Best portable chargers of 2017: 14 we recommend

Best portable chargers of 2017: 14 we recommend

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 For any tech lover or frequent traveller, a power bank is a must-have accessory. 

There are loads of models available, and the latest all support fast charging. 

Other more specialised power banks can charge laptops, have USB-C ports, and support tech such as Qualcomm’s Quick Charge. 

To help make choosing a power bank easier, we tested 10 models, from affordable to high-end with niche feature sets.  

A big problem with power banks is that the actual battery cells and charging circuitry inside some lesser brands can be of low quality, and not actually provide the rated capacity. However, many power banks tested have batteries that (when new) are giving more than their rated capacity, which helps even it out. 

How we tested

 We logged the power produced on a static load. Due to efficiency losses, the output capacity will be up to 10% less than the rated battery capacity. 

As a comparison, we also calculated each power bank’s ‘mAh per dollar’ score to help assess the overall value – higher is better.  

 Dell Power Companion PW7015M 

Price: $179

Charging laptops alongside USB devices is very useful, but some models are not supported by the ‘universal’ power banks. 

The Dell Power Companion solves that issue, with a 18,000mAh or 12,000mAh (as tested) power bank with dual 2.1A USB ports, as well as laptop charging. 

The unit plugs in between your laptop and its PSU, rather than having its own charger. This is a great setup, as it means the unit is always charged (though tops off the laptop first), and automatically kicks in if mains power is lost. 

It comes with both the large and small Dell power tips (and charges from either) – or there is also a USB-C version. 

Using a large to small tip adapter, we were also able to charge an HP laptop.  In testing, the Power Companion outputted an outstanding 100% of its rated capacity via USB. 

The Power Companion is more expensive than most laptop charging power banks, but is still a must-have purchase for on-the-go Dell laptop owners.  

 Xiaomi Mi Power Bank Pro 

Best portable charger

Price: $69

While most power banks support 5V 2A fast charging, the Xiaomi Power Bank Pro steps it up a notch with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0. 

The tech is only supported on some phones and tablets for now, but allows devices to charge at 9V or 12V, rather than just 5V 2A. Even better, the power bank itself can be quick charged with a compatible charger, for quick top ups. 

The unit has a 10,000mAh capacity, and a single USB Type-A port. It also has a USB-C connection, but it only works for charging the power bank, not as an output. 

Importantly, it does support passthrough charging, and can even charge itself from a phone. The power bank can also be used to charge compatible laptops that use USB-C. 

The Mi Power Bank Pro managed to output a very impressive 99% of its rated capacity. It’s also the lightest and smallest power bank tested for the capacity, measuring in at 130 x 75 x 12mm, and weighing just 225 grams.  

Thermaltake Luxa2 P3 Power Bank

Best portable charger

Price: $60

Shipping with a snap on case for an iPhone 5, the super slim Luxa P3 is also quite powerful. The 2,500mAh battery has an excellent 2,432mAh available.

While only just enough to give many Android phones a full charge, it will top off your iPhone 5 with power to spare, or more than double your run time.

It also has enough power to charge your tablet (albeit not a full charge) and puts out up to 3.67 A – the highest out of our tests.

The sleek little unit is stylish and well-built and comes in black or silver. It comes with a Micro-USB cable and organiser, but no iPhone cable, so you need to use your existing one.

Huntkey Ezy Go Pocket Size Power Bank

Best portable charger

Price: $23

While the lowest capacity power bank tested, the slim little Ezy Go still manages an impressive 1,824mAh of real-world charging.

It’s enough to almost fill your iPhone or give your Android a significant boost. Impressively it can output 2.63 A so can handle your tablet, though not for too long.

It comes with a micro and mini USB multi cable, as well as a pin style plug for your old Nokia. Keep an eye out as it’s often on sale for under $20, making it a bargain.

Jackery Force 420 Pro

Best portable charger

Price: $104

Until smartphone manufacturers figure out how to give us decent battery life, powerbanks are essential for travelling. 

The glitzy Force 420 Pro from Jackery is Apple- and Android-compatible, and has enough oomph to juice up your MacBook. 

Thanks to its enormous 20,100mAh battery, it’ll power up three devices simultaneously in case everything’s suddenly gone completely dead.

 TP-Link TL-PB10400 

Best portable charger

Price: $49

Rather than a flat form factor, the TP-Link TL-PB10400 has a tall, rectangular shape that measures in at 89mm x 44mm x 44mm and weighs 241 grams. 

