STory written for http://www.cntraveler.com
As with cars in horror movies, smartphones always seem to die at the wrong time—say, when you’re rushing to a piazza to meet a stranger for the keys to a rental pensione, and can’t call because your iPhone just crapped out. Until the day super-batteries arrive, you’ll have to make do with these solutions for portable power wherever you roam:
Start by: Optimizing your phone’s settings.
Anything that causes your smartphone to work kills off the battery. Phone calls chew up power, sure, but that gorgeous screen and the various wireless signals do, too. Go into your phone’s settings and turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (and if you aren’t planning to use your phone for a few hours, or overnight, then put it in Airplane mode or shut if off entirely). Also reduce the screen brightness to 50 percent or less—the lower you go, the longer your battery will last. Finally, you can choose to turn off the GPS and location settings—but note that this will disable your phone’s navigation capabilities, including the ability to find your phone if it gets lost or stolen.
Kensington International Travel Adapter, $30
We can’t count the number of times we’ve had to buy pricey smartphone power adapters while traveling, and needing an international version makes it even worse. Instead, we chuck Kensington’s universal adapter in our carry-on and never have to worry. In addition to American-to-foreign plug adapters, it also has two USB plugs on top for charging smartphones and tablets (you’ll need to pack one spare cable in your kit).
Charge Card USB cable, from $20
This ingenious, credit-card sized plastic jobbie slips into your wallet until you have a battery emergency. Unfold it in an instant and it’s a full-fledged USB cable you can plug into any wall adapter or laptop to give your phone a quick sip of juice. There are models for standard micro-USB connectors as well as Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector.
Mophie Juice Pack smartphone case, from $80
For power users who find they can’t make it through a day without topping up their smartphone, Mophie’s line of Juice Pack smartphone cases do double duty: They protect a device from daily wear and tear, but also house a rechargeable battery that boosts usable time from 80 to 120 percent. They do add a little weight, but it’s a fair tradeoff for getting a couple extra days of use on a single charge.
Eton BoostBloc 6600 backup battery, $100
If you only have occasional need for an extra burst of energy, Eton’s easily pocketable and lightweight charger stores enough juice to charge most smartphones almost twice, and also works with tablets that require higher amperage (an iPad will get about halfway charged). You’ll still need to carry around a cable—we recommend the low-profile ChargeCard—but we love the ability to have a power source at hand no matter where we roam.