Smartphone technology has come a really long way in quite a short time, essentially rendering quite a few “taken for granted” technologies obsolete. As we continue to grow more and more dependent on our smartphones, an aspect of these devices that is becoming increasingly frustrating is battery life. While OEMs do help you get the most out of the battery with baked in battery saver modes and features, quite a few users might find it difficult to get a full day of use out of their smartphones.
Samsung and LG have attempted to alleviate the problem by offering smartphones featuring replaceable batteries, that isn’t an option available with every device out there. That is where portable chargers come in. Giving you the option of charging your phone on the fly, with varying capacities allowing you to even get a full charge, portable battery power banks have become a key accessory for consumers.
Just like with the other top accessories lists I’ve tackled, I’ll be doing a mini review, of sorts, for each product, and listing their pros and cons. Here’s a look at the some of the best portable chargers available!
The first portable charger on this list is the LimeFuel L156x. Coming in at $49.99, the release of an upgraded version, the L156X Pro at the same price point, has resulted in the price of this version of the portable charger to drop to $39.99. Apart from the difference in price, the Pro edition features the benefit of 4 charging ports, as opposed to the 2 ports available with my version. Even with well over a thousand reviews, the LimeFuel L156x still boasts a 4.6 rating on Amazon, mostly because of the massive capacity of 15,600 mAh that it offers, which is a lot of juice at quite a reasonable price point.
Considering its capacity, the portable charger isn’t that much larger than some smartphones. It features a solid brick-like build quality, but is surprisingly light. The build material is a soft touch plastic reminiscent of the Nexus 7 (2013) and the black version of the Nexus 5. The charger comes with an LED indicator on the side, that shows how much power is left. It also comes with an useful auto off and on feature, which means that when the charger is not in use, it automatically turns off after just a few moments, and also turns on when something is plugged in.
A simple USB cable is to charge your devices, and the cable that comes with the device is a 2-in-1, with a microUSB port, as well as a lightning bolt, that is compatible with the latest iOS devices. Charging speeds are decent, especially while charging smartphones, but things are a little slower when it comes to tablets. Another addition, that may be something you won’t be using as often, is a built-in flashlight.
Anker Astro 5E
The next portable charger on the list has received even more customer reviews than previous device, at over 2,700, but has managed to maintain a similar rating of 4.6. This portable charger is the Anker Astro 5E. It is actually quite similar to the LimeFuel charger, and offers 2 charging ports, comes with an auto-off feature and also includes a flashlight.
Similarities abound when it comes to the features, but the real differences are with regards to the physical appearance. The Anker charger isn’t as long as the LimeFuel one, but is quite a bit heavier, and you get 4 LED indicators to show how much power is left. The housing is glossy, and slick to the touch, which was one of the reasons why I found myself reaching for the LimeFuel portable charger more often than not.
Priced at $39.99, and boasting a whopping 15,000 mAh capacity, this is definitely a more than decent portable charger option, and all the cons that were mentioned don’t particularly draw away from the experience.
The next charger on the list, the RAVPower Xtreme, certainly stretches the limits of the definition of the word “portable.” Giving you the option to charge three devices simultaneously and boasting an amazing 23,000 mAh capacity, you get 2 USB ports for mobile devices, and a multi-voltage port that allow you to charge your laptop, Surface tablet, and more.
While offering a lot, a compromise has been made with regards to portability. The unit itself is very large, with twice the thickness and half the length of my laptop. But what it loses in comfort, it makes up for with compatibility. You get a slew of tips that can be used to connect to almost every mobile device and laptop available, with the only missing adapters being what are needed for Apple products. An LCD display shows you the voltage being used and how much battery is left, and it also comes with an auto-off feature.
If you’re looking for a single power bank to take care of the needs of all your devices, the RAVPower Xtreme is certainly the way to go. If you’re requirements aren’t too extreme, no pun intended, the $99.99 price tag may feel a little too steep.
TYLT Energi 2K Travel Charger
The smallest charger on the list is the recently-released TLYT Energi 2K Travel Charger. This charger is quick to charge, and plugs into the AC socket directly, and automatically turns off when the charging is done. This charger offers a capacity of just 2,200 mAh battery, and is meant to provide you with a bump charge for your device. Basically, if you’re running out of battery, you can get a decent charge up to around 60%, that should give you more than enough time to get to a charger.
The charger has different colour indicators to show low battery, but these LEDs are low powered, making them tough to see outside. I was also hoping that I’d be able to charge this device using a cable instead of just connecting it to the wall plug, which would have also added to the ultra-portable nature of this charger.
The TYLT Energi 2K Travel Charger successfully met its Kickstarter goals, and is now available to general consumers for $39.99. As with every TYLT product, this charger is also available in numerous colour options.
ReVIVE ReStore RA4
Finally, we have a charger that actually doesn’t come with a built-in battery, but instead offers something unique. The ReVIVE ReStore RA4 comes with 4 solar panels that come in a folded design, that span 3 feet when spread out completely. The solar panels absorb as much energy as possible, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t store energy, but rather uses sunlight in real time to charge your devices battery.
If it does receive enough sunlight and will charge your device. I found that it does so quickly, with a speed similar to what you’d get if the smartphone was plugged into your computer. The charger comes with pockets to store the device and USB connectors in, and comes with nylon loops that let you attach it to anything.
The ReVIVE ReStore is ideal for anyone out camping, or if whenever you find yourself outdoors for an extended period of time, without a convenient power source.
Let us know what you use to stay juiced while on the move!