• sarahlaliberte

What to do if your phone battery doesn't last long enough

This great question was submitted by Leslie on Facebook!

We've all been there: our phone battery indicator turns red and we are no where near the charger at home or in the car. As a matter of fact, a recent (humorous) story tells the tale of a couple separated at EPCOT because of a dead phone battery.

As battery-powered devices get older it’s harder for them to hold a charge (and if you have a few years of apps on your phone, your battery could be draining in no time)!

Charging phone with a power bank.
Portable power banks can be a lifesaver!

Short of getting a new device, what can you do?

I recommend a portable charger, also called a power bank. Some are are slightly bigger than a roll of Lifesavers, so they fit in your pocket. Others are the size of a pack of cards. All are fairly affordable: especially when compared to the alternative (a dead phone or purchasing a new device!)

A search online will give you many options...but can be overwhelming. So here’s what you need to know:

First, what determine what charging cable you have

Most cables are either lightning (Apple) or Micro USB. They can come in almost any color. Check the photo on the right to see which cable you have. Both types have a larger standard USB connection that does not go in the device - it will go into a wall plug adaptor or your computer to charge.

Next, do you want a built-in cord or supply-your-own

Built-in can be nice because you are never left without a charging cord! However, you'll find these portable charges are often more expensive and limited selection. Apple currently uses whats called lightning cord and others use a micro USB (see above), so if you have a mix of devices or ever change, you will need adaptors/multiples cords/to replace.

How fast & how many times?

Do you need it to charge completely in one hour or three? Will you need to store enough for 5 recharges or is one or two enough? When you search for "portable phone chargers" you'll notice that there is a number followed by mAh. (e.g. 5000mAh or 15,000mAh). The lower the number, the slower the charge and the fewer times you'll be able to recharge your device before "refilling" the charger. If you have one cell phone and use this in emergencies than 5000 is just fine. If you have a family with four phones and need it overnight for a camping trip get a much higher mAh like 15,000.

See that little box? Plug the bigger USB end into the box then both into the wall socket. Then plug the other end of the cable with the Micro USB into your charger. This should seem familiar - it's the same way you charge your phone normally.

How do I recharge the portable charger?

OK there are two things to note here:

  • One, for Apple folks, unless you bought with a built-in cable, you'll be supplying your own lightning cable.

  • Two, for everyone else that uses a Micro USB cable, the chargers typically come with one! You can use for both recharging the bank OR charging your phone!

Now, take that Micro USB cable that came with the charger (even if you are an Apple person!) and plug the micro USB in to the outlet on the charger first, then plug the other USB end into a wall plug adaptor (sometimes included) or your computer. Little lights should indicate charge for you.

You can spend $5 or $100 on a portable charger, but I've found a good price point to be in the $20-$30 range for a solid and reliable unit that will do the job. Keep one charged and in your jacket or purse for those power-emergencies and you will never face the dreaded almost-dead-battery warning!

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