Best Portable Battery Chargers
This buying guide recommends the best cheap portable chargers based on an analysis of portable charger reviews and features.
What We Considered
The portable USB charger market used to be somewhat sparsely populated, and the available devices drew more attention from consumers than from expert reviewers. Now the market is crowded and full of competition, which has driven down costs and spurred companies to deliver extra features such as built-in flashlights and sleek design. Ultimately, though, there are bigger considerations.
We Looked At
The most important feature of a portable battery charger is the amount of extra power it can hold, which is measured in milliampere hours. The larger the capacity, the more charges a power bank can provide before its own battery needs to be recharged. Generally consumers just want assurance that if their phone dies when they're out for the day, they can get it charged up again. We looked for chargers with a minimum capacity of 4,000 mAh, which should provide at least one charge for a leading smartphone such as an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. Still, note the sizes of the batteries in your electronic devices and compare them with the capacity of the external battery you're considering. Keep in mind, too, that no charger is 100 percent efficient; some power will be lost in the transfer, due to circuit resistance and voltage conversion. For maximum power on a $35 budget, the Anker PowerCore 20100 (starting at $32) has a massive 20,100 mAh capacity and can charge two tablets at the same time. Almost all our picks sport LED indicator lights to show how much battery remains.
The best portable chargers provide extra juice fast. User experiences vary and many power bank reviews are vague (using phrases like "insanely fast"), but we gleaned that a good portable charger should fully charge a smartphone within a couple of hours. Some users see sluggish charging speeds because they're trying to use an inexpensive charger with output of 1 or 1.2 amps to charge a device such as a tablet, which generally draws around 2 amps. Our top picks have at least one charging port with output of at least 2 amps (at 5 volts); some offer a marginally faster 2.4 amps. Although many can charge two devices at once, not all have sufficient output to power them up quickly, especially if one is a tablet. These days some cheap portable battery chargers, such as the Tronsmart Presto 10000 PBT10 (starting at $23), support Qualcomm's Quick-Charge 3.0 technology, which charges compatible devices very rapidly.
Consumers don't want to worry about connectors that don't fit, incorrect battery level indicators, or generally flimsy products. They want a portable charger that won't break or quit holding a charge after a couple of uses. Reports of various glitches surface in reviews of cheap portable chargers, but most buyers seem to consider our picks reliable. Some external batteries come with carrying cases to help keep them from getting dinged up. For consumers who are especially rough on their devices, the OutXE brand makes dust-proof, waterproof, and shock-resistant power banks. Manufacturer suggestions for extending battery life include recharging at least once every few months and trying to keep the battery charged between 5 percent and 95 percent at all times.
RavPower RP-PB010 Review
With a 16,750 mAh battery and total power output of 4.5 amps, the RavPower RP-PB010 is capable of rapidly charging two devices at once. This large-capacity charger is also relatively slim, at just 0.9 inch thick, and reviewers like its curved shape.
Large battery capacity of 16,750 mAh can charge a top smartphone multiple times.
2 ports with enough power output (4.5A total) to charge 2 tablets simultaneously.
Comes with a travel pouch, 2 USB to micro-USB cables, and choice of black or white.
4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 13,500 reviewers on Amazon.
High capacity makes for a heavier power bank (10.7 ounces).
Large battery takes a while to recharge.
Poweradd Pilot 2GS Review
The Poweradd Pilot 2GS is surprisingly cheap given its slick design and 10,000 mAh capacity. The dual USB ports provide enough output to swiftly charge two devices at once -- always a welcome feature.
Slim shape houses a large capacity of 10,000 mAh.
Charges devices quickly, with 2 ports and sufficient output (3.4A in total) to charge a phone and tablet at the same time.
Can charge a phone several times before it needs recharging.
Many buyers admire the sleek design that slips easily into a pocket.
4.3 out of 5 stars from more than 4,000 reviewers on Amazon.
Heavy for such a compact device (8.8 ounces).
Some shoppers complain that it stopped holding a charge after several months.
RavPower RP-PB17R Review
This nifty little portable battery charger from RavPower stores enough power (6,700 mAh) to charge a top smartphone a couple of times over, yet it fits comfortably in a pocket or purse and costs less than $20.
Attractive design made with scratch-resistant pink or silver anodized aluminum.
Charges devices rapidly (2.4A output).
Lightweight, at 4.8 ounces.
4.6 out of 5 stars from more than 1,700 reviewers on Amazon.
Can't charge more than one device at a time.
Shape is compact but not very slim.
A small number of buyers say it wouldn't recharge after a few months.
