Portable Battery Recommendations

Portable Battery Recommendations—Discover the Best Battery Packs for Your Needs

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September 12, 2023: Apple discontinued my recommended pick below. It sounds like they are working on a complete redesign and didn’t want to simply update it for iPhone 15. I will update this article soon but in the meantime, if you do find the MagSafe Battery Pack it is still a great product and if it meets your needs go ahead and buy it!

iPhones generally have very good battery life so most people do not need a spare battery. But those who travel or often have whole-day activities such as hiking or theme parks may find their batteries wanting. Or if you have an iPhone model with a small battery such as iPhone SE or an iPhone mini. If you need a boost, you’ll want to get a battery pack, sometimes referred to as a power bank.

Be careful about being overprepared. It may surprise you that batteries can wear out from underuse.. If you buy a battery and throw it in a drawer for a rainy day (or a natural disaster), you may find that it is either discharged or even completely unchargeable. Batteries work best when they get regular use.

There are basically three kinds of battery packs for iPhone: Huge power banks that will charge many devices several times over but are difficult to lug around, small battery packs that can fit in your pocket but give you a good single top-off, and Apple’s unique MagSafe Battery Pack which is not a charger but a battery extender.

My usual recommendation: Apple MagSafe Battery Pack

If your goal is simply to extend your iPhone 12 or later’s battery life, the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack is usually my recommendation. It’s dead simple to use and is extremely efficient with power.

Though it supports wireless charging so it will technically work with other devices such as iPhone 11 and earlier or even Android, only the iPhone 12 and later has MagSafe for attaching and the software to make this battery work like magic.

Easier to use. With any other battery, you have to charge it separately from your iPhone. It operates as a completely separate device and may require a separate cord and charger. Some batteries let you connect your iPhone to the battery to charge both at once, but you do still have to worry about two different charge levels. The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack, however, operates as though it’s an extension of your iPhone’s battery. When it’s connected to your iPhone, plug your cable into either the iPhone or the Battery Pack and both will charge.

More power efficient. With any other battery, your iPhone thinks you have plugged it into wall power which offers unlimited power. It starts with maintenance, analyzing photos, backing up, and aggressively syncing. You can avoid some of this by putting your iPhone into low-power mode. You will get the most charging efficiency if you only use your battery pack when your iPhone battery is almost depleted, and disconnect it when it gets high. The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack, however, tells your iPhone that it’s running on battery power so it continues to behave conservatively. You can leave it on your iPhone all day. Your iPhone will only draw power from the MagSafe Battery Pack when needed.

In other words, batteries take planning and work to use most efficiently. But the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack takes care of all of the work for you. When the Battery Pack is connected to your iPhone, your iPhone simply operates as though it has about double the battery capacity and you don’t need to know anything else.

Who this won’t work for. The Apple MagSafe Battery pack does have some limitations. It only really works with iPhone 12 and later. If you have an older iPhone model this won’t help. If you have an iPhone case that doesn’t have MagSafe this also won’t work. And if you want to charge things like an iPad or laptop computer this is also not going to work for you.

More options

Here are my top picks from the three different battery categories I mentioned to get you started (plus a bonus trick). However, there are a lot of different configurations on the market depending on what ports you need, how many ports, and how much battery capacity is needed. If you need to look at other options, you really can’t go wrong in choosing any battery from Anker, as long as you get a recent model that uses USB-C.

ProductWho it’s forSuggested Retail PricePurchase Link
Apple MagSafe Battery PackBest for iPhone 12 or later. Rather than recharge the battery of your iPhone it increases battery capacity which is more efficient. Depending on your iPhone model, this roughly doubles your battery life.$99Apple / Best Buy / Amazon
Anker MagGo 621Best budget option for iPhone 12 or later, or earlier phones while using a charging cable (may not work magnetically with iPhone mini models depending on your case). Some third-party MagSafe cases may be available for older models to keep the battery in the correct position. Can charge any phone with the appropriate USB-C cable.$39Amazon / Anker
Anker 525 PowerCore 20KFor people who want a huge battery capacity, enough to charge an M1 MacBook Air 3 times over or an iPhone 14 five times. But it’s a little big to carry around casually. Can only be used by plugging in with a cable.$59Amazon / Anker
Any iPad with USB-C, and most MacBooksFor people who own an iPad already and really just need something occasionally. If you have a recent model iPad with a USB-C connector, you can connect a cable from your iPad to your iPhone to charge your iPhone. The batteries in iPads are huge so this works surprisingly well. However, iPads aren’t very mobile so this might not work for everyone. This could be great for travel when you have your bag with you but it’s not going to work well for charging your battery at Disneyland unless you want to carry your iPad around the park.

Some MacBooks also support this, but some older models behave differently so you’ll want to give it a try and see if it works. You may have to open the lid to start charging and then close the lid.

Further Help

If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.

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