Mar 06
portable USB chargers

Guide: The Ultimate Portable Charger Comparison

Comparing the Top Portable Chargers and Backup Batteries

There is simply no question, portable chargers are a new technology that is here to stay. They are also quickly becoming a gadget most folks can’t live without. From soccer moms, to geeks, to mountain climbers, to construction workers: portable chargers aka “backup batteries” are essential in a world centered around smart phones.

To start off, we made this list centered around our favorite brands in the portable charger arena:

  • Anker (Highly Recommended)
  • Aukey (Highly Recommended)
  • Tronsmart (tried and tested)
  • RAVPower (tried and tested)
  • Lumina (request from friend)
  • Amazon Basics (untested, but promising)

If you know of a brand of chargers that is highly reviewed, well constructed and available at a reasonable price please be sure to let me know and I’ll add it to this list.

How we compared portable chargers

Without a doubt, Anker has the best selection of portable chargers and are our personal favorite brand overall in Android charging. One thing to note about this list, is that it is centered around Android charging, for obvious reasons (the name of this website, for one.) We chose to compare 7 different fields in our comparison:

  1. Product thumbnail – to get an idea of what it looks like
  2. The Make and Model – to make it easier to find and define within this comparison
  3. Overall capacity – how much “juice” it holds
  4. The number of USB Ports – i.e. the number of traditional USB ports also sometimes called “USB A” or “USB 2.0/3.0.” For the purpose of this comparison, we simply title the column “USB”
  5. The weight in ounces – weight is a big factor when choosing a portable charger
  6. The ability to quick charge– Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0 is without a doubt the most popular technology in fast charging, and is something most folks now can’t live without.
  7. The number of re-chargers – this column is probably going to be the most controversial. We took this number directly from the manufacturer, when available. When not available, we took a best guess, based on public reviews or our own reviews. Most of the time, this number is based on how many times it can charge a Samsung Galaxy.
  8. Notes: some of these chargers have features like LED lights / flashlights

There are many attributes that we were simply not able to fit on this table. We mainly left out the uber-technical statistics such as amperage etc. We also intentionally left off quite a few models from this list, for a number of different reasons. Mainly, if a model was upgraded (gen 2 vs gen 3) or had too many negative reviews, we left it out.

Keep in mind that manufacturers make mistakes on their listings all the time. I’ve spotted at least a dozen inconsistencies / errors just during my research for this guide. If you have any corrections for me, please let us know!

As of March 2017, this table is now sortable by capacity (size), number of USB ports, weight, quick charge ability, and number of recharges! Just click the top of the column you want to sort by, and presto!

Portable Charger Comparison

(sortable columns)

