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How to shop for a new charger or portable power bank, according to an expert

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/ Source: TODAY

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For better or worse, most of us are pretty glued to our phones — but all that scrolling, texting and "liking" can really drain your battery life. That's why a solid charger or portable power bank is essential if you don't want to be running on empty halfway through your day.

That being said, the charger your phone comes with isn't always your perfect match. If you're looking for a new one that will suit your unique lifestyle, there are plenty of options out there. And Shop TODAY consulted a tech expert to find out everything you need to know about shopping for chargers and portable power banks, so you'll never be without power again, whether you're near an outlet or not.

What to look for in a phone charger

Most phones come with a charger when you purchase them, but if you're looking to buy another one (say, yours is broken or you want to have an extra one on-hand), there are a few main qualities you should look for while shopping and questions you should ask yourself, according to Khurram Afridi, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University.

  • Efficiency: If you're conscious about conserving energy in your household, efficiency is an important element to consider while shopping for a phone charger. "Research how much of the energy drawn from the wall is delivered to the phone," Afridi advised, adding that most phones don't use as much energy as other devices. "You can search the web and see if anyone has measured and reported the efficiency of the charger you are looking to purchase."
  • Charging rate: Ideally, the charger you purchase will power up your device quickly — but not all models are created equal. "The charging rate is determined by the power rating (or wattage) of the charger given in watts (or W)," Afridi explained. However, more does not always mean better. "The charging rate is also limited by the phone itself, so using a high power charger will not necessarily charge the phone any faster than the charger(s) recommended by the phone manufacturer." For fast-charging, specifically, your phone brand's recommendation is likely fine.
  • Wired vs wireless: Whether you prefer a wall charger or a wireless version, there's an option for everyone, and Afridi said that finding the right one is really based on personal preference and convenience. "Wired chargers can charge at a faster rate than wireless chargers, while wireless chargers give you the freedom to simply place the phone on the charger and not have to plug it in for it to charge," he said.

Once you've decided what type of charger you want, it's time to make sure that it's actually compatible with your phone. "You should always check this," Afridi said. "There are differences in connectors. Also, some phones (including Apple phones) require additional features in the charger before they will accept a charge."

Here, we rounded up seven top-rated wired and wireless chargers for iPhones and Androids that meet Afridi's suggestions.

Best wireless phone chargers

Yootech Qi-Certified 10W Max Fast Wireless Charging Pad

This versatile wireless charging pad works with several iPhone and Android models. The bestseller, which has more than 95,000 five-star ratings, features three charging modes, including 7.5W, 10W and 5W. It also comes in six colors and is compatible with AirPods.

Samsung 9W Qi-Certified Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand

Like to make video calls to your family but hate how they drain your battery? This wireless charging stand makes it easy to use your phone hands-free while it charges. It works with Qi-enabled smartphones (including several Android and iPhone models) and also has a built-in fan to keep your device cool. The popular model has an average 4.6-star rating and satisfied shoppers say it "works like a dream" and is "great for overnight charging."

MagSafe Charger

Many of the recent iPhone models feature MagSafe (aka magnetic) technology for wireless charging, and this popular option is a must-have if you're all about the latest and greatest tech releases. The MagSafe Charger can be attached to several iPhone models, including the 13, 13 Pro, 12 and 12 Pro, and is said to provide fast and efficient charging up to 15W. It's also compatible with select AirPods models.

MagSafe Duo Charger

Own multiple Apple devices? This Duo Charger can charge iPhones, Apple Watches as well as AirPods with wireless charging cases. You can power up two devices simultaneously simply by placing them on the charger — no wires required! It also folds up to a convenient size when you're done, making it an ideal option for travel.

WAITIEE Wireless Charger 3 in 1 15W Fast Charging Station

Prefer a charging station? This 3-in-1 version can power up your iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods all at the same time. It's also compatible with several Android phones. The charging station has racked up over 26,000 five-star ratings and many customers say that they love its sleek design. "The station also takes up much less room than I ever imagined," one reviewer wrote. "All that mess of cords is gone!"

