A dozen capacious juice packs to consider before your next trip
CNET editor Dong Ngo picks his favorite battery packs that will give your smartphone or tablet the extra power to last a long road trip or an intercontinental flight.
The busiest traveling time of the year is about to start, and I've never met anyone who is completely satisfied with the battery life of his or her mobile device.
The good news is there's a plethora of battery packs (that is, juice packs) that offer many ways to conveniently carry extra power with you. The following are my favorite juice packs (yes, I have a lot of favorites) that, when paired with a mobile device, are great not only for long flights, but also when you're out and about camping or hiking. And it's always great to have one or two of them in your car, just in case.
Note that I haven't officially tested and reviewed all of these devices, but through my personal experiences and those of others, I consider these among the best on the market. In any case, if extra battery life for a smartphone is what you want, you won't go wrong with any of these.
Lepow Pie iPhone6 3,000mAh battery case
The Lepow Pie is a great concept. It comes in two pieces. One is a regular iPhone 6 case, which is one of the nicest one I've seen, and the other is a 3,000mAh battery pack. The case can can easily piggyback the battery via a magenta strip. After that you can connect the pack's Lighting connector the to the phone to charge it. The battery has enough juice to more than double the phone's battery life.
The battery pack is designed in such as way that when attached to the case, you can still use the phone easily, despite the increased thickness. But if you don't like having it there, you can just remove it when the charging is done.
The great thing about this design is the battery pack can also be used with other phone or tablet, and the nice turquoise color makes it a great gift. The Lepow Pie iPhone6 3,000mAh battery case is available on Amazon now for $60, where you can also find the similar device for the iPhone 5/S for $10 less.
Verizon Jetpack 6620L mobile hotspot
The Jetpack 6620L is not a standalone juice pack. Instead it's a mobile hotspot that can bring cellular 4G LTE Internet to up to 15 Wi-Fi clients simultaneously -- and works very well as such. The device comes with a powerful (for its supercompact size) battery of 4,000mAh and can charge a mobile device via its USB port. In my testing, it could take an iPhone 6 from empty to fully charged and still have nearly half of its battery left. The impressive part is the fact that it was still working as a mobile hotspot at the same time. Obviously you shouldn't get the device just for it charging capability, but if you're also on the market for a mobile hotspot, and you travel within Verizon's 4G LTE coverage, this is a great juice pack-capable mobile Internet device to have..
Zendure A5 Portable Charger
At just less than 12 ounces (340g), the Zendure A5 is very light. Its 1,5000mAh internal battery is the second-highest capacity I've seen, enough to charge an iPhone 6 from empty to full more than five times. This juice pack has the two USB ports for charging two mobile devices simultaneously. One of the ports has a max output of 2.1A, meaning it can charge a large tablet such as an iPad faster -- enough to fill up the device's battery even when it's in use. The best thing about the Zendure A5 is that it's very rugged with a hardened aluminum casing. It's strong enough to survive not only accidental drops but even being run over by a car. The Zendure A5 is a bit on the pricey side and currently costs $80 on Amazon, where you can also find lower-capacity versions ( the A4, A3 and A2) for accordingly less.
UNU Enerpack Plus
If quick charging for lower cost is what you need, the UNU Enerpack Plus is what you're looking for. This is an 8,000mAh juice pack that comes with two USB charging ports. Comparable to the Zendure above, one of the ports has a 1A output for smartphones while the other has a 2.1A output for larger devices, such as a tablet. In my testing, the second port was indeed enough to charge the iPad to full even during a movie playback. Most other juice packs require the device to be idle to charge it to full. The UNU Enerpack Plus can also work as a small LED flash light, bright enough for you to walk around in the dark.
You can charge the Enerpack Plus with a standard Micro-USB cable, meaning you can charge it using a computer. In all, at just less than $40 on Amazon, the UNU Enerpack Plus is a steal.
This is my favorite juice pack. This compact battery packs 7,800mAh of power, enough to charge an iPhone from empty to full about three times and still have some juice left. On top of that, it can also work as a flashlight or a portable lantern for up to 48 hours straight. In my testing, it wasn't really bright (64 lumens), but it's bright enough for reading or if you need to replace a flat tire in the dark.
