Until they develop batteries that last years, modern life means making sure our devices are charged. This is doubly true for parents who depend on their phones to get calls from school, navigate to soccer practice, and keep the kid entertained with an episode of Paw Patrol in line at the grocery store. A portable charger, a backup battery that you can keep on hand when your tablet is low on juice, is invaluable.
Because while battery life has certainly become more efficient since the early days of smartphones, backup batteries are still a necessity for anyone who doesn’t want to be caught without any juice. They allow you to recharge your electronics on the go and in situations where you don’t have the time or access to an outlet. Charge them as you do any other device and then, when your mobile devices need some juice, plug them in and watch that percentage climb.
Now, there are a lot of backup batteries out there. They come in various shapes, sizes, and, most importantly, capacities, from one to 20 phone charges. To help you choose a quality model, we picked our favorite backup batteries for all kinds of different situations.
The best charger, much like the best camera, is the one you have on you. About the size of a PEZ dispenser, the Flipstick holds 3,350 mAh of power (just enough to fully revive a dead phone) and has a convenient loop for securing it to a backpack or briefcase.
Pros: There’s no need to carry around a cord, because the Flipstick comes with one that flips out from the bottom of the charger. You can choose a standard micro-USB, Apple lightning connector, or USB Type-C depending on which devices you need to charge on the go.
Cons: The small size of the Flipstick means its capacity is limited, so don’t plan on getting more than one full phone charge out of this thing.
Slim enough to slip into a back pocket or briefcase, this portable charger packs a 20,100 mAh battery, which can refuel a dead iPhone seven times.
Pros: Anker’s patented PowerIQ tech ensures devices charge rapidly (up to 2.1 amps) and, thanks to the included cords, it’s able to charge everything from standard USB-fed devices to Macbooks and smartphones.
Cons: The PowerCore 20100 is a middle option, so it’s not great if you need a ton of portability, durability, or capacity. It doesn’t support Qualcomm Quick Charge found on many newer phones.
If you like your portable power source to have a bit more protection, then consider this rugged charger. A 9,000 mAh capacity backup battery wrapped in a thermoplastic shell with sealed ports, it’s snow-, dirt-, drop-, and water-proof, meaning mother nature — or your curious kids — will need to throw a lot at it to make it submit.
Pros: It’s more of an outdoor survival tool than a simple charger, as there’s a built-in flashlight, compass and strap.
Cons: It’s kind of a chunky item, and the orange and black color scheme isn’t exactly stylish.
Take this charger out of its included pouch and unroll it to reveal an array of solar panels that power three separate USB outputs. It's also lightweight, so it won't weigh you down on long hikes.
Pros: Each of the outputs is equipped with technology that detects and delivers the optimal charging current.
Cons: You have to be careful where you place this. If it’s on top of a hot surface — a sun-baked rock, for instance — it can overheat, reducing the sunlight to electricity conversion rate.
With a 50,000 mAh capacity, this charger can handle anything you throw at it, ably charging phones, tablets, and even laptops.
Pros: This beast has four classic USB ports and two different laptop charging ports, one at 5 volts and the other at 12. It also comes with 14 different laptop charge connectors for a variety of charging tips. It also comes with a carrying bag!
Cons: There aren’t any USB-C ports or MacBook charging tips, and at 2.77 pounds this isn’t the most portable pack in the world.
If you have Nintendo Switch, a newer Android phone, or the latest Macbook you have a device with a USB-C port. This is the portable charger for you.
Pros: This charger automatically adjusts the optimal current for your device, so it’s always operating at the optimal charging speed. It also has traditional USB ports so you can still charge your older devices.
Cons: At nearly seven inches long, this charger isn’t quite small enough to keep in your pocket.
There's no need to schlep around cables with this battery pack, which features a built-in Qi wireless charging pad and a 10,000 mAh lithium polymer battery.
Pros: The headlining feature here is wireless charging, but this pack also has USB-A and USB-C output ports that can be used simultaneously the charge multiple devices. It also has Quick Charge 3.0, a technology that can charge compatible phones up to four times faster than standard power banks.
Cons: Some users complained that with wireless charging you don’t get the same three charges from the battery wirelessly that you do when using a cable.
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