t always possible. Perhaps you’re on the move, or you’re simply far away from any power sources. In those cases, a portable charger or portable battery is a godsend. Simply plug your phone into your portable charger and you’ll be able to top up your device without having to be tethered to one location. Whether you need a big, bulky charger with power for days or one that can slip into your bag and give your phone a small top-up, there’s a charger for you. Here are the best portable chargers we’ve found.
- Capacity: 20,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-A)
- Weight: 255 grams (9 ounces)
- Price: $30
- Time to fully charge: Several hours
If you’re planning on trekking across the Sahara desert anytime soon, Yelomin’s Solar Power Bank may be the portable solar phone charger for you. Boasting a whopping capacity of 20,000mAh, this high-capacity power bank can be recharged using a regular mains outlet, or you can simply point the built-in solar panel at the sky so the sun can do all the work. It comes with two standard USB-A ports that can be used to charge two devices simultaneously, although you’ll see faster performance if you charge one smartphone or tablet (or whatever else) at a time.
While its use of the sun is highly convenient if you’re stranded somewhere without a mains outlet, you’ll generally find that it takes noticeably longer than usual for the charger itself to recharge if you’re using solar power. Still, it is a highly rugged and reliable portable charger, made of a mix of PC, silicone, and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), with an advertised lifecycle of more than 900 recharges. It also offers an LED-based flashlight, just in case your phone has completely run out of juice.
- Capacity: 6,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-A and Lightning, up to 18W)
- Weight: 175 grams (6.17 ounces)
- Price: $15
- Time to fully charge: Around 1 hour
The Mophie Powerstation Plus is a highly compact portable charger that still packs a considerable amount of extra power for your device. At 6,000mAh, it basically provides a whole extra charge for pretty much every major smartphone out there and also will give many tablets most of their energy back. The charger is particularly suited to owners of iPhones, given it comes with a built-in Lightning cable as well as a USB-A port for other manufacturers.
The Powerstation Plus charges at an output of 2.1A and a maximum wattage of 18W, and it also has an adaptive charging technology that can identify the fastest charging speed for your particular device. Mophie claims the Powerstation Plus can recharge the average iPhone from 0% to 50% in around 30 minutes, so it does its job pretty quickly. Aside from being very handy, it offers a slimline aluminum finish and comes in four colors (rose gold pictured above). It’s also appreciably lightweight, at just over 6 ounces.
- Capacity: 8,000mAh
- Outputs: Three ports (USB-C PD and two USB-A, up to 18W)
- Weight: 326 grams (11.5 ounces)
- Price: $40
- Time to fully charge: 2 to 3 hours
Infinacore’s Pandora P3 is certainly worth considering if you’re looking to go truly wireless or want to accommodate a wide range of devices. Firstly, it doesn’t need a wire to recharge. Instead, with the built-in U.S. plug or European or British slide-on plugs, you can recharge the power bank straight from an outlet. There’s an LED screen on the device that lists the charge percentage and a power button beneath. Press the button once to turn it on, and press it three times in quick succession to turn it off. It’ll also turn off automatically after 30 seconds of inactivity. It feels solid and comes with a soft-touch coating that adds a lot of grip. It’s certainly unlikely to slide off most surfaces.
But enough about that — what are its charging capacities? There are three outputs — four if you count the wireless charger. There’s a single USB-C port with PD, a QuickCharge USB 3.0 port, and a regular USB 2.0 port, and it’ll recharge at a maximum of 18W. The wireless charger tops out at 10W, which isn’t bad. It works with multiple devices, too, so you can charge up multiple devices at once. It’ll pass through power while recharging, too, so you can use it as a charging adapter while it’s plugged into a wall socket.
But it’s not perfect. 8,000mAh is a little small in this day and age, and most major flagship devices will happily devour over half the capacity in a single full charge. 18W also is a little slow when flagships are pulling 25W or even 45W from their standard chargers. However, this smaller charger is the perfect accompaniment for shorter trips out or those with smaller batteries and slower charge rates. For example, it’ll be perfect for iPhone users, as those phones have smaller batteries, and 18W fast charging matches perfectly.
- Capacity: 20,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-C PD up to 45W, USB-A up to 18W)
- Weight: 390g (13.7oz)
- Price: $60
- Time to fully charge: Around 2.5 hours
It doesn’t look like much, but it’s got it where it counts — and once you see what this charger can do, you’ll want to cut yourself a nice slice of PowerPie’s power pie. It packs a massive 20,000mAh battery, which should be enough to charge most phones fully three times over. It supports the USB-C Power Delivery 3.0 standard, so it can put out up to 45W through the USB-C port, which is a real rarity right now. Thanks to that hefty recharging, you can easily use this power bank with a tablet or a USB-C laptop. It’s quite heavy and chunky, but not overly so considering the capacity, and it’s finished in a plain, soft-touch, matte black plastic that’s comfortable to hold, broken only by a silver Elecjet logo.
There’s a solitary USB-C port, which can be used to charge other devices and also to charge the power bank. As mentioned, the USB-C takes or puts out up to 45W, so with the right charger you can fill this power bank from empty in just 2.5 hours. There’s also a USB-A port that supports the Quick Charge 3.0 standard and can put out up to 18W, which is enough to charge an iPhone at top speed. To give a couple of examples, this portable charger can take a Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus to 70% in just 30 minutes, or it can charge an
Just to round out a great set of features, the Elecjet PowerPie can charge two devices at once and it supports pass-through charging, so you can plug it in to charge and use it to charge another device at the same time. It ships with a short USB-C to USB-C cable, but watch out because the supplied cable doesn’t seem to support 45W charging — to get the most from this you’ll need to use a wall charger and USB-C to USB-C cable rated at 45W. Still, at this price, the Elecjet PowerPie is an impressive bit of kit.
- Capacity: 2,300mAh
- Outputs: One built-in cable (Lightning)
- Weight: 60g (2.12oz)
- Price: $40
- Time to fully charge: Around 2 hours
If portability is your top priority then this ultra-thin power bank is for you. This portable power bank is 3 inches by 2 inches and just 0.15 inches thick. It hardly weighs anything and it’s slim enough to slot into a wallet or purse easily. There’s obviously going to be a trade-off here and, sure enough, the Clutch Charger only has room for a 2,300mAh capacity. That’s going to give you around 40% extra battery life, maybe a little more, for an iPhone 11 Pro.
Because the Clutch Charger has a built-in Lightning cable you only can use it to charge up Apple devices, but there is a version for Android phones in the works. There’s a Micro USB port on the bottom edge of the Clutch Charger for charging it up and a small red LED on the side flashes to indicate remaining power when you plug it in and stays on to indicate when it’s fully charged. The Lightning cable slides out easily and can be plugged into an iPhone, iPad, or iPod.
Since the capacity is low, the Clutch Charger probably works best as an emergency backup, but the fact it’s so small makes it easy to stow in your bag or wallet for when you need it. If you have a really busy day and your phone battery is flagging there’s a good chance this battery charger will give it the boost it needs to make it through to bedtime. It’s expensive if you judge it by capacity, but the svelte design is what you’re paying for here, and it really is impressively slim.
- Capacity: 10,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-C PD and USB-A QC 3.0)
- Weight: 180g (6.35oz)
- Price: $45
- Time to fully charge: 3 hours
The smallest offering in the Zendure range manages to pack a lot of power into its compact body. It resembles a tiny suitcase, with its durable, crush-proof design, and it’s a good choice for adventurers. There’s a USB-C port that supports Power Delivery and can output up to 18W, making it ideal to fast charge the iPhone 11 range. There’s also a USB-A port that supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 standard and can put out up to 18W. The USP for this is the pass-through capability that allows you to charge the Zendure SuperMini and a connected smartphone at the same time.
On one side, you’ll find a small power button and four LEDs that light up to indicate how much power remains. It turns itself on and off automatically when you plug in a device, so the power button is only for checking the remaining juice.
You get a short USB-A to USB-C cable in the box. It’s very portable and it holds a charge well. You can get larger sizes with greater capacity and more ports, but the SuperMini is ideal if you need a small, tough charger to give you a couple of full charges for your smartphone.
- Capacity: 26,800mAh
- Outputs: Three ports (USB-C 3A, 2.4A, and 2.4A)
- Weight: 462g (16.2oz)
- Price: $80
- Time to fully charge: 4 to 5 hours
This versatile charger has three output ports and supports USB PD (Power Delivery). There are two standard USB ports, both rated at 2.4A, but the maximum joint output is 3.4A. More importantly, there’s a USB-C port that can deliver up to 30W for your laptop or tablet, or charge your phone at top speed. There’s a power button up top with four blue LEDs to show the remaining power.
