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A 10-Step Guide to Buying a Portable Battery Charger

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Portable chargers for smartphones and tablets

Portable chargers for smartphones and tablets

Portable battery chargers, or power banks as they are otherwise known are gaining more and more popularity daily. Almost everyone, even those in third world countries have mobile phones these days. Many more have opted to get a tablet and even an –reader as well.

These portable gadgets consume a lot of power, especially if you have a lot of apps running on them. For some people, they do all their business and computing on their smartphone and/or tablet.

Since the advent of mobile phones, more so with smartphones, one problem that bemoans users is the device’s battery running out of power. That is not a problem if you Are at home or sitting by your desk with a charger handy.

However, what do you do when you are on the move, regularly using and depending on your device, and suddenly find that your battery has gone dead? Well there is an invention that can fix your problem. This device is the portable battery charger, or the power bank.

Power bank charging smartphone illustration

Power bank charging smartphone illustration

There are quite a few different models and types of power banks out there in the marketplace. The technology is rapidly developing, and with that brings a lot of choice. We have put together this ten step buying guide to help you choose the right portable battery charger from the widest selection in the marketplace.

1. Uses

It is important to first determine what you are going to use your charger for. Is the device going to be used for an epic international trip through places with limited access to electricity? Or are you just looking for a quick power boost on your way home from the office? Consider where you will be using your charger, and how often you want to recharge it.

Power bank

Power bank

2. Shape

Portable battery chargers come in a variety of shapes. One of the most common is a flat design, similar to a deck of cards. Some are designed to be the same shape and size of a smartphone. This is useful as it can be easily packed in a purse or handbag while taking up limited space.

Slim power bank

Slim power bank

Another popular shape is a narrow tube. This shape also fits nicely in bags, and many units have a clip or loop that can be attached to the outside of a bag or keychain.

3. Size

Along with shape, size is an important factor to consider. While larger sized units offer more capacity and the ability to charge your device for longer, they also take up more space and can be bulky. If you know you can recharge your unit every day, you may be able to use a smaller size that is easier to carry on the go.

Portable chargers

Portable chargers

4. Durability / Materials

Chargers are constructed from a wide array of materials, which often come with varying price points. Plastic devices are often a hit for those on a budget, but they are unlikely to last in more demanding environments.

Ultra slim portable power bank charger

Ultra slim portable power bank charger

On the other end of the spectrum, robust chargers made of metal and rubberized materials offer extreme durability in the harshest conditions, but come at a higher price as well.

5. Capacity

Portable battery charger capacities are measured in milliamp-hours, or ‘mAh’. The larger the number, the more ‘juice’ or capacity the device is able to hold. Consider the capacity of the battery in the devices you want to charge.

Portable power bank charger

Portable power bank charger

For example, an iPhone battery has between a 1600 and 2900 mAh capacity, depending on the model. To charge the iPhone twice without recharging your portable unit, you would need a charger with between a 3200 to 5800 mAh capacity.

6. Output

Different charges offer varying levels of output, which determines how fast they can charge your device. Generally, cheaper units may offer a 1 amp (1A) output, while more expensive ones may offer 2.1A. If you don’t want to keep your devices plugged in for long periods of time, consider a 2.1A or higher unit.

Portable charger external battery

Portable charger external battery

7. Connectors

USB is the general standard for portable chargers, but different units offer different numbers of ports. If you have multiple devices, it may be worth considering a charger with two or more USB ports so you can charge them at the same time.

Connections and ports on a portable battery charger

Connections and ports on a portable battery charger

8. Ready To Go

It is very important that you check if the power bank comes with all cables included. Normally you should have a power cord to charge the power bank (input) and another cable to connect the power bank to your portable device.

Portable charger

Portable charger

In most cases, the same charger that you use to charger your phone is compatible to use to charge your power bank. If you want to travel around with fewer cables, it might be best to get a power bank that uses the same charger (input) your portable device.

9. Additional Features

Beyond charging, portable battery chargers often have additional features. These may include flashlights, Bluetooth speakers or waterproof protection. After considering what situations you will use the device in, think about which of these features may be importance.

Portable Charger for Smartphones & Tablets

Portable Charger for Smartphones & Tablets

10. Solar Charging

A new feature offered on many chargers is the inclusion of a built-in solar panel. This allows the unit to be recharged on the go without needing to be plugged into a wall. For those living in sunny climates or who travel to tropical destinations, this could be a useful feature to extend the life of the charger.

Portable power bank charger and smartphone

Portable power bank charger and smartphone

Portable battery chargers offer a great convenience for those on the go or with limited access to charging. Whether it be your next adventure around the world, or your commute home, you’re sure to find a charger to suit your needs.


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