Modern mobile devices can do pretty much everything. Your smartphone is a camera, a video player, video game console, an MP3 player, and a notebook, all in one compact package. Unfortunately, using all of your handset’s functionality can eat up its battery power, fast. That's where a USB battery pack can help your phone. It will charge your iPhone or Samsung on the go, no power outlet required.
After weeks of research and testing, we've concluded that the Mophie PowerStation PD(available at Walmart for $66.90) is the best portable charger to buy for, most people. It’s a compact 6,700 mAh battery pack that It’s a small, well-designed battery that offers a lot of features for a reasonable price. It supports high-speed charging and stores enough power to fully recharge a Galaxy S10, twice.
Here are the best USB battery packs we tested ranked, in order:
Mophie Powerstation PD
Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K
HyperJuice USB-C & Lightning
Mophie Powerstation Plus
Anker PowerCore Fusion
Mophie Powerstation PD
At just over four by two by 0.9 inches, the Mophie PowerStation PD is a small battery but, with its 6,700 mAh capacity, it packs a punch. This juice can be output through its USB-C or USB-A port, which delivers 18 and 14 Watts, respectively. This is an ideal battery pack for power users to use, during the workweek, or for keeping your smartphone powered up throughout a cross-country flight.
As its name suggests, the Powerstation PD also supports Power Delivery, which negotiates higher voltages and power outputs over a USB-C output/input with devices that support it. This results in faster charge times. This battery can deliver 18 Watts of power, which is enough output to charge two phones, simultaneously. Attempt to charge a phone and tablet at the same time, however, and you’ll find that your tablet will recharge at a snail’s pace. Some users may be disappointed by this battery’s lack of built-in charging cables. However, being able to attach whichever charging cables you need to in order to keep your hardware juiced offers significantly more versatility and future-proofing than built-in cables can provide.
The latest generation of iPhones have Apple’s Magsafe charging technology baked into them: each phone is armed with a ring of magnets that allow a wide array of accessories to snap into place on the backside of the smartphone. Anker’s PowerCore Magnetic 5K is also Magsafe-compatible, which means you can hold it near the back of an iPhone 12 or later generation Apple smartphone and it will snap firmly into place and deliver 15 Watts of power to the phone via its wireless charging coils. During testing, we found that the battery’s connection to the back of our iPhone was firm, but not so firm that it couldn’t be removed when the time came to do so.
Having tested the Magnetic 5K with a pair of Samsung handsets, we were pleased to find that it was compatible with non-Apple devices. That said, while charging these devices wasn’t an issue, the battery would not lock onto the back of them as it did with our iPhone 12. It’s also worth noting that, when this battery is used with a non-Apple device, it doesn't charge as quickly, as it automatically switches over to the 7.5 Watt Qi wireless charging standard. There's a single USB-C port on one edge, along with a button to turn the wireless charging on and five LEDs that show the charge level. Additionally, the Magnetic 5K’s single USB-C port can be used to charge other devices, although we found that it could only manage about 11 Watts of output power.
Weighing in at about 9.5 oz and measuring 5.6 inches long, the Mophie Powerstation Plus is an impressive slab of a battery. It holds 6,000 mAh of power, which can be dispensed through its built-in USB-C charging cable or via its USB-A port.
The Powerstation Plus’ support for Power Delivery (PD) means it can do some clever stuff to make charging easier, like increasing the voltage sent over the USB-C connection to 10 Volts. This trick doesn’t mean it charges any faster, however. Instead, it makes the power transfer slightly more efficient.
The Powerstation Plus has a maximum output of 18 Watts. We were able to get full charges using the Samsung Note 8 and an iPhone XS at once, as the combined draw is about 18W. However, when we replaced the Note 8 with an iPad (which can suck down 18W on its own), the charging speed of the iPhone dropped considerably, as both devices have to share the 18W of juice on offer. Our only real complaint is this battery’s integrated cable, is only four inches long. In order to charge a smartphone while the cable is plugged into it, you’ll have to hold both the battery and the handset in the same hand. That’s pretty awkward.
