We see phones get thinner and faster every year, however battery technology is fairly stagnant in innovation. While there is hope for new, vastly improved battery technology in the (near) future, we’re still stuck with Lithium Ion batteries that rely on more efficient phone processors and increased battery size to keep up or offer incremental improvements in battery life between charges.
There is a booming market for portable battery chargers of all shapes, sizes, and quality. Unfortunately, I find more often than not, people don’t understand how these batteries work or how much of a charge they will get, often buying based on price or “cuteness” over quality.
First, a few basics. You can find the battery specs for your phone with a simple Google search. We describe battery capacity in mAh, or milli ampere-hour. For example, an iPhone XS has a 2,658 mAh battery while an iPad Pro 11" has a 7,812 mAh battery — nearly 3x larger. Any decent portable battery charger will tell you its mAh size, and if it doesn’t, stay away as it’s probably a cheap, poorly made charger. You know the type, the off-brand ones that are often given away at conferences with a company name printed on it. If you purchase a portable charger that is a smaller mAh size than the device you’re charging, you can’t refill its empty battery to 100%. For example, a 2,000 mAh portable charger cannot charge an empty iPhone XS to 100%, and won’t get an empty iPad Pro battery over 25%. (There are other factors at play too that can affect exactly how much a power bank can refill a battery at, including the design of the power bank and voltage, but I want to avoid getting too technical here. If you want to dive deeper, I suggest starting here.)
I have used a wide variety of portable chargers over the years — everything from the “lipstick style” chargers to battery cases to large capacity power bricks. Each has their pros and cons, however aside from the Apple Smart Battery Case, there’s very little innovation in this area, until now.
I recently started testing the STM Wireless Powerbank which has a simple yet genius addition: a collection of tiny little suction cups. This 10,000 mAh power bank features the ability to charge four devices: two devices connected via high-output USB-A ports, one device connected via USB-C, and one device via Qi wireless charging. Qi (pronounced “chee”) wireless charging is available on most modern cell phones, including iPhone, Samsung & Google Pixel, and allows you to place your phone on a wireless charging pad to recharge its battery — no plugging into your charging port required. While the STM Wireless Powerbank isn’t the first portable Qi wireless charger, it’s the first I’ve seen to include suction cups to keep your phone in place. The problem with other Qi wireless power banks or pads is the second you lift your phone off, the charging stops.
The STM Wireless Powerbank fit perfectly on my iPhone XS and the suction cups had no problem with my phone case. (It will fit larger and smaller phones as well given the layout of the suction cups.) The grip was so strong that it took a little force to get it off, which is a good thing — I had no fears at all that using my phone would cause the charger to dislodge. It’s the perfect thing to throw in your bag or purse for those moments when you want an extra charge but don’t want the bulk of a battery case, and at 10,000 mAh, this can charge your phone and other gadgets multiple times, including gaming devices like Nintendo Switch (which has a 4,310 mAh battery.) The STM Wireless Powerbank is avaialble for $60 at stmgoods.com.