A buyer’s guide to power banks & portable chargers

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Today we’re going to be looking at how to choose the perfect power bank or portable charger for you. That involves looking at several different areas: capacitycharging speedconnectivity and features. I hope you’ll find this useful whenever you’re considering a portable charger for your smartphone, tablet, Switch or other USB devices. That’s enough preamble, so let’s get started!

Capacity

Capacity is pretty straightforward: the higher the number of milliampere hours (mAh) that you see, the longer you can use the portable charger before it needs to be recharged itself. Typically, smaller power banks have a capacity of around 1,000mAh, medium-size units about 3,000 to 5,000mAh, and larger units can reach 10,000 or even 20,000mah!

This Kanex power bank is 15,000mAh, and can even recharge a laptop!

In order to give context to these numbers, consider than an average smartphone has a battery capacity of about 3,000mAh. Charging isn’t perfectly efficient, as some power is lost over the course of the transmission, but you can still get an approximate idea of how many times you can recharge your phone by comparing its capacity to the size of your power bank — for example, a 10,000mAh power bank will recharge most smartphones three times over.

Charging speed

Charging speeds are another way that power banks can be differentiated. Basic models may charge at 1A, while more advanced power banks could provide 2A or more. The faster the charging rate, the less time you’ll need to spend plugged into the portable charger. As the size of your device’s battery increases, choosing a fast-charging power bank becomes increasingly important — you don’t want to wait all day to reach 100%!

One example of how charging speeds can impact charging time

Some portable chargers also support rapid charging features, like Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0, to provide extremely fast charging on supported smartphones. If your phone supports fast charging from its AC adapter, it’s worth looking for a power bank that will provide that same rapid recharge!

Connectivity

Most power banks will come with a single full-size USB port, which you can then connect an appropriate cable to recharge your smartphone. However, others might have multiple full-size USB or USB-C ports, while others still might come with only a fixed cable of a certain type. It’s important to check that each power bank you consider will actually plug into your phone successfully, so pay attention to this area.

Samsung Universal 5,100mAh Adaptive Fast Charging Battery Pack - Navy

This power bank from Samsung features a USB-C port and a full-size USB port, providing the flexibility to charge different devices.

Features

While recharging mobile devices is the obvious feature that defines portable chargers as a category, they can have other abilities too. For example, some larger portable chargers will have a built-in LED to be used as a torch. Others heat up at the press of a button, keeping your hands warm in cold climates. It’s worth reading all the way through the description of a portable charger to see if it has any useful features!

Wrapping up

I hope this article proved helpful! If you have any questions, please get in touch via the comments below and we’ll endeavour to help you out!

See all power banks & portable chargers >

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