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Published Oct. 29, 2021

You’re stuck in a raging blizzard, your car in a snowbank on the highway, and you need a tow if you don’t want to stay where you are overnight. No problem, you can just call for roadside assistance, right? That isn’t the case if your phone happens to run out of power and you have no way to charge it back up again. It’s not the case unless you carry around a battery pack, that is. Keep one of the best portable chargers in your car, your bag, or your pocket, and you’re ready to go if an emergency arises right as you’re running out of power.

A battery pack to charge your phone, laptop, and other devices can make all the difference when your battery’s nearly dead and draining fast. The right power bank will let you top off all of your essential gear to get your devices through the day (or longer). Fortunately, we’ve collected some of the best portable chargers available on the market right now and sorted them into categories that should fit most people’s needs.

How we selected the best portable chargers

When choosing the best portable chargers, I relied on my years of experience covering the tech industry. I’ve used portable chargers to keep my phone and other devices charged while covering events, conducting interviewing, and recording presentations. In addition to my own personal and professional testing, we’ve parsed reviews from consumers and other publications to find chargers that have made a strong impression with their owners. 

What to consider when buying a portable charger

Portable chargers come in all shapes and sizes. For many, they’re just random bricks that you plug stuff into, with little to differentiate between them. While they may look the same, there are aspects of a charger’s design that vary, which you should keep in mind when picking one out. 

How much power can it hold? Will it fit in my pocket or my backpack? Does it have the ports to charge all my devices or just my phones? If you know these things, you can buy the right portable charger for your needs. The one that lets you treat it like a random brick.

How big is the battery?

Portable chargers are really just fancy plastic and a circuit board wrapped around a battery. The most important thing you need to know about any portable charger is how big that battery is. Portable chargers measure their power storage in Milliamp Hours (mAh), a unit of measurement that shows how much power a battery can hold. The number of charges it can provide will depend on the specific device, but it’s a good way to get a general sense. 

If you’re planning to keep a laptop going through your workday or charge many devices at once, you will likely want the largest battery possible, which tends to range between 2,000mAh and 10,000mAh for most users, depending on the devices they cart around.  If you’re just looking to top off your phone to get through a busy day, you can probably get something smaller. More storage translates to a larger, more expensive charger, so there’s definitely good reason to go small if that’s all you need.

How much space does it take up?

Like we said, more power means a bigger battery pack. It doesn’t matter how impressive a portable charger’s specs are if it’s a pain to carry around. Power banks range in size from slim and pocket-sized to whopping boxes as big as a book. They can get heavy, too. While it can be tempting to get the biggest, most powerful charger, you will make a better choice if you’re realistic about your needs.

What are you charging?

When you choose a portable charger, you’ll want to keep in mind what you’re going to be using it for. Most people tend to buy chargers to top off their best tablet, phone, or Bluetooth headphones: As a result, most portable battery packs are made for that purpose. If you’re looking to charge something bigger, like a laptop, you should make sure to get a charger that has the right ports for the job. For larger devices, you will also need to make sure the charging rate is high enough to actually replenish your laptop’s battery.

How quickly can it charge your devices?

The second major consideration when buying a portable charger is how fast it charges. Different batteries can charge devices at different rates, depending on the device and the cable used to charge. In general, portable chargers tend to be slower than plugging a device into a wall, but some are faster than others. Make sure to check the maximum charging rate, measured in watts (W), to determine how quickly most devices will charge.  For a portable charger, 18 watts is considered a good charging speed. 27 watts is excellent.

Sometimes companies will show a battery’s voltage and amperage rather than a rate in Watts: In that case, multiply the two numbers to get the rate in watts. For example: If a charger serves 5 volts at 2 amps (5V/2A), then its charging rate is 10W. (5 x 2 = 10).

How fast does the battery pack charge itself?

It’s also important to take a look at how long you need to juice each charger back up to full capacity. When you’re in a pinch and pressed for time, knowing you can fall back on a fast-charging portable device offers peace of mind. A good charging rate, for example, is anywhere from 3 hours (111.11 mAh/min) to 4 hours (111.48 mAh/minute), though there have been packs that have charged back up to 100 percent in just 20 minutes or so. The larger the battery bank, the longer it’s going to need to take to charge, especially when you factor in larger capacities. This rate may differ from pack to pack if the charger is capable of powering other devices. 