The Anker PowerCore Fusion combines a power supply and a USB battery in one neat package. Plug it into a wall socket and it works as a wall charger with a USB-A power supply, providing 14 Watts to each of its two USB-A ports. Unplug the PowerCore Fusion from the wall socket, and your devices will continue charging from the Fusion’s built-in 5,000 mAh battery—enough capacity to charge an iPhone XS roughly one and a half times.
The PowerCore Fusion isn’t as compact as batteries that don’t include the power supply: the Metecsmart 5000 offers the same amount of portable power in a far smaller package. But, as the PowerCore Fusion is both a power supply and USB battery, it’s a great pick for travelers with frequent access to a wall socket for those who want to keep their phone charges on the go.
I’m Richard Baguley, a veteran tech writer who has been testing and writing about technology for over 20 years. During that time, I’ve tested and written about a wide variety of hardware for publications such as Reviewed.com, Wired, PC World and many others. I understand the underlying technology that makes a battery work and know how to test to see whether or not one’s worth your money.
For this guide, we’ve focused on portability over power, looking at battery packs that are light and compact enough to include in your everyday carry but offer enough power to provide your phone or tablet a charge or two. If you're looking for high-capacity power banks to charge your laptop or larger device, we are currently testing those and will publish our favorites soon.This meant looking for batteries that offer between 5000 to 10,000 mAh (milliampere-hour) of power storage. After researching the most popular and well-reviewed USB battery packs in this mAh range, we called the most popular and well-reviewed models that we were able to find.
Each battery in this guide was put through a number of tests:
We measured how much power each battery could store by using a Total Phase USB Power Analyzer to measure the amount of power flowing into the battery as it charged
We measured how much power each battery was capable of outputting to an 11-inch iPad Pro, an iPhone XS and a Samsung Note 8 smartphone, both individually and charging together (where supported)
We also measured the maximum amount of power they could deliver by running them into USB dummy loads: testing devices that pretend to be power-hungry smartphones.
These tests gave us an excellent overview of how much juice these USB batteries are capable of delivering. Additionally, we also gave consideration to the design, build quality and features of each battery.
What You Should Know About Portable Battery Packs
A modern USB battery pack comes packed to the gills with Lithium batteries. These batteries store electrical energy in chemical form, which can be released in a controlled way. A small computer, called a charge controller, is connected to these lithium batteries. The charge controller, as its name suggests, controls the flow of power in and out of the battery pack’s lithium batteries as it charges a connected device and while you’re recharging the battery pack. In the interest of keeping costs low, most of the battery packs in this guide ship without a USB wall adapter. If you’d rather not invest in one, your battery pack can be charged, in many cases, using the same wall adapter you use to charge your tablet or phone with, or by plugging it into one of your laptop’s USB ports.
What To Look For in a Portable Battery Pack
When shopping for a USB battery pack, you’ll want to keep these terms in mind:
Capacity: The measure of how much energy the battery can store. The capacity of the battery is recorded in milliamp-hours (mAh) or Watt-hours (Wh). Both of these represent how much electrical energy the product can release over time: 1 mAh means that the battery can release energy at a rate of 1 milliamp for 1 hour. 1 Watt-hour means that the battery can release a flow of 1 Watt for 1 hour. As a rule, the bigger the number, the more juice the battery can store. For consistency, we have used mAh in this article.
Power output: A measure of how much power the battery can output at maximum. Measured in Watts, the higher this number, the better. If you are charging an iPhone XS or other large smartphones, it can draw as much as 18 Watts. So, if you want to charge two phones at once, you are going to need something that can output at least 30 Watts of power.
Ports Most USB battery packs come equipped with USB-A ports: the larger, rectangular ports used by most devices. Some offer built-in cables that have plugs for micro USB or Lightning connectors for charging devices like an Amazon Kindle or an iPhone, respectively. Many come packing more recent USB-C style ports that are compatible with many Android phones, Apple’s iPad Pro or the Nintendo Switch. USB-C can safely transfer more energy than the older USB-A ports can. They’re also bidirectional: this means that you can use the same cable and port to charge a device with your battery, or charge the battery itself.
Portability: is how easy the battery is to carry around. A smaller battery will hold less charge, but will be easier to carry with you. A bigger battery will hold more juice but will be harder to carry around.
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