I remember back-in-the-day when my old Nokia phone said I had ‘low battery’ it meant that I had 2 days to find a charger. Now daily, and sometime multiple times a day, I’m re-charging my Apple iPhone, headset, and Apple iPad…etc etc. Unless I’m in my office, home, or I’m out of luck. Travel (commuting, day-trip, multi-days/weeks) these days is something many take for granted, and in many cases it is a necessity.
Due to our growing dependence on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, it has become imperative that you have your device, and it is charged. I love my smartphone and tablet (iPhone and iPad respectively) because my days of my heavy backpack or book bag stuffed with book, papers and maps and having to travel with the same are behind me…THANK GOODNESS! In fact I’ve been able to really travel light and use lightweight luggage. These small, relatively light devices have taken the place of heavy bulky items.
Most people wouldn’t dream of traveling without their electronic devices like smartphones and tablets. Since they perform a lot of tasks, bringing them while traveling is a must. But, they all have one critical limitation, they run on internal rechargeable batteries. Battery life is limited on these small powerful devices because they are small and power process hungry.
Which is why we use and rely on them so much. Small device, small battery. The newer the device, the more powerful the device, and the faster the battery is depleted. The fact is people are living in an age when smartphones have become as important as carrying a wallet. In the very near future, they might even replace your wallet since mobile financial transactions and proper identification will be conducted and accepted via your smartphone. Given these realities, you can’t afford to be without a charger when you travel.
I’m a portable travel charger nerd, my wife would say a collector. I can’t help myself, I’m like a squirrel “Oh…OOH another acorn” gotta have it! Most of my chargers are small enough in size that I can use on whatever device I’m charging while I’m charging. It’s important to consider the storage capacity of the charger’s battery.
This value is typically expressed in either Amp hours with a symbol “AH” or as milliAmp hours (mAh). The storage capacity of your device that you want to charge is typically printed on the battery itself but may also be found in your owner’s manual. The portable travel charger similarly has a storage capacity, which helps you to determine how many of your devices (or how much of one particular device) the charger can recharge before it needs to be recharged it self.
Some of my portable chargers can fully charge several of my devices; others will only give me an immediate partial ‘in-a-pinch’ charge but I like them all the same because they are smaller and easier to carry. I honestly do not pay that much attention to the chargers storage capacity, more important to me are:
- They must be charged before I can use them to charge my device.
- They are compact enough to fit in my pocket (or wallet)
- They all have a USB connector port so I can use the appropriate cord which is compatible and I charge any of my devices with it. (I love and highly prefer USB type chargers for this reason)
The Importance of Portable Power Chargers
Portable travel chargers are devices used to power up a smartphone or other electronic devices. These chargers provide power for your mobile device, and they’re available in a variety of styles, designs and connectors to suit specific needs. If you’re a frequent traveler, having a portable charger is an absolute necessity as it provides assurances that your phone or device will work when you need it.
Almost all travel chargers today are designed to be compatible with a number of devices. This represents an excellent value for the consumer who needs to keep several devices up and running while on the go.
One of the most practical gifts you can give or receive is a Portable Travel Backup Battery and Charger. These are awesomely convenient for those situation when a traditional charge isn’t handy. These Portable Chargers can be small enough to fit in your pocket, purse or in some cases even a key chain.
These Portable Power Packs can power up a Smartphone or tablet when in a pinch and need a quick boost, or can provide a full charge. They can also provide a charge for cameras and other electronic gadgets that have rechargeable batteries. I’m finding myself using these portable chargers even when I do have access to a wall outlet because of their convenience and portability of not being tethered to the wall, car or computer.
What to Consider When Buying a Travel Charger
Consumers looking for a travel charger with plenty of power for a number of devices will quickly discover that the bigger, more powerful chargers tend to cost a bit more and are bulkier. They also weigh more, which can be an important consideration for someone looking to travel light.
Of course, it isn’t terribly helpful to simply choose the lightest, least expensive travel charger, as these may not have the juice to actually charge various essential devices. When considering which portable charger to buy, it’s best to consider all of these factors and the ones important to you before making a purchase decision.
Many portable travel chargers come with an array of adapter tips and output connectors. This makes it possible to charge almost anything, and some companies that manufacture and sell chargers sell additional adapter tips separately as accessories…again I highly prefer the ones with a universal USB port so you can use your devices unique cord.
The good news is there are several portable chargers available, including (my favorite) universal chargers and those designed specifically for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The portable travel chargers mentioned below are my favorites. But there are NO sub $10 cheap portable travel chargers I have found that I can recommend.
