Anyone who uses a smartphone knows the importance of carrying a backup battery pack. But try searching for one on Amazon, say, and you’re likely to feel overwhelmed by the vast number of options. Besides the various charging specs, ports, and even cables you have to consider, there are a ton of competing brands. How are you supposed to know which ones actually live up to their promise?
Cheat sheet: Best power banks 2021
- Mophie Powerstation XXL: Best overall [amazon.com]
- Aukey Basix Slim 10,000 mAh: Best budget option [amazon.com]
- Xiaomi 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank: Most portable [amazon.com]
- Sherpa 100AC Portable Power Bank: Best for road warriors [amazon.com]
- Anker Powercore+ 26800 PD: Best USB-C pack with Power Delivery [amazon.com]
We’ve done the legwork for you, evaluating a wide range of power banks from different manufacturers, costing different prices, and some offering unique features. Our testing is extensive, too, subjecting the packs to real-world usage (read about our testing process in detail below). Our picks below reflect a range of needs. (You might also be interested in our our roundup of USB car chargers if you spend a lot of time in transit.)
Updated 3/15/2021 to include our review of the Crave Plus Portable charger, an impressively thin device that will fit neatly into a bag or pocket. Scroll to the bottom of this article for links to all of our power bank reviews.
Best overall power bank
Building on the success of the Powerstation Plus XL (our previous pick for best overall power bank), Mophie’s Powerstation XXL matches its predecessor in efficiency, achieving 92.51 percent of its stated maximum current, plus it’s stylish, portable, and affordable at $69.95. It’s a no-brainer recommendation if you’re in the market for a dependable power source on-the-go. (Read our full review of the Mophie Powerstation XXL.)
Best budget power bank
Aukey’s Basix Slim 10,000mAh is one the least expensive power banks we’ve reviewed, but when it comes to performance it ranks among the top 10. With above-average power efficiency, an eminently portable footprint, and a $20 price tag, this is a no-brainer for your go bag.
Most portable power bank
Xiaomi is known for producing high-quality products and selling them at an affordable price. The 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank Pro is a prime example of that approach, hitting all the marks to make it our top pick for the most portable power bank overall. With its high efficiency, premium design, and street price of $28, it’s hard to beat. Pick up one or two of these, throw them in your bag and suitcase, and forget having to worry about running out of battery power while on the road. (Read our full review of the Xiaomi 10,00mAh Mi Power Bank Pro.)
Best power bank for road warriors
If you spend a lot of time on the road and value device preparedness, the Sherpa 100AC makes a trusty, if pricey, companion. Yes, at $299.95, you’re looking at a big investment. But that buys you two USB-C ports capable of fast-charging speeds, two standard USB ports, a Qi wireless charging pad, a standard U.S. 110V outlet, a full complement of cables, and a nifty status display and buttons for controlling various functions of the pack. The pack itself can be charged in just a couple hours. (Read our full review of the Sherpa 100AC Portable Power Bank.)
Best USB-C power bank with Power Delivery
Between its capacity, recharge time, charging capabilities, USB-C, and the wide range of devices it can charge, the Anker Powercore+ 26800 PD is well worth its $110 price.
Yes, it’s big and bulky. But being able to quickly top off your phone while trekking through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch simultaneously is worth the added weight and the price. (Read our full review of the Anker Powercore+ 26800 PD.)
Best portable power station
There are power banks, and then there are power stations—behemoth chargers that pack serious capacity and offer an excess of ports. In this category, RockPals’ 300W Portable Power Station stands out. It boasts 280 watt-hours of capacity, a total of 10 different ports including four USB ports—two of which are Quick Charge 3.0 compatible—a 110V AC outlet, and a 12V/8A cigarette lighter. It can be recharged via AC, car charger, or the optional 100W/60W solar panel accessory that RockPals also offers for an additional $199. (Read our full review of the RockPals 300W Power Station.)
How we test
Determining whether a power bank lives up to a company’s promise entails more than simply connecting it to a phone and charging. Testing battery packs is done over weeks, not days, and requires extra equipment in order to ensure the batteries work as expected.
1. Upon receiving each battery pack, it’s fully charged, using indicator lights as a means to track charge level.
As we use the DROK load tester to drain the pack of power, we are able to test against a battery’s stated maximum current, and verify that proper shutdown mechanisms are in place should something go wrong during a charging session (such as a device drawing over the maximum amps).
By using the AVHzY USB Power Meter, we are able to monitor volts and amps, total power throughput, and total amount of time to deplete a battery from full to empty. The meter can create an Excel spreadsheet of the entire process for future reference.
3. Next, we recharged the battery, this time using the AVHzY to track it and chart the amount of time it takes to reach full charge.
The AVHzY meter solves a shortcoming we had with our previous method with the PortaPow. Previously we had to use a GoPro camera to track each battery through its charge cycle, as the PortaPow monitor would continue to collect data after the battery was fully charged (trickle charging is normal, and unfortunately interferes with our testing).
If a battery was capable of charging through USB-C, we use that instead of Micro-USB.
4. The AVHzY also has a feature built in that checks a charging port for all of its supported charging standards. We are able to run that test and get an instant readout to confirm support for QC 3.0, for example, without needing to have compatible phones or devices on hand.
Power source and cables
All of our tests were conducted using the same wall adapter and, when possible, USB-C or Micro-USB cable. This was done to eliminate any discrepancies with wall adapters and cable throughput.
What to look for in a portable power bank
Without fancy testing equipment, you never truly know if you’re getting what you paid for with a battery pack. Vendors, especially in Amazon listings, like to throw around a lot of terms and certifications.
Here are a few tips to help you make a decision:
- For those with a compatible device, make sure the battery pack is Quick Charge 2.0, 3.0, or PD certified. Depending on your smartphone, this can make a big difference in performance. If you own a QC 2.0 device, however, ask yourself if paying extra for a QC 3.0 capable pack is worth it.
- Don’t put 100 percent confidence in a company’s claims of a pack being able to charge, say, a Galaxy S8 or iPhone X six times over. Battery capacity and efficiency varies based on a number of factors. Read this Macworld report on USB-C packs to learn more about batteries and capacity.
- Look at the specs of the battery, and ensure that its input isn’t limited to slow charging such as 5V/1A. The faster the input, the faster your battery pack rechargers, the faster you’re ready to hit the road.
All of our power bank reviews
Click on the links below to read the full reviews of all the products we tested for this roundup. We will continue to review and update this article as we test more battery packs.
You may also be considering simply buying Amazon’s AmazonBasic charger, as a way of saving money. In this case, be advised: Amazon has voluntarily recalled several models because of potential overheating. Amazon has received 53 reports of the affected models—B00LRK8EVO, B00LRK8HJ8, B00LRK8I7O, B00LRK8IV0, B00LRK8JDC or B00ZQ4JQAA—overheating, and in one case causing chemical burns. You can find more information at the Consumer Products Safety Commission, as well as Amazon’s own recall site.