What I love the most about it is the design. The top can be pulled up to work as a lantern and when collapsed, it's a flashlight. If you're a camper, it's great to hang in your tent. The SmartLantern is available on Amazon for about $46.
iBattz Mojo Battstation Optimus
At 20,400mAh, this is the highest-capacity compact juice pack I've seen. The Optimus can easily provide two full charges to most tablets and about 10 full charges for most smartphones. In my testing it could provide about 10 charges for my iPhone 5, basically enough juice for me to survive outdoors for a week.
You can charge two devices at a time, and on one side, the Optimus incorporates a little flashlight that's bright enough for you to take a walk in the dark to or to look for keys and small items that you left somewhere in a tent. In all, it's quite worth the rather steep $130 price.
Tenergy ARC5200 Universal Mobile Power Pack
For just about $32 on Amazon, the Tenergy ARC5200 seems like an excellent deal. This juice pack is compact, just about the size of an energy bar, but it packs a 5,200mAh battery -- enough to refill an iPhone 5's battery more than twice.
The best thing about the Tenergy is the fact that it has two built-in charging cables, one with a lightning connector for iOS devices and the other with a standard Micro-USB head that fits most other mobile devices. These two cables are tucked away on the side of the juice pack when not in use and can be pulled out easily, allowing you to charge your device even when you forget the charging cable at home. And yes, it can charge two mobile devices at a time.
T-Mobile Samsung LTE HotSpot Pro
Similar to the Verizon Jetpack 6620L above, the Samsung is actually not a juice pack; rather, it's a mobile cellular modem that brings the Internet to up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices (and it works very well in that regard). However, it has a 3,100mAh battery that, apart from giving the device itself some exceptional battery life, can also work as charger or a juice pack for any smartphone or tablet that uses a standard USB charger.
In my testing, the Samsung, when fully charged, packed enough juice to bring an iPhone 5 from empty to full and still had some power left. If you're also looking for a mobile hot spot, the Samsung definitely makes an excellent solution.
Satechi 10,000mAh Portable Energy Station
If you have multiple mobile devices, be they tablets or smartphones, the Satechi 10,000mAh Portable Energy Station is for you. This is a compact 10,000mAh battery pack that can charge two devices simultaneously. It has enough power to fully charge an iPhone 5S from empty about four times. It can be used to charge virtually all mobile devices that use USB charging.
Measuring just 5.5 inches by 2 inches by 0.75 inch and weighing just 7.4 ounces, the Satechi is supercompact for the amount of power it carries. Make sure you charge it overnight before your trip, however, since it takes up to 9 hours to fully charge itself. The Satechi 10,000mAh Portable Energy Station currently costs just $60 on Amazon.
Power Bank RAVPower 2nd Gen Mini Portable Charger
With its lipstick design, the RAVPower Luster is tiny, just about the size of a AA-battery flashlight, and in fact it is a LED flashlight itself. On the inside, this versatile juice pack comes with a 3,000mAh battery, more than enough power to fill an iPhone 5 from empty, and it can provide extra power to most mobile devices.
The device itself takes about 5 hours to charge from empty to full using a standard USB adapter (or a computer's USB port). At just $15, the RAVPower 2nd Gen Mini Portable Charger is a bargain. And the fact that it comes in multiple colors, including pink, is a bonus.
Anker 2nd Gen Astro3 12,000mAh Portable Charger
The long name says it all. This is a battery pack that comes with a 12,000mAh internal battery, enough power to charge an iPhone to full from empty six times. Considering the compact size -- just 4.4 inches by 3.3 inches by 1 inch and weighing just 10.6 ounces -- this is arguably the most powerful juice pack of its type.
The Anker comes with three USB ports to charge three devices at a time, and is able to charge virtually all mobile devices, including larger ones, such as an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The juice pack itself takes about 9 hours to fill up from empty, so make sure you start charging it well before your trip. The Anker 2nd Gen Astro3 12,000mAh Portable Charger is available on Amazon for just $46.
RAVPower Element 10,400mAh External Battery Pack Charger
With a 10,400mAh internal battery -- enough juice to charge an iPhone from empty more than five times -- the RAVPower Element is just a tad less powerful than the Anker above. And more than making up for it, it costs just $25 on Amazon. The pack can charge any mobile device, including those with large screens, two at a time. Just slightly wider and thicker than the iPhone 5, the RAVPower Element can be easily tucked away in any backpack or purse.