You are going to have to invest more money depending upon what functionality you are seeking, but the more expensive ones do not necessarily before exponentially better performance.
TravelCard Smartphone Charger That Fits in Your Wallet!
The TravelCard Smartphone Charger, as the name suggests, is a compact charger that’s small enough to fit in your wallet. As far as portable battery packs go, the TravelCard is one of the best designed and is available in different colors. The TravelCard is made of sturdy aluminum and looks stylish whether in blue, red or silver.
At the top edge of the charger is the micro USB port for charging the device. There’s also a multi-color LED and an on/off button, all laid out neatly, although in some models the micro USB is replaced by a lightning connector. They also have a new product in development TravelBuddy, which I’m very excited about. I’m truly looking forward it getting my hands on this one.
I love its compactness, and that it fits in my wallet or pocket easily. That is what you are paying for. I can easily hold this charger and my iPhone while connected and being charged in on hand, and use it. I have even recharged the TravelCard with another of my portable travel chargers because it is small and more convenient to carry.
The charger measures 3.58 x 2.44 x .16 inches (9.1 x 6.2 x .4 cm), a bit larger than a credit card but should fit in your wallet easily, which is what distinguishes it from regular chargers. It also weighs 1.5 ounces (42.5 grams) so it is light too. My TravelCard has given me up to a 75% charge on my iPhone , and I’ve gotten to 40% on my iPad. (However, I really only use it for my iPhone and my wireless Bluetooth headset.)
While it was not a full charge, it is more than enough to make an important call, text, or email long enough to get you to a proper full charge. As far as portable battery packs go, the TravelCard ranks up there with the best.
- Compact design
- Approved by Apple
- Stylish design
- Does not provide a full charge for your iPhone or Android device
- Price is a little bit higher than other chargers
Anker Astro Ultra-Compact Portable Charger
The Anker Astro portable travel charger is capable of automatically detecting your device and charges them up quickly thanks to its proprietary PowerIQ technology. All the ports on the device will identify the device you connect and provide the fastest charge possible. The Anker Astro was able to fully charge my iPhone. It was able to provide a pretty significant partial charge on my iPad mini before having to be recharged itself.
Anker Astro differs from other chargers in terms of size, measuring only (3.5 × 0.9 × 0.9 in), no bigger than a lipstick. It weighs only 2.7 oz. and can recharge in three to four hours, much faster than a standard portable charger. When you order the unit, it comes with an 18 month warranty, a guide, a convenient travel pouch, the micro USB cable, and the external battery.
- Compatible with several mobile devices
- Offers full charge for my iPhone and other devices
- Charges fast
- Doesn’t have a lighting connector
- Doesn’t work with older mobile devices
My wife prefers the PowerSkin POP’n battery charger by PowerSkin because it has small little suction cups on the charger that attached to her iPhone. She has small hand so this allows her to use the phone and charger simultaneously.
Levin Solstar Solar Portable Charger
I love solar chargers, but I really REALLY REALLY love the ones that you pre-charge via the sun and then use to charge my smartphone. I own several of these and they are my preferred choice.
I have them in my home office window and dashboard of my truck so they are always available to recharge any of my devices. I like that they are charging my devices from the free energy of the sun.
The Levin Solstar charger has many features that distinguish it from other chargers, but the most significant is the fact that this is a rain resistant solar charger. The Solstar is also shockproof so it won’t break easily.
The Solstar is capable of charging mobile devices using solar energy, making it an environmental friendly device. As long as there’s sunlight, you can charge an iPhone or iPad or whatever easily.
Thanks to the robust rain resistant design, you can take it hiking with you and not worry about a little rain damaging it. The Solstar doesn’t just look tough, it is tough. Thanks to its shock-proof feature the device will continue working even if you accidentally drop it.
Aside from solar charging, the unit comes with a powerful polymer battery that allows for high speed charging of devices at the same time. Finally, the unit is light, compact and has an anti-explosion feature built in.
It should be mentioned that I have never used my solar chargers to charge my iPhone or Ipad by directly placing it in the sun and charge them. In a future update I will be using, testing and reviewing direct solar chargers like the Anker® 14W Dual-Port Solar Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology.
I know my solar chargers will charge my devices, but I do not do this myself. One for preference but also I know this solar charging feature is for emergency use, as it is very much slower compared to regular battery charging. It can take 6 to 8 hours to charge an iPhone while it is off. But it can provide a quick 5% charge in about 40 minutes so you can make a call or send a text. Even so, the fact that it has such a feature means you have an additional option available.
