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Few things are as frustrating as a smartphone with a flat battery when you need to make an important call home, or a tablet/ laptop that runs out of juice while you’re writing a 2,000-word essay. The need to recharge tech can be overlooked when life gets busy and the school year begins, leaving users – and the battery level – seeing red.
That’s where power banks come to the rescue. These compact and portable high capacity batteries deliver a fast recharge while on the go, or an emergency top-up. They’re a must-have addition to the school bag, offering peace of mind that devices will last all day long.
The type of power bank you need depends on the type of device being charged, how often you charge it, as well as how quickly you want it to charge.
Also consider the number of devices you want to charge – multi-port banks will charge several devices simultaneously, from smartwatches and phones to earbuds and tablets.
Power banks support USB-A and USB-C (for fast charge) connection, making them compatible with most devices’ USB charging cable.
Charge is measured in milliamps per hour (mAh) – the higher the mAh, the longer the power bank will last. If the power bank’s mAh is less than the device it’s charging, it won’t charge that device to a full 100%.
How many charge cycles will it deliver? Your device’s mAh value lets you quickly calculate this. For example, most smartphones have a battery that’s approx. 3,000 mAh, therefore a 10,000mAh power bank will charge it three times.
From smartwatches and earbuds to phones and tablets, the tech inventory being carted to school is likely to have increased in the last year, which means more devices to be charged for the day. If you’re the type that has a bottom drawer filled with USB power adaptors, or are always without a spare, a USB charging station is the solution – a central power source that will charge multiple devices at the same time.
A powered USB charging station is more practical than a USB hub, which connects multiple devices to a computer or laptop but drains its battery during the charging process.
USB charging stations deliver 1A or 2.1A power per port (A being the amount of amps). 1A would suit a smartphone but not a tablet, so it’s best opt for 2A as a minimum. For fast charging, choose a station with high speed ports up to 5A.
Wireless charging is a more advanced alternative that’s gaining in popularity. It’s also the ultimate in convenience, eliminating a clutter of cables, adaptors and additional chargers. QI is the universal standard for wireless charging, so first make sure that your device is QI certified and compatible with a wireless charger, and also check the specs for fast charge capability. The simpler and quicker things are when used at school, the better!
One of the downsides of some wireless chargers is the need to properly align the charger and device to enable it to fully power up. No problem on a stable desk, but if the device is being bounced about in a backpack, the magnetic handshake between charger and device can be broken. Fortunately, Apple’s proprietary MagSafe technology has solved that problem with easy magnetic attachment that locks on to the device to ensure it stays put and receives a constant and stable charge.
Basic wireless chargers offer 5W or 10W charging – the higher the wattage, the faster the charging – while MagSafe chargers deliver up to 15W. However, unless the device being charged also contains magnetic coils, you won’t get a full 15W of power.
Designed for use with the iPhone 12, MagSafe is also compatible with Android tech like Samsung’s Galaxy range and Google’s Pixel 5, as well as certain older models and some brands of earbuds – again, look out for the QI logo if unsure.
MagSafe chargers can be both practical and aesthetically pleasing: the Belkin 3-in-1 Wireless Charger for Apple MagSafe is an attractively designed stand that charges three Apple devices simultaneously.