Featured Product: Anker PowerCore Slim 10,000 | $22 | Amazon
Any smartphone can struggle under stress, even those that promise a full day’s uptime or more. Whether it’s from heavy GPS usage, spending hours snapping photos, or pounding the 5G signal by streaming movies and downloading games, a near-empty battery before bedtime can be a real problem.
Thankfully, portable battery packs or power banks are compact and reasonably affordable, giving you a cache of extra juice that you can stash into a pocket, bag, or in your car. They’re a travel necessity, but can even come in handy when you’re not so far from home. Here are some of today’s top power banks, including some with wireless charging capabilities and others designed for laptops and other high-powered gadgets.
Best Overall: Anker PowerCore Slim 10,000 Power Bank
Anker’s PowerCore Slim 10,000 is one of the best all-around options you can find. It’s compact in size, whether you want to tuck it into your pants pocket or a purse, while the 10,000mAh capacity is enough to charge most phones two to three times over.
It’s also consistently available at an affordable price for what you get, so while there’s no shortage of power banks out there, this one’s always well-priced and has excellent customer reviews. It is a safe bet if you’re just looking for an all-around battery backup to buy in a hurry.
Best for Switch: AmazonBasics 26,800mAh Power Bank
For recharging more power-hungry devices, such as a tablet or a Nintendo Switch, your average budget-friendly power bank probably won’t cut it. Instead, you’ll need something with a higher capacity and higher charging rate, and the AmazonBasics 26,800mAh portable charger fits the bill on both fronts.
It has a huge chunk of built-in power, which you can also use for phones, earbuds, and other smaller devices, but it charges at up to 45W and can power a Switch, MacBook Air, iPad, and other devices. It’s pricier, but also much more versatile and pretty essential for vacations and other long trips.
Best for Laptops: MAXOAK 100W Travel Laptop Power Bank
Need something even MORE powerful? Well, if you’re trying to charge a more powerful laptop on the go, such as MacBook Pro or Dell XPS 13, then you’ll need something like MAXOAK’s 100W Travel Laptop Power Bank.
At 99Wh/26,756mAh, it thankfully meets TSA criteria, which means you can bring it on a plane in your carry-on bag—higher-capacity options aren’t as lucky. This beefy bank can give you a couple of laptop charges when you’re working on the go, or you can plug in multiple devices at once to charge all of your portable electronics.
Best for Outdoors: Blavor 10,000mAh Solar Power Bank
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If you’re looking for a power bank that’s built for a long hike, camping, or any other extensive outdoor activities, then this is the one. Blavor’s 10,000mAh power bank holds a solid amount of juice, but even better than that is the ability to charge it via solar power. It even has wireless charging, too.
The solar panels can power up the bank while strapped to a backpack or when hanging at the campsite, plus it has dual flashlights in case you need a bit of brightness. You can charge it through a wall outlet too, but the solar edge, water resistance, and lights make this incredibly handy for outdoor adventuring.
Best for Apple Users: Satechi Quatro Wireless Power Bank
If you’re someone who wields an iPhone, Apple Watch, and wirelessly-chargeable AirPods and want a power bank that can handle all three of them without pesky cords, the Satechi Quatro Wireless Power Bank is your best bet.
It’s a modestly-powered 10,000mAh battery brick, but the Apple Watch-compatible inset on the surface lets you charge the smartwatch alongside another wirelessly-chargeable device, whether it’s an iPhone, AirPods, or another phone or compatible device. It has USB-C and USB-A ports for wired devices, too.
All that said, it’s very expensive at $100, but could be worth the investment for Apple users who are out and about often and demand a lot from their devices. Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski summed up the experience in his review:
“Whereas Anker’s $20 solution features just a single USB-C and USB-A port, Satechi’s Quatro includes both of those plus a wireless charging pad that works with any Qi-compatible device, and a magnetic Apple Watch charger because, for whatever reason, the Apple Watch doesn’t play by all the Qi standard’s rules. From my testing the Quatro can charge up to four devices at one time, including a laptop—very, very slowly—so you’ll need to be strategic about which approach you’ll use to charge your various devices: wired vs. wireless.”
Best iPhone 12 Power Bank: Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K
The unseen MagSafe anchor in the new iPhone 12 line unearths some neat tricks, including faster wireless charging via Apple’s official MagSafe Charger and also snap-on accessories. Anker’s PowerCore Magnetic 5K finds the middle ground between those two things: a snap-on power bank that wirelessly charges your iPhone.
Unfortunately, since it’s not an official Apple product, the charging speed is limited to just 5W (instead of 15W). Also, it’s a fairly bulky pack compared to the iPhone itself, so it’s not ideal for pocket charging. It’s also pretty limited in capacity at just 5,000mAh. Still, there’s no easier way to juice up an iPhone 12 when on the go.
“If you are using one of Apple’s latest and greatest iPhones, for $40 the PowerCore Magnetic 5K is a no-brainer accessory,” writes Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski.
This story was originally published by Andrew Hayward in November 2020 and updated with new information on 07/21/2021.