Smartphones have come a long way in a decade. The latest and greatest from companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung can run circles around phones from just a few years ago, and in some cases, can even outperform PC chips from Intel. If there’s one area where smartphones have yet to truly evolve, it’s battery tech. Though phones like the Note 10+ from Samsung and the iPhone 11 Pro Max offer great battery life, the problem has been solved by squeezing larger batteries into the device, instead of inventing new battery tech or developing more efficient processors. Larger battery capacities do help your phone last longer, but they increase the size and weight of your device, making your phone even harder to use in one hand.
Instead of opting for a heavy slate of glass you’re guaranteed to drop, picking up a portable battery charger is a great alternative. Portable batteries are cheap, replaceable, and easy to throw in your bag, offering you multi-day battery life on a single charge when you need it. The external battery market has come a long way in the last decade, making it harder than ever to pick the best batteries from the rest. Whether you’re looking for a small, portable charger, the largest capacity you can find in batteries today, or something new and unique, we have you covered. This is the definitive guide to the best portable USB battery chargers.
Anker built their entire brand on the strength of their battery chargers, evolving over the past nine years from a small upstart to one of the leading brands in mobile accessories and smart home technology. Despite their ever-expanding range of products, their batteries still remain some of the best you can buy today. When it comes to portable chargers, Anker offers more models than you can count, with various shapes, sizes, and battery capacities to fit anyone’s needs. Out of their entire lineup, one stands above the rest for its combination of portability, high-capacity, and price: Anker’s PowerCore 10000.
Truth be told, the PowerCore is almost a bit boring. It doesn’t offer wireless charging, folding cables, or anything else unique that can’t be found on dozens of no-name batteries at Amazon. Instead, the PowerCore is our top pick because its strength as a battery is unbeatable. It’s one of the smallest 10,000mAh batteries you can find today, a capacity high enough to charge most phones at least twice from zero to 100 percent, and can recharge in less than five hours.
The biggest flaws with the PowerCore come from its age. It isn’t the newest charger released from Anker, so you’ll have to put up with an older port selection for charging both your phone and the battery itself. Though charging your device via USB-A isn’t too bad, the PowerCore charges via an (included) micro USB cable. In 2020, as more and more gadgets slowly move to USB-C, it’s tough to justify adding another device that charges with a decade-old port.
Still, that’s not enough to subtract from how great Anker’s PowerCore is. At $26, it’s an absolute steal, the perfect size for slotting in your backpack or even just keeping in your pocket. It’s not the newest, fanciest, or fastest charger on this list, but when it comes to batteries, it manages to best everyone else by being what matters: cheap and reliable.
Anker does make a newer version of this unit, the PowerCore Redux, that includes USB-C Power Delivery for fast charging. At $46, it’s almost twice the cost of the standard PowerCore, but if you absolutely need USB-C, the Redux is a great battery in its own right.
- Huge capacity for the price
- Classic design
- No frills
- No USB-C port
- Still recharges via micro USB
Anker’s battery is great, but it does mean one extra gadget you have to pack in your bag. If you’re looking to slim down on gadgets, Ventev’s Powercell 6010+ is one of the best all-in-one chargers we’ve seen yet. With a fantastic, slim design, Ventev packs a 6010mAh battery along with a fold-out cable, and prongs to plug right into the wall. Though the battery size isn’t one of the largest on the market, it can charge almost any phone from dead to full battery with room to spare. The real feature with Ventev’s battery comes is its built-in accessories. Depending on the model you choose, a fold-out USB-C or Lightning cable negates the need to carry around a separate USB cable. Likewise, the folding wall-prongs on the back make it easy to charge both your battery and your phone during a stay in a hotel.
Ventev’s model isn’t perfect—some users have noted that you have to plug your phone in prior to turning the battery on in order to get a proper charge—but small complaints aren’t enough to knock it off our runner-up spot. Being able to ditch your cables and wall chargers for a single battery-charge combo is the real deal. At $49, it’s one of the more expensive batteries on this list, but it’s well worth the investment if you travel a lot.
- All-in-one design
- Available with both USB-C and Lightning cables
- Sleek design
- No USB-C port
- Can be a bit finicky to get working
If all you’re interested in is an extra charge in case of an emergency, the Clutch Charger is absolutely worth a look. At only .15″ thick, this credit card-sized charger fits right within your wallet, so you’re always prepared for a night out with your friends. The clutch features a 2300mAh battery, which means you won’t be using this on long weekend camping trips or even to keep your phone charged overnight. But for keeping your phone alive between sets at a concert, it’s enough to keep your phone alive to take a Lyft home, or to find your friends at a local bar. The only real downside to the clutch: it only supports Lightning cables with its built-in cable. Android users aren’t completely out of luck though: they can pick up a Lightning to USB-C converter if they’re interested in this type of battery, or can take their chances on unofficial third-party versions like this.
- Can fit right in your wallet or purse
- Included cable
- Small capacity
- Only works with iPhones
The Clutch charger is incredibly tiny, but it’s not the only mini charger on this list. Anker’s PowerCore 5000 is the size of a tube of lipstick, making it perfect for throwing in your purse, pocket, or at the bottom of your backpack. Like the PowerCore 10000, it’s not a perfect gadget. It once again only charges via micro USB, and can only output to your phone over a USB-A cable, instead of including a single USB-C port to do both. Still, the age of this unit pays off again by making it our cheapest battery on this list. For under $20, Anker’s PowerCore 5000 charges your phone anywhere you go, essentially doubling your battery life while you’re out of the house. It’s easily one of the best batteries you can buy today, especially if you aren’t concerned about recharging your external battery pack daily.
- Extremely tiny
- Metal casing feels durable
- Recharges via micro USB
- No USB-C cable
If you’re looking for a massive battery capacity, no matter the size or weight of the gadget, Anker once again pulls through with their PowerCore+ model. This is the newest Anker charger on our list, and when it comes to pure power, it’s by far the best. At 26800mAh, this battery is perfect for keeping your laptop, Switch, and tablet charged, in addition to using it with your iPhone or Android device. And thanks to its USB-C Power Delivery port, it actually can charge all of those things. Count in two USB-A ports, an aluminum casing, and an included 30W USB-C charger, and this is one premium device. You’ll have to pay for the privilege of using it, though: at nearly $100, it’s by far the most expensive charger on this list, and one of the most expensive battery banks you can buy on Amazon.
- Huge capacity
- Can charge laptops, tablets, and game consoles
- Bulky and heavy
Anker is one of the biggest brands in charging, but Aukey isn’t far behind them in terms of recognizability. If you’re moving towards a wire-free reality, Aukey’s Wireless Power Bank is the way to go. Surprisingly affordable at just $34.99, this thin and light power bank allows for anyone to charge their phone just by placing it along the top of the battery. Rated at 8000mAh, this is a great size for daily use or a weekend getaway, even if it doesn’t hit the maximum size of Anker’s PowerCore+. And don’t worry if you don’t have a flat service to put your phone on—this battery still charges over a wired connection too, via both USB-C and USB-A. It’s a neat feature to have, especially if you don’t need a larger capacity than 8000mAh. With the size and shape of the gadget matching your smartphone nearly perfectly, it’s easy to throw this in your back pocket when walking around.
- Wireless charging
- Still includes standard charging port
- More expensive than chargers with larger capacities