Power bank users often get mystified with the mismatch between the expected capacity of their purchased power banks and the actual number of charges that they get for their phones or tablets.
We expect to FULLY charge our iPhone 11 Pro with 3000mAh battery minimum 3 times using a 10000mAH power bank as 3000 x 3 = 9000. However, in reality, your phone will get charged about 2 times!!
A quick rule of thumb is to assume that the real world capacity of your powerbank is 2/3 of the theoretical capacity mentioned on the box. So for a good 10000 mAH power bank, it will be about 6600 mAH or about 2 full charges for the iPhone 12 and for a good 27000 mah power bank it will be about 18000 mAH, or about six charges for the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro.
Understanding Power Bank Capacity
The reason for this mismatch is that mAH is not a good unit to measure battery capacity when the voltages of the battery and charged devices are different. Li-ion batteries used in power banks output 3.7 volt (nominal) but your phones’ batteries get charged at 5 volt.
mWH or watt-hours is the ideal way to measure a battery’s stored energy as it is voltage-independent and takes into account the total energy of the battery.
So a power bank with 10000 mAH capacity actually has 10000 mAH capacity at 3.7 volt. Total energy in such a battery in mWH will be 10000 mah x 3.7 volt = 37000 mWH.
When the output is at 5 volt, the Mah capacity of this battery will be lower. The capacity of the battery while charging at 5 volt output will be 37000 mWH divided by 5V or 7400 mAH.
In addition to this, energy is also lost during the conversion process from 3.7 to 5 volt, due to the resistance of the connecting cable, and during the charging process. You may have noticed that the phones often get warm and mildly hot during charging. This is simply electrical energy getting wasted as heat during the charging process and is unavoidable in any charging process.
Many other factors, such as ambient temperature and the exact chemistry of the powerbank and smartphone batteries also determine the real charging performance of the powerbank. Assuming a 10% loss (or 90% efficiency), this leads to an effective capacity of 7400 x .90 = 6660 mAH . This is approximately 2/3 of the on-paper or advertised 10000 mAH capacity of the powerbank.
As the actual charging performance may vary from device to device, you can roughly assume the 2/3 capacity number to calculate how many times your smartphone will get charged by your powerbank.
For example, a quality 26800 mAH powerbank such as Anker PowerCore+ 26800 will have a real world capacity of 26800/.66 = About 18,000 mAH. Hence, it will charge an Apple iPhone 12 (2815 mAH battery) about 18000 / 2815= about 6 times! It will charge the iPhone 12 Pro/iPhone 12/11, or Samsung S10 about 18000 / 3400 or about 5+ times.
Similarly, a good 20,000 mAH power bank such as AmazonBasics 20000 USB-C or Anker PowerCore Essential 20000 USB-C PD will charge iPhone 12 about five times and Samsung S20, A51/A50 nearly 4 times. A quality 10000 mAH powerbank such as ZMI USB-C 10000 PD will charge iPhone 12 from 30% to 100% about three times.
Here are some tips to maximize the power capacity of your power banks.
Maximising Power Bank Capacity
To extract maximum power from your powerbank follow the following tips –
Use Fast Charging or QuickCharge Ports Only When required
Most modern phones ship with fast charging technologies such as QuickCharge 3.0 or USB-C PD based fast charge. Such fast charging will charge your phone at extremely fast speeds using higher voltages or larger currents than normal. For example, Apple iPhone 12, 11, 11 Pro, XR, XS/XS Max, X/8/8+, SE 2020 can get charged from zero to 60% in about 30 minutes with USB-C PD fast charging power banks such as the Anker PowerCore Slim 10000 PD power bank using a USB-C to Lightning cable. Quickcharge 3.0 phones such as LG G8, G7 or V40, V30 can get charged from zero to 80% in 35 minutes using QuickCharge 3.0.
Fast charging is great when you are in hurry. However, fast charging uses high voltages (9 volt or 12 volt) and this further reduces the usable battery capacity of the powerbank and drains power bank battery much faster.
Using standard 2 amp or even 1 amp ports on the powerbank will make your powerbank give as much as 20% extra charging capacity.
Use Good Quality Power Banks
Quality power banks have higher efficiency of up to 95% due to optimized circuits. Such power banks can better fine-tune voltage and reduce power wasted due to heat.
Use Quality Short Cables
Quality short cables have lower resistance as they use copper and premium metal contacts and hence lead to less loss of power.
Use 1 Amp or 2 Amp Regular USB Charging ports if not in a hurry
Charging via non-fast-charging 1 Amp or 2 Amp/2.1 Amp regular USB ports will ensure greater efficiency than charging at fast-charging high current Quickcharge USB ports as more power is wasted at higher voltages and currents.