19 Best Portable Battery Chargers (2023): For Phones, iPads, Laptops, and More | WIRED

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19 Best Portable Battery Chargers (2023): For Phones, iPads, Laptops, and More | WIRED

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Portable devices have a Murphy’s law–like ability to run out of power at the least convenient moment: as you step on the bus, right in the middle of an important meeting, or just as you get comfortable on the couch and press Play. But if you keep a battery-powered portable charger handy, all those situations are in the past.

There are hundreds of portable battery packs, and picking one can be confusing. To help, we've spent years working our way through all of them. This obsession started when Scott Gilbertson lived off-grid in a vintage RV, powered primarily by solar panels. But even if you're not living in an off-grid solar setup, good power banks will come in handy. These are our favorites. Be sure to check out our Best MagSafe Power Banks guide for Apple-specific portable chargers, and our Best Portable Power Stations guide if you need more power.

Updated December 2023: We added power banks from Nimble, Belkin, Infinacore, Rolling Square, Baseus, and Iniu, and updated prices.

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There are a few things worth thinking about when you’re shopping for a portable charger.

Capacity: The capacity of a power bank is measured in milliampere-hours (mAh), but this can be a little misleading because the amount of power you get out depends on the cable you use, the device you are charging, and the charging method (Qi wireless charging is less efficient). You will never get the maximum capacity. We try to provide an estimate of what you’ll get in terms of charges for devices.

Charging speeds and standards: The charging rate for devices like smartphones is measured in watts (W), but most power banks list the voltage (V) and the amperage (A). Thankfully, you can calculate the wattage yourself simply by multiplying the voltage and amperage. Unfortunately, getting that maximum rate also depends on your device, the standards it supports, and the charging cable you use. Many smartphones, including Apple’s iPhones, support the Power Delivery (PD) standard, meaning you can use higher-power power banks to recharge the device with no issues. A few phones, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S range, support a supplementary PD protocol called PPS (Programmable Power Standard) that goes up to 45 W. Many phones also support Qualcomm’s proprietary Quick Charge (QC) standard. There are also other proprietary fast-charging standards, but you won’t generally find power banks that support them unless they come from the smartphone manufacturer.

Pass-through: If you want to charge your power bank and use it to charge another device simultaneously, it will need pass-through support. The Nimble, GoalZero, Biolite, Mophie, Zendure, and Shargeek portable chargers listed support pass-through charging. Anker discontinued support for pass-through because it found that differences between the output of the wall charger and the input of the device charging can cause the power bank to cycle on and off rapidly and shorten its lifespan. Monoprice do not support pass-through charging either. We would advise caution when using pass-through, as it can also cause portable chargers to heat up.

Travel: It’s safe to travel with a power bank, but there are two restrictions to keep in mind when you board a flight: You must have the portable charger in your carry-on luggage (it cannot be checked in), and it must not exceed 100 Wh (watt-hours). If your power bank has a larger capacity than 27,000 mAh, you should check with the airline. Below that should not be a problem.

The Nimble Champ topped this list for years, and now its successor is taking over by combining everything that made the original so good and bringing some welcome improvements. At 6.2 ounces, it's one of the lightest on the market. It's smaller than a deck of cards and can deliver 20 watts to charge two devices at once via a USB-C port on either end. While Scott used the original for years, the new version has only just landed, but so far, so good. It feels durable, comes in a snazzy new range of speckled color finishes, and has a bright lanyard loop that makes for easy carrying and helps you pick it out of your backpack. The Pro version is bigger but doubles the capacity (to 20,000 mAh) and has a similar design with two USB-C ports that go up to 65 watts.

The other reason we like Nimble best is because of its environmental efforts. Batteries are not environmentally benign. They use lithium, cobalt, and other rare metals whose supply chains are environmentally and socially questionable at best. But Nimble's use of bioplastics and plastic-free minimal packaging at least reduces the environmental impact where it can be reduced. This new version uses 90 percent recycled plastic (up 25 from the original) and comes in smaller plastic-free packaging. Nimble includes a 3.3-foot USB-C to USB-C cable in the box.

