Don’t get stuck without a charger for your gadgets. We’ve picked out the best power banks to help you recharge while you’re on the go
Power banks are a must-have. Screens keep getting bigger and processors more powerful, but if there’s one thing that doesn’t seem to improve with today’s mobile devices, it’s the battery’s ability to last the whole day. And while we’ve seen some superb long-life smartphones recently, you can still find you’re running out of charge before you can get near a socket, especially if you’re playing games or streaming video.
With a power bank, though, you can always get a recharge – even when you’re far from home. In fact, with bigger power banks, you can get away for a weekend or go camping and still keep your phone juiced up. And it’s not only smartphones that can benefit. Tablets, digital cameras and Bluetooth speakers can often do with a top-up, and a decent power bank is a must-have accessory if you love playing on a Nintendo Switch.
With so many brands and models to choose from, which one should you buy? We’re here to help. We’ll run you through the different specs and what to look for, then point you towards the best power banks on the market.
How to choose the best power bank or charger for you
What kind of power bank should I buy?
Basically, you’re trying to balance four factors: size, speed, capacity and price. The rules are simple enough: the less you spend, the lower the capacity and the slower the power bank will charge.
Cheap power banks
The cheapest and smallest power banks will have a capacity of between 2,500mAh and 10,000mAh. These days we’d avoid anything below 5,000mAh, as it won’t have enough charge to refuel most recent smartphones. At the upper end of this range, though, you’ll have sufficient capacity to recharge your phone or give a tablet a decent boost – and you can find one the size of a smartphone or a Mars Bar for around £12 to £18.
Mid-range power banks
Spend £18 to £30 and you’re looking at power banks with a 10,000-20,000mAh capacity and better connectivity, with USB-C connections now pretty much standard. You may get an increase in size and weight to match; 20,000mAh batteries can be roughly the size of a big-screen smartphone, but they’re also a good 50% heavier. However, you’ll also have much faster charging, with Quick Charge 4 and USB PD.
Expensive power banks
Splash out more than £30 and you can bag an even bigger power bank, with capacities starting out at 20,000mAh and going all the way up to 26,800mAh or more. USB-C with Quick Charge 4 and USB-PD will be a given, making up for the fact that you’re carrying a heavier brick of a charger. The advantage is that you’ll be able to top up multiple devices, often simultaneously, and you’ll have enough charge to keep them going for a whole weekend or even longer.
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What else should I look out for?
Most power banks now use a USB-C port to recharge, although some models will have a micro-USB port as well to ensure compatibility with older chargers. Don’t worry if you don’t have the required cable, as one will usually be provided in the box.
One advantage of this shift to USB-C is that power banks now support USB PD for faster charging. This means your power bank will often recharge faster when connected to a suitable fast charger, at anywhere from 20W to 60W. At those speeds, even a high-capacity charger can recharge fully in three to four hours.
As for charging your devices, you’ll usually have a choice of USB-A and USB-C ports, with the latter supporting the fastest USB PD charging standards. All power banks and smartphones support the USB BC 1.2 standard, which can deliver up to 7.5W over USB-A or 15W over USB-C. Most also support the USB Power Delivery (PD) 3 standard, which increases the maximum voltage and current to deliver up to 100W of power – enough to charge a lightweight laptop at a decent speed. Not all USB PD power banks can push out that much juice; you’ll often find them limited to 15W, 27W, 45W or the maximum 100W, but even 27W will cover you for fast charging on a wide range of smartphones and tablets.
Beyond that, there are Qualcomm’s Quick Charge standards. The most common is Quick Charge 4, which pushes out a maximum 21V and 4.6A for 100W of output. It’s also compatible with USB PD, which is lucky, as Quick Charge 4 hasn’t had as much love from power bank manufacturers as the old Quick Charge 3 standard, with most standardising around USB PD. The same applies to the new Quick Charge 5, even though the latter can charge compatible phones to 50% within five minutes when using the right charger. It’s not hard to see why: USB PD is supported by Apple and Google’s recent devices and still delivers fast charging on Quick Charge 4 and Quick Charge 5 phones. More importantly, it’s an open standard without any licensing costs.
Is it worth paying extra for a fast-charging power bank?
Yes. There’s very little difference in terms of price these days, and even if your existing phone doesn’t support Quick Charge 4 or USB PD, there’s a good chance that your next one will. In fact, there’s an argument that the smartest thing to do is standardise around USB PD and ensure that your power banks, chargers, smartphones and tablets can all run under the same charging ecosystem, giving you fast charging whenever you need it.
What about charging wireless earbuds, Bluetooth headphones and other accessories?
Smaller accessories such as wireless earbuds, Bluetooth headphones, fitness trackers and smartwatches can cause problems for power banks because they’re designed to charge using a low-wattage trickle-charge, rather than the 10W to 25W used to fast-charge your typical smartphone. Either there’s a risk of damaging the accessory or its charging case, or the smarter power banks can even shut down due to the low demand. However, some power banks now include a trickle charge mode designed specifically to charge these devices safely. If you’re planning a long weekend (or longer) away where you’ll need a recharge, this is one feature worth looking out for.
What about wireless charging?
If you care more about convenience than speed, wireless charging is very much the way to go – and a growing number of power banks support it. Just place your smartphone on the integrated wireless pad, and you can recharge without connecting any cables. There will be a hit on charging speeds, so you’ll be limited to 7.5W or 10W, but that’s not a big issue if you don’t need to recharge in a flash. As a bonus, we’re now seeing Magsafe-friendly chargers that will clamp onto an iPhone or a ring inside an iPhone case, meaning you can recharge your iPhone even while you’re using it.
How we test power banks
We connect power banks through a USB power meter to a range of devices, including Android and iOS smartphones and an Acer Chromebook, to check how much power they output from each of their USB-A and USB-C ports. We also check their wireless charging capabilities and measure the rate at which they charge from a 65W USB-C charger. Finally, we run a quick charge test to find out how much they can recharge our test smartphone in a 15-minute period.
Read next: Best wireless chargers
The best power banks you can buy in 2024
1. EnergyCell Portable Charger 5000mAh: Best cheap power bank
Price when reviewed: £16 | Check price at Amazon
EnergyCell’s portable charger is as basic as power banks get, with just a micro-USB input, a USB-A output and no support for any fast-charging standards. What’s more, it’s slow. The USB-A output is specified as 10W, but in our tests we measured the output at between 7W and 9W depending on the phone. A 15-minute charge only raised the level on our test smartphone by 7%.
However, the EnergyCell has three things going for it. It’s nice and small, at just 10.5cm long, with a tube shape that fits easily into a pocket, bag or handbag. It’s also cheap – you can pick one up for £15. Most of all, the design has proved rock-solid and reliable, and we have one that’s still going strong after a couple of years of on-and-off use. You won’t get anything more than you pay for, but it’s a budget power bank that does the job.
Key specs – Capacity: 5,000mAh; Input: micro-USB; Outputs: USB-A (10W); Dimensions: 29 x 105 x 27mm; Weight: 99g
2. Juice 3 Charges: Best compact power bank
Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at Amazon
Calling this compact power bank a three-charge model would have made sense in the days when flagship smartphones had a 3,500mAh battery, but is probably pushing it in an era of 4,800mAh monster phones. That aside, though, this is a great little power bank, small and light enough to be easily pocketable, but with enough charge to get you through a weekend away. You can charge it through micro-USB or USB-C, with the USB-C input squirrelled away on the side, and you can even charge two devices simultaneously. It’s not a fast charger, by any means. We measured the USB-A output at 8.85W and the USB-C at 9.85W, which was enough to recharge our test smartphone by just 11% and 13% respectively in 15 minutes. However, we love the tough, slightly rubberised casing, the digital capacity display and the fact that it comes in a range of colours. If you’re looking for a small power bank to recharge with while you’re out and about, the Juice 3 Charges is a great option.
Key specs – Capacity: 10,000mAh; Input: USB-C/micro-USB; Outputs: USB-A (10.5W), USB-C (12W); Dimensions: 60 x 93 x 25mm; Weight: 193g
3. Juice Powerbank Max: Best value power bank
Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon
Step up from the budget power banks to the mighty Juice Powerbank Max and you get a much more capable mobile charger, with a 20,000mAh capacity and a 20W USB PD output over USB-C. We measured the USB-A output at nearly 15W in our tests, which recharged our smartphone by 18% in 15 minutes. With USB-C, that output rose to just over 19W, which was good for a 22% recharge in 15 minutes. That’s not bad at all for an affordable power bank, and we also found it usable for charging tablets and even a Chromebook laptop, albeit at a slower-than-usual speed.
Of course, the Max is bigger and heavier than the 10,000mAh power banks, but not too big or heavy for the average bag or backpack. The robust rubberized casing should withstand any holiday or camping trip, and it’s built from 90% recycled materials, too. Other power banks beat it on performance, but it’s hard to better when it comes to value.
Key specs – Capacity: 20,000mAh; Input: USB-C/micro-USB; Outputs: USB-A (10.5W), USB-C (20W); Dimensions: 69 x 184x 27mm; Weight: 390g
4. Anker PowerCore Slim 10K PD: Best slimline power bank
Price when reviewed: £31 | Check price at Amazon
Looking for maximum capacity in as small and slim a power bank as possible? Head straight for the PowerCore Slim 10K PD. It’s slightly smaller than your average 6.5in smartphone and just 14mm thick, yet it packs in a 10,000mAh capacity plus 12W USB-A and 20W USB-C charging. In our 15-minute fast-charge test, it charged our smartphone by 15%, and even had enough oomph to give a quick boost to our charge-starved Chromebook, though at less than half the normal charger’s 45W speed. You can also charge two devices simultaneously, although here the USB-C output dropped to just under 10W. Still, you’re looking at a power bank big enough to handle today’s most demanding smartphones yet can still fit in a pocket with your phone.
