We’ve all made purchases we regret, especially when it comes to tech. But there is one object that’s pretty cheap, practical, and will more than prove its worth over its life. That’s the humble power bank.
Like all batteries, there is a limit to a power bank’s lifespan. And technology also advances, so obsolescence is a consideration. If you dig through a drawer, you may have an old 1,000 mAh power bank which was enough to fill a phone ten years ago — things have come a long way since then, and modern power banks are arguably an everyday essential. They’re very cheap and have a bunch of applications. Not only should you own a power bank, you should have a reasonable collection of them.
It Can Bail You Out in a Pinch
As advanced as modern phone batteries are, heavy use can see most phones’ charge deplete in less than a day. Worse still, there are times you may leave the house having forgotten to charge your phone the night before. Or an extended trip may see you left with a dead smartphone.
A power bank about your person can bail you out in these situations. Banks sitting at around 10,000 mAh of capacity can charge the average phone twice before they empty. They’re also quite small and portable. Ultra portable 5,000 mAh power banks are also available, and will get a full charge into most devices. Either one can slip into a backpack, purse, or even a pocket without causing any trouble. You should also pack a charging cable though, as cheaper power banks tend not to have a wireless charging option. There are power banks with USB-C or lightning cable jacks built-in instead of generic USB ports — but I find it’s best not to limit your possibilities.
You’ll also be in a position where you can help other people out when they need a quick charge. My wife’s phone spends a lot of times in the red zone, so I often find myself handing her a portable power bank on the way out of the door. I was also at a bar in Boston recently, and the wireless charging stations they had built into the table weren’t working. As I had a power bank on me, I was able to help an acquaintance put enough juice into his phone to get himself home.
Finally, there are power outages. Your home may not have electricity, but your phone can keep you in touch with friends and relatives. Your phones internet is also likely to work, even if a storm caused extensive damage. It’s a vital lifeline, and a stack of fully charged power banks can keep it going for a very long time.
It Expands the Functionality of Other Objects
A power bank can help fix or improve other devices that have battery woes. If your elderly cellphone can only hold a charge for a few hours, a power bank can help it function. Equally, if you’re a VR enthusiast who likes long sessions on the Meta Quest, a power bank is a great way to extend your play session while staying “wireless.” The same applies to PlayStation and Xbox controllers. If you don’t have a spare battery, and don’t want to trail a wire across the room, a power bank can keep your controller going as long as you need to.
Then you have objects that are designed to work with power banks. Many carry-on suitcases, backpacks, and jackets have built-in wires and compartments meant to hold a power bank. Simply attach a fully charged power bank to the USB cable in said compartment, and you’ll have a handy outlet somewhere on the case, bag, or coat you can use to charge a device. There are also specialist devices which can charge objects like Apple Watches on the fly.
There are also things like camping trips and through hikes to consider. Portable solar panels aren’t great, but packing a few power banks can help keep essential devices like flashlights, smartwatches, and navigation tools charged.
Perhaps surprisingly, it can also keep you warm. Heated coats and jackets, with electrical elements running through them, are widely available. Plug a power bank into one, hit a button, and you have your own personal heater on your body.
They’re Incredibly Cheap
Money is tight these days, and when trying to save cash, non-essential electronics may be the first thing on the chopping block. However, power banks aren’t really expensive and provide a lot of value for a fairly reasonable outlay. You can get a high-quality power bank from a reputable supplier for less than $20.
Power banks get even cheaper when electronics are on sale. You can snag between 25% and 50% off in some cases. So occasions like Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and post-holiday season sales events are an ideal time to stock up. They’re also something you can’t really have too many of.
If you only have one, you may forget to charge it, and you won’t be able to use it when you need it. If you have several and keep them in a designated area, at least one will likely be charged, and seeing the number of charged power banks dwindle may remind you to plug another in as you take the one you’re going to use.
Smaller is Sometimes Better
It’s worth noting that you’re probably better off with multiple smaller power banks than one large capacity one in most cases. Having a 40,000 mAh bank capable of powering a laptop or charging a phone eight times might initially sound like a good idea, but you’re actually limiting yourself by going big. Even if it costs more, multiple smaller power banks, ideally around 10,000 mAh or so, are more practical. You’re more likely to have at least one of them charged. Particularly as you can have a depleted one on charge while using a fully charged one.
Then there is portability to consider. Larger batteries weigh a lot and can’t be transported as easily as smaller power banks. The weight may not feel like much initially, but after you’ve been carrying the bag your power bank is in for a while, you’ll start to notice — especially if it also contains other devices like laptops and tablets. You’re also prohibited from taking power banks larger than 27,000 mAh on planes, making them even more difficult for travel.
Keeping a few power banks around won’t do you any harm. They’re like a multitool or a smartwatch. They just make life easier. If you don’t have one, you’re unaware, but when you do, you’ll wonder how you survived without them in your life.
But why stop at one? As stated, you’re better off with multiple power banks. If you spot one on sale or have a bit of spare cash, pull the trigger and add it to your collection. You’d have to establish a battery hoarding complex before you actually damage your finances, and the more you have the more likely one will be ready when you need it. If you’re trying to bulk out your collection without breaking the bank, I can recommend the Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger. The fact it still uses Micro USB to charge is a bit of a downside, but it makes up for that with its compactness, capacity, and reliability. If you can afford to splash out, the Zendure Power Bank 10000mAh Mini is ideal for those who favor portability above all else.
Best budget power bank