What’s an External Battery Pack and Why Do I Want One?
Normally when you need more juice for your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile electronic device, you plug the USB charging cable in to your computer or to a wall-wart transformer. You top the device off (or keep using it while it charges in the background) and away you go.
That’s not always convenient (or even possible) if you’re traveling or otherwise away from home. This is where an external battery pack comes in handy. They range in size from as small as a lipstick tube (good for topping off a small smartphone battery) to as big as a thick paperback book (good for keeping your phone going for days or letting multiple friends juice up their tablets).
Instead of plugging your charging cable into the wall, you instead plug the charging cable into the battery pack and fill up the device’s batteries that way. Not all battery packs are created equal, however, and even if the build quality is good, you can easily end up with an external battery pack that doesn’t fit your application and power needs.
Here’s how to pick the right external battery pack
Most of the time, having your smartphone’s battery peter out on you is a mere inconvenience. Maybe you were just about to finally dominate that one level on Candy Crush when … aw, snap! Down goes your phone. But sometimes, having your one-and-only means of communication clonk out on you at the wrong time can become an issue of safety.
Enter the portable battery charger. These things come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors and configurations, and they all promise to keep your devices juiced up when there’s no free wall socket to be found. But how do you find the best device in a category swimming with seemingly identical bricks?
Don’t be fooled: Not all portable battery chargers are created equal, and there are certain things you will want to take into consideration when choosing a charger so that you wind up with the model that’s right for both you and your device. That’s what we’re here for. Here’s our guide on how to choose the best portable battery charger.
When considering a portable battery charger, you’ll need to be prepared to make a compromise between capacity – how much juice the charger provides – and portability. More capacity always means bigger, heavier batteries. You can buy a monster-sized pack capable of charging your power-hungry tablet once or twice, but it’s going to be too large to cram in your purse or pocket.
So, if you do a lot of traveling and need the ability to not only keep your tablet from going dark, but last for several more hours, go for a large, high-capacity charger that you can tote around in your travel bag. But, if you just need the ability to keep your low-draw smartphone or Bluetooth speaker going long enough until you can get to a wall outlet, then most pocket-friendly chargers should suit you just fine.
A battery’s capacity is expressed in terms of milliamp hours, or mAh. As you can imagine, larger devices, like tablets, have much higher-capacity batteries built in because they often draw more power.
For example, the iPad 3 has a massive 11,666mAh battery, where as the iPhone 5 uses a 1,440 mAh cell. In the middle is the Ultimate Ears Mini Boom Bluetooth speaker, with a 6,000mAh battery inside.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
- There are several reviews that complain of two faults with this external battery, and the reviewers downgrade it as a result. I have found that these issues are not really problems.1st Reported Issue: The USB port doesn’t work.
Yes, it probably does – it just doesn’t work automatically. Unlike the 12v,16v and 19v pin output which begins charging your device as soon as it is plugged in, the USB output port has to be turned on by pressing the front panel button on the battery. This can be confusing and I believe several people just decided the USB charge port didn’t work when it didn’t begin charging their USB devices. Just push the button and it will work.2nd Reported Issue: The battery can be shorted making it useless
I thought this too after I accidentally connected the input and output ports on the battery. It went dead immediately and nothing would get it to start. However, Anker support suggested I connect the battery to the wall charger. As soon as I did this the battery began working again. Connecting the battery to the wall charger resets it. So again, no problem.Neither of these tips are documented in the battery’s instructions so I can understand how people would think the battery was defective when it was actually fine.I really like this external battery. It is easier to carry around than a wall charger and you can recharge almost every electronic device you own anywhere. It has a lot of capacity and once you know its two quirks it’s foolproof to operate. Support from Anker has been great – they are very responsive.I would like to see Anker redesign the input and output ports so they are not so similar. it is very easy to confuse input and output since they are both pin plugs right next to each other. I ended up putting a piece of electrical tape over the input port just for safety.
- I bought a couple of these a while ago and now I’m picking up a couple more as gifts. Anyone who has a smartphone should have one.I was thinking of ideas to protect these from water and debris in my pocket or backpack. The simplest idea I came up with was to pickup some rubber chair tips at the hardware. Size 7/8 to 1 inch. They fit perfectly and do a good job of protecting them. Anker hit a home run with this product. Five stars.
Top Best External Battery Pack