Aukey PB-N15 Power Bank Review
The Aukey PB-N15 has the capacity to charge a small arsenal of devices before it needs recharging. It stores enough juice to charge a leading smartphone at least three times and even fully charge a 9.7-inch iPad Pro on the go. The trade-off is that it's somewhat hefty to carry around.
Very large battery capacity of 20,000 mAh (good to take on long trips away from outlet power).
Can power up a phone several times on a single charge.
Capable of charging a phone and a tablet at the same time.
Blocky design, available in black or white, does not appeal to some.
A few users say it stopped working after a few months, although others report that it still works after more than a year of use.
Weighs almost a pound, due to the large battery.
With the Jackery Bolt 6000, users can charge both Android devices by micro USB and Apple products with Lightning connectors. The cables are integrated into the charger so you don't have to worry about losing them or carrying along your own.
Designed for both Apple and Android devices, with convenient built-in Lightning and micro-USB cables.
Nice amount of power (6,000 mAh) considering its small size (4.3 x 1.9 x 0.9 inches).
Charges devices and recharges itself quickly.
Sturdy aluminum casing available in black, red, orange, or silver.
Wirecutter's pick for everyday carry.
Built-in cables don't fit well with some phone cases.
Some iPhone users say this device doesn't consistently charge their phones.
TravelCard Charger Review
The TravelCard Charger is perhaps the slimmest, smallest portable charger available. Although the capacity is limited, it's ideal for situations when your phone battery just needs a little boost. Don't expect it to fully charge a smartphone, but it can save you in a pinch.
Incredibly slim and portable -- designed to fit in a wallet.
Good backup power source in case of emergency.
Built-in charging cables.
Android/micro-USB and iPhone/Lightning versions available.
Comes in seven colors.
Wirecutter's pick for a truly pocket-sized battery.
Small capacity of 1,500 mAh charges most smartphones only about halfway.
Charging time is slow compared with our other picks.
Not sufficient for charging a tablet.
A little on the thick side for sliding into most wallets (0.2 inch).
Charges only one device at a time.
The Flux Portable Charger has some attractive features, such as built-in cables, but its slow charging ability turns off some buyers, as does an apparent tendency to break down after a few months.
Built-in micro-USB and Lightning cables.
Slim, lightweight, and portable; easily slides into a pocket.
Recharges itself more slowly than our top picks (1.5A input vs. 2A or more).
Several buyers report that it stopped charging after only a few months.
Some shoppers complain that the device breaks after a while; the charging ports seem particularly vulnerable.
Other Products We Reviewed
The New Trent iTorch IMP52D (starting at $25, Amazon) offers a large battery capacity of 5,200 milliampere hours, a solid yet lightweight feel, and unique features such as a laser pointer and a flashlight built in. At about the size of an iPhone 5, the charger is very portable, according to New Trent iTorch reviews. Some point out it's a little bulky to carry inside a pocket along with a phone, but inside a backpack or purse, no problem. It also comes with a convenient carrying pouch.
A reviewer from iDownloadBlog put the iTorch's battery capacity to the test and found that it didn't quite live up to the manufacturer's claim of up to three charges for an iPhone 5. Still, the battery had more than enough juice for a full charge while the phone stayed powered on. It took around two hours to bring the phone to full power and afterward showed about a third remaining. That was good enough to satisfy the reviewer, given the charger's small size.
In reviews on Amazon, consumers praise the iTorch for its compact size, light weight, and straightforward operation. During one reviewer's testing, the power pack provided more than two full charges to an iPhone 4. Shoppers have found that the iTorch recharges quickly after it's been fully depleted, and many enjoy the laser pointer and flashlight features.
A reviewer at Mac Observer used the New Trent iTorch IMP52D to bring an iPhone 5 and an iPad Mini back to 100 percent from 50 percent, which used up only half the capacity of the external battery. Don't expect this charger to top off a tablet with any kind of speed, however. The output is only 1 ampere, and tablets generally draw about 2 amps. The reviewer also warns that the manual instructs users to deplete the battery's fuel cells at least once a week to keep them healthy, so she doesn't recommend this product for people who might forget to do that.
The New Trent iTorch IMP52D has recharge time of six hours, according to the manufacturer. Its dimensions are 4 x 1.8 x 0.9 inches and it weighs 4.4 ounces. It's compatible with 5-volt devices including iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. It comes with a micro-USB cable and also a Samsung Galaxy Tab converter cable. Users must rely on AC adapters and Apple USB cables they already have.
The New Trent iTorch IMP52D is a portable and powerful little charger that offers a couple of fun extras. Most reviewers have found it handy enough to keep on hand daily and recommend to others.