Key specs – Capacity: 10,000mAh; Input: USB-C; Outputs: USB-A (12W), USB-C (20W); Dimensions: 68 x 149 x 14mm; Weight: 193g
5. Anker 622 Magnetic Battery: Best compact power bank for iPhones
Price when reviewed: £50 | Check price at Amazon
It seems stupidly expensive for a 5,000mAh power bank, but the Anker 622 will make it worth your while. As well as a 20W USB-C output, it has a built-in 7.5W wireless charging pad. What’s more, it will clamp magnetically onto the back of any Magsafe iPhone and charge it even while you’re using it or carrying it around. Last but not least, the flap on the rear of the unit converts into a support for the power bank, allowing it to double as an iPhone stand.
The use of USB-C for the single input/output port is a little weird given the target market, and you’ll need a fast USB-C charger and a USB-C to Lightning cable to make the most of the device. What’s more, the wired charging isn’t super-speedy; our Android test smartphone only recovered by 11% from a 15-minute charge. But if you’re an iPhone user looking for a light and convenient portable charger, the Anker 622 is almost perfect for the role.
Key specs – Capacity: 5,000mAh; Input: USB-C; Outputs: USB-C (20W), Wireless (7.5W); Dimensions: 66.5 x 105 x 13mm; Weight: 140g
6. Anker 633 Magnetic Battery: Best all-round power bank for iPhones
Price when reviewed: £70 | Check price at Amazon
The Anker 633 is basically a bigger version of the Anker 622, being 77g heavier but with double the capacity to compensate. It can still cling to your iPhone as a Magsafe wireless charger, and a fold-out kickstand still enables it to moonlight as a charging stand. With USB-A and USB-C outputs, it’s also a little more versatile than the smaller iPhone power bank. As a bonus, it’s also slightly faster, recharging our test smartphone by 13% in 15 minutes over a USB-A connection and by 14% over USB-C. Unlike the smaller version, it could also charge our Chromebook, though only with an 18W charge. The price is arguably on the steep side, but this is a great iPhone power bank that should see you through a few days away from a mains supply.
Key specs – Capacity: 10,000mAh; Input: USB-C; Outputs: USB-A (18W), USB-C (20W), Wireless (7.5W); Dimensions: 66.5 x 107 x 18mm; Weight: 217g
8. Zendure SuperTank Pro: Best heavy-duty power bank
Price when reviewed: £160 | Check price at Amazon
It’s a bit presumptuous to call your power bank the SuperTank Pro, but Zendure’s heavy-duty power model pulls it off. For one thing, it’s built like the proverbial, with a resilient aluminium casing that should see it through years of hard use. For another, it teams a massive 26,800mAh capacity with no fewer than four USB-C PD outputs, two of which can dish out 20W while the other two deliver the maximum 100W. You’re limited to a maximum output of 138W at any one time, but when you need to feed your laptop, smartphone and tablet simultaneously, no other power bank will do it quite this well. It’s a speedy power bank, charging our Chromebook at 50W and putting 22% on our smartphone’s charge metre in our 15-minute quick charge test. We also love the informative OLED display, which will tell you how much each connected device is draining and how much of your capacity is left. It’ll even tell you the wattage of any power source you plug in. It’s just too big and heavy for everyday use, but it’s the ultimate portable power source for business trips, camping trips, travel and more.
Key specs – Capacity: 26,800mAh; Input: USB-C PD; Outputs: 2x USB-C (20W), 2 x USB-C (100W); Dimensions: 75 x 124 x 49mm; Weight: 566g
9. EcoFlow River 2 Max: Best power bank for connectivity options
Price when reviewed: £449 | Check price at EcoFlow
The EcoFlow River 2 Max is a superb option if you require a mighty power bank with the capacity to charge multiple devices for a number of days, or if you’re seeking a reliable backup power supply in case of blackouts. The price point is high, but it’s got the hardware and performance to back it up. For starters, the 512Wh capacity is massive. There’s also an abundance of connectivity options, including three USB-A ports, capable of outputting up to a total of 24W, one USB-C port, and two three-pin mains outlets. It charges exceptionally quickly – from 0 to 100% in about an hour using mains AC – plus it can also be charged via USB-C and solar. It’s built to last, too, with a battery pack that should provide many years of effective use. As you would expect, it’s heavy (6kg) and fairly large, but it retains a sense of portability thanks to a neat handle situated at the rear, meaning it’s not too taxing to move it between a car boot and a campsite, for example.
Read more in our full EcoFlow River 2 Max review
Key specs – Capacity: 512Wh; Inputs: Solar (220W), USB-C (100W), AC (660W), Car (100W) ; Outputs: USB-C (100W), USB-A (12W), DC5521 (36W), DC (126W), AC (500W); Dimensions: 269 x 259 x 196mm; Weight: 6kg