Get a Power Bank for Your Smartphone

I’ve been using smartphones for years, starting with a Palm Centro during my last months with Verizon, just before we switched to AT&T and my wife and I each got an iPhone 3GS. Modern smartphones go through batteries much more quickly than old “dumb” phones ever did.

I’ve had a couple low capacity battery packs that use the iPod/iPhone/iPad 30-pin dock connector, and while they could help stretch one iPhone through the day, they were limited to early iOS devices.

Terris Powerbank

Terris Powerbank

I recently picked up a 5400 mAH power bank at Aldi for a song – 50% off its retail price. This particular device is a bit bigger than my iPhone 4S and has enough capacity to recharge a fully drained iPhone 4, 4S, or 5 three times with power to spare. If you charge at the 20% mark, you could probably get back to 100% four times.

Best of all, the Terris Powerbank has a built-in USB plug for charging along with a Micro USB plug for charging non-Apple smartphones and most Bluetooth headsets. It also has two USB ports (1.0 and 2.1 Amps), so you can use a 30-pin dock cable, a Lightning cable, a Mini USB cable, a Micro USB cable, and who knows what else. The only stipulation is that you use no more than two of the three output options at once.

The four blue LEDs let you know how fully it is charged during the charge cycle and how drained it is when it’s being used. I haven’t managed to drain mine yet.

Lots of Options Out There

There are lots and lots of power bank options out there. I’ve seen some for $3 at Five Below. I can’t comment on the build quality, reliability, or whether they actually meet their claimed power specification, but I can tell you that a good power bank can be a wonderful thing. I can tell you that you’re unlikely to find the Terris Powerbank, as most Aldi stores were sold out within a day or two of the price drop.

At work, they don’t want us plugging in chargers at our work stations. A charged power bank doesn’t tie up an AC outlet, and if you like to listen to music or podcasts much of the day, a power bank can keep your smartphone functioning long after its battery would otherwise run out. And you can charge your Bluetooth headset from the same device.

A power bank has a huge advantage over a Mophie or other dedicated battery pack for your iPhone or Android phone – it’s not designed to work with just one or two models. It’s very flexible with a Micro USB plug and two USB ports. You could use it for years and years with numerous devices.

A reputable manufacturer should give you a decent warranty. The Terris Powerbank has a 3-year warranty, which was a pleasant surprise. A short warranty could indicate poor quality.

Be sure to choose a power bank with more than enough power to fully charge your smartphone twice. For older iPhones, that means 2800 mAH is a minimum. For newer iPhones or Android, check your manual.

A high capacity power bank could also be a real plus with a tablet, but I can’t test that as I don’t have a tablet.

Be sure to give your power bank a full charge before you use it for the first time. These devices come partially charged, and always you want to start with a full charge.

Just don’t forget to charge it before you start your workday, hike, camping weekend, etc. (If you play Ingress, you know how quickly that can drain your smartphone battery. A power bank is just the thing for an afternoon of hacking portals.)

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