- Rain Resistant
- Charges mobile devices quickly
- Ideal for use in long flights or hiking
- The solar panel is meant for emergency use and has limited capacity
- Solar panel takes time to charge
An honorable mention needs to be given to the Opteka Solar Charger.
This is the one I have for home use and it has performed and held up pretty well. I can’t remember exactly what I paid for it, but I know the prices have come down considerably. And I use/keep the Poweradd™ Apollo Portable USB Charger Power Bank in my truck and for when the family is on a hike or outing.
EasyAcc Ultra Slim Portable Battery Charger
The EasyAcc® Ultra Slim Portable Battery Charger is as functional as it is stylish, offering you a wide array of colors to choose from.
Regardless of the color you choose, you’ll get ample battery charging capacity, so there’s no need to worry about the battery on your mobile running low. The EasyAcc charger is compact and can fit in a small bag or pocket. The aforementioned power capacity provides up to 5-6 full charges for an iPhone and 1.5 to 2.5 charges for an iPad. The unit also has dual USB output, allowing you to charge an iPad or a few smartphones at maximum speed.
The EasyAcc charger also has a sophisticated lock technology that comes with a standby time of up to six months after it is fully charged. And as mentioned earlier, this charger is portable, perfect if you like to go out camping, hiking or mountain climbing. The charger is also easy to use. Based on customer feedback, it is also durable.
- Holds charges for extended periods
- Easy to use
- Separate purchase of AC adapter required
- A bit heavy compared to others
Powerslayer Smart Wall Charger for Mobile Phones and Tablets
I know, this is not a portable travel charger. But I love the Powerslayer by Velvetwire it and use it every night to charge my iPhone (or iPad) while I sleep without fear of over-charging or damaging my iPhone. The Powerslayer wall charger has been specially designed to provide power for a variety of mobile devices.
Unlike others, it monitors the charging process so you don’t have to worry about something going wrong. The Powerslayer has a microprocessor built in that serves as the charger’s tracker. Unlike other chargers, it only provides the power that the device requires, so no power is wasted during the process.
The Powerslayer is a USB charger and includes special software that automatically turns on and off as necessary. So the Powerslayer should be compatible (has the USB connector port I’m so fond of) with virtually all the iPhone, iPod, HTC, iPad and Samsung Galaxy.
The charger has a 10 watt output for quick and efficient charging, and it is also Energy Star and UL Green Leaf rated. This is a very convenient feature so you don’t have to worry about turning it on or off. The unit has a triangular LED indicator turns orange when you are charging and green when the device is charged fully.
The Powerslayer isn’t just a fast charger though, as it also protects your mobile device from overcharging. It’s well known that having your device plugged in and charging well after it has been fully charged causes it to be overcharge, which can damage the device and even be a fire hazard as well.
Because of the way the Powerslayer has been designed, it can charge any USB device you have. Its quick charging time makes it ideal for tablets and smartphones. It’s also worth noting that the Ultra-low Adaptiv Standby uses only a tenth of the power that the standby on other chargers use, which makes this an energy saver. Clean Charge, Clear Conscious!
Another charger I’ve just received and have not been using that long is the Tylt Energi 2k Smart Charger with built-in battery.
I can charge my phone or tablet while simultaneously charge the built-in battery of the charger for a charge later if I need it. How it works is that while the Tylt ENERGI Smart Charger is plugged into the wall and your device is attached to the charger (via your cable which comes with and is compatible with your device) via the universal USB connector port it is charging your device. As soon as your device is/has a full charge, the charger stops charging your device and switches to charging it’s own internal battery for later use.
Picking the Best Portable Travel Charger
No matter how powerful or stylish your mobile device is, you will need a charger to make the most of it. In fact, the more feature-laden the device is, the more likely you need a charge quicker since those devices use a lot of power. You can use (as I do) a portable travel charger as your primary day-to-day charger, and commute or travel with it as well.
The importance of a portable travel charger cannot be denied; you simply cannot afford to be on the road without one. Obviously you need to do some research to determine which one is most effective for you and your situation, but with the products above, you now have a place to start your search.
As you can see, each of the products above have specific and unique features, so there’s no single best charger available. Remember when shopping for a portable travel battery charger the higher the AH or mAH, the more fully, number of times and number of device that can be charged.
It will always be a trade-off of higher AH/mAH’s vs size of the device. Rather, it all depends on what fits your style.