Image Portable Charger Capacity USB Ports Weight Quick Charge # of Charges Notes
 portable charger and phone charger Anker PowerCore+ 26800 QC 26800 mAh 3 19 oz Quick Charge 2.0 6 Bundle that includes PowerPort+ 1 with Quick Charge 3.0 Wall Charger
 portable charger and phone charger Anker PowerCore 26800 26800 mAh 3 17.3 oz PowerIQ 6  recharge 2x with double micro-USB inputs
 portable charger and phone charger Anker Astro E1 5200 mAh 1 4.2 oz PowerIQ 1  best seller in its category
 backup battery Anker E7 26800mAh 26800 mAh 3 15.8 oz PowerIQ 6  5V 4A (3A max per port) output
 backup battery Anker Astro E3 Ultra Compact 10000mAh 10000 mAh 2 8.2 oz PowerIQ 3  looks exactly like a smart phone
portable android charger Astro 6700mAh 2nd Gen 6700 mAh 1 4.8 oz PowerIQ 2  2 amp max charging speed
  Astro Mini 2nd Generation 3200 mAh 1 3.2 oz PowerIQ 1  includes 3 foot mfi lightning cable
   Anker Astro E5 16750 2nd Gen 16750 mAh 2 10.9 oz PowerIQ 4 micro-USB
  Anker PowerCore 10000 10000 mAh 2 6.35 oz PowerIQ 2
 android portable charger Anker PowerCore 10000 QC 10000 mAh 1 6.4 oz Quick Charge 3.0 2
 portable USB charger Anker PowerCore 10400 10400 mAh 2 8.5 oz PowerIQ 3
  Anker PowerCore 15600 15600 mAh 2 12 oz PowerIQ 4  2.4 amps per port or 4.8 amps overall
 portable android charger Anker PowerCore 20100 20100 mAh 2 12.6 oz PowerIQ 5  2.4 amps per port or 4.8 amps overall
  Anker PowerCore 5000 5000 mAh 1 4.8 oz PowerIQ 1  4.2 x 1.3 x 1.3 inches
 android USB charger Anker PowerCore II 20000 20000 mAh 3 13.5 oz PowerIQ 5  recharge 2x speed with dual micro-USB ports
  Anker PowerCore mini 3200 mAh 1 2.4 oz PowerIQ 1  3.9 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches
  Anker PowerCore Slim 5000 5000 mAh 1 4.3 oz PowerIQ 2  about the same size and thickness of an average smartphone
  Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC 10000 mAh 1 6.9 oz Quick Charge 3.0 3
  Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 QC 20000 mAh 2 13 oz  Quick Charge 3.0 5
Anker PowerCore+ 10050 QC 10500 mAh 1 8.3 oz Quick Charge 3.0 3
  Anker PowerCore+ 13400 QC 13400 mAh 2 10.7 oz Quick Charge 3.0 4
usb c android charger Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C 20100 mAh 3 16 oz PowerIQ 6  USB-C port in or out
  Anker PowerCore+ mini 3350 mAh 1 3 oz PowerIQ 1  3.74 x  0.91 x 0.91 in
  Tronsmart Presto 10400 mAh USB-C 10400 mAh 2 8.6 oz Quick Charge 3.0 3  1 USB port, 1 USB-C port in or out
  Aukey 30000 mAh Quick Charge 3.0 30000 mAh 3* 20.64 oz Quick Charge 3.0 7 Micro-USB in, USB-C is in or out, 2x re-charging speed using both ports, LED flashlight
  Aukey 30000 mAh Quick Charge 3.0 30000 mAh 2 20.64 oz Quick Charge 3.0 7 Lightning and micro-USB in, 2x re-charging speed using both ports, LED flashlight
  AUKEY 12000mAh 12000 mAh 2 10.9 oz NA 3 micro-USB on side, LED flashlight
  Lumina 15000 mAh 15000 mAh 2 16 oz NA 3 micro-USB, digital numerical % battery indicator
  RAVPower Ace Series 22000 mAh 22000 mAh 3 14.4 oz NA 5 supports pass-through charging
  RAVPower 3rd Gen Deluxe 16750 mAh 16750 mAh 2 11.3 oz NA 4 micro-USB built in flashlight
  RAVPower QC 3.0 20100 mAh 20100 mAh 3 13.5 oz Quick Charge 3.0 5 USB-C and micro-USB
¬† RAV Power Xtreme 23000 mAh 3 16 oz NA 6 supports “pass through” charging, dc charger, led numerical % indicator, can charge some laptops
  RAVPower Luster Mini 3350 mAh 1 2.6 oz NA 1 4.02 x 0.91 x 0.91
  RAVPower 6700 Luster 6700 mAh 1 4.1 oz NA 2 micro-USB
  Amazon Basics Portable Charger 5600 mAh 5600 mAh  1  4.2 oz  NA 2
  Amazon Basics Portable Charger 10000 mAh  10000 mah  2  7.6 oz  NA 3
  Amazon Basics Portable Charger 16100 mAh  16100 mAh  2  12.2 oz  NA 6

The USB-C Portable Charger Dilemma

Have a USB-C device? Don’t have a USB-C device? Your husband has a USB-C device but you still have a micro-USB device?

Don’t worry! There is an easy solution for all of this.

All of the chargers listed above have traditional USB ports, which work as long as you have a “legacy” USB-C cable.

My recommendation for anyone who has this dilemma: don’t buy USB-C to USB-C cables until everyone is caught up. Most devices (desktop computers, wall chargers, charging stations, car chargers) don’t have USB-C ports built into them yet anyway, but practically all of them have regular USB ports.

If you have USB-C devices: buy USB-C to USB cables.

If you have micro-USB devices: carry on as normal for now.

Portable Chargers: Our Top Picks

Now, our favorite portable chargers. We wanted to separate our favorites into several categories:

  • overall favorite portable charger
  • best long lasting charger
  • best “compact” portable charger
  • best USB-C portable charger

 

Favorite Overall Charger: Anker PowerCore+ 10050 QC

Without a doubt, the Anker PowerCore+ 10050 QC mAh is our favorite portable charger of all time. This is the 3rd portable charger that I purchased (July 2016) and without question my favorite. Anker’s description says it charges the Samsung Galaxy 2-3 times, but I swear it gives me 4 or more full charges on my HTC M9 and HTC 10 quite often. Moreover, I usually don’t need to recharge from 15% or less very often. I’ll usually refill around 40-60% during the middle of the day, bringing me up to 80-100% towards late afternoon.

I haven’t timed this recently, but I usually plug my phone in and within 30 minutes or so am almost to full capacity. The quick charge port really helps. I’ve grown so accustomed to using this, that I actually plug my phone into this device even when a wall charger is available.

