A Tale Of Two Batteries

The two best external batteries for travel that I've found. Let me tell you why. A travel gear review by Always Wander - times two!

Introduction

OK - I'm going to start right out and state what I think should be obvious. But, this is the internet so we need to keep that in mind I suppose. I have not, in fact, tested every external battery ever made. Shocking, I know. I HAVE however, owned and bought 10+ different ones over the years. And if you've read anything on my About Me page, you'll know that means I did a TON of research cumulatively in that case. I've learned a lot over the years and used a lot as well. I think that means I can help!

So what we're going to discuss in this piece are what I've found to be the best two all around external phone batteries for most people's needs in May 2019. This will most likely evolve with the market as tech improves! The first, is the Aukey 10,000mAh with USB-C, and the second is the monster EasyAcc 20,000mAh battery. Both very different, both very valuable over my travels. Let's get into why I settled on these and think you should consider them too.

As usual, I want to be transparent! These were not given to me by the companies, and I purchased (and heavily use!) myself after my own research. If you've got an iPhone 8/8+ or later, or a Google Pixel - you'll want to pay special attention to this article.


These are my picks for the best external batteries for travel in most situations.

Travel Batteries Product Overview 

This will be pretty quick.  First, I'm not a scientist, but let's cover how these are rated for those visitors that are trying to learn, and really how you can tell how much it will charge your phone. These batteries are rated in mAh's, or milliamp hours. This is very much over simplified - but your phone's battery is rated the same. The bigger the number, the bigger the capacity. The bigger this number on an external battery, the bigger the product will be and the more it will charge your devices. Got all that? Crushingly in-depth, I know. Moving on to the products.

Let's start with the smaller of the two, the Aukey. It's rated at 10,000mAh's. It's got USB-C input/output, a USB-A out with Quick Charge 3.0 support, and a standard USB-A out which is pretty dated at this point. There's a power button of sorts (though it will autodetect when you plug something in) and also LED indicators for how much it's charged up. That's pretty much the meat and potatoes.

For the EasyAcc - this behemoth is 20,000mAh's and has all sorts of holes coming out of it. It has four USB-A output ports, that use EasyAcc's "Smart" technology. In it's most basic definition, this detects the amount of power your device needs for a healthy charge, and delivers that. It's pretty nice to have, really. This can push 2.4 Amps max, as it's a few years old at this point so it's the older standard for charging (I think we can consider it Quick Charge 2.0 for all intents and purposes, without the certification from Qualcom).  It has TWO micro-usb inputs for charging (using just one on a battery this size can take forever to charge it), as well as a handy LED flashlight. There's the same kind of power button on this one, as well as the indicator lights for how much it's charged up.

The Good

For both of these, I like the brand names. Without trying to sensationalize anything or spread vicious rumors, the external battery market is full of scams and gray market items that are just not worth your money. 50,000mAh battery on ebay (and sometimes my beloved Amazon) for 15 bucks? Yeah avoid that one. You'll be lucky if it's 5,000mAh in real life. Both Aukey and EasyAcc are old players in the battery game, and can very much be trusted with your money. I've owned multiple versions over the years from both and never had an issue. Can you get a dud? Sure, of course. But generally speaking, you'll be fine with these guys. Another brand you should trust is Anker as well. They too are a veteran in this space and a brand I've also used for many different things in the last 8 years.

For the Aukey specifically, let's get into what I like about that. The first, is the size. It's about the size of an iPhone 7/8 with a slim-ish case on it. So, this fits pretty much anywhere  a phone would. Tech cases, slots inside backpacks, a back pocket. Use your imagination and I'm sure you can come up with some more. This is my number one battery that I take with me. Because it has the USB-C that means it can output FAST, as well as input FAST. What's more, it means not needing additional cables because my phone uses a USB-C as well. Smart Wanderers should always be looking to minimize clutter and cables are a great place to start. And, with the Quick Charge 3.0 capable USB-A port, if I happen to only have my USB-A to USB-C on hand (I have one for rental cars as most don't have USB-C plugs yet) - I can still get really fast speeds in a charge. I bring it for work and for play, and hasn't let me down yet. 

For the EasyAcc, this one might be fairly obvious why I like it. It's huge. I bought it for that specific purpose. I can charge multiple devices with it, due to having 4 ports. My main use case for this is when you have a trip where there are long stretches of travel in between hotels (really long - like trains in Myanmar long), you might not have USB plugs in your car, or even camping when you're out in the mountains and don't have power hook ups (thru hikes for instance). Me personally, I used it while on a section of a trip to New Zealand where I was driving a lot and also camping. It was brilliant. Knowing I always had power if I needed it was great. And because it's so big, it was very hard to use it all up. Served it's purpose flawlessly for about a week until I was back in regular hotels. 

Ports on the Aukey. The Orange denotes the Quick Charge.

