Performant power banks, portable chargers, and emergency chargers
Though the smartphones we use get faster every year, the battery life of these amazing gadgets is far from getting any better. Those of us who need to keep our smartphones – or tablets or any other USB-powered device – going as we go through our daily routine, need a good and reliable power bank. Here are some of the best 19 portable chargers that are currently available on the market in 2016.
What can a power bank offer to you?
Power banks practically come in any shape, weight and capacity, ranging from emergency devices like the Onaji Pawa, which is credit-card sized and which can offer a rapid boost to keep your gadgets going until you make it home, to ultra-high-capacity devices such as LimeFuel Blast Pro L240X, a device which is capable of charging your phone up to 10 times and which is ideal for those who are going camping or who need to charge multiple devices. Or, if you prefer, you can always opt for devices that are capable of recharging their own batteries by using solar power. And that could mean that you would never again have to charge your gadgets using mains power. It goes without saying that this could save you quite some money on the electricity bill.
How to choose a power bank
There are several factors that you need to keep in mind when choosing a custom power bank. And one of these factors is portability. While some of the power banks this article focuses on are small and sufficiently light to slip into a pocket, the presence of some others cannot go unnoticed even if slung in a bag. So it is advisable to pay attention to a power bank’s weight and try to avoid bulky designs, especially if you are planning to carry around this device every day, and not only in certain situations.
Another important factor is capacity. It is very important to keep in mind that power banks will not deliver to your gadget their full advertised capacity. And this happens because some of their energy is lost due to the generated heat and voltage conversion. If the manufacturer of the power bank does not expressly state otherwise, one can expect to achieve approx. 70% efficiency. Therefore, a 10000mAh power bank may deliver 7000mAh of power. There are high quality power banks that are capable of offering around 90% efficiency. So make sure to check the exact specifications of your tablet or phone’s battery to estimate the number of full charges that can be expected.
Charging and recharging
When talking about recharging a power bank, the input rating becomes a key factor. The higher the figure, the quicker it will charge. Usually, the figure is displayed in Amps (e.g. 1A). In order to calculate the rating in Watts, you need to multiply this figure by the voltage (i.e. 5V for USB). A 1A input charges at 5W. If that does not meet your needs, you could look for a gadget able to charge at 2A (i.e. 10W).
Most manufacturers do not include USB chargers in the box. However, you can always use the one that has been supplied with your tablet or phone. However, keep present that power banks that come with a 2A (10W) input are unable to recharge their own battery faster than a power bank that comes with a 1A (5W) input if used with underspecified USB chargers. The reverse is true as well when it comes down to charging our devices. Those phones that support only a 1A (5W) input will not charge quicker from a 2A (10W) output.
Certain power banks support a feature commonly known as pass-through charging. However, this luxury comes at a higher price. This feature allows power banks to work as USB hubs of sorts. This means that you will be able to simultaneously charge both your mobile devices and the power bank itself. In addition, you will make sure that your power bank is permanently topped up and can be used whenever you need it. Waking up late at night and unplug your charged phone to fill up the power bank is definitely not something you would want to do. If you only have one mains adaptor, you should consider buying a desktop charger able to charge simultaneously five or even six USB gadgets using a single mains outlet.
Output ratings refer to how fast a power bank can charge a device. You will frequently encounter outputs of 1A (5W), 2A (10W) or even 2.5A (12.5W), with the former one intended mainly for smartphones, while the latter two intended for tablets and other fast-charging phones able to support the feature. Please note that we are not talking about the fast charging feature that phones such as Samsung Galaxy S6 support.
More and more often, power banks are endowed with clever technology, usually referred to as PowerIQ. This technology allows power banks to automatically recognise the type of gadget the user has connected for charging. This type of power banks delivers the most appropriate amount of power that the device needs.
If a power bank is endowed with several outputs, the maximum total output capacity becomes a key factor. For instance, the Blast Pro L240X model provided by LimeFuel comes with four 2.4A (12W) outputs. However, it only delivers a 4.2A (21W) total output. If you have four USB gadgets attached to it, you will discover that each one charges much more slowly.
Some of the best power banks are designed to support the auto-on and -off functionalities. However, some models only support auto-on, while others support neither. The auto-on function allows power banks to start charging your gadgets as soon as you plug them in. The auto-off function makes them switch off as soon as the job is done; this means that no power is wasted unnecessarily. Those power banks that do not support this functionality are endowed with a small power button somewhere on their casing, which usually also serves to light up the LED flashlights (if the respective power bank comes with one) or to see the remaining capacity.
In most cases, LEDs are used to show how much capacity is still remaining. This works great with power banks with a smaller capacity. However, in the case of larger-capacity models, the massive gap in capacity between the LEDs makes the system rather meaningless. So make sure to search for power banks with a LCD display that is capable of telling you the precise capacity remaining. This way, you will never get caught short.
The built-in LED flashlight is a common feature in power banks. This feature can be extremely useful on camping trips. However, you should keep present that, unless the device has an ergonomic design and is reasonably portable, you will probably never get to use it as a torch. The EC Tech’s 18000mAh and 6000- power banks are probably the best examples: the smaller capacity devices look and feel just like a flashlight. However, the former is heavy, big, and rectangular. These features make it a weird gadget to use as a torch.
An ideal power bank manages to balance a useful capacity with fast charging/recharging, portability, value, multiple outputs, as well as high-end features such as LCD displays and pass-through charging. The Zendure A2 power bank is the closest one to meeting all these features. However, all the devices that this article focuses on are recommendable. Of course, there are numerous other options available that may suit your budget and preferences in a more convenient way.
