Whether you are of the current generation, or are savvier with technology than our parents, it’s likely you take the time to research what you are buying. After all, no one wants to buy the technological equivalent of a DC film when you wanted Marvel. Given that power banks are overwhelmingly popular and with so many options, we’ve compiled a Quick Guide to help you make the right selection what do you need to consider when buying one?
The Most Important Thing: Power
The first step in properly choosing a power bank is to determine the battery size you require. Power banks can range from around 1000mAh or so on the low end to a stupefying 120000mAh. It may not need to be said but the more power you have, the more charges you will get. Considering that most phones nowadays have batteries around 2500–3500mAh, a standard 15000mAh power bank can charge an iPhone X at least three times. So if you like convenience (or if you’re lazy) a larger power bank is going to offer more charges before it needs recharging. Keep in mind that a larger power bank is subject to restrictions when flying, so inform yourself on the limitations before you take flight.
In addition to battery size, physical size is something to consider when buying a power bank. Do you walk around with bulging pockets or do you travel with a man-bag? Does your handbag have room for a chihuahua or do you pack only the essentials? Typically the smaller the battery, the smaller the power bank. That said, recent power banks are loaded with big batteries which somehow manage to fit into an astonishingly small device.
The Right Price
While the irresponsible ones among us spend all their cash on cool tech (not naming any names here, Barry), the unfortunate reality is that not all of us can spend so wantonly. As a result, your budget matters. For a general rule of thumb, the bigger the capacity, the more expensive the power bank. However, like everything, each charger will differ when it comes to price. Some can cost as little as around $10, while others over $100, depending on factors like brand, quality, technology, features, and more. Generally cheaper power banks (the ones found in tourist markets or dirt cheap on eBay) may be subject to safety concerns. Always buy from a trusted brand (we won’t names here either).
The Technology That Is Inside
As you can probably work out if you’ve been following along, not all power banks are created equally. Not only in terms of size and capacity, but also with the technology they use. While many just use standard USB charging, others might have Quick Charge, USB Power Delivery, USB-C, or more. So if your devices require that those certain technologies be included, be sure to do your research. Likewise it’s important to understand whether the technology in a power bank suits you. It’s never a fun time to buy a power bank promising a 4 hour recharge via a USB-C input only to find it takes up to 28 hours because you’re using a 1A charger.
For a breakdown of the technology in a power bank, check our quick guide on how power banks work.
Li-Ion or Li-Po
The majority of power banks use lithium ion batteries, however, a growing number also use lithium polymer batteries. We’re almost asked on a daily basis which is better. To address this, we recently wrote a li-ion and li-po battery comparison post to settle the matter once and for all. If you don’t have time to read it, we concluded that it actually doesn’t matter: “Li-po batteries are practically identical to li-ions, as they use the same materials for their cathodes and anodes and contain almost the same quantity of electrolyte”. While there are differences, they are slight. For example li-ion battery have a higher power density but are less durable, whereas li-po batteries are robust and flexible but often have a shorter lifespan. Despite what we think are small difference, some people still wonder whether lithium Ion or lithium polymer batteries are better, so it pays to do some research before choosing your power bank.
Make Safety A Priority
While briefly mentioned, it’s an important point so it bears repeating. When dealing with batteries and charging, protecting yourself and your device is incredibly important. As a result, you need to ensure that the power bank you are going to buy has undergone rigorous testing to ensure it is safe. Not only should the bank be durable and efficient, but it should have over-voltage protection, over-current protection, and over-discharge protections. Not just fancy sounding tech words, these protections keep you and your device safe.
A power bank that can’t stand up to a little wear and tear and hasn’t undergone extensive testing shouldn’t be purchased, plain and simple. If misused, they could potentially cause damage to your device or even lead to an injury. Imagine that weirdly named power bank you found at a yard sale bursting into flames because of a leaking battery. No way. Thankfully, most power banks found in retail stores or on Amazon will be very safe and perfectly fine to use.
We hope this article has help you make your choice of which type of power bank to buy. Also, there is no rule against purchasing multiple different kinds/sizes/brands, so consider all available options and happy shopping!
Note: A version of this article appeared on Medium.