How to choose the best power bank

If you’re not sure how to choose the best power bank and want one, look no more! Let’s see what you have to consider to make a great buying decision.

Nowadays being online is essential and you need your smartphone and other devices running.

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That’s pretty easy if you’re at home or at the office. But when you’re on the go a powerbank can keep your devices from running out of juice.

Powerbank buying guide

There are a few features you must pay attention to make a good choice. Now we dive into the main characteristics so you can get the product that fits your needs.

Battery capacity

Although it’s not the only important fact the battery capacity it surely is a determinant feature. It’s also probably the one that stands out the most.

Take the example of a smartphone battery with a capacity of 3.000 mAH.

Having a powerbank with a capacity of 6.000 mAH is enough to give you a full charge. It will probably even supply another half charge.

But not two full charges, despite what the numbers might at first suggest.

When a powerbank charges a 3.000 mAh phone it won’t be down on 3.000mAH only. The charging process is not 100% efficient and a few energy will be consumed in the process.

Adding to that you can expect the battery’s capacity to slowly degrade over time, so be sure to get one with slightly more capacity.

Weight and dimensions

You expect portability out of a powerbank and you have to consider how you plan to use it.

There’s a trade-off between battery capacity and weight and dimensions.

If you want a small and light powerbank you can’t expect a large capacity. If big capacity is a priority you must compromise on dimensions and weight.

It all comes down to usage.

If you want a power reserve to carry in your laptop’s suitcase then a 10.000 mAh might be fine.

Or are you looking for a powerbank that you can carry comfortably in your pocket? Light and compact?

Then go for a light and compact one. Take a look at powerbanks with capacities around 3.000-6.000 mAh.

Maybe you’re going camping for the weekend. And the powerbank must feed multiple devices. Some of them more than once.

Than your probably better off getting one with about 15.000 mAH or 2.0000 mAH, or maybe more.

Input ports: number and type

This might seem a minor matter but you’ll quickly change your mind.

Imagine you run out of battery on your powerbank. And when you’re about to charge it you notice you don’t have the right cable.

Since most powerbank’s feature a micro USB port, that happens sometimes. People buy one which has a USB C input port without realizing that difference. Bummer!

Usually a powerbank will have one Micro USB input port. That’s correct for most of them.

Input and output ports of a powerbank

The BlitzWolf BW-P3, a 10.000 mAH powerbank featuring one input Micro USB port and two output USB A ports.

But these days you can also find a few that have one USB C input port. And in that case, you’ll need a cable or charger which works with it.

Some high capacity powerbanks might feature two input ports. Check them before buying.

To take full advantage of your powerbank you want to make sure that you can charge at any opportunity. Whether you are at home, at the office or driving in your car.

And that means having the cables or adapters to be able to charge it. That applies whether its input port is a usual Micro USB or a less frequent USB C.

Output ports: number and type

The next few paragraphs in many ways will be similar to the previous. This time around we’ll be focusing on using the powerbank to charge devices like your smartphone.

A few years ago it was usual for powerbanks to feature only one output port. Many still do. But at the same time, some powerbanks even with smaller 3.000-4.500 mAH capacities will feature two output ports.

In most cases I would advise no less than two output ports so you can charge two devices at once. That way you can feed your smartphone and your bluetooth headset or two smartphones simultaneously.

Powerbank specifications
Powerbank specifications. It features a input USB A port capable of up to 5V/2A. It has two output ports, one is good up to 5V/2.4A and the other supports up to QuickCharge 3.0 (check the image for more detail). 

They might have the typical USB A port or the more recent USB C. The important things is that it is adequate to charging your devices. That can be done having the right cables or adapters along when you need them.

Bear in mind that if a powerbank has a fast charging capability, most likely it will not use it while charging through two (or more) output ports. But even then, if it has fast charging support, then it will still be no slouch when not using that technology.

To learn more about battery charging see our article on Charging a smartphone: Charge rates explained.

If you’re interested in fast charging – and there’s good reason to – check out this article explaining what is fast charging.

These are all important characteristics you should consider to know how to identify the best portable battery. But we’re going over one more which is less known but very useful.

Passthrough charging (Simultaneous Input and Output )

This is one of those less known features but sometimes come really handy.

Many powerbanks can only receive or feed charge at once. But some can be charging up its own battery while charging a smartphone or other device at the same time.

Imagine this scenario:

You’re out for the weekend with a friend or your loved one. The day is over and you need to charge a powerbank and your two smartphones during the night before another action-packed day. But you only have one wall charger or one plug.

That means you have to choose and charge only one of them, right? Or maybe wake up in the middle of the night to switch devices? Well, actually, you don’t.

You can charge all three with one single charger. That is if the powerbank has two output ports and is capable of simultaneous input and ouput (or passthrough charging).

And it’s easy to do. connect the wall charger to the powerbank’s input port and it will start charging. Then you connect both smartphones to the powerbank’s output ports and these will also start charging.

That way you can have a good night of sleep and rest knowing that your devices charge will be charging.

Wrap up

Having all of these characteristics into account you’ll surely know how to pick the best powerbank wisely.

Click these links here to learn about Charging a smartphone or What is fast charging? to know about charging in less time.

Also, take a look at our reviews and choose your best option: