I went on vacation recently to Cape Cod. It’s a popular vacation destination here in the United States located in eastern Massachusetts. It’s loaded with beaches, quaint shops and restaurants and other tourist attractions. I knew that for the week I would be on-the-go pretty frequently and often away from a power outlet to charge my phone. Not to mention the hotel Wi-Fi is horrendous which meant that I’d probably be using the less battery efficient LTE connection for Internet access.
Seeking remedy, I toyed with the idea of buying a portable power bank to keep my iPhone charged. My car’s charging port doesn’t work and I figured a power bank could even charge my phone while I’m walking around. At the same time, I wasn’t sure if I needed the extra bulk to carry with me.
A few years ago I bought a small power bank for $30. It was able to charge my then iPhone 5 about one and a half times. I thought it was useful in emergency situations, but a bit pricey for basically an oversized battery. I hadn’t explored the power bank market since then, so I wasn’t sure what kind of improvements to expect, if any.
Shopping and Preparation
Everyone should have a power bank.
Two days before Amazon’s Prime Day shopping extravaganza this year, I saw that a 20,000 mAh power bank from Anker was on sale for only $26.99, which is unbelievable. To put that in perspective, 20,000 mAh can charge my iPhone 6s over seven times and can charge a big Android phone over five. I’d be a fool to pass up a deal like that so I quickly added it to my cart and gave Amazon my 27 dollars.
It’s pretty big, but it’s not so big that it’s not portable. And the size is easily forgiven when you realize it’s packing in over seven iPhones worth of power. For some perspective, the power bank I bought is about as long as my iPad mini and about half as wide. A lot of my shorts have pretty deep pockets so this just barely fit in there, but skinny jean lovers and generally anyone who wears women’s clothing probably won’t have the same luck.
Because my power bank is quite large, it took about 24 hours to charge fully, so some planning ahead is necessary if you want to buy and use a large power bank.
Toward the end of the car ride to Cape Cod I used the power bank for the first time. My iPhone wasn’t low on battery yet, but I figured I should keep the charge pretty high if I was going to be out and about at all my favorite places once we got there. It quickly brought the charge up by about 20 percent.
Once family and friends who came on the trip took notice, they started asking to borrow the power bank as well. I ended up using it almost every single day on my week-long vacation, plus family used it about three times. I never had to charge my iPhone from 0 percent to 100 percent though, I would instead just use the bank more frequently and in smaller amounts.
At the end of the trip, my power bank hadn’t even drained to below 50 percent. I was so wildly impressed because I was using it all week. It was there for me out by the pool, walking around through shops, in long drives, and altogether whenever I didn’t have an outlet handy, which is very often on busy vacations.
Easy Buying Guide
So what is the moral of the story here? Everyone should have a power bank. How large yours is and how much you’re willing to spend is totally up to you, but I realized just how useful they are in a variety of situations. Additionally, there are certain chargers that use ‘passthrough’ technology to charge the power bank as well as the devices connected to it. Though keep in mind, such power banks won’t be as cheap.
The amount of battery life you get out of a power bank is almost always going to be directly proportional to the size of the power bank itself.
If you’re a frequent traveler and need something that will last until you get home, consider getting a 15,000 mAh, 20,000 mAh or even 25,000 mAh power bank. A few years ago these would have been $100 but now you can find them on Amazon for half the price. The Anker PowerCore 20100 that I bought sells for $42.99 right now — not as good as the sale price I found, but still decent.
Even if you don’t travel as much, just get an inexpensive power bank for emergencies only. Many of them are no larger than a lipstick. EasyAcc’s Ubright 3350 mAh power bank gives your phone about an additional one full charge. It’s just $12.99 and fits easily in a pocket or purse.
Of course, if you want to share your power bank, a number have several USB ports so multiple people can charge up at once. RAVPower’s 22,000 mAh has three plus packs in all that power for $39.99.
Just remember this: the amount of battery life you get out of a power bank is almost always going to be directly proportional to the size of the power bank itself. But in the end, even if you spend as little as 10 bucks on one, it’s always worth having for backup.