Going to a convention, LAN party, or traveling you’ll want to keep your devices charged up and working. Finding a wall outlet to recharge can be impractical, if not impossible. USB power banks are a great way to do that as they are convenient, portable, and inexpensive. Let us see what type of USB power bank best suits your needs.
What To Consider
When looking at power banks consider the following specs in addition to the cost:
- Capacity (mAh aka milliamp hour)
- Output (Watt = Volt x Amp)
- Other Features: USB-A vs USB-C ports, number of ports, etc)
Consider the capacity of your device(s) battery and how many times you may need to recharge it. You can Google for your device’s battery specs. Expect your device’s capacity to be larger than listed, and the power bank’s capacity to be smaller than listed.
Output will determine how quickly your device will recharge. Listed features like Quick Charge reference the output specs. USB-C devices typically need a USB-C power bank to get the best charge rate. The input limits of your device is also a factor.
Weight, as well as size, matters. The less you are carrying the better your day.
From these details we can also find a power bank’s value (mAh per dollar) and efficiency (mAh per gram of weight).
When flying FAA rules allow power banks in carry-on bags, but not in checked luggage. You must transfer batteries to your carry-on if gate checking a bag.
Power Banks for Your USB Devices
Power banks to keep your phone, tablet, Nintendo 3DS, and similar devices charged.
|Travelcard||Anker PowerCore+ mini||Jackery Bolt||Anker PowerCore 10000||Tronsmart Presto 10000 PBT10||Anker PowerCore 20100|
|Capacity||1500 mAh||3350 mAh||6000 mAh||10,000 mAh||10,000 mAh||20,100 mAh|
|Weight||57 grams||80 grams||150 grams||180 grams||210 grams||356 grams|
|Value||38.5 mAh/dollar||223 mAh/dollar||200 mAh/dollar||385 mAh/dollar||435 mAh/dollar||502 mAh/dollar|
|Efficiency||26 mAh/gram||42 mAh/gram||40 mAh/gram||56 mAh/gram||48 mAh/gram||56 mAh/gram|
|Notes||Built-in cables, pocket carry||Built-in Lighting and micro-USB cables||Quick Charge 3.0|
The Travelcard is a favorite pocket sized power bank, almost the size of a credit card. Two models are available: iPhone (Lightning cable) and Android (micro-USB cable). Yet due to its size it is one of the least efficient power banks.
I keep an Anker PowerCore+ mini in my backpack, along with a short Lightning and micro-USB cable. Its shape and size make it pocketable, though you’ll notice it.
The Jackery Bolt is a great EDC (everyday carry, usually in a bag) battery for your phone. It can recharge even the largest phones twice, and it can provide power to many devices in one package.
Higher capacity power banks, such as the Anker PowerCore 10000, offer better value. You gain flexibility with what kind and how many devices you can keep running. I use this model when carrying a portable Nintendo device.
If your smartphone has Quick Charge 3.0 then pick up the Tronsmart Presto 10000 PBT10. It’ll rapid charge your phone like its wall charger.
For power that lasts for days check out the Anker PowerCore 20100. It’ll recharge a regular sized phone 10 times or keep a fleet of devices running over the weekend. It may be easier to bring this than many wall chargers when traveling for a few days. There is a USB-C variant available, but it isn’t the best USB-C power bank out there.
Nintendo doesn’t provide USB cables for the 3DS and 2DS, so you’ll need to pick one up to go with your power bank. Luckily there are plenty to choose from.
Power Banks for Your USB-C Devices
With USB-C devices you need to consider output rates to get the best results. USB-A power banks will work with smaller USB-C devices, such as the Nintendo Switch. You’ll need a USB-A to USB-C cable. But you won’t get the best charge rate due to USB-A’s output limit. To charge and play you need a USB-C power bank.
|Tronsmart Presto 10400 Type-C||RAVPower 20100||Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD||RAVPower 26800 PD|
|Capacity||10,400 mAh||20,100 mAh||26,800 mAh||26,800 mAh|
|Output||15 Watt||15 Watt||30 Watt||30 Watt|
|Weight||241 grams||380 grams||490 grams||456 grams|
|Value||385 mAh/dollar||402 mAh/dollar||223 mAh/dollar*||335 mAh/dollar|
|Efficiency||43 mAh/gram||53 mAh/gram||55 mAh/gram||59 mAh/gram|
|Notes||*Includes USB-C wall charger|
The Tronsmart Presto 10400 Type-C is one of the smallest and cheapest USB-C power banks. It will charge a Nintendo Switch while in use, but it isn’t great for larger devices due to its limited capacity.
The RAVPower 20100 gets you into higher capacity, but with the same base level USB-C output level. It is the best balance of price and future proofing for USB-C devices.
The Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD and RAVPower 26800 PD both provide you with a high output USB-C power bank. They will quickly recharge a Nintendo Switch while in use. They may not match your USB-C laptop’s wall charger, but they’ll keep it running for longer. The Anker includes a 30 watt USB-C wall charger. If you don’t need that then opt for the RAVPower.
- Travelcard – Best pocket carry, but skip if you’ll have a bag.
- Jackery Bolt – Best bag carry.
- Tronsmart Presto 10000 PBT10 – For Android phones with Quick Charge 3.0 feature only.
Already have a power bank for your phone with 5,000 mAh or more? Then pick up the Nintendo 3DS USB cable and use what you have.
- Tronsmart Presto 10400 Type-C + USB-C to USB-C Cable – Charges under all conditions and is small enough to fit in many Switch cases, but not the best bang for your buck.
- Anker PowerCore 10000 + USB-A to USB-C Cable – Charges under most conditions, good low budget option and easy to carry along with your Switch.
Smartphone & Nintendo 3DS
- Jackery Bolt + Nintendo 3DS USB Cable – Minimizes cables to carry, will recharge both devices twice.
Smartphone & Nintendo Switch
- Anker PowerCore 10000 + Smartphone Cable + USB-A to USB-C Cable – Will charge Switch under most conditions. Recharge Switch once with plenty left for the phone. Or recharge Switch twice and only partially charge the phone.
- Anker PowerCore 20100 + Smartphone Cable + USB-A to USB-C Cable – Plenty of power to go around, but big and heavy. Best when you’ll be in one place playing all day.