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Updated Jun 2, 2023 2:53 PM

Keeping a portable charger in your car, bag, or pocket prepares you if an emergency arises as you’re running out of power. Say 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 runs out of power and you cannot charge it back up again. It’s not the case unless you carry a portable power bank, that is. 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 your essential gear to get your devices through the day (or longer). Fortunately, we’ve collected some of the best portable chargers available and sorted them into categories that should fit most people’s needs.

How we chose 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 power banks to keep my phone and other devices charged while covering events, conducting interviews, and recording presentations. In addition to my personal and professional testing, we’ve parsed reviews from consumers and other publications to find chargers that have made a strong impression on their owners. 

The 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 daily or while traveling, there are different power banks for everyone.

Best overall: OtterBox Performance Fast Charge Power Bank

Amanda Reed

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Why it made the cut: This speedy power bank allows for 3.6x faster charging compared to other portable chargers and can power two devices at once.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 6.26x 3.08 x .92 inches
  • Weight: 15.3 ounces
  • Battery capacity: 20,000 mAh
  • Ports: 2 (one USB-C, one USB-A)
  • Charging speed: 18W

Pros

  • Fast charging
  • Can charge two devices at once
  • Drop protection

Cons

  • Heavy compared to other portable chargers

Otterbox makes some of our favorite MagSafe accessories, so it’s no surprise we love its powerful wired charger as well. The OtterBox Performance Fast Charge Power Bank gives you 20,000 mAh of juice to recharge your tablets and phones. And, with a USB-A port and a fast-charging USB-C port, you can charge two devices at once, no matter what brand. It comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable, so you won’t have to get one on the go, but it works fabulously with others you may have around the house, as we did in the above photo. An LED power indicator shows you how much power you have left, and the power bank is designed for durability thanks to trusted drop protection. Although it’s a little chonky, we’d rather carry around a powerhouse than be left uncharged in the dark.

Best multipurpose: Anker PowerCore Fusion 10,000

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 power banks. It’s a fairly small portable charger with two ports and a 10,000mAh battery, but you can also plug it into an outlet and draw power from there. 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 for travel: Belkin Gaming Power Bank with Stand

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. It offers 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 have a few hours to kill and need to top off your phone’s power, but not the most efficient option.

Best with flashlight: superallure Solar Charging Power Bank

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Why it made the cut: This power bank is powered by the sun and can give you some extra light in the great outdoors if your flashlight decides to take a day off.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 7.48 x 4.92 x 1.42 inches
  • Weight: 1.15 pounds
  • Battery capacity: 43,800 mAh
  • Ports: USB-C, USB-A
  • Charging speed: 15W

Pros

  • Built-in chargers
  • Solar-powered
  • Built-in flashlight is bright

Cons

  • Heavy

Sometimes you don’t need solar generator-level power, but you still need a bit of juice while adventuring the in the great outdoors. This one is solar-powered, Qi wireless charging compatible, and has USB-A and USB-C cords built-in—that’s one less thing in your pack. You can maybe even leave the flashlight at home—this charger also has a built-in flashlight. An IP65 rating makes it dust-resistant, with a bit of waterproofing on top. Plus, it can power 3-5 complete phone charges. Reviews note that customer service is great, and the power bank gives peace of mind while traveling in remote settings.

Best with wireless charging: Mophie Charge Stream

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Why it made the cut: Ditch the cables entirely with this Qi-enabled wireless portable charger that works across Android and iPhone.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 2.72 x 0.63 x 5.19 inches
  • Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Battery capacity: 6,040 mAh
  • Ports: USB-A, USB-C
  • Charging speed: 10W

Pros

  • Pass-through charging enabled
  • Can charge wirelessly or with a cable
  • Can charge two devices at once

Cons

  • Shows dirt easily

No cables? No problem, thanks to this wireless power bank from Mophie. You’ll be able to charge using the power of magnets as long as your device is Qi-enabled. Simply place your phone on the portable charger and push the button to begin wireless charging. You can get 48 extra hours of battery depending on what you’re charging, and a USB port allows you to charge another device while using wireless charging. Our only complaint? It tends to show dirt easily. Its powerful charging and wireless transcendence across brands make up for this.