Two USB-C ports (20W). Can charge most smartphones two or three times (10,000 mAh).

For folks who don’t mind paying for quality, the Anker 737 is a versatile and reliable beast with a whopping 24,000-mAh capacity. With Power Delivery 3.1 support, this power bank can send or receive up to 140 watts to charge phones, tablets, and even laptops. You can charge it from zero to full within an hour. It’s relatively compact for its capacity, but it weighs almost 1.4 pounds. Tap the circular power button on the side once, and the snazzy digital display shows the remaining battery percentage; tap it again, and you get stats including the temperature, total output, cycles, and more. The screen also displays watts in or out when you plug something in and a remaining time estimate based on the current rate. It fast-charged everything I tested it with, and you can charge three devices at once without a problem.

Two USB-C ports (140W) and one USB-A (18W). Can charge most phones at least four times (24,000 mAh).

You don’t have to spend big to get a high capacity power bank, and this offering from Monoprice proves it. This power bank is impressively versatile with five ports, and it offers QC 3.0, PD 3.0, and wireless charging support. Results are mixed, but it fast-charged most phones I tested. Wireless charging is handy when you don’t have a cable, but this is not a MagSafe charger, and the total amount of power you get is limited because it’s far less efficient than wired charging. Still, these are minor quibbles considering the low price. Tap the power button, and you can see how much juice is left in the bank. It comes with a short USB-C to USB-A cable.

One USB-C port (20W), three USB-A (12W, 12W, and 22.5W), and one Micro-USB (18W). Qi wireless charging (up to 15W). Can charge most phones three or four times (20,000 mAh).

If you want a compact charger in a fun color that simply slots into the bottom of your phone for a top-up, Anker’s dinky charger is tough to beat. This power bank has a built-in rotating USB-C or Lightning connector (MFi certified), so you don’t need to worry about cables. It packs 5,000 mAh of energy (enough to fully charge most phones). I tested the USB-C version with several Android phones and found it stayed in place, enabling me to use my phone more or less as normal. There’s a USB-C port for recharging the power bank, and it comes with a short cable. It might not be a good pick if you use a thick case.

One USB-C (22.5W) or Lightning (12W) connector and one USB-C port for charging only. Can charge most phones once (5,000 mAh).

WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu has been enjoying his time toting around this 20,000-mAh charger. It's slim, fits easily into the padded sleeve of most backpacks, and has enough capacity to recharge an 11-inch tablet twice from zero percent. It's capable of dishing out 45 watts of power for fast charging via the USB-C port, and 18 watts from the middle USB-A port. In a pinch, you can use it to recharge a laptop (as long as it's not a power-sucking machine like a MacBook Pro). It has a lovely fabric material on the exterior, and there's an LED that shows how much juice is left in the tank.

Two USB-A ports (18W and 10.5W) and one USB-C (45W). Can charge most tablets two times (20,000 mAh).

Goal Zero updated its Sherpa line of portable chargers with better wireless charging capabilities: 15 watts, up from 5 watts in the previous model. I tested the Sherpa AC, which features two USB-C ports (60-watt and 100-watt), two USB-A ports, and a 100-watt AC port for those devices that need a pronged plug. It strikes a good balance between power storage (93 watt-hours in my drain test) and weight (2 pounds). It’s enough to charge up my Dell XPS 13 almost twice.

You get a nice color LCD display that shows how much power you've got left, how many watts are coming in, how many are going out, and a rough guess as to how much longer the battery will last (if conditions remain the same). Recharge times vary depending on whether or not you have the Sherpa wall charger (sold separately), but I was able to get it to recharge in under three hours no matter what power source I used. There's also an 8-mm port on the back for attaching a solar panel if you have one. The Sherpa is not cheap, but if you don't need the AC out and can live with a single USB-C (100-watt out, 60-watt in), the Sherpa PD is otherwise the same thing for $200.

Two USB-C ports (60W and 100W), two USB-A (12W), and one AC (100W). Qi wireless charging (15W). Can charge most laptops one to two times (25,600 mAh).

Ugreen's new charger is, as the name suggests, a 145-watt charger with a 25,000-mAh battery. It's surprisingly compact for the power it provides, although at 1.1 pounds, it's definitely not ultralight. There are two USB-C ports and one USB-A port. What sets the Ugreen apart is that you can actually draw 145 watts while charging. That works out to one USB-C port at 100W and the other at 45W. Very few other batteries we've tested are capable of that feat, and none that I know of at this size. If you want to charge fast, this is the power bank for you (although it's worth noting that reviews around the web suggest it doesn't support Samsung's fast charging tech). There's a small LED readout on the side of the battery with the current charge state of the battery. I'd have liked to see some charging info on that screen as well, but that's a small quibble with what's an otherwise outstanding option if you need to keep your laptop charged up wherever you are.

Two USB-C ports (100W and 45W) and one USB-A. Can charge most phones around five times or a laptop once (25,000mAh).

With an unusual design that features a fold-up wireless charging stand for phones and a charging spot behind it for your wireless earbuds case (if it supports Qi wireless charging), plus a USB-C port to plug in a third device, the Satechi Duo is a handy power bank to have in your bag. It has a 10,000-mAh capacity with LEDs to show how much juice is left. The downside is that it is slow, offering up to 10 watts of wireless charging power for phones (7.5 watts for iPhones), 5 watts for earbuds, and 10 watts from the USB-C port. It takes three hours to refill the battery with an 18-watt charger.

One USB-C (10W) and two Qi wireless charging spots (up to 10W). Can charge most phones one to two times.

One of the biggest problems we run into with portable chargers is forgetting to charge them, so this clever gadget from Anker is one of our favorite iPhone accessories. Ostensibly, it’s a wireless charging stand with MagSafe support that includes a charging spot for your AirPods on the base. The clever part, earning it a place here, is the detachable portable charger that slides out of the stand when you need to go. It stays stuck to the back of any MagSafe iPhone (and Android phones using MagSafe cases) and continues to charge it wirelessly. You can also recharge the power bank or charge another device with it via the USB-C port. The Anker MagGo 622 ($50) is a good alternative if you just want a MagSafe power bank, and it has a wee foldable stand built in. We recommend some alternatives in our Best MagSafe Power Banks guide.

One USB-C (12W) and Qi wireless charging (7.5W). Can charge most phones at least once (5,000 mAh).

Remembering to take a power bank with you for a night away is a real achievement, but what about your Apple Watch? It may be one of the best smartwatches, but the battery rarely lasts beyond a full day. This compact, black power bank from Belkin has a soft touch finish and an Apple Watch charger built in at one end. Even better, it can fast charge your Apple Watch, and there’s enough capacity to charge your iPhone or AirPods via USB-C at the same time, making this the perfect portable charger to stow away in your bag or pocket. You get a 1-foot USB-C to USB-C cable in the box.

One USB-C port (20W) and one Apple Watch fast charger (7.5W). Can charge most smartphones two or three times (10,000 mAh).

If you are hiking, camping, cycling, or running, the BioLite is a handy companion. This durable power bank is lightweight, a good size to slip into a pocket, and has a nice grippy textured finish. The yellow plastic makes it easy to spot in a bag or crowded tent, and it indicates the port end, making it easier to plug in when the light is fading. The smallest size is enough to fully charge most phones, and the USB-C handles 18 watts in or out. Two additional USB-A out ports let you simultaneously charge up multiple devices, though you will probably want to size up to the 10,000-mAh Charge 40 ($60) or the 20,000-mAh Charge 80 ($80) if you plan on doing that.

19 Best Portable Battery Chargers (2023): For Phones, iPads, Laptops, and More | WIRED

Power Outage Lights Two USB-A ports (18W) and one USB-C (18W). Can charge most phones at least once (6,000 mAh).