The Anker 2nd Gen Astro 6000mAh (starting at $26, Amazon) is a powerhouse compared with many other cheap portable chargers. Its 6,000 milliampere-hour capacity allows it to charge most smartphones more than once, yet it remains small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket, backpack, or purse. It also has a 2-ampere output, which delivers a fast enough charging speed for a tablet. An Anker 2nd Gen Astro 6000mAh review at Legit Reviews has particular praise for Anker's proprietary Power IQ technology. This allows the charger to adjust the current as the connected device requires.
Consumers posting reviews on Amazon share the expert enthusiasm for this external battery, awarding it a 4.2 rating based on more than 450 reviews at the time of writing. One reviewer notes that the device never gets hot while charging. That user has found that the charger is able to charge an iPhone 5 more than twice and an iPad 3 once.
This device has a rubberized coating that divides reviewers to some extent. One Amazon shopper observes that the finish is less prone to fingerprints, and another opines that the charger feels significantly hardier than other external batteries on the market. Some reviewers, though, mention that the texture makes this charger slightly more difficult to pull out of a pocket.
The Anker 2nd Gen Astro 6000mAh has an LED power meter that appears when you shake the device to let you know how much power is remaining. The recharge time is five to six hours, according to the manufacturer. This external battery is compatible with USB-charged, 5-volt devices including all Apple and Android smartphones and tablets (including the Nexus 7, although the company specifically notes that it doesn't support the iPod Nano and Classic, HP TouchPad, LG G2 smartphone, Asus tablets, and some GPS and Bluetooth devices). The charger measures 3.7 x 1.8 x 1 inches and 4.8 ounces. It includes a micro-USB charging cable and comes in black, yellow, and green.
The main selling points of the Anker 2nd Gen Astro 6000mAh are its power-to-size ratio and 2-amp output for charging a tablet. A nifty power meter and durable build only add to its appeal, and an 18-month warranty solidifies our recommendation.
Lepow Moonstone 3000 Review
Consumers and experts show this funky-looking portable battery a lot of love in Lepow Moonstone 3000 reviews for its quick charging ability, efficient capacity, and wide range of supported devices. With two separate output ports (1.2 amps and 0.5 amps), it can charge two devices at once, although that will drain the 3,000 milliampere-hour capacity pretty quickly.
A tech expert from Booredatwork delights in thoughtful touches such as the stylish felt carrying case; flat, tangle-resistant micro-USB cable; and included goodies such as a headset-jack protector. Although these may not be the most important factors for most consumers, they certainly sweeten the deal for those on the fence about which charger to select.
Reviewers posting feedback on the retail site Newegg say the charger gives the impression of being well made and charges almost any USB device, including wireless speakers. Consumers reviewing the Moonstone 3000 on Amazon often mention the charger's sleek aesthetics. It's only about a quarter-inch thick, with a smooth surface and rounded edges, so it easily slips inside a pocket, and it comes in black, green, red, yellow, and white.
In a rare negative review among the hundreds of high ratings on Amazon, a consumer laments that the product lost its ability to hold a charge. However, Lepow immediately reached out to offer of exchange or refund, prompting the reviewer to post an update lauding the company's customer service. Lepow also offers a 12-month guarantee.
The Lepow Moonstone 3000 (starting at $20, Amazon) features LED lights to indicate battery level and has an advertised recharge time of 3.5 hours. The flat shape measures 3.2 x 3.1 x 0.3 inches and 3.88 ounces. Overall, the Lepow Moonstone 3000 makes a good option that can charge a large range of items. It also has a unique look that consumers are proud to pull out of their pockets.
The Anker Astro Mini 3000mAh (starting at $20, Amazon) does not hold a particularly large charge. On the other hand, Anker Astro Mini reviews describe the device as the height of portability, coming in a bit bigger than a lipstick tube. Notably, it supports pass-through charging; i.e., it can juice up other devices even while it's being charged.
A reviewer at Boing Boing calls the Astro Mini a perfect travel companion. It takes only about two hours to charge fully, in this reviewer's experience (three to four hours according to the manufacturer) and then holds enough power for more than one full juicing of an iPhone 5.
Another reviewer writing on the travel blog Map Happy is a little less enthusiastic about the Astro Mini. She points out that the charging capacity, already fairly small, is significantly less than the advertised amount. No charger is 100 percent efficient, and this product's manual advises that the external battery loses about 20 or 30 percent of its total capacity to circuit resistance and voltage conversion. That leaves a true capacity of less than 2,500 milliampere hours. The reviewer notes that the battery should be able to produce one and a quarter charges for an HTC One S -- good enough to get you through the day or a weekend away, just not ideal for long trips.
The Anker Astro Mini 3000mAh weighs in at 3.5 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches and 2.8 ounces. It can charge a full spectrum of Apple and Android smartphones and other devices, as long as they support a 5-volt input (notable exceptions include the iPod Nano and Classic, HP TouchPad, LG G2 phone, and Asus tablets). The Astro Mini comes with a micro-USB charging cable; users of devices with other types of connectors must use their own cables. This sleek external battery is available in black, silver, and gold. Anker provides an 18-month guarantee.
Despite its shortcomings, this is one of the highest-rated chargers on Amazon, with 4.5 stars overall from more than 5,500 reviews at the time of writing. Reviewers have high praise for the reliability and portability of the Anker Astro Mini 3000mAh and encourage others to keep this cheap, useful little device close at hand.
Jackery Mini Review
The Jackery Mini (starting at $20, Amazon) is an OK choice for a portable charger, thanks in large part to its lipstick-size design. Jackery has also increased the capacity to 3,200 mAh from 2,600 mAh and decreased the cost to well below the list price of $69.95. Although Jackery Mini reviews are generally favorable, some reviewers find the device unreliable and difficult to use. Dozens report that it doesn't hold a charge or stopped working after a few months.
Expert review sites such as TechRadar count this among their recommended portable chargers but seem to have low expectations for such a small, inexpensive device and often include caveats in their reviews. For example, the TechRadar reviewer warns that the power button is easy to press accidentally, leaving a low battery when you need it.
User reviews on Amazon likewise note that the power button is apt to get bumped in a bag or pocket and drain the battery. Another frustrating design quirk: Buried in the product manual, and in an FAQ on the company site, are instructions to press and hold the power button for at least three seconds to begin charging after the Jackery Mini has been sitting dormant. That may explain some of the many complaints from consumers who say they used the charger only once or twice before it quit working.
On the whole, the Jackery Mini is fairly well reviewed on Amazon. It has about four stars based on more than 900 reviews at the time of writing. Users appreciate the LEDs that show the level of charge left in the battery and often comment on the handy little size. It's tiny, at 3.7 x 0.9 x 0.8 inches and 2.7 ounces. The Jackery Mini charges most major smartphones and other 5-volt devices using an included micro-USB cable or the cable that came with the device being charged. The Jackery Mini has an advertised charge time of two-and-a-half to four hours.
The Jackery Mini is compact enough for stowing wherever you go, but other similarly small external batteries seem to offer a more reliable charge for the buck.
Tronsmart Presto PBT10 Review
The 10,000 mAh Tronsmart Presto PBT10 is surprisingly affordable for a charger that supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 technology, which allows it to charge compatible Android devices in a flash. IPhone users can't take advantage, however, and the charger is light on extra features.
Quick Charge 3.0 for faster charging of compatible devices.
Relatively cheap, small, and light for a QC 3.0 charger (they tend to be heavy).
Buyers like the compact design, which includes 2 ports, fits easily into a pocket, and comes in black or white with a travel pouch.
Wirecutter's pick for Quick Charge-compatible devices.
QC 3.0 is irrelevant for iPhones and for Android phones that don't support it.
Anker PowerCore 20100 Review
The Anker PowerCore 20100 features a massive battery that can repeatedly charge more than one device -- and fast -- before running out of juice, although with such a high capacity, it's pretty slow to recharge itself.
Enough output (4.8A total) to charge 2 devices -- even 2 tablets -- simultaneously at top speed.
20,100 mAh battery can charge a phone several times before running out of power (good for long trips).
Solid build quality, according to reviews, and available in black or white.
Wirecutter's pick for more power.
4.6 out of 5 stars from nearly 12,000 reviewers on Amazon.
Takes a while to fully recharge, users report.
Too big and bulky to fit comfortably in a pocket.
OutXE Savage Solar Charger Review
Those who love the great outdoors often need a portable source of power but don't want to take any old charger into the wild. Buyers appreciate the built-in solar panel and rugged build of the 10,000 mAh OutXE Savage Solar Charger, although solar recharging can be painfully slow.
Dust-proof, waterproof, and shock-resistant.
Comes with a carabiner and built-in three-mode flashlight.
Takes about 35 hours to fully recharge itself using the solar panel.
Adds 11.6 ounces to a backpack.
Wireless charging is a futuristic and convenient feature that few portable chargers support. The Mophie Charge Force Powerstation can charge any Qi-enabled smartphone on contact, but you'll pay top dollar for it.
Supports Qi wireless charging of compatible phones.
Wireless charging is convenient and works well, users say.
Can charge a second device at the same time via USB.
Enough capacity (10,000 mAh) to fully charge a phone more than once.
Capable of pass-through charging (i.e., it can charge a device while recharging itself).
Rated "Excellent" by PCMag.
Pricey for a portable charger.
Wireless charging is slower than charging by cable.