Points To Consider While Buying A USB Battery Charger

A cellphone on a table

It’s a good thing that power banks are so popular these days. People rely on them more and more as they become less tethered to the wall outlet with their laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices. But there’s still some confusion about what’s out there, how to choose one that suits your needs, and where you can find the best deals. Here are 10 questions (and answers) to help clear things up.

What is a portable charger?

A close up of a phone

A portable charger is an external battery pack designed for charging mobile devices like smartphones or tablets on the go when outlets aren’t available. These packs come in many forms factors from pocketable models ideal for emergencies up to larger packs meant to charge your devices at home and on the road.

How do I choose a good one?

A close up of a phone

There are many factors to consider when choosing a portable charger or power bank for your needs. Some of these include: 

  • Capacity: How long does it need to charge your device between recharges? Will you be using it during emergencies or just as an everyday backup? 
  • Weight: How heavy will this thing be in your pocket, bag, etc.? 
  • Size: Does it fit neatly into the space available in my bag/purse/pocket without being too bulky to carry around? 
  • Warranty: Is there a warranty that offers protection from defects and product failures over time?

How long will it take to charge? 

Many chargers on the market, especially those with big capacities, use USB charging technology which we all know can be fairly slow as compared to AC wall adapters that come with our smartphones and tablets. If you’re looking for faster charging times then pay attention to the amperage rating of your charger’s output port(s). Chargers like those from RAVPower list their output amps in product listing pages so you’ll know exactly what kind of speed you’re getting before you purchase. Just select the model that best suits your device and check out the available options.

Will it overcharge my device?

This is a common problem with the cheaper alternatives. Many chargers have built-in protections against this but it can be difficult to find out if they’re good enough for your needs. Look, at a minimum, for things like OVP/OTP/OPP which are Over Voltage / Over Current / Over Power protection features that will shut off your charger automatically when you try to charge your device from a power source that’s too powerful (or inversely in some cases). But ideally, look for USB smart-charging and other technologies like Qualcomm Quick Charge and similar.

How do I use it?

The simplest option is an AC wall adapter-style charger that plugs into any outlet and charges your device from there. Many of these also come with a built-in USB cable that you can use to connect your device directly into the charger itself. Some chargers take this a step further by including special adapters or connectors so you can use various charging tips and cables specific to your smartphone or tablet. These adapter style chargers typically include all the adapter tips you’ll need in the box which can be convenient if you plan on using it to replace the AC wall adapter that came with your device but doesn’t want to buy more than one type of tip/cable.

How do I recharge it?

Chargers like those from Anker let you plug in any standard micro-USB cable for recharging while others may come with a special or proprietary cable and connector for recharging or battery replacement. Some chargers like those from PNY even include a built-in micro-USB cable for charging both your device and the charger itself. These all vary depending on the particular model you choose so pay attention to any included cables, tips, or other accessories when making your purchase.

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