The size is just right, physically that is. I actually carry this around in my pocket a lot of the time when I’m out with my wife or kids. I usually take a micro-USB cable or USB-C cable with me, along with a lightning cable just in case. They are always in need of some quick juice with their iPad or other devices, and I’m always there to save the day. This charger is great to travel with. It fits in the seatback pocket of an airplane seat just fine.

On a recent camping trip I helped out several of my friends who had phones that were dying. Once again, plenty of juice for everyone to get them through a few hours.

android portable charger

The Anker PowerCore+ 10500 QC is without a doubt our overall favorite charger.

While it doesn’t sport Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology, it does have 2.0 which serves me just fine. Paired with Anker’s top of the line cables, this portable charger really does everything I need. When I head to NYC for the week or to Miami for the weekend, this is the charger I take with me even though I have several higher capacity chargers. I simply don’t want to lug something heavy with me. I suppose if I’m in a situation where I know I’m going to be away from power I’d bring something bigger, but that rarely happens.

This portable charger also holds its juice really well. I’ve left this laying around my office for 2-3 weeks, and it rarely looses any juice. I’ve had other chargers that drain rather quickly, which is a flaw in and of itself, but it is still nice. It is also durable. I’ve dropped this thing probably 10 times, and it only has a few minor dings on it. Also FYI pictured here is one of my favorite micro-USB cables. It may not be the best, but I like it because it is 6 feet and it is blue, and it is made by Anker.

For a charger of this size, 1 port is really enough. While I usually carry a few cables with me at all times, most people don’t want to charge multiple devices on the go, nor do they need to.

Favorite Long Lasting Portable Charger

When I need to break out the big guns, I break out the Anker PowerCore 20100 mAh. Note, I have the “older” model, there is a newer version available that has USB-C and a bunch of other features.

This charger sports dual USB outputs, a 4 LED light indicator, and can do 4.8 A (max of 2.4 amps per port). The indicator basically represents the 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, and 0% mark. So really it has 5 “states” the 5th being no lights on at all.

According to Anker’s stats, this can recharge the average Samsung flagship about 6 times. I say its closer to about 7 times. The cool thing about portable chargers is most of the time, you don’t ever need to charge from start to finish. Most people charge from something like 25% battery to 75% battery, so in reality those 7 chargers you get is more like 14 mini-charges.

This is definitely not the type of charger you want to carry around in your pocket with you, although you definitely could. It weighs about 12.5 oz (the newer model weighs an even pound (16oz) so its not light, but not heavy either. I keep this in my backpack, which does make it a bit heavier than I’d like, but not really noticeable after you get used to it.

I have definitely tested the amperage on this in the past. Using both USB ports it does put out 2.4 amps consistently, at least with my amateur tools thats what I’ve measured.

Favorite Compact / Tiny Portable Charger

If you asked me this question last year, I’d have a tough time answering it because there was so much competition in this space. But recently the answer has become more clear: The RAVPower Luster Mini 3350 mAh.

This little guy has all the features you’d expect:

  • 4.02 x 0.91 x 0.91 dimensions
  • 3350 mAh
  • 1 USB port and 1 micro-USB port
  • 2.6 oz
  • 2.4 amps

Only thing that kind of irks me about this is that the top of the charger kind of looks like it is a clip. That would be a really cool feature if any product engineers are listening ūüôā

The Anker PowerCore+ Mini was a very closer runner up. I don’t know why I like the RAVPower better than the Anker, but I feel like it gives me more charging time consistently. The PowerCore+ mini is almost identical to this one, and has made a ton of improvements over the last year.

I have a feeling this class of chargers is going to change a lot in the next few months or year. I wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing quick charging in this category, as well as USB-C. Within 2 years all these chargers will be on their way out with USB-C anyway.

Favorite USB-C Portable Charger: Tronsmart Presto 10400mAh USB-C/Type-C

Pay attention here folks, this is a game changer in the portable charger category. Let’s go right to the specs:

  • 10400 mAh
  • 1 USB port 1 USB-C port (in or out)
  • Quick Charge 3.0
  • includes 2 cables (1 USB to micro-USB and 1 USB to USB-C)

Once devices start catching up and can do USB-C to USB-C, I think we’ll start to see these devices shrinking down, at least a tad.

The great thing about this class of chargers, is that they can recharge a lot faster, or at least they will be able to recharge a lot faster than their non-quick charge and non-USB-C counterparts. Both technologies are inherently faster, of course depending on what device (and cable) you are using. If you have a USB-C to USB-C port, you’ll see the best results with quick charging.

We are really excited to see what the next generation of portable chargers will bring to the table. All of the manufacturers we have our eye on have been rapidly developing 2nd and 3rd generations of their products with exciting new features.

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