Choosing the right Portable Power Phone/Tablet/Gadget Battery Charger
I travel a lot and I've talked about the importance of having power while on the go. I carry a small Four Outlet Mini Power Strip, for example, as well as an all-in-one travel plug adapter. I like tools and gadgets that solve more than one problem and/or have multiple-functions.
Until phone and tablet batteries batteries can last for a day of solid use, I also carry a portable battery charger. In fact, I have been testing a bunch over the last few months in search of the Perfect Portable Battery Charger. Spoiler Alert, it doesn't exist yet, but each of these chargers has one of those characteristics.
What do I want? I want a 8000mAh or greater portable charger that weighs less than a pound, has a USB port. It should support a full 2A output for iPads or large tablets, but at LEAST 1A for phones. Bonus points for built in cables for iPhone and micro USB. It should have Solar for emergency charging. Bonus points if it can charge two phones at once, or at least take a 2A load. The fewer dongles or adapters I need to carry, the better.
NOTE: For reference as you read, here's mini-USB vs micro-USB using a photo from PowerLet and Rob Jackson.
What kind of charger do I need?
As you look at these devices and their Pros and Cons, ask yourself these questions:
- How many times will I need to charge a single phone in a day?
- Look at your phone's battery and see if one of these batteries will charge it once, twice, or ten times.
- How large a battery do I want to lug around?
- Some of these are the weight of your phone, one over a pound and a half. You WILL notice that.
- Do I live somewhere with a lot of sun and not a lot of outlets?
- Consider a solar charger, especially if camping (or urban camping)
WakaWaka POWER Smartphone Charger
That black part isn't a phone, that's the battery and on the side is a Solar Cell. The WakaWaka will charge in sunlight in about 8 hours, or in about 4 hours when charge it using micro-USB input.
- Charges with Solar if needed
- Extremely light, less than half a pound (200 grams!)
- Flashlight with several brightness levels, good for camping
- Small company, supports micro-finance and charitable giving
- Only a 2200 mAh Lithium battery.
- NOTE: Given that an iPhone 4/4s battery has 1420/1430 mAh battery this will give you about a single charge and a bit more. This device would be great with a 6000 mAh battery.
myCharge RFAM-0007 Portable Power Bank 6000
This simple and light charger charges with whatever micro-USB AC adapter you already have. It's claim to fame is the three built in cables for charging.
- Built in old-style iPhone cable. Built in mini- and micro-USB cable.
- 6000 mAh, very light.
- Built in cables are wonky. My iPhone one has failed and no longer charges. I can still charge via the one USB port.
- In my experience it's power drops off FAST. Feels more like a 2500 mAh device.
Yell BPS66 6600mAh Dual USB Energy Bar
This weirdly shaped battery is a full 6600mAh and weighs only 180 grams (well under a half-pound.) It has a mini-USB in for charging and two USB ports for output. It comes with 8 little adapters, but I haven't used any of them. I just use what came with my phone. It will also charge a large iPad which is a great plus. Charges in about 9 hours.
- Very small and extremely powerful
- Inexpensive given how much power it packs.
- Still needs a mini-USB charger, preferably one that puts out 1A or more.
i.Sound Portable Power Max with 16,000 mAh
Ok, TO BE CLEAR, this thing is a BEAST. It weights 1.4 pounds, almost half what my Ultrabook laptop weighs, but - it puts out an obscene 2.4A if need be and can charge as many as 5 small phones at a time. It adds over 24 hours more usage to an iPad with a 16000mAh battery. This is a great overnight charger.
- 16,000 mAh. There's nothing else that packs this much power. Charges an iPhone 10 times.
- Up to 6 devices (if you use their splitter, otherwise 5)
- Requires a proprietary AC charger - Don't lose it!
- Heavy as heck.
PowerTrip 6000mAh with 50mA Solar Panel
This is a nice charger that plugs right into the wall. The solar panel is very small and will top it up a little in a day of full sunlight, although I've never been able to full the battery only on solar. It's the built in AC that sets it apart.
- Built in US AC plug. Just plug the whole charger into the wall. Big win.
- 6000 mAh, 1.5A output.
- Small solar panel built in.
- Comes with three little 6 inch cables for mini, micro and Apple, useful.
- Expensive and hard to find, about $100
- Just one USB port
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Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
I have (so far) found it to be great. 2A + 1A simultaneously 13,000mAh - had meant 1 full Nexus 7 recharge + 3 full Nexus 4 recharges, with juice still to spare.
I'm not sure solar is really viable unless you have large external panels and lots of direct sunlight (no glass in the way).
It charged mine and friends phones all weekend while camping and still survived.
It has some unique features, but probably also some stuff you would miss. Also the kickstarter is almost ending and they haven't got enough funding. But the guy is a genius, he created a 5.9W (idle) High-end desktop machine:
Just ran across the EnergyBar 250:
It's 20Ah w/ 12V @ 10A, 5V @ 2A, or 15V @ 4A ...
... and 8 pounds.
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