Power banks are simple devices. Shopping for them, however, is another story. Dozens of manufacturers sell batteries in a variety of sizes and with any number of different features, so it can be difficult even to know where to start.
But there’s one feature that’s still relatively rare that I think you should look for in your next power bank: Qi wireless charging.
Wireless charging is a big deal for a couple of reasons: 1.) Most flagship smartphones these days support the Qi standard, including both iPhones and Android phones that would normally require separate charging cables. 2.) It lets you (in most cases) use the power bank as a desktop Qi charger while it charges.
And so, I picked up the mophie Charge Stream powerstation Wireless, and was suddenly able to leave my cable behind when I went out. It felt a lot like having one of those Starbucks power mats, but one that I could take it with me anywhere.
Better still, I can use it as a Qi charger at home, so I don’t have to worry about charging it separately. Plugging it in to use it as a charging pad on my desk or nightstand also recharges the battery until it’s time to leave the house again. Pretty great.
And, yes, Qi power banks may cost more than a standard battery pack. But considering that they can easily take the place of your stay-at-home charger, and can be used as more than just a paperweight if you forget your charging cable when you leave the house, I think it’s worth the extra cash. In fact, it feels like the future.
To be clear, charging your device wirelessly won’t be as speedy as plugging in, and you’ll get less juice out of your battery pack too, since wireless charging is inefficient compared to using a cable. So this option is best for people, like me, who never let their phones go down to the danger zone, and just need a portable battery that can keep your phone battery topped up while you’re out.
If that sounds good to you, here are a few options:
If you want something that’s compact and enough to keep your smartphone topped up while you’re out and about, this mophie Charge Stream powerstation Wireless is perfect for doing just that.
The 6,040mAh battery can recharge an iPhone a couple of times, and when I took it on my flight, I was able to charge my smartphone and my headphones at the same time, thanks to the standard USB port on the side. Better still, it charges through a USB-C connection, which ensures two things: faster than average charging speeds, and a bit of future-proofing.
Note: There is a 10,000mAh version of this battery, but it costs about $100 and there are cheaper options listed below.
If you’re the type to go long stretches of time away from an outlet, RAVPower makes a larger power bank, albeit one with a grody old microUSB connector. With a 10,000mAh battery inside, it’s keep your devices topped up for longer and it’s one of the more affordable units on this list.
If you want a battery pack that combines the sleek design of the Mophie with the capacity (if not the affordability) of the RAVPower, this Samsung unit is for you. Better still, it comes in a really cool pink color which is a nice reprieve from the rubberized, black bricks.
If you don’t like the idea of unplugging and replugging your Qi battery every time you want to go out, the myCharge portable charger can charge via the Qi charger your already own. Better still, the charge passes through the power bank and charges your phone simultaneously. (Of course, it can charge via microUSB, but that’s not as fun.)