Lately, my wife has been borrowing my little Anker Astro portable power bank for her iPhone. It’s clear her aging device now needs the ongoing battery support to get through certain hi-use days.
So, I decided to pick up another portable charger for myself. No big deal… right? Especially because I thought these batteries have become so cheap you can probably find them at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.
And to complicate matters, the countless choices out there are mind numbing…
Power Pricing Game
And I was shocked to find the price points from my favorite brands were $30-$50. But upon closer inspection, that’s due to the greater power capacities on the portable power bank market today.
You can easily get yourself 12,000-20,000mAh of portable power.
But do you need that much…?
Don’t Bring Along More Power Than You Require
My iPhone XS Max only needs 3,174mAh to totally recharge.
A little travel boost is really all I wanted. So, focusing on the smaller 6,700mAh category is more than enough to carry about for this particular purpose.
And I immediately identified a couple of good choices…
- Anker 6,700mAh Astro E1 Ultra Compact Portable Charger
$23.99 on Amazon Prime
(Go with what you know, right?)
- RAVPower 6,700mAh Portable Charger
$18.99 on Amazon Prime
Same Price… Larger Capacity and Size
And after doing a little more research, I realized you can even up the capacity of the battery without really affecting the price…
- Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh
$25.99 on Amazon Prime
- RAVPower 10,000mAh Power Bank with dual 2.0 USB Ports (Model: RP-PB005)
$19.99 on Amazon Prime
Just be aware that these batteries are going to be bigger and heavier…
You’ll Likely Need to Provide Your Own Lighting Cable Solution
But then, I discovered a little secret in the portable power industry…
Most power banks don’t include the Lightning cable to actually power an iPhone. (That requires a separate purchase!)
So, you’ve got to spend more money for the cable!
For example, the 1-foot Anker Powerline II Lightning Cable is
$10.99 on Amazon Prime.
Too Good to Be True?
But I did locate one option from POWERADD that graciously packaged an included Lightning cable:
- POWERADD Pilot 4GS 12,000mAh Portable Charger with Lightning Cable
$26.99 on Amazon Prime
In fact, the clever design of this unit only requires the one cable… for both charging up and dispensing power.
And it’s got 12,000mAh!
(and 2 outputs)
All this for $26.99… Is this a dream?
So, where’s the catch?
Well… lots of Amazon reviewers have complained about the allegedly short life span for this model.
My search continued…
Make Sure a Built-In Lighting Cable will Fit through your iPhone Case
Some manufacturers offer a design that includes an attached fold-out Lightning cable.
I found one choice from Jackery…
- Jackery Bolt 6000mAh
$29.99 on Amazon Prime
This external battery charger has a short built-in Lightning cable, which is simply awesome.
That is… unless you use a thick iPhone case like I do, which will likely prevent the Lightning plug from fitting.
(I’m happily using my Pelican case… so I’m going to pass on this option.)
Consider a Power Bank with a Built-In AC Plug
Then, I came upon a slightly different product category with a design that offers an integrated foldable power plug… so you don’t need to worry about having access to a separate wall charger.
Now, that’s certainly a nice bonus and an unexpected value-add.
(And yes, you’ve still got to buy your own Lightning cable.)
I found these two choices:
- Anker PowerCore Fusion, Portable Charger 5000mAh with Dual USB Wall Charger, Foldable Plug
$25.97 on Amazon Prime
- RAVPower 6,700mAh Power Bank with Dual USB Wall Charger (Model RP-PB125)
$23.99 on Amazon Prime
(Each power port provides a full 2.4A.)
So, that just left getting another Lightning cable…
And I finally came to the conclusion this additional purchase was inevitable.
If you also need to go that route, I suggest getting a short cable, which is simpler to use when you’re tethering the RAVPower battery to your iPhone while using it in the field.
Or you can go with the premium cable option for $2 more…
AmazonBasics Advanced Collection 4” Lightning to USB A Cable… $7.99.
I spent the extra couple of bucks.
You should always carry around a little portable power to support your smartphone for ‘emergencies.’ If that unit can recharge itself without needing a separate power block and also easily supply some juice to your other devices, I’d say that’s a smart purchase!