While smartphones get faster, thinner and more powerful with every new update, the one thing that doesn’t seem to improve is battery life. Whether you’re a traveller, digital nomad, or simply want to keep your devices going throughout the day (perhaps even several days), the best way to deal with running out of battery when out and about is to get a power bank.
What’s the difference between a power bank and a portable charger? Nothing. Manufacturers call them power banks, but a lot of people tend to refer to the same thing as portable chargers – which actually makes more sense as a name. Anyway, moving on.
Everybody has personal preferences when it comes to budget, design, or even reasons for buying a power bank in the first place, so it’s hard to say which is objectively “the best”.
For this reason, here are six of my top picks by purpose and function.
Not too small and not too big, this is the 'Goldilocks' option of power banks. Anker has been around for over a decade, and it shows: this has one of the smallest form factors for its battery capacity, and their proprietary charging tech pairs perfectly with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 - an absolute lifesaver. All housed in a beautifully minimalist, shockproof case.
Small enough to fit in the front pocket of your jeans and with integrated Micro USB and Lightning cables, the Jackery Bolt is the ultimate all-in-one daily charging companion. This is also one of the few power banks that support pass-through charging, meaning you can charge other devices from the Jackery while itself is also charging.
The PowerCore+ Mini is a small, lipstick-sized sized power bank that is the go-to choice if all you need is a top-up for your phone towards the end of the day. I personally own one of these, and carry it around every day. The Mini is best paired with a larger power bank for times you need more battery (e.g. while travelling) but is the perfect daily driver.
Want the most amount of power in the smallest package possible? Well, the RAVPower 32000mAh isn't really small but it's the sleekest, most compact option in its battery class. That being said, most other brands don't even touch anything bigger than 27000mAh, so that alone put the RAVPower in a whole new level of its own.
USB Type-C hasn’t really caught on quickly as many have hoped, but it's slowly becoming the norm. The PowerCore+ 20100 features top-of-the-line tech, the fastest 'real world' output, and has been around for a couple of years already - meaning the price has halved since I bought it. That's right: I own one of these too, and it's flawless.
The options above cover most of the bases, but for those who want charge their devices off an AC outlet (for example, laptops that don’t charge off USB Type-C cables), this is the clear winner. It also features 1x USB-C and 2x USB-A ports and even a built-in air vent to manage the heat when discharging at maximum capacity.
As far as this guide goes, Anker is featured quite a lot here – exactly why can be found below. But the short answer is that they simply are the leaders when it comes to power banks at the moment. These picks are chosen as they have certain features that put them a cut above the alternatives – but you really can’t go wrong with picking any power bank from Anker.
Now, let’s jump into the details.
The criteria for the best all-rounder power bank was something that wasn’t too big or small, does everything well, and has some forward-thinking technology that differentiates itself from the competition.
The Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC does all of these things. The battery itself is manufactured by Panasonic – a long-time market leader – and everything is hooked up to Anker’s proprietary PowerIQ, VoltageBoost and MultiProtect technology. These work beautifully with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology, which allows you to quick-charge your devices 3-5 times.
A lot of other companies have power banks of a similar size, but I’ve not seen anyone else pack so much tech into one device. The Anker brand has also developed a reputation for quality, and it shows in everything they make.
Although this is my personal opinion, I’d say most people would agree that even its looks are great, based on the older but equally best-selling PowerCore 10000 – only smaller, lighter and sleeker. It’s a real winner.
- 10000mAh battery capacity for 3-5 full charges from zero
- Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 for super fast charging (up to 4x faster)
- Anker’s proprietary PowerIQ, VoltageBoost and MultiProtect technology
- Lightweight and durable double-layer design with a premium finish
- Compact enough to put into your jacket or back jeans pocket
- Anker’s 18-month warranty
- Lifetime technical support
Realistically, the Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC should suit almost everyone. If you need more power, Anker also offers a number of other power banks of similar types in 300-400mAh increments – click through to this link and navigate to the other options or check out the Anker website. I’ve also covered larger capacity power banks further down in the guide below.