While not great for slipping into a pocket, the power bank does sit well in car and bag drink holders. 

Hidden inside is a large 10,400mAh capacity, with four LEDs to indicate the charge level. 

The power bank has dual USB ports, with one rated for 2A and the other for 1A. It charges via micro USB (and includes a cable), handling a 2A current. 

One handy feature of the TP-Link is an inbuilt LED torch, which is activatable by holding down the power button.  

In testing, the TP-Link power bank outputted 98% of its usable capacity, and had no problems supplying over 2 amps. It also supports passthrough charging, though the side location of the micro USB input makes it hard to charge in a bag.  

The TL-PB10400 is quite affordable at $49 (shop around online), which results in a great mAh per dollar rating.  

 3SIXT JetPak Slim 

Best portable charger

Price: $79.95

The svelte but weirdly named 3SIXT JetPak Slim comes in both 8,000 and 4,000mAh capacities. Both have dual USB ports – one that can output 2.1 amps, while the other is rated for 1 amp. 

They charge via an included micro USB cable, and have an on button (and auto power off), plus four LED power level readout. 

The smaller power bank saves you $30, and while we tested both, our results are for the 8,000mAh model. 

The JetPak performed quite well in real-world testing, and we were able to use 95% of the rated capacity. Handily, it also supports passthrough charging.  

As the name suggests, the 8,000mAh model is very slim at just 10mm thick, but is 150mm long and 75mm wide. Combined with the 195-gram weight, the power bank is easy to slip into a bag or pocket. 

The outer aluminium shell is nice and tough, but will tend to pick up some scratches.  At $79.95, it is not the cheapest power bank for the capacity and specs, but gives a decent result.  

 Belkin MIXIT Power Pack 6600 

Best portable charger

Price: $69

As the name gives away, the Belkin MIXIT power bank has a 6,600mAh capacity. 

It’s clad in a thick but lightweight aluminium shell that looks great, but is a little prone to scratching. 

On the business end, the power bank has dual USB ports, and a micro USB charging socket. 

The unit supports 5v fast charging, but rather than an individual power rating for each port, they share a maximum of 3.4A. The Belkin power bank can also charge at up to 2.4 amps, and includes a micro USB cable. 

Unlike any other power bank tested, the MIXIT has a $2,500 connected equipment warranty, just in case it has a fault that causes damage.  

The power bank had 97% of its rated capacity available in real world testing, and happily outputted the rated current. 

While a little pricier than some of the competition, the connected equipment warranty gives peace of mind not found elsewhere.  

The MIXIT power bank is also available in a 4,000mAh capacity for $39.95.  

 Laser Power Bank 10000 

Best portable charger

Price: $39

Clad in bright yellow plastic (or blue, pink and green), the LASER power bank has a large 10,000mAh capacity. The rest of the specs are pretty standard – dual USB ports, with one 1A and the other 2A. 

While the plastic shell does not have the premium feel of metal, it’s got a fairly robust design. Charging is done via micro USB, but only at a 1A rate. 

It’s worth noting that the Laser power bank does not support passthrough charging, and the LED indicators are hidden under the shell and can be tough to see. 

On the plus side, it does come with a multi-headed USB charge cable, with micro USB, Lightning and the 30-pin Apple connector. 

In testing, the Laser power bank has a decent 94% of its capacity available, and will happily charge most phones or tablets a few times over. 

Because of the cheap price, it also gives a very good mAh per dollar ratio.  While the price and capacity is great, other power banks offer a few more features.  

 Luxa2 EnerG Slim 

Best portable charger

Price $29

Wrapped in black fireproof ABS plastic, the Luxa2 EnerG Slim is designed to slip easily into a pocket or bag. 

It only has a single USB port, which is rated to output 1.5A. While less than most power banks, that’s still enough to enable a fast charge, and work with electron-hungry tablets. 

When we loaded up the power bank, though, it happily sustained 2.2A.  In testing, we pulled 5,061mAh from the EnerG Slim, which is a great result and goes to show it uses high-quality cells. 

The power bank lives up to its name, as just 9.8mm thick, 63mm wide, 128mm long, and weighing 120 grams. 

The EnerG Slim charges via micro USB, with an 1A input rating and an included micro USB cable. Handily, it does support passthrough charging, and takes about 6.5 hours to top up itself.  