Best portable chargers: Reviews & Recommendations

Our choices for the best portable chargers run the gamut from small pocket-sized batteries for extending your phone’s battery life to big, beefy chargers that can power a mobile office. Depending on what devices you carry around day to day or while traveling, there are different shapes and sizes for everyone.

Best multipurpose portable charger: Anker PowerCore Fusion 10,000

Weigh Your Anker

The Anker PowerCore Fusion 10,000 serves a dual purpose as a power bank and a portable charger for multiple devices.

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Why it made the cut: The Anker PowerCore Fusion 10,000 combines the convenience of a portable battery and outlet-based charger in a single package.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 4.72 x 3.23 x 1.39 inches
  • Weight: 10.1 ounces
  • Battery Capacity: 10,000mAh
  • Ports: One USB-A, One USB-C
  • Charging Speed: 20W

Pros:

  • Convenient size
  • Doubles as a wall outlet and battery pack
  • Charges multiple devices

Cons:

  • Can be awkward to plug into some sockets

As the best multipurpose portable charger the Anker PowerCore Fusion 10,000 is especially convenient, even among portable battery packs. It’s a fairly small portable charger with two ports and a 10,000mAh battery, but it can also plug into an outlet and draw power directly from an outlet. This is extremely convenient for travelers and rolls two devices into one well-crafted package. Its only downside is that it’s a little larger and heavier than a standard wall-based charger. The shape can also make it awkward to fit into some places, and the weight might cause it to fall out of a loose socket.

Best portable charger for travel: Belkin Gaming Power Bank with Stand

Play And Charge

The Belkin Gaming Power Bank with Stand gives mobile gamers a way to keep playing, even when their phone’s dying.

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Why it made the cut: Belkin’s gaming charger with a stand lets you power up your phone while watching media or playing games.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 6.21 x 1.56 x 4.02 inches
  • Weight: 11.8 ounces
  • Battery Capacity: 10,000mAh
  • Ports: One USB-A, One USB-C
  • Charging Speed: 12W

Pros:

  • Stand makes continuing to use the phone while charging more convenient
  • Stand is retractable

Cons:

  • Fast charging is hit or miss

It seems like combining a portable charger and a stand would be a no-brainer, but surprisingly few companies have actually made them. Belkin’s Gaming Power Bank with Stand is the best portable charger for travel, offering a retractable shelf with a lip that makes it easy to continue enjoying media or games on your phone as it charges. Unfortunately, its fast-charging seems to be hit-or-miss: Some users report speedy refueling, while others aren’t as impressed with how quickly their devices get juiced up. It’s a great charger when you’re stuck with a few hours to kill and need to top off your phone’s power, but not the most efficient option.

Best portable charger with flashlight: INIU Portable Charger

Back To Basics

The INIU Portable Charger gives you the bare essentials at a low price.

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Why it made the cut: The INIU portable charger is cheap and does a fine job powering your phone…plus it has a flashlight!

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 5.2 x 2.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 7 ounces
  • Battery Capacity: 10,000mAh
  • Ports: 2 USB-A, One USB-C
  • Charging speed: 15W

Pros:

  • Has a built-in flashlight
  • Extremely affordable
  • Cute LED logo

Cons:

  • Reports of quality assurance issues

Sometimes you just need a product that does exactly what it’s supposed to for as little money as possible. The INIU Portable Charger is not only the best portable charger with a flashlight but it’s affordable and provides a 10,000mAh battery in a very slim form factor. Conveniently, it also has a built-in flashlight which can be a big help in a pinch. Unfortunately, there are some reports of dead units, which means customers need to watch out for poor QA. Reports suggest that INIU customer service has done right by users who reported getting a nonfunctional unit, though, shipping out replacements quickly.

Best portable charger with wireless charging: Native Union Jump+ Wireless Power Bank

Wireless Charging Anywhere

The Native Union Jump+ Wireless Power Bank makes charging on the go as easy as laying your phone down.