Best large: Goal Zero Sherpa Wireless Portable AC Power Bank

Goal Zero

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Why it made the cut: This large portable charger is like a mini generator in your pack.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 7.69 x 5.49 x 1.02 inches
  • Weight: 3.19 pounds
  • Battery capacity: 25,600 mAh
  • Ports: 2 USB-A, 2 USB-C, 1 AC port
  • Charging speed: 100W

Pros

  • Heavy-duty
  • Can charge laptops two times over
  • Solar generator power without the size

Cons

  • Expensive

We’ve reviewed Goal Zero’s Yeti 1000 Core generator in the past and gave it kudos for its durability and battery capacity. Goal Zero took both of those aspects and packed them into an ever smaller package with its Sherpa Wireless Portable power bank. It’s great if you need major power on the go without needing an entire solar generator. And you’ll get plenty of use out of it: this power bank can charge a smartphone eight times; a tablet three times; a laptop two times; and a GoPro 18 times. It also supports wireless charging. Talk about a multi-hyphenate. Its aluminum unibody is durable, and it easily integrates with other Goal Zero products, like solar panels. It’s pricey, but we think it’s worth it if you’re looking for a tough portable charger that’s made to last.

Best for laptops: Anker 747 Power Bank

Anker

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Why it made the cut: This sleek laptop power bank can keep you powered in the coffee shop or library.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 7.2 x 3.23 x .95 inches
  • Weight: 26.4 ounces
  • Battery capacity: 26,600 mAh
  • Ports: Two USB-A, two USB-C
  • Charging speed: 87W

Pros

  • Recharges in 2.5 hours
  • High voltage protection
  • Can charge more than one device at the same time

Cons

  • No AC outlet

Those leaving their house to work in a coffee shop know the struggle of finding a precious outlet. Worry no longer, thanks to this portable laptop power bank from Anker, which can give your laptop enough juice while you wait for an outlet to open up. It’s built with Anker’s MultiProtect safety system, which combines temperature control and high-voltage protection for a safer charging experience. If you use up the portable charger’s power, fret not—it takes 2.5 hours to reach a full charge. Those who need an AC outlet to use their laptop charger, however, will be out of luck.

Best budget: INIU Portable Charger

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

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 paw print indicator light
  • 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 affordable and provides a 10,000mAh battery in a very slim form factor. Conveniently, it also has a built-in indicator light which can be a big help in a pinch, and its paw print makes looking at your power bank fun. 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.

What to consider when buying the best portable chargers

Portable chargers come in a variety of 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, aspects of a charger’s design 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:

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 plan to keep a laptop going through your workday or charge many devices simultaneously, 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 that’s definitely good reason to go small if that’s all you need.

How much space does it take up?

As 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 remember what you will be using it for. Most people tend to buy chargers to top off their choice of best tablet, new iPhone, Bluetooth headphones, or noise-cancelling earbuds: 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 get a charger with the right ports for the job. For larger devices, you will also need to make sure the charging rate is actually high enough to 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. 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), its charging rate is 10W. (5 x 2 = 10).

How fast does the battery pack charge itself?

It’s also important to 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% in just 20 minutes or so. The larger the battery bank, the longer it will need to charge, especially when you factor in larger capacities. This rate may differ from pack to pack if the charger can power other devices. 

FAQs

Q: How much does a portable charger cost?

A portable charger can cost between $20-$300, depending on size and features.

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 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 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 feel warm when using a portable charger. However, neither a power bank nor a 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.

Q: How do I know if a portable charger is compatible with my device?

Most portable chargers have a USB-A or USB-C port to plug a cable into, connecting you phone to the power bank. As long as you have the correct cable, you’re good. However, compatibility matters when considering wireless chargers. There are two words you should look out for: Qi and MagSafe. Qi wireless charging is an interface standard that works for both Android and iPhone devices. MagSafe is similar, but proprietary to Apple devices specifically. Check for these words in the product description of your phone and the charger you’re looking for.

Final thoughts on the best portable chargers

Possessing the best portable charger can be a real lifesaver under the right circumstances. There isn’t 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 to 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.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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