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Device makers like Apple seem to love to come out with phones in ever-increasing sizes. That's why a portable battery charger or power bank is often a more practical purchase for use with iPhones than battery cases, which increase battery capacity but tend to make a phone extra-heavy and bulky to carry around.

To that end, I've rounded up the best portable power banks and battery chargers that will add a little extra oomph to your iPhone's battery life. Although they cost more, I personally like batteries that have a Lightning cable built into them, so I don't have to worry about carrying around a charging cable for fast charging when I don't have enough power. But I've also included some budget picks for those who want to spend as little as possible on charging their iPhone via power pack. 

While we have a similar list of best power banks for Android phones, any portable battery pack here without an integrated Lightning cable will work perfectly well when charging an Android smartphone (or any other portable gadget), so long as you provide a compatible cable.

So which is the best portable charger for an iPhone? Which is the best portable power bank for a charge on the go? Let's find out.

Read more: The best USB-C PD chargers of 2021  

Sarah Tew/CNET

Mophie's PowerStation Plus has a fabric finish and houses a 6,040-mAh battery, as well as an integrated Lightning connector. If you buy one of the Apple-exclusive versions, the battery conveniently charges an iPhone and iPad with any Lightning cable (rather than Micro-USB), but you have to pay the full list price of $80. The version on Amazon charges via an included Micro-USB/Lightning cable and is currently discounted to a little more than $50. With the USB-out port, you can charge or recharge two devices at once.

The larger 10,000-mAh PowerStation Plus XL is also available on Amazon, but it's thicker. The XL can be fully charged wirelessly on a wireless charging pad while the standard PowerStation Plus doesn't have wireless charging.

Note: Ignore Amazon's product description that says the smaller PowerStation Plus has Qi wireless charging -- it's not a wireless charger.

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Amazon

You can pick up the RavPower 10,000mAh Power Bank for around $20. There's nothing fancy about this power bank, but it's slim for a 10,000-mAh power bank, has two USB-A outputs and is dirt cheap.

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The Anker PowerCore Slim 10,000 mAh costs $16 on Amazon when you apply a $2 coupon at checkout. While it's thicker than some of the portable chargers in this roundup, it's incredibly slim for a 10,000-mAh portable phone charger, and it has a USB-C input for charging the battery, but no USB-C output. No cables are included.

Sarah Tew/CNET

MyCharge HubPlus Turbo is the company's latest power bank with integrated foldable wall plug and both Lightning and USB-C cables. The wall charger is called the Turbo because it has Power Delivery and Quick Charge 3.0 (USB-C cable) that deliver fast-charging speeds (up to 75% faster charging time than the standard 5V charger that comes with most iPhones). This wall charger has a 6,700-mAh battery.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Ventev Powercell 6010 Plus power bank has integrated folding prongs and both an integrated Lightning cable and a Micro-USB cable. The Ventev houses a 6,000-mAh output battery. There's also a USB-out on the wall charger so you can charge or recharge another power bank with an extra cable.

Anker

This Anker model is basically an oversized wall charger that plugs in like a power adapter with a built-in 5,000-mAh output battery. The wall charger has got two standard USB charging ports for charging up multiple devices such as your phone and a secondary connected device (or two phones) simultaneously, and a little LED indicator on the side lets you check the charge level at the press of a button. The wall charger is available in white, black or lipstick red for $30 to $36.

The Atom XS comes in two versions: a smaller 800-mAh output model and larger 1,300-mAh output model. These are designed to fit on a keychain and are about the size of an electronic car key. But be warned, they won't fully charge your phone. The idea is to have them around for charging in case your phone dies and you need a spot of juice to get you through a few hours. 

Both Atom XS models have an integrated Lightning connector and won't weigh your phone down while charging. At around $40 for the larger 1300-mAh output variant (the one I'd opt for), the Atom XS is fairly expensive and you may be disappointed that it will only charge some of the larger iPhones to about 25%. But again, this all about the convenience of having a tiny battery charger for emergency charging purposes. A model with USB-C charging is slightly cheaper at $35.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Available in a variety of capacities, MyCharge's Adventure series battery packs are designed to withstand drops and are both dust- and water-resistant. They also include a carabiner so you can clip the battery onto a backpack.

Priced at around $27, the Adventure Mini pictured here houses a 3,350-mAh output battery that will fully charge most phones. It has one USB-out port (no charging cable is included) while the step-up Adventure Plus has dual USB-out ports so you can charge or recharge two phones at the same time. That's a lot of ports.

Amazon

MyCharge's Unplugged series comes in 3K (3,000-mAh output), 5K (5,000 -mAh output), 8K (8,000-mAh output) and 10K (10,000-mAh output) models, all of which are portable battery packs with wireless charging capabilities. Additionally, they have a USB-out port or ports for wired charging with a cable (you can charge two devices simultaneously). It's like having a charging pad without the cord. 

On Amazon, only the 5K, 8K and 10K models are available with the 10K version on sale for a little less than $30.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Moshi's 5,000-mAh output Porto Q 5K isn't cheap at around $90, but like the MyCharge Unplugged, it's a portable battery that doubles as a wireless charging pad. It's swankier and more stylish than the MyCharge Unplugged and charges via USB-C instead of Micro-USB. There's a USB-out port for wired fast-charging, and you can charge two devices at once.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Belkin Boost Charge comes in 5,000- ($13) and 10,000-mAh ($33) versions. The higher-capacity model (pictured above, left) is a very slim 10K portable power bank, weighing 7.48 ounces (212 grams). While neither comes with a Lightning cable, one of the Boost Charge's key differentiating points is that you can charge or recharge with a Lightning cable so you don't have to carry around a Micro-USB or USB-C cable to charge it.

The 5K version of the power bank (pictured above, right) has one USB port for charging. The 10K power bank has two USB-out ports for charging two smart devices at the same time.

What to look for

Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a battery pack or power bank:

  • A higher power output rating (mAh, short for millamp hours) means more charges -- but also a heavier weight. 
  • For the latest iPhones (everything after the iPhone 7) you should buy a battery with at least a 3,000-mAh capacity, which should give you at least one full charge for a device. With the exception of the Atom XS, all of the models featured above hit that mark. 
  • Multiple integrated charge cables or USB-out ports will allow you to charge more than one device at a time.
  • These products all use lithium-ion (li-ion) rechargeable batteries, and should thus always be stored in carry-on luggage when flying. Airlines and regulatory agencies are increasingly banning lithium-ion batteries in checked baggage.
  • If you want maximum power output, opt for chargers with USB-C PD (power delivery) models, which should charge nearly every small device (smaller than a laptop), including a tablet or Nintendo Switch. 

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Originally published in a previous year and updated periodically.