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Why it made the cut: The Native Union Jump+ features wireless charging, which can be extremely convenient in the right situation.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 7.64 x 4.41 x 2.4 inches
  • Weight: 10.9 ounces
  • Battery Capacity: 12,000mAh
  • Ports: One USB-A, One USB-C
  • Charging speed: 18W (cord), 5W Max (wireless)

Pros:

  • Wireless charging is convenient and works well
  • Supports fast charging

Cons:

  • Only charges at 5w wirelessly

Wireless charging is a relative rarity among portable chargers. The Native Union Jump+ is the best portable charger with wireless charging for anyone that wants to be able to just put their phone down and let it charge. It features an attractive silicone finish and supports fast charging when using the cord. The Jump+ has one weakness: At only 5W, its wireless charging is very slow. The fact plugging in will save you a lot of charging time may negate its convenience for some people.

Best large portable charger: Mophie powerstation XXL

Big Power in a (Relatively) Small Package

The mophie powerstation XXL has a premium feel that few power banks match.

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Why it made the cut: The mophie powerstation XXL stores a lot of power in a smaller form factor than you’d expect.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 3.05 x 6.26 x 0.98 inches
  • Weight: 1.14 pounds
  • Battery Capacity: 20,000mAh
  • Ports: Two USB-A, One USB-C
  • Charging speed: 18W

Pros:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Supports fast charging

Cons:

  • More expensive than comparable products

You knew there was going to be a mophie charger somewhere on this list. As the best large portable charger the mophie powerstation XXL stores a lot of power with its 20,000mAh capacity battery, but is just a bit larger than a standard cell phone. The fabric finish makes the powerstation XXL feel more premium than many similar devices that just sport smooth plastic. For that performance (and the mophie name), you will pay a premium: the powerstation XXL is more expensive than many of its peers, but it stands out for its high performance.

Best portable charger for laptops: MAXOAK K2 50,000mAh Power Bank

Simply Massive

The Maxoak K2 50,000mAh Power Bank is a charging behemoth that can keep your gear running for weeks at a time.

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Why it made the cut: The Maxoak K2 pulls out all the stops with its massive charging capacity.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 2.77 pounds
  • Battery Capacity: 50,000mAh
  • Ports: Four USB-A, one 20V barrel, one 12V barrel
  • Charging speed: 130W

Pros:

  • Can charge most phones 8-16 times
  • Barrel ports allow users to charge most laptops with the included adapters
  • Not as bulky as it looks

Cons:

  • No USB-C ports
  • Expensive

While the Maxoak Laptop Power Bank pushes the limit of what many would consider to be “portable,” it’s technically compact enough to make the list as the best portable charger for laptops. This champion of charging is perfect for camping trips, emergencies, or any situation where you need to keep everything charged and have nowhere to plug in. At nearly 3 pounds, most people won’t want to lug it around, but there’s no substitute when you need a ton of charging capacity. The included set of DC adapters allows you to charge a wide range of laptops and other devices with pesky proprietary ports. It lacks USB-C ports, which may be annoying for charging phones. Then again, you can always plug your phone into your laptop while it’s recharging.

FAQs

Q: Will portable chargers damage my phone?

The circuitry inside portable chargers is meant to prevent the device from overcharging, but shouldn’t have any influence on how your phone charges. Instead, each phone has its own charging system that should detect when there are issues with power delivery. If a power bank isn’t delivering enough power or if it has a fault, most recent phones will disable the charging circuit to prevent any damage and notify the user of the issue.

Q: How long does a portable charger last?

Since portable chargers are batteries, they will eventually degrade. Like other batteries, a power bank’s long-term health depends on many factors. What battery technology it’s using, how often it’s discharged and recharged, and the quality of the charging circuitry can all affect a battery pack’s ability to draw power. Most should last a few years, even with frequent use. If your battery dies within two years, you should contact the manufacturer.

Q: Should a portable charger get hot?

When using a power bank, both the phone and the portable charger will heat up. Batteries use chemical reactions to store and discharge energy. Some of that energy is lost as waste heat. This is normal, so there’s no need to worry if your battery and/or phone start to feel warm when using a portable charger. However, neither a power bank nor phone should ever get so hot that it makes you recoil. If you feel like either device is irregularly hot, disconnect them from all other devices and move away until you’re sure it’s safe to resume using them.

Final thoughts on the best portable chargers

Having the best portable charger can be a real lifesaver under the right circumstances. There is much to the tech, but there’s still a surprising amount of variation from device to device. It pays to learn their ins and outs so you can tell the difference, whether you need a slim power bank to get a quick jolt or something massive that can keep a laptop going for days. No matter what, we can all agree on one thing: Nobody likes having a battery die on them.

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