Many people rely on their cell phones, and many are disappointed with the poor battery life currently on offer. It doesn’t seem to matter which brand you go for – Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung, etc. – you’re lucky to get a day’s worth of decent use out of these powerful devices. Battery technology is improving and changing all the time, and some of the biggest improvements to Apple’s products in the past few years have been their custom batteries that help drive high-resolution displays and fast graphics processors. But it’s still not enough. Until there is a sea change in the tech, we will be worrying about getting through the day with our smartphones.
So, what are the options?
1. Extra Batteries
With some models, you can purchase extra batteries and pop them in when you need more juice. The upside is your phone doesn’t look any different, you don’t have to attach anything to it, and the process is fairly simple, albeit annoying. The downside is that you can, at best, double your battery life for $50-100, and you’re only adding juice to one device, unless you happen to have a slew of the same devices. You’ll also probably need another charger to cart around to ensure you’re constantly keeping the backup battery charged.
2. Battery Cases
You can get cases that contain batteries inside of them for a lot of the more popular smartphones. For instance: the Mophie Juice Pack case for the HTC One. These cases add extra protection while usually doubling your battery life. Most have switches that you flick on when you want to use the case’s battery to top up your phone’s internal battery. These usually run around $100. The downsides? First, you’re adding bulk and weight to a device that you most likely purchased because it felt sleek and light in your hands. You’re also buying a case that will almost certainly only work with that specific device. If you upgrade next year, you could be out of luck. Lastly, you’ll be lucky if the case doubles your battery life – you most likely won’t get quite a full charge out of it, simply due to the way batteries work and their inherent inefficiencies.
3. External Battery Packs
The most expensive option in the list, external battery packs are also the most versatile and pack the most punch. They usually cost between $75-100 and, depending on the model, can recharge a smartphone up to five times on a single charge. They can also charge any device, as they simply provide USB ports to connect your phones and tablets to. They are often about the width and height of a smartphone, but twice as thick.
The main downside here is that you have to carry something extra around with you – the pack itself, as well as a charging cable to plug into your phone. You also might want to bring the cable to charge the pack, and an AC adapter to plug into the wall to charge quickly.
What would I buy? Well, I am going to Vancouver in a few weeks and I decided I needed to pick something up to help keep my phone charged during long days out and about. I picked up the Mophie Powerstation Duo in white for $100. It has two USB ports for charging two devices at once, both of which are 2.1A, allowing for very fast charging, as well as charging of tablets. It’s 6000mAh, which means it’ll charge my iPhone 5 several times.
It’s got great build quality and couldn’t be more simple to use. It slips into my camera bag or laptop bag and gives me peace of mind while I’m away from AC outlets during 14h days.