A few years ago, it was difficult to find a USB-C battery pack capable of charging a MacBook
at a speed of 30 or 45W, but with Apple and other companies increasingly embracing USB-C technology for everything from smartphones to laptops, high-powered USB-C battery packs have become more readily available.
Higher-watt USB-C battery packs are ideal for fast charging iPhones and iPad
Pros, providing power for MacBooks and MacBook Air
models, and even charging up a MacBook Pro
when charging speed isn't an issue.
In this guide, I'll be comparing 27, 30, and 45W battery packs with capacities ranging from 19,000 mAh to 26,800 mAh from companies that include Mophie, Anker, RAVPower, Jackery, and ZMI to help MacRumors
readers find the best USB-C battery pa$70re+ 26800 PD (30W)
USB-C Battery Pack Basics
All USB-C battery packs suitable for use with devices like the MacBook or MacBook Pro are large in size and generally just under or over a pound in weight. You're not going to want to stick one of these in your pockets, but they fit into a bag or a backpack.
Each of the battery packs we tested are 45W or less, because there are no higher watt battery packs available on the market. They all come in at under 100Wh, which is the limit that you can take on a plane in your carry-on luggage (power banks like these can't go in checked baggage).
All of these battery packs have additional USB-A ports so that you can charge more than one device at a time, but keep in mind that the maximum power for each one is distributed between devices when you have more than one thing plugged in. If you want the fastest charging for something like a MacBook that takes all of the available power, charge it alone.
For recharging these battery packs, you're going to want a USB-C PD power adapter that provides 30 to 45W of power. Some of them come with an appropriate power adapter, while some of them don't. You're going to get the fastest recharging speeds over USB-C, and when dealing with a power bank of this size, faster recharging is essential. Most of these will recharge in 2 to 4 hours using a 30 or 45W power adapter.
While all of these battery packs are between 19,000 and 26,800 mAh, no battery pack provides the maximum stated capacity because some power is always lost when transferring charge from one device to another.
All of these USB-C battery packs are able to fast charge compatible iPhones, which includes the iPhone 8
and later. With fast charging, if you use a USB-C to Lightning cable, you can charge an iPhone to right around 50 percent within 30 minutes, and to about 80 percent in an hour.
Charging slows as an iPhone's battery gets fuller, which is why it doesn't get to 100 percent within an hour.
I tested all of these battery packs with an iPhone XS
Max and an iPhone X
just to make sure everything was functional, and every single one was able to charge these devices to 50 percent in a half an hour with very little deviation, and to about 75 to 80 percent in an hour.
As for capacity, these battery packs are able to charge an iPhone multiple times over. Expect to see at least three charges for an iPhone XS Max from the smaller ~20,000mAh battery packs, and somewhere around 4 to 5 charges from the 26,000mAh battery packs. You'll get more charges for the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and iPhone XS, and similar performance from the XR.
For the current-generation 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro
models, if you use a USB-C to USB-C cable, you can charge them faster with one of these USB-C battery packs than you can with the standard 18W charger that comes with them.
On average, the 18W USB-C power adapter from Apple charges my iPad Pro to 45 percent in an hour. With a 30 or 45W USB-C battery pack, the iPad Pro consistently charges to 65 to 66 percent in an hour. The higher capacity battery packs provide about two full charges to an iPad Pro, while the lower capacity ones are about a charge and a half.
Older iPad Pro models that support fast charging capabilities will be able to fast charge using these USB-C power banks paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable.
Charging MacBook and MacBook Air
All of these USB-C battery packs will charge the USB-C MacBook and MacBook Air at the same speed that you would get with the standard MacBook or MacBook Air power adapter. There's no benefit to using over 30W, so each of these offers about the same charging speed with the only difference being capacity.
The higher capacity battery packs will charge a MacBook or a MacBook Air one and a half to close to two times, while the smaller capacity models offer about a full charge and then another 20 percent.
Charging MacBook Pro
Because the 15-inch MacBook Pro models ship with a 85 or 87W Power Adapter for charging, it might come as a surprise that you can also use all of these 30W and 45W chargers with the MacBook Pro.
Charging is a good deal slower than what you get with the more powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro power adapter, but it works. In fact, as you'll see in my testing below, it even works when the MacBook Pro is in use for tasks that are not super system intensive like web browsing, using social media, writing, sending emails, light graphics editing, watching YouTube videos, and more.
I have seen people ask whether using a lower-powered power adapter is going to damage the battery of the MacBook Pro, and from what I can tell from my research, the answer is no. It will charge slower, but it shouldn't ultimately impact performance compared to a standard charging method.
For the MacBook Pro, 45W is better, as it is the highest capacity power bank that you can get. All of these chargers will charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro to at least 50 percent, while some offer enough juice to give it a full charge.
I didn't test these battery packs with the 13-inch USB-C MacBook Pro because I don't own one, but everything that pertains to the 15 inch model is also true of the 13-inch model. These battery packs will charge the 13-inch MacBook Pro even faster (though not at 61W speeds) and will provide more capacity than with the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
30W vs. 45W
Most of the USB-C battery packs available are 30W, with a few 45W options on the market, so both options are included in this review.
For most Apple devices, there is no functional difference
between 30W and 45W because MacBook, MacBook Air, iPad Pro models, and iPhones are not going to charge faster with a 45W power bank than with a 30W power bank. All of these devices max out at 30W, and some, like iPhone, max out at 18W.
Where 45W does
make a difference over 30W is charging a 13 or 15-inch MacBook Pro. MacBook Pro models will charge noticeably faster with the 45W power bank than with a 30W version. 45W is, of course, lower than the 61W or 85/87W chargers 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models ship with, so don't expect standard charging speeds with these power banks.
I wanted to test these batteries in real world conditions with real world devices rather than relying on testing equipment to give potential buyers an idea of the actual performance they can expect from a USB-C battery pack.
Tests were conducted with a 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2016 (76Wh), a 12-inch MacBook from 2016 (41.4Wh), an 11-inch USB-C iPad Pro from 2018 (29.37Wh), and a 2018 iPhone XS Max (12.08Wh). iPads and iPhones were discharged to 1 percent before testing, and Macs were discharged to 5 percent. Charging tests were done in Airplane Mode and with displays off, with the exception of the in-use MacBook Pro test.
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