Box shops and Qoo10 are flooded with cheap portable USB chargers that retail for as little as $15, while reputable brands like Sony go for up to $90 or more. If you look closely, even the Valore’s (Challenger’s flagship brand) lower price range products resemble China mass produced products. Only their higher range products appear to be designed in-house.
What then should you be looking out for? Are you just paying more for branded stuff?
We’ll show you the differences and what to look out for.
1. Look for those stated that they are using lithium-polymer cells, not lithium-ion
Lithium-polymer cells and lithium-ion cells perform equally well. However, lithium-ion cells are usually enclosed in a metal cylinders, like those of alkaline AA batteries. Therefore, you will find that the cheaper portable battery chargers are usually rounded the sides, and are heavier. You are effectively paying for air, extra volume, and weight.
2. Look for those that are slimmer, flatter, and rectangular at the sides
If the product does not state whether it is using lithium-polymer or lithium-ion, chances are those constructed using lithium-polymer are usually a lot slimmer, lighter, and rectangular in shape as the polymer batteries are flat packed, like the ones in your mobile phone. Usually good brands that are using lithium-polymer would state it in their product description as they would use it as a selling point. Similarly, avoid those that are fat and big!
3. Look for those with 2.1A auto-switching output or dual-output 1A and 2.1A output
Most mobile phones require an electrical output of 1A to charge, while iPads and tablets and some of the phablets require 2.1A to charge. Charging iPads and tablets at 1A will work, but it will take double the time. The advantage of buying a portable battery charger with 2.1A is that you can use it to charge your tablet if you own one. At the same time, your phone will charge faster than 1A chargers as well. Your phone will automatically reduce the charge so there is no risk of overcharging. I prefer those with 1 output with auto-switching.
The cheaper chargers usually output at 0.5A which means charging your phone will take a very long time. Recharging them also takes a long time.
4. Look for those with high capacity
Look for those with high mAH. An iphone 5 / Galaxy S4 typically requires 2000mAH to charge it up from 0% to 100%. Therefore, a high-capacity portable battery charger with 8000mAH can charge the iphone from 0% to full 4 times, before needing a recharge. A cheaper portable battery charger usually has a capacity of 5000mAH.
So far, the ones I’ve seen being sold are either low-end products, way too highly-priced. Sony is by far one of the better brands, but theirs ranges from $60 to $90 depending on capacity. The other brand I’ve mentioned here is pretty decent, only for their higher-end ones, but not very price-worthy in my opinion.
Qoo10 actually sells another reputable brand called Lepow, but looking at the pricing, I’m not certain they are originals. If you can get hold of the original Lepows, their 12000mAH ones are actually pretty good.
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