The Next Tech Faux Pas: Power Banks

With the popularity of smartphones and tablets still lingering in the tech market, it was only a matter of time before mainstream consumers discovered small power banks and portable battery packs. Unfortunately, it looks like public usage of power banks is becoming as bad as the ludicrous selfie stick. I've been seeing more and more people walking around with power banks in their armpit attached to their smartphone or tablet. And I'm not just talking about bus stations and airports. The practice of constantly charging your mobile device using a portable charger stuffed in your pocket while walking around or waiting is remarkably silly (and dangerous) and shows how overly dependent people are on their mobile devices.


Hardware manufacturers have been focusing on extending battery life for years and it's considered the Holy Grail of consumer electronics. Power banks are a cheap and somewhat practical stop gap in the interim. What mainstream consumers aren't aware of is that cheap power batteries with USB ports can both be an inconvenience and a hazard in itself.

Power banks have been around for years. There was a small boom in in the market when Intel, AMD and laptop manufacturers cut laptop prices back when people were more interested in thin-and-lights and desktop replacements than tablets and cellphones. They never quite caught on because the power packs for laptops were generally very heavy and added to the total weight of a laptop bag (which averaged 7-8 pounds including the power brick, cables and accessories). Fast-forward to today: "smart" chargers and power banks are lighter, more stylish and more affordable than ever. Unfortunately, the wrong people are purchasing them and walking around with live batteries in their pockets.


The airport is both the most logical and most idiotic place to bring a power bank.

Most people make an impulse buy when it comes to power accessories. They have no idea that it's nothing more than batteries connected to a small circuit board for connectors and indicators. If you think about it, you already have several batteries on your backpack and person in the form of laptops, smartphones and tablets. Is adding a dedicated battery while you walk around or travel a good idea?


As long as mobile devices are cheap and available, battery power will be a valuable commodity for the inept mobile user.

Users may think power batteries are a simple item to purchase. However, as with many consumer devices, it's not that simple. Things to consider before purchasing power banks or portable chargers:

1. Safety. This is a no-brainer. Power chargers can be pretty dangerous if misused. The rules regarding price and manufacturer apply.

2. Airports. Some airports and airline services do not allow a particular size or power rating for power chargers and power banks even if you check them in or carry them onboard the aircraft. If you're a frequent flyer to a particular airline or trying an airline for the first time, check their policy before you purchase or pack your power bank.

3. Compatibility and weight. Power banks are partly classified based on their mobile device compatibility and their ports (USB, micro-USB, Lightning, etc.). Remember that even if you buy a power bank, you would still need to carry your mobile device cables with you when you need to connect to a power outlet. Add your cables, your universal power adapter for power sockets, the power bank and the power bank's cables and you're a walking Cable Guy.


4. Before flying out to Honduras last year, I briefly considered purchasing a power bank for my mobile devices because I was concerned that the school I was visiting would have limited access to public power lines. I ended up skipping the power bank and opting for a Kobo Glo instead to replace my four year-old Sony PRS-600. Power banks can be useful for a professional who end up in locations without access to a power socket. However, if you're just a casual user making calls to your drinking buddies or hitting Twitter, consider tablets, laptops and smartphones with a long battery life instead. Or better yet, don't use your mobile devices when it's not important.

I'm always surprised how this new generation of electronics users treat or carry their devices. Walking around with an external battery connected to a tablet and smartphone is pretty ludicrous and I'm sure engineers who designed the casing and plastic shell won't recommend it either. But then again, people today use selfie sticks, which will tell you a lot about how times have changed.


Iron Man runs out of battery for the nth time and looks for a power socket in Tales of Suspense #94 (1967). One of the reasons Iron Man wasn't as popular with comic readers in the 60s compared to his contemporaries was his constant battery issues. Stan Lee would have Iron Man lose "transistorized power" every other issue.


  1. You won’t get power socket everywhere. Sometimes even when you get the socket in some public place, it would be difficult to put up your device for charging due to security reasons. The smart phones and tablets have many important documents as well as data that may be kept secured and hence you would not be able to put your mobile for charging at some unknown place. Power bank would make it easy for you. It will remain besides you and it is easy to keep a track of your device when it is charging. You can keep your power bank for charging wherever you get power supply and then use it to charge your mobile or tablet without posing any security risks. Even you can receive the alerts when the mobile is being charged by power bank besides you.


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