Quality power banks to consider
- TP-Link TL-PB10400
This power bank has sufficient capacity to keep both your tablet and phone away from the mains. And the best part is that it is sufficiently portable to conveniently throw in a bag. Though it is true that the alternative offered by Lumsing is cheaper and some users prefer its design, this TP-Link power bank is able to refill its own battery much faster, it includes a LED torch, and it is better at showing the remaining capacity. Both power banks make awesome travel companions.
- Lumsing’s Glory P1 Fit
Manufactured by Lumsing, we are talking about a no-frills power bank that delivers exactly what the box promises. But little else. This power bank is ideal for those users who need to charge three devices simultaneously. If that is not your case, you should consider other options as well.
- Emie Memo
The power bank offered by Emie Memo has a fun design and comes with a highly appreciated feature: the shake-activated power status. However, its LED colour system may be a little confusing: it is all back to front. The power bank comes with several welcome features: Auto-on/-off and pass-through charging.
- Lumsing 10400mAh
At a more than convenient price, the Lumsing Power Bank makes a great buy. This power bank is capable of keeping all your gadgets away from the mains several days. So, if you are planning a camping trip or any other type of long trip, taking this Power Bank with you might be a great idea.
- Intocircuit’s PowerMini 3000
This model is a truly portable power bank, ideal for daily top ups. Affordable, easily pocketable, well built, and with sufficient capacity to fill most phones once, this power bank makes a great choice. The only disadvantage is that you need to remember to recharge it after each use.
- iHarbort MS031 10,000mAh
There is no doubt that iHarbort offers great value for money. However, the OnePlus Power Banks have the edge. If you are not an OnePlus fan or you use an iPhone or iPad, you may prefer the design of this device. In addition, you may also get free delivery from Amazon if you spend more than £20. If you prefer a cheaper and easily portable alternative, you can always opt for the smaller 5000mAh iHarbort.
With a great design, the OnePlus Power Bank offers excellent value. However, you need to keep in mind the shipping costs. Though it does not come with high-end features such as pass-through charging or LCD display, the auto-on functionality and shake-activated LED status are welcome additions. However, more importantly, this power bank is capable of keeping any smartphone going all day and beyond.
- EliveBuy 10,400mAh
The EliveBuy power bank is well designed, comes with a sturdy metal build and a useful capacity, it is easily pocketable, and it is very fast with QC 2.0 support (both on the input and output). What’s more, this power bank comes at a great price.
- Choetech’s B611Q Portable Power Bank
This power bank now includes the Quick Charge 2.0 support. So, if you are looking for speed, you will simply love this power bank. Though the Quick Charge feature will be practically useless for them, iPhone users will certainly appreciate the Lightning input as well. To sum up, if you are unlikely to benefit from the Quick Charge function or the Lightning one, then maybe you should consider other alternatives.
- Zendure A8 Pro
With an incredible design and excellent features – such as pass-through charging, a LCD panel, huge amounts of power, and a tough build – this power bank provides good value for your money. The only drawback can be its low 3.1A/15.3W max. output, especially when you take into consideration that it comes with 4 outputs, each one possible of 2.1A/10.5W. If you have great power needs, this power bank remains an excellent choice.
- EasyAcc 10,000mAh (PB100000CF)
This power bank definitely offers great value. Though there are nicer designs available on the market, few can actually match the features this power bank delivers (especially considering its price). We are definitely talking about a highly recommendable device.
- Aukey’s 5000mAh External Battery Charger
With a chunkier design than other similar devices (e.g. Anker Astro Mini), this external battery charger only offers 620mAh power capacity. However, this should not put you off. This power bank charges the connected phones or tablets faster, offers easy operation (there are no physical buttons), and it also supports pass-through charging.
- Intocircuit’s Power Castle PC13000/PC15000
Nicely designed and fast, the Power Castle PC13000/PC15000 can provide easy charging for tablets and phones. The LCD display makes a great addition.
- Anker’s Astro Mini 3200mAh
An extremely useful and convenient power bank, the Anker’s Astro Mini is pocketable, comes with a nice design, and offers smartphones a full charge each time you are away from the mains.
- iHarbort Power Bank MS024
This power bank makes one of the best deals available out there. It offers useful capacity, comes with a stylish and pocketable package, and it supports for pass-through charging and auto-on/-off. In addition, it comes at an attractive price.
- Maximas XTRON
Though this power bank does not feature a LCD panel, auto-on, passthrough charging, or features like a carry case and torch, the Maximas XTRON power bank is one of the most durable power banks out there. There is no doubt that this power bank has been designed to last for years to come. Endowed with standard USB-C and USB outputs, it can be easily used to charge virtually any device of your choice – including the new Apple laptop! To top it all, this power bank is incredibly fast as well.
- Anker’s PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C
A decent high-capacity power bank, the PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C delivers fast-charging for any USB-connected device, including USB-C models like the Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P. Though it is rather big and heavy, this power bank remains stylish, easy to use, and it offers good value for money. In addition, this power bank is capable of recharging itself in only a little over 8 hours.
- Xiaomi 10,000mAh
Able to balance portability with capacity, the features and specifications list of this power bank is much bigger than one would expect. With a brilliant design, the Xiaomi 10,000mAh model provides extraordinary value.
- Zendure A2
There is no doubt that Zendure’s A2 is among the best power banks currently available on the market. Mixing great value, portability, build, and useful capacity, this is definitely one of the best alternatives. Due to its newly upgraded capacity, more than convenient price, and current availability in the UK, the Zendure A2 power bank is our best recommended product.