With the popularity of smartphones that drain their batteries in a day's use, it is important to have a way to charge a cell phone either in an emergency or while away from home or the office for an extended period of time. This has created a whole new industry of portable cell phone chargers. While phone battery technology is actually better today than it was just a few years ago, the features and abilities of phones drain their batteries much faster than they used to.

Things To Look For

Some chargers are specific to certain phone models, and some phones have different power requirements than standard phones. It is important for one to check the technical specifications of their phone to assure that it will be compatible with the portable charger they are interested in purchasing.

The general information that one needs to know about portable cell phone chargers have to do with the power output and available connectors. With many smartphones using mini-USB for their charging requirements, this is becoming less of a problem. But there are still many popular phones which have charging connectors that are unique to them. Even if it is a unique charging cable, if it will charge from a standard USB port on a computer, they can be plugged directly into the USB ports of the portable cell phone charger.

If a phone is using the USB standard, it will require 5V to charge. However, some phones have strange charging requirements. While they may have a USB port on them, it is possible that they require their supplied battery charger to charge the device.

Because of the USB compatibility of these portable cell phone chargers, they are not limited to just charging cell phones. Any device that can be charged using the USB port of a computer can also be charged with one of these battery packs. That includes portable media players (iPods and other MP3 devices) and ebook readers.

A portable cell phone charger that has a higher mAh (milliamps) rating will charge a cell phone more times before requiring a recharge of the portable charger itself. Many phones have batteries around the 1000 mAh rating. To know how many times a phone can be charged with the portable charger, one would need to divide the mAh of the charger by the mAh of the phone. A portable cell phone charger that has a rating of 3500 mAh will charge a 1000 mAh phone 3.5 times.

If traveling to other countries, which is a great reason to own a portable cell phone charger, the traveler should make sure it will work with 220 volts for charging the device. This eliminates the need for a power transformer. They will need plug adapters, but voltage adapters will not be necessary.

New Trent Super-packNew Trent Super-pack

This portable cell phone charger by New Trent has 5000 mAh of power! Along with the Ultra-pack and Extreme-pack, rated at 8500 and 11000 mAh respectively, these are the largest capacity cell phone chargers that are still easily portable. With the 5000 mAh charger they claim that one can recharge an iPhone 4 up to three times. Other phones with smaller batteries should get even better performance out of the New Trent charger. The larger capacity packs will charge a phone even more times per charge.

The size of the Super-pack is just a bit smaller than an iPhone. The Ultra and Extreme are 4.3" x 2.5" x 0.8" each. Amazon's price for these devices are $39.95 (Super-pack), $63.95 (Ultra-pack) and $79.95 (Extreme-pack).

The New Trent portable cell phone chargers have apparently been marketed under different names and brands. Based on the reviews at Amazon, it might be possible to find this device at other sites with different price points. They seem to be re-branded, but have the same specifications and form factor.

iGo Charge AnywhereiGo Charge Anywhere Universal Power Extender

The iGo Charge Anywhere portable cell phone charger has two USB slots allowing the user to charge two devices at one time. Besides being a portable charger, it can be used as a wall charger. This means that while the battery on the device is charging, it also supplies power to the USB ports. Using this device it is possible to charge two phones and the battery without needing three wall plugs. The user can eliminate the two phone chargers while traveling and use only this device.

Power tips are available for various phones. However, the iGo charger has standard USB ports so that the USB cable that came with the phone can be plugged in directly.

This device is 2.5" x 1.5" x 2.3" with an 1800 mAh battery. Current price at Amazon is $39.99. Will work with 220 V electricity when traveling overseas.

Fatcat Chargecard

This is touted as an emergency portable cell phone charger. It has 2000 mAh of power available, which is more than enough to fully charge most cell phones at least twice. That is a considerable amount of power considering the its compact size. It measures only 3.9" x 2.1" x 0.4"!

The Fatcat Chargecard is recharged by using a USB plug on a wall charger or from a computer USB port. There is no wall adapter included with this device. There are, however, 13 different charging tips packaged with the device.

This is a new product that sells for $50 at Amazon because of its compactness. After it has been out a while, the price might drop.

AA Battery Powered Units

There are several portable cell phone chargers that use AA batteries to charge a cell phone. These are handy for true emergencies. Having the ability to pull batteries out of a digital camera, or any other device using AA batteries, to supply an emergency charge to phone might save a life in an emergency. These are much more inexpensive since the battery is not built in.

One such device is the Duracell My Pocket Charger which sells in a two pack for $10. This includes 4 AA batteries and the charging cable. That is the Amazon price, but these can easily be found in discount stores and are worth carrying in the glove box of a car for emergencies.

Each of these portable cell phone chargers are a great addition to any road warrior's carry-on bag.