An alternative to going bigger to simply buy two 10000mAh power banks instead. This way, you can charge one while using the other – sort of like switching out batteries on your camera to keep yourself in action. If you like to travel ultra-light and think that even this is too big, have a look at the next two options below.
In this case, the word “compact” means a power bank that can be carried around in the front pocket of your jeans and weighs little enough for it not to be weighing you down. Jackery’s second smallest offering fits the bill perfectly – and some more, in the form of integrated charging cables.
The Jackery Bolt (6000mAh) is a pocketable power bank with a battery capacity of 6000mAh, which even lets you leave your messy knot of charging cables behind. The top of the power bank features built-in Lightning and Micro USB cables that can be tucked away when not in use.
While not essential, I wish other power bank brands would consider this design thinking with their other products – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve left the house with just a power bank and no cable.
- 6000mAh battery capacity for 2-3 full charges from zero
- Built-in Lightning and Micro USB cables that fold away
- Small enough to fit in your jeans pocket
- Pass-through charging functionality
- Charge up to three devices at once
- Built-in flashlight
- Jackery’s 24-month warranty
- 24/7 technical support
The Jackery Bolt (6000mAh) is also one of the few power banks that support pass-through charging. As the name suggests, pass-through charging allows you to charge multiple devices – three, in this case – while charging the power bank itself, which is extremely handy when you’re travelling and only have one power plug (or adapter) available. The Bolt also has a built-in flashlight, a handy feature for digging through your backpack in the dark.
As for the brand: Jackery doesn’t quite have the pedigree of Anker, but they’ve also been around for quite a while have also developed a reputation for themselves. Their design aesthetic is also quite nice, along the lines of the Anker’s more premium PowerCore+ line at a lower price point.
Most of the recommended power banks are towards the mid to higher end of battery capacity, but for a lot of people, all that they need is a quick top-up – just enough to keep your phone going into the evening.
The Anker PowerCore+ Mini owns this space. It’s a cylindrical, compact power bank about the size of a tube of lipstick, small enough to fit into the same pocket as your phone, yet packs enough punch (3350mAh, to be precise) to give you that little boost when you need it.
The Mini is the baby of the premium PowerCore+ range from Anker, but the performance is anything but small – as are the number of people who have bought it, with over 27,000+ confirmed reviews on Amazon. Even I own one and carry it around daily.
- 3350mAh battery capacity for 1-2 full charges from zero
- Anker’s proprietary PowerIQ and MultiProtect technology
- Ultra-compact, about the size of a tube of lipstick
- Class-leading battery capacity for its size
- Class-leading sleek design
- Multiple colour options
- Anker’s 18-month warranty
This version of the Anker PowerCore+ Mini (3350 mAh) is the 3rd generation of its kind, which has been perfected over several years. Anker has a reputation for listening to its users, from both general customer feedback and its unique “Power User” program. A testament to its quality is the fact that it’s currently the top-selling power bank on Amazon, with over 27,000 reviews and very satisfied customers.
Personally, I have the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C but rarely use it outside of longer trips – the Anker PowerCore+ Mini (3350 mAh) is more than enough to keep my phone going even if I’m out all day. It’s also incredibly small, so I simply slip it into my pocket or backpack and forget about it.
Power! If this all you’re looking for, then all three leading manufacturers have something for you around the 26000mAh range, but RAVPower has gone one step further and gone into 32000mAh territory. That is, unless you want to get yourself a 120000mAh Anker Powerhouse. But more on that later.
The RAVPower 32000mAh is the best power bank in this category if you want as much power as possible from a quality brand. This is electricity we’re talking about, so you don’t want to risk buying a power bank with no history or manufacturing experience.
RAVPower, like Jackery, have also been around for a long time and are seriously giving Anker a run for their money. In this case, Anker doesn’t even have an alternative to the RAVPower 32000mAh, so it’s game over.
