To find the best portable battery to provide backup juice to USB-C devices (Macbooks, Nexus phones, and more), we devoured the extant consumer advocate and press reviews, as well as customer complaints and raves across blogs, YouTube, Amazon comments, and tech geek forums.
The best deal we have found at the moment is the Anker PowerCore+ 20,100 USB-C External Battery. But we’ll also point out a decent cheaper, somewhat-lighter option (below), and a roundup of the rest of the competition and their advantages and disadvantages.
Anker PowerCore+ 20,100 USB-C External Battery
- A Few Notes on USB-C Portable Batteries (a.k.a. Power Banks, Portable Chargers)
- Our Top Pick: The Anker PowerCore+ 20,100 USB-C External Battery
- A Smaller, Lighter, Cheaper Option: The Monoprice Select Series Power Bank USB-C 10,000mAh
- If You Need Both USB-C and QC Quick Charge for Micro-USB: The RAVPower 22000mAh Portable Charger with USB-C
- An Expensive, Low-Capacity Option, but Great for MacBooks: Mos Go 8,800 mAh USB-C Powerbank
- Pending: Not Adequately Tested but Possibly Good Buys for Cheapskates
- Not Recommended
- USB-C Cables that Will Work with Your Battery and Not Catch Fire
A Few Notes on USB-C Portable Batteries (a.k.a. Power Banks, Portable Chargers)
There are not a lot of options for USB-C external batteries at this point, as only some of the newest phones and other devices take advantage of USB-C. We expect more options and will keep abreast of them, updating these recommendations as needed.
Portability of USB-C Batteries
There are currently no mini pocket-sized options for USB-C batteries — at least not in the gloriously small “credit-card” size you find for micro-USB external batteries. Most of the options here are around 6 x 3 x 1 inches and weigh 10-15 ounces. It’s a little more battery to carry, but they do at least tend to carry enough juice to power your smartphone for up to a week.
Ratings of mAh are General Indicators — Not the Exact Amount of Usable Power
The mAh ratings (usually shoehorned into the batteries’ names on Amazon) don’t tell you exactly how much power you’ll get. Energy is lost in any energy transfer, and lithium-ion batteries can’t ever reach exactly 100 percent nor can they be completely discharged. It is important to pay attention to how well these batteries work in the real world, and across multiple user experiences. This is why it was particularly important for us to look at multiple press and user reviews for each battery.
Understanding USB Connection Types
USB-C connectors can be plugged in upside-down or rightside-up. USB-C now connects the latest Nexus phones, the OnePlus 2, Apple Macbooks, Meizu PRO 5, Gionee S6 & Marathon M5 Plus, Xiaomi Mi 4c & Mi 5, LeEco, Microsoft Lumia 950 & 950 XL, Moto Z & Z Force, and the Samsung Galaxy Note7, among many others. USB-C will likely become standard for all sorts of laptops, tablets, phones, headphones, and other electronics in the near future, but many still port micro-USB inputs, which can only be plugged in one way (see the picture below). Batteries, wall chargers, and computers have USB-A outputs.
Understanding Quick Charge with USB-C and with Micro-USB
USB-C devices employ various technologies to enable quick charging of their devices.
Some devices that still have Micro-USB connections employ Qualcomm Quick Charge technology to get around the limitations of micro-USB; this enables fast charging over those connections.
You don’t need Qualcomm Quick Charge if you have a USB-C device. We have more on charging speeds below for each battery.
Note for USB-C MacBooks and External Batteries
MacBooks must generally be powered down in order to charge from these batteries. So far, only the expensive Mos Go (see below) can provide more power than a Macbook draws while it is on; this is because the Mac OS in its current version thinks that it is connected to a wall outlet when connected to an external battery. So keep in mind that you will need to take a break and turn off your laptop for a half-hour or so to quick charge the battery before you can begin using it again.
Our Top Pick: The Anker PowerCore+ 20,100 USB-C External Battery
Size: 6.5 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. (16.6 x 5.8 x 2.2 cm)
Weight: 12.6 oz. (356 g.)
The Anker PowerCore+ USB-C can fast-charge three devices at once. (For those chargning Micro-USB devices, note that it doesn’t support Qualcomm Quick Charge over that connection.) There are ten pin-prick LED lights to give a very precise indication of battery level.
The battery has two USB-A ports and one USB-C port. Via Amazon, it now comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable, a Micro-USB cable, a USB-C to USB-C cable, and a case for carrying the cables and battery. While there were previously some reported issues with the provided cables, these appear to have been resolved with the cables that are now shipping. Paying attention to Anker’s instructions “for optimal use” (mainly which cables are for which types of devices) should now avoid any of these issues. Notably, you need to press the power button on the battery before connecting to charge a MacBook, or else the battery will draw power from the MacBook.
A Smaller, Lighter, Cheaper Option: The Monoprice Select Series Power Bank USB-C 10,000mAh
Size: 5.4 x 1 x 2.4 in. (13.7 x 2.5 x 6.1 cm)
Weight: 10.4 oz (295 g)
The Monoprice Select Series Power Bank USB-C 10,000mAh is a bit smaller and lighter than the Anker model above and carries about half the power capacity. It can charge both USB-C devices and traditional USB-A devices and it can send power to both at the same time.