Not only can it charge devices with USB-C, but it can also be charged through that port, which means it’s very fast to juice up, provided you have a powerful wall charger (you don’t get one in the box). What you do get is two tangle-free USB-to-Micro USB cables at different lengths and a longer USB-C-to-USB-C cable. It also comes with a soft mesh bag sporting a drawstring closure.
It’s not the most portable device in the world, but it’s impressively compact and light for the capacity. This is a good solution for travelers with multiple gadgets. You can expect at least five full charges for an iPhone XS, four full charges for a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, and it can even charge an iPad with change. If speed is important to you, then this is a must-have.
- Capacity: 5,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-A at 2.1A, USB-C 2.1A)
- Weight: 280g (9.87 ounces)
- Price: $140
- Time to fully charge: Around 2 to 3 hours
If you demand some style and class in your tech, then this portable charger from Ted Baker is for you. It feels reassuringly heavy with an attractive brushed aluminum finish in coppery brown and a top of soft Italian suede leather. This charger has a capacity of 5,000mAh, which is enough to charge any smartphone fully at least once. It comes with a 1-meter USB-A to USB-C cable.
The Ted Baker Portable Wireless charger has two ports on the side with a power button and four white LEDs to show remaining power. There’s also a single blue LED that lights up when the device is charging something. The first port is a USB-A output rated at 2.1A and the second is a USB-C input or output also rated at 2.1A both ways. We tested with a
This device also works as a wireless charger. Simply pop your iPhone or Android phone with Qi wireless charging support onto the soft suede and tap the power button. Testing with the
- Capacity: 20,400mAh
- Outputs: Four ports (100W, 70W, 3A, QC 3.0)
- Weight: 630g (22.2 ounces)
- Price: $250
- Time to fully charge: Around 3 hours
When you absolutely need to charge every device in the room, but you still want something reasonably portable, the Omni 20 is set to become the new object of your desire. This unassuming square with sloping corners packs a multitude of speedy charging options. While Omnicharge may have literally cut corners on the exterior, you’ll find everything you could need inside.
There’s a proper AC outlet, just like a wall outlet, capable of putting out 100W to power a laptop or other large devices — you could even plug a TV into it. There’s also a DC outlet that can put out 70W and two USB ports — the first is rated at 5V/3A and the second supports the Quick Charge 3.0 standard, so whatever smartphone you own it should be able to charge at top speed from this power bank.
Next to the power button, you’ll find a small OLED screen that shows the remaining power as an amount and as a percentage. The Omni 20 also displays how much power is coming in, how much power is going out, how much time before it runs out of juice, and the temperature. On the other side of the screen, there’s a rocker to turn on the USB ports and the AC outlet. The DC port can act as an output, but it’s also the best way to charge the Omni 20 and, if you use the adapter and cable provided, it can charge up fully in just 3 hours — not bad for a 20,400mAh capacity device. You also can use a laptop adapter to charge it, which is handy for travelers who don’t want to pack any superfluous extras. Incidentally, the Omni 20 is FAA approved for air travel.
This is a seriously versatile device that will charge up just about anything. You also can dig into the settings using the OLED and fine-tune your charging preferences, turn the fan off, turn the screen off, and tweak various other bits and pieces. It does also support pass-through charging, so you can recharge it and charge up connected devices at the same time. There are a few different versions of the Omni 20, so make sure you get the right one for you. You can pick the Omni 20 that switches a USB-C for the AC outlet for $200 and there’s a Pro version at $300 that includes extra charging cables and tips. Our Omni 20 also had plug attachments for the power adapter enabling us to use it in the U.S., the EU, and the U.K. According to some descriptions it was going to support Qi wireless charging as well, but this feature was cut.
Originally backed on Indiegogo, it’s not hard to see why people would want a feature-packed portable charger like the Omni 20 in their bag. It’s on the expensive side and quite large for the capacity offered, but as a one-stop charging solution for every device you own, from the latest iPhone, iPad Air, or anything else, it’s hard to match.
