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Best power bank 2021: The best portable chargers for smartphones, tablets, laptops and Nintendo Switch

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Smartphone running on empty? Hook up one of these portable chargers and keep your gadgets going on the move

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.

READ NEXT: The best smartphones to buy

Best power bank 2021: At a glance

  • The best value high capacity charger: Anker PowerCore Essential 20000 PD | Buy now
  • The best lightweight power bank: PowerAdd EnergyCell 5000 | Buy now
  • The best all-rounder: Juice Max | Buy now
  • The fastest slimline power bank: PowerAdd 10,000mAh Ultra Thin | Buy now
  • The most stylish hybrid wireless power bank: Moshi Porto Q 5K | Buy now
  • The best wireless power bank: Anker PowerCore III 10K Wireless | Buy now
  • The best power bank for long periods away: Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD | Buy now

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.

What else should I look out for?

All power banks feature a micro-USB or USB-C port for charging the power bank, as well as a USB-A port for charging your mobile devices. Don’t worry if you don’t have a micro-USB or USB-C cable because one’s usually provided in the box. If there’s a USB-C port, you can usually charge using either that or the USB-A port, with USB-C supporting the fastest charging option. Devices with multiple output ports also enable you to charge two (or more) devices simultaneously.

After that, things get tricky. The higher the output of the USB ports, the more quickly the connected devices will charge, but only if the devices support the right USB power 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. A growing number, however, support the USB Power Delivery (PD) 2 and 3 standards, which increase the maximum voltage and current to deliver up to 100W of power – enough to charge a lightweight laptop at a decent speed.

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. That’s lucky, as Quick Charge 4 hasn’t had as much love from power bank manufacturers as the old Quick Charge 3 standard; most seem to have standardised on USB PD. The same applies with 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 – and 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 like 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.

Read next: Best wireless chargers

The best power banks to buy

1. Anker PowerCore Essential 20,000 PD: The best value high-capacity charger

Price: £28 | Buy now from Amazon

This power bank’s predecessor, the PowerCore Essential 20,000, brought high-capacity power banks down below the £30 price point. However, that meant doing without a few luxuries, the biggest being USB PD. No prizes, then, for guessing what new feature the new Essential 20,000 PD brings to the mix. Thanks to USB PD support, this one charges up slightly faster than the old model, in roughly six-and-a-half hours rather than 11. More importantly, with an 18W output from the USB-C port, it’s much faster to refuel your devices, getting our test phone up to 40% in 30 minutes and 71% in an hour. Plus, thanks to Anker’s Power IQ and technology, it’ll also supply up to 18W over the USB-A connection, though with two devices plugged in it can only share a maximum 18W of charging across both. It also has a trickle-charge mode for charging Bluetooth earbuds and other low-power accessories.

Make no mistake: this is a big and heavy power bank, weighing in at 345g, but you’re getting a lot of capacity and speedy USB-C charging. If you want the most mAh for the minimum outlay, this is the power bank to buy.

Key specs – Capacity: 20,000mAh; Input: USB-C; Outputs: USB-A (18W), USB-C (18W); Dimensions: 74 x 158 x 19mm; Weight: 345g

2. PowerAdd EnergyCell 5000: The best lightweight power bank

Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon

PowerAdd’s Slim2 was a great, bulked-up take on the lipstick-sized charger, and now the company has removed the bulk with the EnergyCell 5000. This packs the same 5,000mAh capacity into a unit with a smaller 27mm diameter. It’s a centimetre longer than the older version, but at 99g it’s still 21g lighter. It has the same micro-USB port for charging, and pressing the button on the top will activate the four-segment LED indicator to let you know the current charge level.

Crucially, the EnergyCell 5000 also improves on the old Slim2 when it comes to charging speeds. It’ll charge at 2.4A and our test phone hit 25% in 30 minutes and 50% in an hour, which isn’t bad for such a compact charger. It doesn’t have the capacity for anything longer than a weekend away, but it’s a brilliant, lightweight backup for when you’re on the move

Key specs – Capacity: 5,000mAh; Input: micro-USB; Outputs: 1 x USB Type A (12W); Dimensions: 27 x 110 x 27mm; Weight: 99g

3. Juice Max: The best all-rounder

Price: £30 | Buy now from Argos

While it’ll cost you a few quid more than some 20,000mAh power banks, the Juice Max also has a few advantages. It supports Quick Charge 3 and USB PD, with 18W charging for smartphones that support it. Be aware that it takes a long time to recharge; just over eleven hours in our tests. However, Juice has also got a passthrough charge up and running, so, while many other chargers can’t be recharged and charge a device at the same time, this one can, fuss-free.

It comes with a USB-A-to-micro-USB cable, although we found it charged perfectly well through the USB-C connector, and it’ll distribute power through the latter or either of the two USB-A outputs, with support for charging two devices at the same time. And when it comes to charging speeds, it’s right up there with the best, taking our test phone to 40% in 30 minutes and 70% in 60. Throw in the relatively compact form factor and a robust, rubberised case, and you’ve got a worthy rival to the Anker PowerCore Essential 20,000 PD for just a little more cash.

Key specs – Capacity: 20,000mAh; Input: USB-C, micro-USB; Outputs: 1 x USB-C (18W), 2 x USB-A (10.5W); Dimensions: 139 x 67x 24mm; Weight: 352g

Buy now from Argos


4. PowerAdd 10,000mAh Ultra Thin: The fastest slimline power-bank

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

Looking for something thin and light to keep around for a speedy recharge? The PowerAdd 10,000 Ultra Thin is the best we’ve tested. For one thing, it lives up to its name, being just 14mm thick and weighing only 200g. Yet it’s also really capable, with 20W USB PD output over the USB-C connection giving us the fastest charging we’ve seen yet. Our test smartphone went from 0% to 46% in half an hour and reached 77% within a full 60 minutes, crushing many larger chargers on the rapid charging front. You can also charge two devices simultaneously, with the second connecting over 18W USB-A. It’s Quick Charge 3 compatible for non-USB PD devices.

The green metallic casing adds a little extra class, and it takes just over two hours to charge over USB PD with a 45W high-speed charger, although you’ll find it slower if you use micro-USB. Like other 10,000mAh power banks, it’ll fall short of two charges with some modern smartphones. If that’s not a problem, this is the easiest and speediest lightweight power bank of the bunch.

Key specs – Capacity: 10,000mAh; Input: USB-C, micro-USB; Outputs: 1 x USB-C (20W), 1 x USB-A (18W); Dimensions: 132 x 65x 14mm; Weight: 200g

5. Moshi Porto Q 5K: The most stylish hybrid wireless power bank

Price: £85 | Buy now from Amazon

The Moshi Porto Q 5K looks like a high-end wireless charger – and will work like one as well. Connect it to a power adapter, drop your phone on the fabric pad and it’ll get it charging up at the same speed as any other 15W QI wireless model. It even features a silicon surface ring to stop your phone from sliding off, along with safeguards to detect unwanted metal objects on the pad. If it does spot any, it’ll stop charging.

However, despite its slimline style and minimal weight, the Porto Q 5K can also moonlight as a 5,000mAh power bank, charging wirelessly (at 7.5W) or via the USB-A connector at the back. It’s not superfast – our test smartphone didn’t quite hit 50% in an hour of charging – but it’s fine for a quick top-up or an overnight recharge while away. If the good looks come with a luxury price tag, at least the Moshi feels and acts the part.

Key specs – Capacity: 5,000mAh; Input: USB-C; Outputs: USB-A (12W); Dimensions: 133 x 83 x 14.5mm; Weight: 156g

6. Anker PowerCore III 10K Wireless: The best wireless power bank

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

It’s a little chunky by the standards of most 10,000mAh chargers, but the PowerCore III 10K Wireless makes up for it by having wireless charging built in. Rest your smartphone on the rubberised circle on the top, and it’ll start recharging your QI-compatible smartphone at a maximum 10W, which was enough to take our test iPhone XR up by 28% in a 30-minute run. If you need to go faster, it also supports 18W charging over the USB-C port, and 12W over USB-A. We found it best to start wireless charging when the phone had a little juice left, as otherwise it’s tricky to get it in the right position on the charging pad.

This one also has some other cool tricks. You can charge up to three devices simultaneously over QI, USB-A and USB-C, although speeds will be downgraded, and the power bank itself will fast-charge in four and a half hours if connected to an 18W wall charger. You can even charge a device over QI while this is going on. In a nice touch, Anker has also added a slide-out hook that holds your phone upright while you’re charging with a cable, so you can carry on watching a downloaded TV show or movie. All in all, this is one clever mobile charger – and arguably the most versatile around.

Key specs – Capacity: 10,000mAh; Input: USB-C; Outputs: 1 x USB-C (18W), 1 x USB-A (12W); Dimensions: 149 x 68x 19mm; Weight: 241g

6. Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W: The best power bank for long periods away

Price: £80 | Buy now from Amazon

How do you go one better than the mighty Anker PowerCore 26800 PD? How about a newer model with the same capacity, but a USB-C port with USB PD that ups the maximum output from 30W to 45W? Not only does this power bank have the capacity to charge your smartphone, tablet and Nintendo Switch – or give most 11in to 14in laptops a full top-up – but it can do so at a decent lick, with simultaneous charging of another device from either of the 15W USB-A ports. It took our test smartphone from zero to 38% in 30 minutes, and up to 71% in an hour. It also charges quickly, in approximately three-and-a-half hours, using the 60W USB-C wall charger that Anker bundles.

You won’t be surprised to hear the downsides – it’s a massive brick and just too heavy to lug around every day in a bag or backpack – but when you’ve got demanding devices that need juice, you won’t find anything better or faster.

Key specs – Capacity: 26,800mAh; Input: USB-C PD; Outputs: 1 x USB-C (45W), 2 x USB-A (15W); Dimensions: 180 x 80 x 24mm; Weight: 730g

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