Best portable chargers: 16 we recommend
19th Dec 2013 | 00:30
Mobile device out of juice? Try one of these portable chargers
Best portable chargers: 16 we recommend 1-8
With the massive amount of email checking, texting, mobile gaming and internet surfing everyone does, a reliable, portable charger has become essential to avoid that inevitable dead battery.
Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, going camping or simply out of the house all day, you'll probably need something that isn't too cumbersome and has enough juice to power your mobile devices.
Based on amount of usage we were able to get, weight, size and overall functionality, we tested a variety of chargers by mixing around charge times with an iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPad 4 in different situations to create a list of the best portable chargers - though most of the external batteries are compatible with an assortment of phones, tablets, cameras and handheld gaming devices.
Generally, the portable chargers are on the pricey side but you'll definitely get your money's worth for large mAh capacities and moderate to heavy form factor, or decent capacities and lightweight portables.
We've also added a few chargers towards the end of the list that are more suitable for a day out rather than a long trip away, just in case you're just looking for a super light, quick backup charge.
1. IOGEAR GearPower Ultra Capacity Mobile Power Station
Price: $79.95 (about £51.61, AUD$89.35)
IOGEAR's GearPower Ultra Capacity charger is a great portable battery. Two USB ports at 1A and 2.1A allow for multi-device charging and at 11,000mAh, you can easily charge a phone and tablet respectively.
Though it's not very pocket friendly at 10.4 oz and a tad bulkier than an iPhone and Galaxy S4, this is still an adept portable and great for traveling long distances in the car or plane.
In fact, we took the battery to a two-day music festival and it had no issues charging two iPhone 5's that were around 10 percent each, during the 48-hour span of Instagramming, phone calls, etc. After a 55-minute charge at the end of the first day, each phone was fully charged with the GearPower lights at three bars indicating that it was still able to keep going for a few more days - depending on what needed to be charged next of course.
The price point may seem high but the GearPower can be bought at much cheaper prices making it a fantastic deal for long trips away from outlets.
2. Juno Power Hue Plus
Price: $99.99 (about £60.85, AU$112.54)
The 9900 mAH Hue Plus from Juno Power is a bit on the heavier side at 9 oz like the other larger capacity chargers but it's well worth shouldering the weight.
The Plus has a nice little LCD screen that tells you the declining charge amount which comes in handy if the usual indicator lights just won't do it for you.
There are also two USB ports (with one being 2.1A) that allow for dual device charging. On a road trip to LA, the Plus was more than capable of charging two iPhone 5's - where one phone was used heavily and one used minimally. The charger ended out the nine hour trip with 19 percent left and took the night to recharge, which brings us to the next point.
Oddly, the Hue Plus makes whirring noises when recharging - though it's best to keep in mind that it may be specific to the test product. Another note about recharging the portable: you may want to keep it away from your bedside table as the LCD screen stays lit up.
The Hue Plus also appropriately comes in five different hues.
3. ZAGGsparq 6000
Price: $99.99 (about £64.55, AUD$111.75)
Easily one of the priciest chargers, the ZAGGsparq 6000 charger is still a decent backup, despite a few caveats.
Its 2.1A USB outlets got the job done efficiently with two smartphones and it was able to hold a charge the next two days.
Unfortunately, the 6000mAh isn't too great with tablets and was only able to charge an iPad from 25 percent up to 60 percent before dying down to one LED light of juice left.
Not only is the ZAGGsparq small and light, but it's also wide, making it awkward to carry if using a purse or small bag - though if in a backpack, you'll hardly feel it.
The built-in prongs make it easy to charge and means there's one less cord to lose, which is actually really quite nice, and its on/off switch is accident-proof, meaning you won't randomly turn it on and waste your charge.
4. Jackery Giant
Price: $44.95 (about £29.02, AUD$50.23)
The bright orange (or silver option) Jackery Giant lives up to its name as a hefty charger weighing in at 10.4 oz (the same as the IOGEAR GearPower) but also because it's a heavyweight champ in other ways as well.
For the large 10,400mAh capacity, it's one of the cheapest chargers you can get. The Giant also travels well and can be taken on outdoor adventures thanks to its ability to hold a charge for a long time, though you'll need to charge the battery itself a whole night (about 10 hours) for a full charge beforehand.
The battery also packs a little LED flashlight which can be activated by pressing the power button twice (to avoid accidental usage), and is pretty handy if you're camping or need to find something in a flash.
The Jackery Giant did a good job charging our S4 and iPad 4 simultaneously - 10 percent to 95 percent and 47 percent to 96 percent in about two and a half hours, respectively. What's more, it even had enough juice to charge up the iPhone 5 up, with two light bars remaining.
If you're only planning to get the Giant as an occasional backup, it will hold a charge for up to six months.
5. Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation Duo
Price: $99.95 (about £64.52 AUD$111.70)
The Juice Pack Powerstation Duo from Mophie is a nice little 6000mAh portable. At 11.99 oz it actually feels lighter than its battery counterparts despite weighing the most. Because of this, it makes for a great travel companion as you can hardly feel it in your bag.
Two 2.1A USB ports allow for quick dual charging of tablets and phones, which it was quite capable of during our trips to and from the office; 0 percent battery on the iPhone and Galaxy S4 were raised to around 88 percent - 95 percent each after an hour, and it still had two lights left.
The Mophie also stayed light as a feather in our backpack though its smooth exterior did collect a lot of lint meaning it's probably a good idea to use the little pouch the battery comes with.
The biggest downside to the Mophie Powerstation Duo is its price. If you can afford the Duo, it'll serve you well, but if you want to go cheaper, Mophie has a nice little selection and from our experience with the high cost charger, it seems like the low cost options aren't too bad either.
6. Anker Astro 3E 10000mAh
Price: $39.99 (£25.99, about AUD$25.09)
It seems like it's go big or go home for the Anker Astro 3E. Like the Jackery Giant, the Anker Astro 3E is a beast of a charger and won't easily fit into your coat pocket.
Though it is a bit thinner than the other batteries on this list, it's still longer than the length of your average smartphone.
The Astro boasts the ability to hold over six charges for most smartphones - we were able to get about four with two smartphones simultaneously thanks to its two USB ports, and a third of a charge for our tablet by itself over four days before the Astro died, which isn't too shabby for 10000mAh.
Keep in mind, since it's a bit larger, it's not really a small bag type of portable - but a long trip will definitely benefit from the Astro, and it still won't take up too much room inside your bag with all your other tech devices.
7. Eton BoostBloc 6600
Price: $99.99 (about £64.55, AUD$111.75)
The high-priced Eton BoostBloc 6600 is a modest charger that surprisingly holds 6600mAh for how small it is.
Its lightweight 6.5 oz means its purse friendly and maybe even pocket friendly (for jackets at least) if you don't mind carrying something else besides your phone around, that has a bulky form factor.
It has two USB ports, 2.1A and 1A, and no on/off button, and you can shake the device for the indicator lights to pop on and tell you how much juice is left.
The BoostBloc 6600 holds charges for quite awhile and was able to charge up our iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4 from around 20 percent - 25 percent to 100 percent twice on one charge, and iPad 4 about halfway before giving out.
You'll probably have to charge the BoostBloc often if you plan on using it on tablets and phones simultaneously, but the portable charges up quickly (and gets pretty hot) - this shouldn't be too much of an issue especially if you plan on taking it with you everywhere.
8. Powerocks Rose Stone
Price: $69.99 (about £45.18, AUD$78.22)
With 6000mAh, the Powerocks Rose Stone charges up around the same as the BoostBloc 6600 and boasts the same lightweight portability. However, it's longer than the BoostBloc, so it will probably be best off in a bag.
Going along with the geological theme, the indicator lights are little rock-like formations next to a camouflaged power button, making this charger quite different and fun (as much as a battery can be?)
There are also two USB ports but each only gives off 1A, so charging will be a bit slower.
But that doesn't mean the Rose Stone will leave you hanging out to dry - the battery was able to give us great juice charges on our smartphones three times on one charge. The iPad 4 wasn't as lucky though and had to charge on the next round and only from 15 percent to 65 percent, probably due to the output volume.
So as a portable, the Rose Stone is best for smartphones and does quite well, but you're better off with a Powerocks charger with a larger capacity if you're interested in this brand and design.
Best portable chargers: 16 we recommend 9-16
9. Belkin PowerPack 4000
Price: $99.99 (about £64.55, AUD$111.75)
A well known brand for supplying electronic accessories, Belkin's largest capacity portable charger surprisingly only holds 4000mAh.
The PowerPack 4000 is still able to do a fairly decent job though, and is definitely one of the most lightweight and convenient batteries at 4.6 oz. In fact, even though the battery is pretty wide, there were times it was hard to find in our bag since it's still remains so compact.
We were able to charge our smartphones up completely from about 10 percent each, twice in two days before needed about three hours for the PowerPack to recharge. It was also able to charge up the iPad a little over halfway.
The PowerPack's main issue is the price point: For Belkin's current price (though you can definitely get it a little cheaper by shopping around), the capacity should at least be bigger. But we suppose transportability comes at a price.
10. RAVPower KnightRider 14000mAh
Price: $42.99 (about £27.50, AUD$46.78)
The RAVPower KnightRider has massive capacity and massive weight, too - coming in at 10.4 oz.
The Knightrider was able to charge our S4 and iPhone 5 completely in about an hour and a half using the two USB 2A and 1A ports.
It also was able to power our iPad during an hour-long train ride providing ample time to use the tablet, and charge it afterwards up to 87 percent before giving out.
The battery is a pretty powerful device and like the Jackery Giant, comes with a useful flashlight which could serve as a great backup if there's an outage or if you need an extra light on hand in the dark.
It's also fantastically priced for a large capacity battery that's been really useful for commuting and will definitely do well on long trips away.
11. Satechi 10000 mAH Portable Energy Station
Price: $59.99 (about £38.73, AUD$67.04)
The Satechi 10000 Portable Energy Station is a mouthful for a surprisingly thin and light device that's just slightly longer in length when compared to the S4 and iPhone. We didn't mind it in our bags but it felt a little cumbersome in the pocket.
The Satechi can charge our S4 and iPhone 5 four times before hitting the last indicator light, and an iPad 4 once completely.
A few oddities include a picky on/off button - apparently you have to press down pretty hard to get the thing to turn on. The lights also stay on and flashing letting you know it's ready, and then continue to flash while charging your device.
The exterior can also get a bit dirty with your fingerprints leaving marks all over it, but that's not really a big issue at all if you keep it in the case.
12. Hue Kard
Price: $39.99 (about £24.34, AU$45.01)
Think thin and light when it comes to the 4.4 oz Juno Power Hue Kard. At 7.5mm, it's the ultimate portable phone charger. If you're already comfortable with having a smartphone sticking out of your pocket, then the Hue Kard will feel like nothing.
The Kard is also an efficient little thing, and was able to charge a near dead (four percent) iPhone 5 at a rate of a percent and a half per minute. It was also able to charge up the S4 a little over half way after fully loading up the iPhone.
A neat feature of this sleek portable charger is the on/off switch - rather than a physical button, the Kard boasts a nifty touch "button" which shows the battery's indicator lights, and starts the charging process.
The back of the Hue Kard also can serve as a mirror much like the older gen iPods - but like the older iPods, may end up a bit scratched up from use. Still, it may be useful while it lasts and at least the Kard will remain a handy portable.
13. Apelpi - Opso Plus
Price: $49.99 (about £32.27, AUD$55.87)
Boasting one of the most unique designs, Apelpi's MFi Apple certified Opso Plus charger is a fun little portable. But don't let its pretty appearance fool you - this little apple's got a powerful bite.
At 6400mAh, the Opso Plus can charge your phone quite nicely on the go and at 5.6 oz, it fits great in a bag - however, there is only one 1A USB port meaning it's a bit slower, and it can't fully charge a tablet. According to the company, Apple would only allow one port for MFi certification, thus sacrifices had to be made.
We took it with us to charge our Samsung Galaxy S4 battery on a 50 minute train ride, and it went from seven percent to 100 percent with two LED lights left allowing for at least two more charges the next day.
Additionally, though the power button is an ingenious little stem on top of the Opso, there were moments where it seemed a bit precarious sticking it in a bag for fear of breaking the stem off.
Despite this, if you need a moderately priced, nicely designed portable charger then consider Apelpi - an Opso a day will keep your phone's dead battery away.
14. Jackery Mini
Price: $24.95 (about £16.11, AUD$27.88)
The Jackery Mini is the counterpart to the Jackery Giant and works just as great for those moments where you don't want to lug the monster around.
It will fit nicely anywhere and works well with both the iPhone and S4, however it's not a good option for tablets since it's only 1A and 2600mAh.
We were able to get two charges for each smartphone on one full-up Mini, which is quite good for the little portable. Because it's smaller, the Mini is able to recharge must faster too.
The power button may be accidentally pressed a lot (which was the case with us) so be wary of running your battery, but aside from that, the Jackery Mini is a really compact charger for when you're on the go.
15. Powerocks Magicstick
Price: $49.99 (about £32.27, AUD$55.87)
Similar to the Jackery Mini, the Powerocks Magicstick is about the same length and width but rounded.
The Magicstick also has a slightly larger capacity at 2800mAh so we were able to get two and a little over a half charge for each smartphone.
Like the Mini, the Magicstick recharges quickly so you don't have to wait all night for a portable battery.
It's a little heavier as well but definitely not enough to be noticeable. The power button on this works like a small flashlight - you press one end which lights up letting you know if its charged up, with different colors telling you how much juice it has.
16. RAVPower RP-WD01 Wireless WiFi-Disk
Price: $44.99 (about £28.78, AUD$48.96)
Basically, the traveling person's dream portable, this guy can do it all.
Though not as physically small as the other tiny chargers, this 3000mAh RAVPower made the list for being able to read SD cards and turn into a Wi-Fi hotspot making it a powerful compact combination when you're in need of more than one device.
It's also thin and light as a feather so you'll hardly feel it, and it won't take up room in your bag.
The charger works great and was able to fully charge a low battery S4 in one go. However, it definitely needs to be recharged often so it's probably best to use it intermittently while using the other features.
The card reader and Wi-Fi hotspot also worked quite well, and were able to power on and connect to our smartphones without too much hassle.