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 now exceeding 5,000mAh in capacity. While those may generally be isolated examples, 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, portable battery, or power bank 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 a slim power bank 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.
- Who this is best for: Outdoors adventurers, or anyone who needs a lot of power and has the sunlight to recharge the solar cell.
- Capacity: 20,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-A)
- Weight: 255 grams (9 ounces)
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, waterproof, 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 you’re without a torch.
- Who this is best for: Someone who needs another full charge for their phone, just in case.
- Capacity: 6,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-A and Lightning, up to 18W)
- Weight: 175 grams (6.17 ounces)
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 Mophie 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.
- Who this is best for: Frequent travelers who have a number of devices to recharge.
- Capacity: 8,000mAh
- Outputs: Three ports (USB-C PD and two USB-A, up to 18W)
- Weight: 326 grams (11.5 ounces)
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. First, it doesn’t need a wire to recharge. Instead, with the built-in U.S. plug or the European and 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 several 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 more than 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.
- Who this is best for: Anyone who needs a sleek, understated power pack with a lot of battery.
- Capacity: 20,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-C PD up to 45W, USB-A up to 18W)
- Weight: 390g (13.7oz)
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. 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 iPhone 11 Pro to 50% in the same half-hour. There’s a power button on the side and the standard four LED array to show the remaining juice next to the two ports.
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.
- Who this is best for: Someone who needs to extend their phone’s battery life, but doesn’t have a lot of room.
- Capacity: 5,000mAh
- Outputs: One built-in cable (Lightning or USB-C)
- Weight: 115g (4 ounces)
TNTOR’s ultra-thin charger really puts the “portable” into “portable charger.” At just 6mm thin, it’s one of the thinnest chargers you’ll find anywhere, and at 115 grams in weight, it’s one of the lightest, too. It’s been designed to be able to slip into wallets and pockets with ease, and while you’ll definitely notice the additional bulk in a wallet, it’s not an impossible task to keep it there in case it’s needed. It has a built-in cable for recharging, though make sure you buy the correct model. We’ve linked the Lightning model below, but there’s also a model with a built-in USB-C cable as well, so make sure you pick the right one for your device.
It’s small, but that small footprint doesn’t mean a small battery. TNTOR’s charger is packing 5,000mAh of charge, enough for a full recharge of most smartphones. Unfortunately it doesn’t have any fast charging capabilities, so you’re stuck waiting for your phone to recharge the old slow way. But with a charger this large, it could sit alongside your phone and you wouldn’t even notice it. There are definitely faster and larger chargers out there, but if you’re looking for something small to slip into a pocket, it’s hard to go wrong with this.
- Who this is best for: Style-icons that need a modest boost of power to get through the day.
- Capacity: 5,000mAh
- Outputs: Two ports (USB-A at 2.1A, USB-C 2.1A)
- Weight: 280g (9.87 ounces)
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 Pixel 3 and using the cable supplied it charged at a steady rate, but using a USB-C to USB-C cable enabled rapid charging.
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 Pixel 3, it charged at normal speed, not rapid wireless charging. We really like the look and feel of this charger and it’s just the right size to hold together with your phone. The only thing that would give us pause is the high price tag. You can get much higher capacity chargers for less, but this one is all about the style and quality.
- Who this is best for: Someone who needs to charge smartphones, tablets, or even a laptop while on-the-go.
- Capacity: 20,400mAh
- Outputs: Four ports (100W, 70W, 3A, QC 3.0)
- Weight: 630g (22.2 ounces)
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.
- Who this is best for: Ethically minded consumers who don’t want their choices to harm the environment.
- Capacity: 10,000mAh
- Outputs: Three ports (2 USB-A QC 3.0, 1 USB-C PD 18W)
- Weight: 255g (9oz)
Nimble uses sustainable materials when producing its chargers. Some of those materials 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.