While phones and tablets now get decent battery life, frequent travelers can stretch that life to the limit. Long days away from power outlets and heavy usage can drain even good batteries dry.
Portable power chargers are small battery packs that can be used during the day to top off batteries when they get low. They add very little bulk to briefcases and gear bags and can be lifesavers when needed.
There are dozens of portable chargers on the market, many from unknown companies that might not be good. This collection has been assembled based on personal recommendations from folks using them. It is thus a good place to start when looking for a good portable battery pack for your smartphone and/or tablet.
The prices and links for these gadgets are those from the charger manufacturer. Many of them can be found at online retailers like Amazon, so it's always a good idea to search online before ordering one.
Note that many of these OEMs are quick to push their products for use with iPhones and iPads, but with USB charging ports they will work with most phones/tablets.
These chargers will not work with laptops, as those require special high-power battery packs. Those are typically very big, heavy, and expensive, so they are not included in this collection.
The packs included here are by no means the only ones available — they are just the ones recommended to us. If you have another power pack that has served you well, please share it in the TalkBack below.
The New Trent was recommended more often than others in this collection. My colleague Jason Perlow uses one on his business trips and had good things to say about it.
From the New Trent product page:
The iCarrier can charge a phone and tablet at the same time with its dual USB ports. One is higher output than the other to charge bigger devices faster than a typical phone charger.
There is no pass-through capability so the iCarrier cannot charge devices while its internal battery is charging. Its 12,000 mAH capacity is twice that of the other products in this collection.
The Mophie Juice Pack is a popular case for the iPhone with internal battery to extend phone usage. That case adds weight and bulk to the phone that many do not like.
Mophie also makes a separate portable charger that can be used to charge a tablet and phone at the same time. The Powerstation Duo has a 6,000 mAH with high output delivery for fast charging of tablets and phones.
From the Mophie product page:
This charger does not have pass-through capability so it cannot be used to charge devices while charging its internal battery.
The ZAGG folks are well-known for their iPad keyboards and cases, but they also have a line of portable battery packs.
The ZAGGsparq 6000 is a small pack with an integrated power plug, making it one of the smallest in this collection.
From the ZAGG product page:
The ability to use the ZAGGsparc as a wall charger eliminates one or two power adapters from the travel bag.
Belkin is famous for its mobile accesory product line and the Power Pack 4000. While this is not the most powerful in this group, it can deliver a fast charge to two devices.
According to the Belkin product page, the Power Pack has pass-through capability, meaning it can charge phones and tablets at the same time that it charges its internal battery. This means it can be used in place of a phone/tablet power adapter.
From the Belkin product page:
The TurboCharger is designed for international travelers and comes with cables and power plugs to work in many countries.
From the Proporta product page:
The Enercell power pack can be found online and in some Radio Shack stores, so you may be able to check it out prior to buying one.
From the Radio Shack product page: