Over five years ago now I purchased my first and only external battery, an Anker 26800mAh brick of power. Back then, I had a pretty cheap smartphone (I still do, actually, but this one has better battery capacity) that would just never survive my travels into the outdoor world. No matter how long I was out for or what I did, the battery would die off so quickly even from simply using mobile data every so often. Back on the old chain, I wrote a review on this little convenience I now owned. But 5 years later, I notice I don't use the battery as much as I used to, but certainly do take it everywhere with me, especially when I have to travel for work and I'm staying in remote locations or hotels with just very limited sockets.
Over the years, the external battery itself has managed to accumulate signs of wear. Through my own negligence as I have stuffed it into backpacks, left it around pretty much anywhere when not in use, and sometimes lost and forgotten where I had placed it. If I had chosen to take proper care and place the battery into its case when travelling, I'm sure it would look almost as good as new. But it is not the physical appearance of this battery that surprises me, sustaining the odd scratch and being battered around with all kinds of objects, it is instead the fact that five years later it still functions as if I had just purchased it.
It functions so well, that it manages to hold its power for weeks, even months without use. Sat idle somewhere without much protection from surroundings. I find I rarely actually have to charge it up, and its use over the years has had minimal effect on how well the battery's cells continue. I have never really had a great time with electronics that run on batteries, especially modern technology in which replacing batteries is growing increasingly difficult. Part of battery technology is that with use degradation of the cells is inevitable. A result of this is that there's always some type of 'sweet spot' with batteries that are just annoying: keep the battery above 20% and only charge to 80%, for example, as a method of prolonging its life.
Truthfully, I have ignored this entirely. I have done nothing to preserve the battery's performance. I have not considered frequent discharging of the battery when not in use, nor have I paid any attention to where I allow it to deplete to and to which percentage I charge it to. I charge it up to 100% and will let it bleed with use until it no battery is left. The same applies for charging: no matter how much battery is left (unless it is full) I will charge it to full capacity before any significant travels where I would need full capacity for any reason. That is to ultimately say: the Anker 26800mAh external battery has actually managed to stand the test of time, and remain one of the best purchases in technology that I have ever made.
I think I should also note that in recent years battery capacity in technology has increased rather significantly. A few years prior 26800mAh would certainly be considered a lot of power to handle multiple devices, but now smartphones and laptops feature almost triple the battery capacity. I suppose one positive of that, despite having less charging capability, is that you might not need to charge things so often. If your phone manages to survive a full day without charging, that is. My current smartphone has a capacity of 5020mAh (definitely not at that capacity anymore with two years of daily use). But that would mean you'd still get a few full charges out of the 26800mAh. Though I also suspect that the more modern models of external batteries may also offer even higher capacities as well.
The last time I charged it was over two months ago, and even now pressing the button displays two of four lights to indicate a general half capacity available.
On the battery's side is just one simple button. This button can be pressed to display the current status of the battery in the form of four individual lights. As you would expect: all four lights indicates a full charge, and each less light indicates depletion. That's all there is to this charger, there's no fancy LED screen to give you a percentage or indicate how long it will charge. I quite like it for that, in fact. Given it ensures the entire battery maintains its more robust nature with few areas of weakness, leading to better chances at longevity. In fact, I have only dropped this battery once. I was outside, and it fell out of its casing due to my laziness to secure it properly, it fell onto concrete, and all it did was result in a few light scratches and one tiny dent in the corner. You can hardly see it.
Moving forward, however, it contains three USB ports allowing you to charge up to three devices at once. Its output is more than enough to charge most devices, but you might run into issues on something more modern like a Macbook, which are growing increasingly power hungry in recent years. Most Windows machines should be fine, though.
It features two Micro USB inputs for charging the battery itself, which can take quite a long time, of around six total hours. So if you pick one of these up, you should consider charging it in advance so avoid a low battery when you most need it. These two Micro USB inputs are met with two Micro USB cables, but I found that they were incredibly short and cheap, and didn't last long at all. I ended up purchasing two Anker braided USB to Micro USB cables of longer length, to which have lasted me all this time as a replacement to the ones that came with the battery. I'd recommend doing the same, just to make charging it a bit easier.
In terms of features, that's about it. It's a very simple bit of technology that provides a whole lot of convenience for when you are out and travelling. Especially if you feel you might not gain access to wall sockets, or even time to sit back and set things up. You can just connect it to your phone or even (modern) camera to charge up the battery and leave it to do its thing. Though in terms of cameras, some might not offer direct charging via USB. If you want to keep your camera batteries charged up when you're out, since those don't last long at all, check that the camera offers USB charging before buying.
Looking online, this battery is now £66.99! When I purchased it, it was around half of its current price, and I even purchased it during a sale, bringing it to around £30. To put things into perspective a bit: today it would cost you $81.14 to buy this battery. Despite the positives I have mentioned, and how well it has lasted, I definitely do not believe you should pay that much for it. You should wait until a sale and buy it at a heavy reduction in price. Amazon sales can be somewhat frequent throughout the year, so it is best keeping an eye on those. If I did not have the battery today, I certainly would not pay current full prices.
As is expected of technology these days: it comes at a high price and that price is almost never worth it, but having patience and waiting for sales is. Especially if you're located in a country where technology is very expensive and salaries certainly don't come close to being capable of freely affording such items.
I would definitely recommend purchasing one of these if you are a photographer or filmmaker, or just a simple traveller that is frequently on the move. Add it to your gear and you will definitely begin to rely on it sooner or later.