The best portable chargers will still save your bacon when your phone hits empty. Whether you keep one stashed in the glove box for the next road trip or your reusable shopping bags for the next trip to the market, there’s few situations that can’t be improved by stashing an extra power charger around — you never know when you’ll need it.
We’ve tested all of these portable chargers, measuring how fast they charge, and how many full phone charges each power bank stores. While these portable chargers are all regulars on the best seller lists, they differ in important ways. We’ve get them ranked in order of what we ourselves would buy, with shoutouts for the best portable charger, as well our favorite compact charger, the fastest charger for short-term juice and more.
So, if you’re always trying to keep your phone at 100%, or worry about hitting empty in the wild, we’ve got the details you need. This includes what chargers offer which kinds of ports, and how many, so you can even charge multiple devices at once. Even if your phone is on our longest lasting smartphones page, I bet you could benefit from this portable insurance package on your next outing.
Black Friday 2020 deals
In the market for a new portable charger? You don’t need to wait, as Black Friday deals already begun. Yes, after some Black Friday sales began in October, other vendors have followed suit, and we’re already seeing big discounts from Anker and the like. This gives us enough time to allow for shipping delays this holiday season.
The best portable chargers you can buy today
With the Anker PowerCore, you get what you pay for. It’s not as cheap as some of its competitors, but it’s an ace in every category, making it the best portable charger overall. That means you get speedier charging times (both iPhone 8 Plus and Galaxy S8), a high capacity (charges the Galaxy S8 nearly three times on a single charge) and some of the lowest times for charging a phone (Galaxy S8).
Let’s break down the details. The PowerCore charged 2.79 Galaxy S8s, which was no shock considering its high mAh rating. Its fast full-refuel times (Galaxy S8 in 95 minutes, iPhone 8 Plus in 98 minutes) earned our respect, and its short-term times for the Galaxy S8 (21% in 15 minutes, 38% in 30 minutes, 73% in 60 minutes) and the iPhone 8 Plus (19% in 15 minutes, 32% in 30 minutes, 69% in 60 minutes) are also great.
One of the more-compact chargers reviewed here, the PowerCore 10000 packs enough juice to recharge two whole phones, and then some. It may not have charged our phones as fast as its big brother, (the 20100-mAh Anker PowerCore 20100), but the 10000’s lower price makes the slower speed easier to handle. Its combination of portability and mAh capacity makes it the best portable charger that you don’t need a huge pocket or a small bag to carry.
We saw better device refuel capacity from the Anker (2.14 Galaxy S8s), which also refuelled the Galaxy S8 pretty quickly (98 minutes), though the iPhone 8 Plus (126 minutes) took longer. Short term charging wasn’t fantastic for the Galaxy S8: (16% in 15 minutes, 33% in 30 minutes, 70% in 60 minutes) or the iPhone 8 Plus (15% in 15 minutes, 31% in 30 minutes, 71% in 60 minutes).
Smaller power chargers often seem the most suspicious. How much can you fit into these tiny tubes? Well, the Poweradd Slim 2 is the best portable charger that fits in your palm, because it holds around 33 % more power than similar-size devices and its charging speeds are just as fast as those of its competitors. On top of that, you can match it with your bag or other accessories, as it comes in metallic hues of black, blue, green, pink and red.
It’s a small charger, so we’re not surprised it only has enough charge to refuel 87% of a Galaxy S8. Its win, however, came with short-term charging speeds for the Galaxy S8 (12% in 15 minutes, 29% in 30 minutes, 55% in 60 minutes) and iPhone 8 Plus (15% in 15 minutes, 29% in 30 minutes, 55% in 60 minutes) that compete with the big boys.
Of the two $10 chargers we tested, the Aibocn refuelled more phones with 1.77 Galaxy S8 charges versus 0.87 of a charge from the Poweradd Slim 2. Its percentage charged over the course of 15-, 30- and 60-minute increments was also faster. That amount of juice — especially at a budget price — makes it one of the best portable charger options available today.
The Aibocn’s 1.77 Galaxy S8s refuel capacity makes sense considering its size while its full refuel times for the Galaxy S8 (120 minutes) and iPhone 8 Plus (126 minutes) aren’t as exciting. Its short term times for the Galaxy S8 (16% in 15 minutes, 33% in 30 minutes, 66% in 60 minutes) and the iPhone 8 Plus (17% in 15 minutes, 34% in 30 minutes, 61% in 60 minutes) were more respectable.