Output Ports and Flashlight on the EasyAcc

 

How fast do they work? Well, that's going to depend very much on the phone you have, what kind of charging tech it holds within, as well as how big the battery is on your phone. The smaller your phone battery, the faster it will charge as well as the more times you'll be able to juice up using these. I don't have scientific stats for either, especially the EasyAcc. But, because it's got at least Quick Charge 2.0 style delivery, that one's fast enough too. Let's say that. I like to focus on real world usability vs. spewing a bunch of stats at you that might not apply. I've used it the last 3 years with 3-4 different phones, and it performed perfectly and as expected. I think that's key: as expected. No one wants surprises.  The Aukey, well I do have a completely non-scientific test here that I just did. I have a Google Pixel 2 (best camera on a phone, PS) and I let it get down to about 4% battery. I plugged it into the USB-C port, and let it go. Was back up to 100% in about 1 hour and 15 minutes, give or take. It gets to the 60% area VERY fast. Keep in mind that batteries will charge super fast towards the empty end of the scale. But once they start to fill up, they'll go much slower past 70% or so. But by then, it's not really a problem because, well, you're at 70%.

At this point, the LEDs were 3 out of 4 on the battery. So, I feel confident I could most likely get 2.5 full charges out of this one, if figuring in some of what I like to call "power bleed". Your batter over time will lose some power if it's sitting around doing nothing for long periods, and towards the end of the capacity, I tend to see it go a little quicker. Not a complaint, just something I noticed in usage.

The Bad

Don't have much for you here. On the Aukey external battery, I really can skip this section. It's well made (though it's plastic), and performs perfectly. It's very valuable.

 

For the EasyAcc external battery - number one has to be the size. But, that's almost unfair to hold that against it. I mean, I knew it was big when I bought it. But that means it's specialized. "Specialized" is a hard thing when wandering. You want to own gear that can be used in a variety of situations. This battery, is really much more for those specific long-haul and wilderness scenarios for me. It definitely adds weight to your bag, something you should always be looking to cut down where you can.

In 2019, I also have to ding it a bit for being older tech. It's output AND input speeds are slower than other batteries out there today. It charges with micro USB, so that's another cable or two since it's large (at least it has two inputs though). But really, that's picking nits. I don't dislike anything about it's performance or quality. It's still a great value in 2019. With this in mind, it might make sense to look for the most current version instead of my specific model. It definitely still works on my Pixel 2, but only at normal charging speeds vs. rapid or fast charging.

LEDs and Power button on the Aukey

What Was That Secret We Should Know About External Travel Batteries?

OK here's a big one you should know about external batteries in 2019 if you've got an iPhone 8 or newer, or any of the Google Pixels. Why is that? Because these phones use a non-universally implemented standard (August 2019) called USB-C PD, or USB-C Power Delivery. Now, why this tech is GOOD is because it allows for much more flexibility in charging speeds and power that is delivered to any particular device. Think, a bigger device could use one output, but a smaller one could use a lesser one, with a much higher ceiling in terms of output power. It's all done through the same cable and output. It's cool stuff. But, it's also MUCH less widely used in the world of external batteries. Here's all the full tech info you might need on the subject:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/usb-power-delivery-the-fastest-way-to-charge-your-iphone-and-android-device/

If you have a phone that uses this standard, then you really want to make sure you get an external battery that does too. Trust me. I went through 4 batteries, two of which were purchased just for this phone, before I was able to dig this info up and educate myself on it. Two brand new batteries just wouldn't even charge my Pixel 2 - so of course I thought they were duds that I ordered from Amazon and was quite frustrated. Turns out they just weren't able to deliver the proper amount of power to charge the device on the USB-C PD standard. Once I knew that, I was able to solve it pretty quickly with help from Santa that Christmas.

So with that being said, make sure you pick one that supports it if you have one of those phones. Luckily, I did all that work for you and just recommend the Aukey that I'll link to below!

Final Thoughts On The Aukey and EasyACC External Batteries For Travel

Over the years, as cell phones and tablets and Bluetooth headphones have become such an ubiquitous part of our environment, and our wandering, external batteries have become indispensable. I've owned little, credit card sized ones and lipstick container style ones, and those just proved impractical from a size to output standpoint. 

 

Overall, I think 10,000mAh is the sweet spot, and what you should target in an external battery for your wandering. It provides upwards of 2.5 charges on a phone, so should be more than enough in most situations. It also provides a good capacity to size ratio, and won't add too much weight in your bag or pocket. Additionally, think of one of the bigger batteries if you're going to be going further afield, or will be on longer journeys in places that might not have ready or dependable access to electrical outlets. It could last you a few days at 20,000mAh to be honest. That's valuable. Just keep in mind it's going to add some weight and bulk to your set up.

Both these brands should have plenty of options in these two size classes, and these are my picks. I definitely recommend the Aukey for most people, and can definitely confirm that it supports USB-C PD charging, which is fantastic. (Quick Charge 3.0 is used in most other new Android phones now, so that other output is still really great).  Go ahead and get yourself an external battery and make it an important part of your gear kit. You never know when you're going to need it.

 

Here’s the Amazon link if you want to grab one (including the newer EasyAcc and the larger capacity Aukey):

 

Aukey

EasyAcc

Updated EasyAcc with USB-C

Larger Aukey with USB-C PD

©2019 by Always Wander