Looking for a decent power bank

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Hardware & Accessories

This is my first post here, so I hope I'm following directions properly. I'm so new to power banks, I haven't even had a look at one before, and I couldn't see the need for one until a few weeks ago, thanks to the lockdown. I'm on a lot of Zoom calls, have discovered internet radio, and of course all that uses up battery, and I'm not always in a place where I can plug in my iPhone, so I decided that it's time to check out power banks.I have an iPhone 8+ and I have no idea what I should be looking for, and because some stores aren't open here yet, I may have to buy online but all the numbers are confusing.

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Submitted by Jenna Pepper on Sunday, June 14, 2020

Club AppleVis Member

Hey there, power banks can be a bit of a pain, but it's not too difficult. Phone and battery bank manufacturers usually rate battery capacity in mAh (miliamp hours). This is a measure of how much energy they can store. The bigger the number, the better, but there's always a tradeoff between capacity, size, and cost. I owned a 26,800 mAh battery bank, but it cost about $75 and was enormous. The kind of thing you'd throw in a backpack for a weekend trip or long flight. You can buy a 10,000 mAh battery bank which will fit in a cargo pocket, but it will only recharge your phone a handful of times. There are even smaller banks available, meant to be a quick top-up for your device such as the Lithium Card which fits in a wallet but likely won't even give your phone one full charge. The amount of charge you can get out of a battery bank will vary on the bank's size and your phone's battery size. If your phone had a rating of 2000 mAh, you can do the math for a ballpark estimate. Keep in mind that these banks aren't completely efficient. They're good, but not perfect. On top of that, your phone is constantly using power, so a 10000 mAh bank won't charge a phone with a 2000 mAh battery 5 times. You might only get around 3 charges due to electrical resistance and your phone's power draw.

As for actually picking a power bank, there are several options. If you want something you can cart around and charge your phone a few times, 10,000 mAh is a good size, and you can get even smaller ones for more portability. You can always get the enormous, multi-day banks, but they're quite heavy and are best suited to a bag. Also, large battery banks are restricted on flights. In the US, the FAA doesn't allow batteries with a capacity higher than 100 watt hours. That's a different way to measure capacity which equates to roughly just under 30,000 mAh. Funny thing is there's no limit to how many discrete battery banks you can bring aboard, so long as they're for personal use. Fun fact: the battery in the 2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch clocks in at a hair below that limit. One form factor that might suit you is a battery case. This builds the battery straight into your phone case and makes everything much more convenient. No cables or separate battery banks required! There are also battery banks with wireless chargers built in. They are convenient, but not very efficient and tend to be more expensive.

So, what about brands? Well, when it comes to batteries, it's best not to cheap out. Buying chinese no-name power banks can result in battery cells that wear out abnormally fast, a capacity which is far, far, far lower than advertised (I'm talking anywhere from one half to one sixth the capacity), and a fire hazard at worst. Remember the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco? People's phones were literally exploding and catching fire. Lithium battery cells are volatile little demons. They're basically chemical sacks with thin membranes keeping all the explody bits from touching each other. So, what to do? Stay away from shady companies. Be smart. If someone is advertising a battery bank the same size as your phone to be 20,000 mAh, they're probably llying. Personally, I suggest sticking to big brands like Anker and Aukey who already have a good reputation for making reliable chargers and cables. Stuff made by big companies like Samsung and LG is also fair game, though I've not really seen power banks from them. I've also had good experiences with Cheero Power. I owned a NuEyes headset that shipped with one and it never gave me problems. They're incredibly basic and have no load detection, so you'll have to push a power button to turn on the juice, but they're pretty cheap.

That's pretty much all I know. The most convenient solution, by far, is a battery case. Apple sells some official ones, I think. Just keep in mind you may only get a few charges out of them due to the small size. Hope this helps.

Submitted by Pyro2790 on Monday, June 15, 2020

I've always gone with Anker products. You can find many different ones they offer by amount of MA's on amazon. Type Anker Power Bank. Depending on how many charges out of your phone you would like to get and also depending on the price your willing to pay. I have a model between 15000 and 16000 MA that is sufficient enough to charge my phone several times or an iPad. All depends on how much power you want, portability and price. I've never been disappointed with any Anker products I have purchased.

Submitted by Pyro2790 on Monday, June 15, 2020

Note the spelling difference in case search results do not populate. The company is A-n-k-e-r. It is not spelled like the traditional word anchor.

Submitted by gailisaiah on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Hi Jo: There's a web site called The Harbolt Company. They sell lots of stuff including power banks. And a neat thing is there's an audio description of each product. So you can browse the power banks, listen to the audio descriptions, and make your choice. Here's the link:
https://harboltcompany.com/

I have a range of power packs here and a rough rule of thumb is that you will need a power pack with 1.5 times the MAH value of your phone to charge it.

Another consideration is how long the power bank takes to charge and how quickly it will charge your phone.

I have an Anker power pack, charger and cables here that will all do fast charging. This particular power pack will output at 18 Watts so will charge your iPhone by 50% in half an hour. So that is quite convenient. It charges via USB C and this works as an output too. So with the correct USB C to Lightning cable you can charge your iPhone quickly. You need a higher rate charger above 18 Watts to charge the power pack quickly too.

I also have a 10000 MAH pack with wireless charging capabilities.

My largest power pack is 26000 MAH has 3 USB outputs so will charge 3 devices. It also has dual input so with the correct charger it charges up quickly taking about 7 hours.

Hope this helps.