As we head into the new year, many of us might be equipping new mobile devices. Maybe it’s a new set of wireless earbuds that can entertain during fitness-oriented resolutions. Maybe a new laptop or tablet as a tool to finish long-procrastinated projects. Or maybe you’re going to spend more time out and about and have amassed some new tech for your travels.
If there’s one thing that drives me crazy about my mobile tech — namely my phone — it’s battery life. Computers and phones are more powerful than ever before — but battery technology hasn’t progressed nearly as fast. So if you plan on leaving the house for an extended period of time, it’s often a good idea to bring a little extra juice with you.
Battery packs come in all shapes, sizes, and prices — as do the latest home and office wireless chargers — and the market is flooded with different models, so it can be seriously overwhelming to pick one to live in your bag. Like everything else in tech, there’s a perfect portable battery out there to perfectly fit your needs. We’ve got some choices that run the gamut from small and affordable to big, durable, and powerful.
Best all-around pocket chargers: Anker
If you only need a bit of extra power to get you by, and you want something that can fit in your pocket, grab the Anker PowerCore+ Mini. It’s only slightly larger than a tube of lipstick and can hold nearly an entire charge for your phone. (At 3350mAh, it has enough juice to charge an entire iPhone XR, but a little less than a full charge for an iPhone 11.)
If you have a larger phone with a bigger battery like an iPhone 11 or the new Samsung Note 10+, the PowerCore 5000 is a slightly larger model in a similar form factor and goes for just under $20.
Best fast-charging portable charger with high capacity: Anker
About the size of a bar of soap, Anker’s PowerCore 10000 PD Redux is a bigger charger with more juice and a faster charging port. Sporting 10,000mAh, it can charge most phones twice over, or almost an entire iPad’s battery once. Its USB-C port allows for 18W of fast charging, provided your device supports it.
Just make sure you have a USB-C to USB-C cable on hand to take advantage of this feature.
Best large-format portable battery pack for multiple devices: RAVPower
The chargers listed above will ensure your phone doesn’t go dead after a long day out and about. But if you need to charge your phone over the course of a few days — or if you want enough capacity to keep all your gadgets powered on a long trip — check out RAVPower’s 20,100mAh power bank. It can charge your phone and tablet — or Nintendo Switch — multiple times. And it can do so quickly, thanks to its built-in Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 port and 15W USB-C port. For $50, that’s a pretty great deal — as long as you have room in your bag for a larger unit.
Best portable charger for laptops: ZMI
Power banks aren’t just for phones anymore. If you get one with a high enough output in wattage, you can charge many USB-C laptops. The $70 ZMI USB PD Backup Battery boasts 20,000mAh of capacity, with 45 watts of charging power. That won’t necessarily charge every laptop on the market, but it does work with many MacBook models, Google’s Pixelbook, and plenty of Windows notebooks. Plus, it doubles as a USB hub, so if you’re charging your laptop from this battery pack, you can use flash drives or other USB devices plugged into the battery pack as well, no additional dongles required.
Best multi-function portable charger: Goal Zero
If you want a power bank that can do it all, be prepared to invest in it. The Goal Zero Sherpa isn’t the most affordable charger on the market, but trust me: It’s well worth its $130 price tag. Its aluminum construction is tough as nails, it supports 60W for charging just about any USB-C laptop, and it’ll even charge your phone wirelessly, so you don’t need to worry about cables if you don’t want to. And with a 25,600mAh-capacity, you won’t worry about running out of juice anytime soon.
More tech guides from NBC Shopping