For those who need extra capacity, the Luxa2 EnerG Slim is also available with a 10,000mAh rating for $45.  

Sony CPV3

Best portable charger

Price: $39.95

Rated as having a 2,800mAh battery, the Sony also claims 7.5Wh, which would actually be a 2,000mAh battery – so there is some inflation going on there.

It has a usable capacity of 1,927mAh – a poor result for a 2,800mAh battery but an excellent one for a 2,000mAh battery.

Don’t go looking to charge your tablet as it only outputs 1.61 A. Rated for 1,000 charge cycles, if you use it a lot it will probably outlast some of the cheaper models.

 Promate CLOY-12 

Best portable charger

Price: $39

Taking a slightly different tack, the Promate Cloy-12 has a larger 12,000mAh rating. 

Wrapped in soft touch plastic, the power bank feels tough, and won’t scratch too easily. 

On the business end, it sports dual USB ports, which share a combined maximum 3.1A output current. It charges via micro USB, but only at a slower 1A rate, so takes about 7 hours to fill back up. 

Rather than a push button to check the remaining charge, a quick shake does the same job thanks to an inbuilt movement sensor. 

In testing, we were able to access 93% of the rated capacity, which is pretty good considering the price. While it does come with a nice flat USB cable, the power bank does not support passthrough charging.  

Impressively, the Cloy-12 has the highest mAh per dollar rating out of any of the power banks tested. It’s also fairly lightweight at 267 grams, and measures in at 120mm x 65mm x 20mm. 

For those who don’t need more advanced features, the CLOY-12 is a solid choice.  

 Romoss Solo 5 

Price: $35

Despite an impressive 10,000mAh capacity, the Solo 5 costs just $35. It comes as no surprise then that, in the real world, only 91% of that capacity was available – the lowest of the power banks tested. 

The thing is, for the price, that is actually a fantastic result, and gives a very impressive mAh per dollar rating.  

Unlike its metal-wrapped brethren, the Romoss Solo 5 is clad in plastic, which is still prone to scratches. The twin USB ports are conveniently located on one end (great for charging while it’s in a bag), but the micro USB input is on the side. 

The Solo 5 ports are rated for 1A and 2A, and it can charge at 2A. It includes a micro USB cable, and has a four LED capacity indicator. 

The whole kit and caboodle measures in at 138mm x 62mm x 21.5mm and weighs a pretty standard 296 grams.  

For those who crave a larger capacity, the Romoss Solo 6 has an uprated 16,000mAh for $15 more.  

 Comsol Laptop Power Bank 

Price: $149

The chunky Comsol power bank has a huge 20,000mAh capacity, shoehorned into a surprisingly thin metal-clad shell. It’s still pretty large though, at 185mm x 125mm x 15.5mm and weighing in at 562 grams. 

In a somewhat weird move, the unit actually only has one USB port, which is rated for 2.1A fast charging. 

Unlike smaller power banks, the Comsol comes with a laptop style 19v charger and can reach full capacity in just 4 hours.  

The power bank also comes with a cable and array of adapter tips, which allow it to charge most laptops – though not MacBooks. 

It’s rated for 19v at 3A, so can replace up to a 65W adapter. Perhaps even better, the output voltage can be switched to 16v or 12v. This makes it easy to run all sorts of other 12v tech, from modems to lights.  

Via USB, the Comsol power bank has 99% of the stated capacity available and could keep most smartphones going for a week or more.  

 Portable backup batteries buyer’s guide

  • Capacity: A 5,000mAh is a good starting point to get up to two full recharges from a smartphone, but a larger 10,000mAh model is best for tablets.
  • Passthrough charging: This handy feature allows you to plug the power bank between your charger and device, and charge both at once.
  • USB ports: Most larger-capacity models have two ports, which is very important if you need to charge more than one device at a time.
  • Input charge rate: Typically, 1A or 2A (higher is better), this determines how quickly your power bank can charge itself back up again.
  • Fast charge: Power banks supporting currents over 1A helps charge your device quicker, and is needed by some power-hungry tablets.
  • Charger not included: While they all come with a cable, power banks generally need to be plugged into an existing charger or USB port to charge.
  • Qualcomm quick charge: Only supported by some new phones, this tech allows devices to be charged up to four times faster than normal 5V USB.
  • Form factor and weight: With many different shapes, some power banks are better suited to use in bags, or being carried around.
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