The battery will trigger fast-charging on Nexus phones. Reviewers report that it takes a bit over 50 minutes to charge a Nexus 6P to 50%, and that it charges most phones most of the way in 90 minutes. When it finishes charging it automatically shuts off so as not to damage your device. It should be able to charge most phones completely 2-4 times over.
It only comes with a USB-A to standard to USB-C plug, which will not support fast charging; you’ll want to use the USB-C cable that came with your device or buy a spare one (see below).
It has LED battery level indicator lights and a flashlight.
If You Need Both USB-C and QC Quick Charge for Micro-USB: The RAVPower 22000mAh Portable Charger with USB-C
Size: 6.8 x 3.1 x 0.8 in. (17.3 x 7.9 x 2.0 cm.)
Weight: 13.3 oz. (377 g.)
This battery has Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 chips, so in addition to USB-C devices it’s suitable for fast-charging those who also own devices with micro-USB connections and that have Qualcomm QC 2.0 or 3.0. Note that this does not add any benefit if you’re just charging USB-C devices, and that standard micro-USB devices (without Qualcomm Quick Charge) will also get no benefit.
If you have both types of devices, or if you have a QC Quick Charge Micro-USB device and you plan to get a USB-C device in the future, this is the external battery to get. But otherwise, go for our top pick — the Anker PowerCore+ is lighter, less bulky, and has better performance.
Reviewers say that for micro-USB charging of devices with Qualcomm QC, it works great — you can expect to get such a phone 80% charged in about 35 minutes. But they also say that it only charges a MacBook via USB-C to about 90 percent before giving out — despite nominally having the same capacity, for whatever reason its circuitry doesn’t deliver as much power as the Anker PowerCore+.
An Expensive, Low-Capacity Option, but Great for MacBooks: Mos Go 8,800 mAh USB-C Powerbank
Size: 4.5 x 3 x 1 in. (11.4 x 7.6 x 2.5 cm)
Weight: 10.4 oz. (293 g.)
It also is relatively quite expensive and doesn’t have as large of a capacity as the Anker and other models. The aluminum casing is reported to get rather hot during use. It doesn’t include any cables.
Pending: Not Adequately Tested but Possibly Good Buys for Cheapskates
We have not found reliable professional reviews and consumer testing results for the following models, nor have we tried them out ourselves. This is important, as performance for batteries with nominally the same capacity can vary quite a bit.
That said, these mainly have largely positive verified Amazon customer reviews and are generally cheap, making them worth considering, especially if you your priority is saving some money rather than having the absolute maximum capacity.
Jackery Titan S QC 2.0 20100 mAh Portable Charger
Size: 5.9 x 0.8 x 3.2 inches (15.0 x 2.0 x 8.1 cm)
Weight: 15.4 oz. (437 g.)
It comes with an 18-month warranty (with apparently good follow-up) and has mainly satisfied customers according to its Amazon reviews, so if it’s available for substantially cheaper than the Anker model at the time of your purchase, this could be a good alternative.
Orico and JTD USB-C 10,000 mAh Portable External Battery
Size: 6.1 x 3.1 x 1.5 in. (15.1 x 7.6 x 1.4 cm.)
Weight: 10.4 oz. (295 g.)
The JTD and Orico models appear to be exactly the same in terms of specifications and in terms of their photos; likely they are likely in fact the same batteries designed by the same engineers and are being sold under two different brand names (this practice is much more common in consumer electronics than you would think). Just go for the cheaper of the two at the time of your purchase.
Aukey 16,000 mAh Portable Charger with Quick Charge 2.0 and USB-C
Size: 6.5 x 2.9 x 0.7 in. (16.5 x 7.4 x 1.8 cm.)
Weight: 12 oz. (340 g.)
The Aukey USB-C Portable Charger offers both USB-C and USB-A outputs and Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0. Amazon reviewers report that it triggers fast charging on QC 2.0 micro-USB devices as well as USB-C. It comes with both USB-A to micro-USB and USB-A to USB-C cables (but no USB-C to USB-C).
Imazing 10,000 mAh Type C Power Bank
Size: 5.8 x 2.9 x 0.55 in. (14.6 x 7.3 x 1.4 cm)
Weight: 8.3 oz. (235 g.)
The Imazing 10,000 mAh Type C battery is thinner (though otherwise similarly sized) and lighter than the other batteries on offer. It offers Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 USB-A as well as USB-C ports.
Possibly interesting: Monoprice Executive Series USB-C Portable Charger 15,000 mAh
Size: 4.8 x 0.5 x 6.8 inches
Weight: 16 ounces
Monoprice batteries tend to get quality reviews but as of yet not much has been written about this one and we haven’t tried it ourselves. We’ll update this post as soon as we have. For now, we can say just that this Monoprice Executive Series 15,000 mAh USB-C Portable Charger is bulkier than our main pick and doesn’t have as much capacity either.
Ankey 5000mAh USB-C Universal Power Bank
Google software engineer Benson Leung issued a scathing review of the Aukey 5000mAh USB-C Battery for failing to comply with USB-C specifications in every component. This battery could be potentially dangerous to use with USB-C products. (He has however given the thumbs up on our main recommendation at the top of this page.)
The following were not available at the time of our last update, but if you see them available they might be worth snapping up.
TalentCell Power Bank 10400 mAh (USB-C)
Size: 6.1 x 4 x 0.7 in. (15.5 x 10.2 x 1.8 cm)
Weight: 5.3 oz. (150 g.)