- 32000mAh battery capacity for 8-11 full charges from zero
- Charge three devices at the same time
- RAVPower’s iSmart charging technology
- Intelligent temperature, power and voltage control
- Short-circuit, over-charging and current-surge protection
- Scratch-resistant design with matte black finish
- Useful LED battery indicators
- RAVPower’s 18-month warranty
There’s no doubt that the RAVPower 32000mAh is a heavy power bank, but it’s the power user’s choice if you need to charge multiple devices, several times a day. While there are other brands that offer similar battery capacity, this is a power bank that’s backed by years of experience and an 18-month warranty.
As a power user, the only reason you might want to consider something else is if you have devices that uses USB Type-C. If that’s the case, read on to the next pick.
As far as charging standards go, USB Type-C hasn’t seem to have caught on quickly as many manufacturers have hoped. However they are slowly but surely becoming the norm, with Google adopting the standard with their flagship Pixel smartphones and Apple’s Macbook Pro also doing the same.
In this category, the number of options that have become available, but the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C takes the crown. It has the fastest “real world” power output and is capable of charging any device with USB Type-C. It’s also been around the longest, and the customer reviews (including mine) are very positive.
It comes with all the standard Anker bells and whistles, and its quick-charge functionality coupled with USB Type-C ports ensures that the latest devices stay topped up.
- 20100mAh battery capacity for 5-7 full charges from zero
- Fastest charging output compared to the competition
- USB Type-A and Type-C ports with intelligent charging
- Compatible with large-capacity devices such as the Macbook Pro
- Sleek, durable design that rivals Apple products
- Charge 3 devices at the same time
- Beautiful circular LED battery indicators
- Anker’s 18-month warranty
- Lifetime technical support
On a personal note: I bought one a couple of years ago after months of research, and it has performed flawlessly throughout my travels in three continents and dozens of countries. The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C is now about half the price that I paid for it, and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
For most people, the options above should cover most of the bases. But for those who want charge their devices off an AC outlet (for example, laptops that don’t charge off USB Type-C cables), RAVPower has a solution for you.
This is definitely on the larger side and would be the most at home on a campsite or perhaps in a campervan. Or if you’re working remotely – really remotely – this would be a great addition to your work setup alongside a wireless USB modem to keep you going for hours.
The RAVPower 27000mAh (AC) ticks all the major charging port boxes, with USB-A ports, USB Type-C output and an AC outlet to charge anything from a smartphone to a laptop, or even small appliances like a mini fridge. There’s even a built-in air vent and fan system to ensure that the power bank stays cool.
- 27000mAh (85W) battery capacity
- 1x Type-C and two USB-A ports with RAVPower’s iSmart charging technology
- Built-in air vents with quiet fan to keep it running cool
- Recharges itself fully in 5.2 hours with the 24V/1A DC input
- 8 LED power level indicators
- RAVPower’s 18-month warranty
- Lifetime technical support
Want even more power? Then there’s the Anker Powerhouse (120000mAh), a portable generator replacement with over four times more power. These are actually huge – but if you want to head off into the woods for several days, put this in the back of your campervan and off you go. But for most people, the RAVPower 27000mAh (AC) should do the job.
These two power banks are the most fully featured – and highly reviewed – power banks with AC outlets available right now.
Not Your Average “Power Bank Review”
There are tons of websites out there that churn out articles about “best this”, “best that” and “something review” just to build revenue streams. This is a little different.
This guide is based on over a decade of personal experience, research and general nerdiness. I’ve been tinkering with third-party batteries (back when smartphones had removable batteries) since my teens, and have used power banks day-to-day while I was still living in Sydney and then almost every day when I started travelling for months or years at a time.
This guide was first published in 2017 to compile everything I knew in one place and has since been updated multiple times. Surprisingly, not a lot has changed as most of my recommendations from two years ago are still very relevant, and even the power banks haven’t seen much change since last year.
One thing is for sure though: as far as brands go, Anker has well and truly begun to dominate the electronics industry – not just power banks, but also speakers, headphones and other gadgets. Anker first came to my attention nearly ten years ago as a manufacturer of quality third-party batteries, but now I’ve found even my technically challenged friends carrying around Anker-branded products in recent months.
So if you can’t be bothered reading the whole guide, here’s a easy takeaway: if you’re not sure what power bank to buy, check out Anker on Amazon or go to their website and then filter down by size. They’ve been around for ages and they know what they’re doing.
What is a Power Bank?
A power bank (also known as an external battery pack) is portable device that allows people to charge their devices without having to rely on power plugs. As the name suggests, power banks are typically a battery encased in a protective case with one or more USB plugs. Once the battery is charged, it can then charge other devices.
How to Choose a Power Bank
When choosing a power bank, it’s important to consider how it would fit into your life.
For example, do you:
- Simply need to keep your phone topped up at the end of the day? Have a look at the Anker PowerCore+ Mini (3350 mAh).
- Need to keep your devices going through a day of cafe-hopping? Have a look at the Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC.
- Want to get out of the city and go camping somewhere in the wilderness? Have a look at the RAVPower 32000mAh, RAVPower 27000mAh (AC) if you need an AC outlet, or if you need even more, the Anker Powerhouse (120000mAh).
It can be tempting to take the “go big or go home” approach and go for the most powerful power bank available, but this also means you have to lug a heavy battery pack around all day. To keep your daily carry as light as possible, it can be a good idea to get more than one power bank for different purposes.
If I had to choose one power bank, I’d recommend the Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC for most people as a great mid-sized yet portable power bank. It’s unlikely that you’re going to need to charge your devices more than 3-5 times in one day, but if you do, it’s not a bad idea to double up and get two – or upsize to the RAVPower 32000mAh (or the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C for those with USB Type-C devices).
Some good combinations include:
- Doubling down: 2x Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC
- Big and small: Anker PowerCore+ Mini (3350 mAh) + RAVPower 32000mAh
- Going camping: Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC + RAVPower 32000mAh or RAVPower 27000mAh (AC)
Whatever you want to use your power bank for, there’s a combination that will suit you. I personally have the “big and small” combination for daily top-ups and travel.
What Are The Best Power Bank Brands?
Although many of the power banks on sale today seem to be essentially the same at face value, the reality is that not all power banks are created equal.
For example, Anker was formed by ex-Google employees who have spent years perfecting their craft (and have since moved to China to keep costs down), while other power banks are cheap knock-offs that have been marked up by faceless dropshippers who wanted to make a quick dollar or two. This brand is my personal favourite – I feel they offer the best balance of quality, price, design and technical innovations.
As the recommended power banks above might suggest, there are only three main brands worth mentioning in 2019. The strong pedigree of Anker as a battery manufacturer was proven as they started producing third-party smartphone batteries that were often even better than the manufacturers themselves. After entering the power bank market, they were quickly joined by rivals RAVPower and Jackery, who are now jockeying for the top spot.
While other brands might have produced one-hit wonders, buying an Anker, RAVPower or Jackery power bank comes with a guarantee of quality. They’re not the cheapest options, but they’re the perfect compromise of quality, price and support – without paying for any unnecessary premiums.
Even better, all three companies have a replacement guarantee if you have any issues. To learn more about what they have to offer, head to Amazon to see more options from Anker, RAVPower and Jackery power banks.
Rather than putting together a generic “top 10” list with every power bank under the sun, this should give you insight into which power bank is most suited to your own needs. It might be a good idea to get a combination of two or more instead of compromising with just one – in fact, I do exactly that with my ultra-portable Anker PowerCore+ Mini (3350 mAh), which complements the larger Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C that I use for travel.
When it comes to brands, I highly recommend you choose from Anker, RAVPower and Jackery for their quality, reliability and design. Like most technology, power banks get better with experience, and these three have been around for the longest and are market leaders.
To recap, the top picks are:
- All-Rounder: Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC
- Compact: Jackery Bolt (6000mAh)
- Ultra-Portable: Anker PowerCore+ Mini (3350 mAh)
- High Capacity: RAVPower 32000mAh
- USB Type-C: Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C
- AC Outlet: RAVPower 27000mAh
Have any questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
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