- Capacity: 10,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-C 18W and USB-A 3A)
- Weight: 185g (6.5oz)
- Price: $22
- Time to fully charge: 3 to 4 hours
This beautifully compact portable charger has a capacity of 10,000mAh, so you can expect two full charges for most smartphones. There’s a single USB-C port for charging your smartphone at top speed and for charging the battery pack up; it supports fast charging with Power Delivery at 18W and also Quick Charge 3.0. You will also find a standard USB-A port, though it charges more slowly.
It’s an extremely compact design that comes in black, pink, or sandstone grey. There’s a small display window on the side with four lights to indicate the remaining power level and a square power button sits next to it. This power bank comes with a basic USB-A to USB-C cable. Just bear in mind that you’ll need a good, fast wall charger to be able to charge it up at top speed.
You’ll find LG battery tech inside this power bank and it should retain 90% of its charge over 500 charge and recharge cycles, which is a lot better than most portable chargers in this price range. If you want something small and affordable, with plenty of power, then this is a great choice.
- Capacity: 10,000mAh
- Outputs: Three ports (2 USB-A QC 3.0, 1 USB-C PD 18W)
- Weight: 255g (9oz)
- Price: $80
- Time to fully charge: 2 to 3 hours
Nimble has made the responsible choice to use sustainable materials when producing its chargers. Some of the materials they use consist of bioplastics produced from sugarcane and corn. Not only is the Nimble 10K constructed from environmentally friendly materials, but Nimble has even incorporated the company’s environmental values into the packaging, which also is 100% biodegradable and compostable. Each product also ships with a recycling bag, allowing you to send your old electronics in for recycling.
In addition to two USB-A ports, one of which supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 standard, there’s an 18W USB-C input or output port. That additional port can charge an extra device. It also includes a magnetic cable strap that stores on the bottom of the battery pack. Battery and charging levels are displayed using LED lights on the unit’s side. There’s a 12-inch USB-A to USB-C cable in the box, but unfortunately, a wall charger is not included in the package.
Nimble offers a range of battery packs, including 13,000mAh, 20,000mAh, and 26,000mAh models.
Are portable chargers worth it?
The answer generally depends on how often you travel. If you’re a frequent traveler (or heavy commuter) and tend to go for relatively long spells between visits to a normal charger, portable chargers definitely are worth it. While some of the heftier chargers can be fairly pricey, they’re still a good purchase if you really need to be on your phone while away from a wall socket. At the same time, many portable chargers with smaller capacities can be bought for very reasonable prices, so even infrequent voyagers may find they’re worthwhile.
What is a good capacity for a portable charger?
Capacities are relative, with some people needing portable chargers that offer at least 100% of their smartphone’s battery, and with others needing even more or less. In other words, it’s best to find out the battery size of your device (check the manufacturer’s website) and choose accordingly. For some people, even a smaller portable charger that offers 2,000mAh (around 50% of the average flagship smartphone) is enough, while some people who travel for longer periods will need something that’s at least 5,000mAh, 10,000mAh, or even more.
The answer to this question also depends on how many devices you intend to power while you’re away from a wall charger. If you’re using a phone and a tablet, then a portable charger with 10,000mAh or more may be worthwhile.
How long do portable chargers last?
Longevity varies from device to device, so it’s best to do your research and check with a charger’s manufacturer (or seller) before making a purchase. That said, most good portable chargers should last for at least a few hundred charges before beginning to deteriorate, with the 500 cycles of the Xcentz Portable Charger being a good benchmark for units in its price range.
Can you bring a portable charger on a plane?
You can bring your portable charger onto an airplane. However, remember that any portable chargers must be taken as carry-on (i.e., hand) luggage, and should not be checked in with your larger suitcases and stored in the hold of the plane. In other words, you need to take your portable charger with you to your seat on the plane.
This generally holds for the vast majority of airlines operating today. If in doubt, call your airline’s customer service number to confirm their policies before you fly with them.
Where can I buy a portable charger?
You can buy portable chargers from pretty much the same outlets as smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Apple and Samsung’s official websites stock a number of portable chargers, while you can also find plenty from online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy.
- The best 17-inch laptops for 2021
- The 50 best movies on Netflix right now
- The 68 best movies on HBO Max right now
- The 53 best shows on Amazon Prime Video right now
- The best shows to binge-watch on Netflix right now