While this device charged two and a half Galaxy S8s by itself, it did so a bit slowly. Sure, it came out of the gate with 16 to 19 % charged in 15 minutes, but its rates for 30 and 60 minutes, as well as for a full charge, were at least 10 % behind those of its competitors.
If this brick were any lighter or cheaper, its full Galaxy S8 (110 minutes) and iPhone 8 Plus (129 minutes) times would be more understandable. The story doesn’t improve with its timed charging on the Galaxy S8 (19% in 15 minutes, 27% in 30 minutes, 55% in 60 minutes) or the iPhone 8 Plus (16% in 15 minutes, 30% in 30 minutes, 57% in 60 minutes).
Available in metallic hues, this charger looks nice, but you can do better. Opt for the less expensive Aibocn or Poweradd chargers we listed earlier, which hold more of a charge, as the PowerCore+ mini fills only two-thirds of a Galaxy S8.
Also, it filled only 9 % of our iPhone 8 Plus and Galaxy S8 in 15 minutes, a low among the chargers we tested, and its rates for 30 minutes (20% of the Galaxy S8, 21% of the iPhone 8 Plus) and 60 minutes (41% of the Galaxy S8, 40% of the iPhone 8 Plus) were also poor compared to what others achieved.
This charger, as you can tell, falls well under what we expect from Anker, which currently has two of the top slots on our chart. We hope Anker improves its lipstick-shaped chargers in time for our next round of testing.
The Bolt earned its name in our testing, refilling 81 % of our Galaxy S8 in an hour and 63 % of our iPhone 8 Plus in the same time. Both are the fastest rates for any charging device we tested, and the Bolt’s numbers for 30 and 15 minutes are also excellent. One note: Its speeds seemed to slow once it got closer to a full charge, as its times for a complete charge were longer than those of a few of its competitors. Also, its integrated Lightning and micro USB charger cords are a nifty perk, saving you from needing to carry your own.
The smallish Bolt still refilled more than a whole phone, topping up 1.3 Galaxy S8s. Its full phone refuel times aren’t fantastic for the Galaxy S8 (112 minutes) or iPhone 8 Plus (129 minutes). Short-term charging showed off some prowess on the Galaxy S8 (22% in 15 minutes, 47% in 30 minutes and 81% in 60 minutes), and the iPhone 8 Plus (17 % in 15 minutes, 33 % in 30 minutes, 63 % in 60 minutes).
How to choose the best portable charger for you
Finding the right charger capacity: You’ll often see a four to five digit number, with the letters mAh following it, and that’s your first big indicator of how much this charger is right for you. If you’re constantly refuelling your phone and other gadgets, go for at least 10,000mAh. For each extra device you charge, add at least 5,000 to the mAh rating you’re looking for. Just need to prevent your device from hitting 0 on late nights out? You’ll be good with something in the under 5,000 mAh rating, provided you remember to charge it often.
Be a Ports authority: If you hold onto your devices forever, and don’t already know what a USB-C port is, you can probably just get whatever fits your price. But if you’re the kind who wants faster charging, look for a brick that has PD in its name. The best portable chargers, at least for my money, charge devices the fastest, and use the Power Delivery (PD) standard. Also, their USB-C ports mean you can refuel these power banks with the same cords used to charge modern laptops.
How we test portable chargers
You want a charger that was put through the rigors of refuelling, so we did just that. With timers in hand, we kept draining an iPhone 8 Plus and a Galaxy S8, and then timed how much time it took for each power bank to refuel those phones. Along the way, we checked out how much of said phones were refuelled after 15, 30 and 60 minutes. And since those handsets are on the older side of the spectrum, and charging technologies evolve, we’re getting ready for a new round of reviews and testing, even though many of these units are still popular.
Our ranking also factored in the portability and designs of each model, as especially small and pocket-friendly chargers can’t physically store as many mAh of battery power as their larger brethren. Similarly, the smaller a charger is, the less likely it has more than two ports (one for gaining a charge, the other for giving power).
Those looking to keep their tech protected throughout each and every charge should check out our guide to the best surge protectors.