Best wired phone chargers

Samsung 25W USB-C Super Fast Charging Wall Charger

With more than 7,000 five-star ratings, this Samsung wall charger comes well-recommended by shoppers. The bestseller is compatible with multiple devices and is said to offer speedy charging to save you time. It also comes with a detachable USB-C cable that makes it easy to charge your phone from a laptop or portable power bank. "It will take a dying battery and give it half its life in roughly under an hour!" one happy customer wrote. "I love this thing!"

Ailkin USB Wall Charger (2-Pack) with 2 Ports

If you're short on outlet space and find yourself regularly battling with your family over who gets to charge their phone first, this handy gadget is perfect. The popular USB wall charger comes with two built-in ports and can power up two devices at once. Over 55,000 Amazon customers have left a five-star rating for the popular product and many say it's "extremely useful" and offers "great value for the money." Did we mention that it comes in 10 colors, too?

What to look for in a portable power bank

When you're on vacation, hitting up an amusement park for the day or are just out running errands, there typically isn't a lot of time to stop and charge your devices. And that's when a portable power bank can come in handy. If this is your first time shopping for one, Afridi recommends paying attention to two aspects:

  • Energy capacity: "Energy capacity is indicated on the power bank in terms of mAh," he said. "The mAh rating tells you how much charge the power bank can hold. Just like the portable power bank, your phone has a roughly 4-V Li-ion battery inside it. The rating of this battery is also given in mAh. So if you want to fully recharge your phone battery from a portable power bank, you need the power bank to have at least the same charge capacity as your phone." You can often find this information via the settings on your phone or by searching for the energy capacity of your model online.
  • Size: "Consider the size of the power bank relative to its energy capacity," the professor suggested.

As with phone chargers, you should make sure that your chosen power bank is actually going to work for your device before ordering it. "Most should be compatible with both types of phones [iPhones and Androids], but it is always wise to check before you purchase to make sure," Afridi said.

Below, six top-rated options to consider.

Best portable chargers and power banks

Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger

Over 25,000 Amazon shoppers have given this portable charger a five-star rating. It works with several smartphone models, tablets and laptops, and according to the brand, the powerful 2,6800 mAh rating will allow you to power up your phone more than six times on one charge. Even better? It also has three USB ports so you can charge multiple devices at once.

Miady 10000mAh Dual USB Portable Charger (Set of 2)

You don't have to break the bank to get a quality portable charger. This bestselling two-pack retails for a mere $22 and has over 44,000 five-star ratings from customers who can't stop raving about how great it is. One shopper called it "a must buy" and another said the portable charger powered up four cell phones off a single charge. The chargers are also said to be compact and compatible with a range of smartphone models.

MagSafe Battery Pack

Have a newer iPhone? This portable battery pack attaches to the back of the phone with magnetic technology so you can charge up while you're on the go. The multitasking product can also be used with a lightning cable when you do have access to a wall outlet, making it a versatile option.

iWALK Small Portable Charger 4500mAh

Available in five colors, this compact charger offers a little bit of fashion and a whole lot of function. The 4500 mAh model is made to charge multiple iPhone models, as well as AirPods, and fits easily into bags and pockets. The product has 7,000-plus five-star ratings on Amazon and a legion of shoppers who swear by it, including one who called it the "Holy Grail of portable chargers."

Energizer MAX 15,000 mAh Ultra-Slim High Speed Portable Charger

Finding a portable power bank that will charge all of your go-to devices isn't easy, but Energizer's bestselling model seems up to the task. It's said to be universally compatible with a range of smartphones, tablets, headphones, smartwatches and more, and promises up to 54 hours of power with its rapid charge technology. The ultra-slim gadget can also charge up to two devices at once.

Solar Charger Power Bank

Nothing is worse than realizing your portable charger is out of juice when you really need a boost — but this bestseller has a backup in place for those stressful times. The 10,000 mAh wireless battery pack offers traditional and solar charging. Shoppers say it offers "great quality" and is "extremely versatile" and many people love that it's compatible with any Qi-enabled mobile device. Plus, it even has a built-in flashlight and compass kit for emergencies.

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