A word of advice: just because half of your friends carry portable power banks doesn't mean you can use them anytime you want. The very reason why they're making space in their bags for those things - heavy and cumbersome as they may be - is because they need it. Everyone does. And if the number of times you've asked to borrow someone else's battery charger is anything to go by, so do you.
I understand if you're late to the game. On any given day, you carry a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone - now you have to add a portable charger too? And what about on nights out, when your purse can barely even hold a cellphone, wallet and lipstick? This isn't exclusively a girl's problem either: men - who typically hold everything in their pockets - have to consider that carrying a palm sized, 10,000mAh charger in their back pockets is just not possible.
Admittedly, I am one of those people who refuse to let their smartphones die on them. So yes, I don't mind the extra heft of a MiLi 10000 Power Bank. But then there are occasions that call for some extra power when you don't have the luxury (or the patience) to lug an overstuffed rucksack along for the ride. You won't need a lot; you just want to make sure you have enough juice to get all the photos you want on a road trip home, or to video all your favourite acts at an all-day music festival or simply have the peace of mind that you have a working phone on your way home from a big party.
Here are my top picks:
1. Mophie Powerstation
This handy little power bank charges phones quickly and packs in an impressive 4000mAh despite its size. It weighs a little over 100 grams, which makes it easy to slip into pockets and bags. More importantly, it can recharge a smartphone to full capacity at least once.
Costing US$70 to $80 dollars each, they are a little pricey (forking out just a bit more will get you a full powered 10,000mAh power bank), but that's the price you pay for convenience.
2. Powerocks Magicstick
I personally recommend this to women as this portable option is just a little bigger than your lipstick, and comes in numerous colour options. It doesn't pack much spare power with a capacity of just 2600mAh, so it won't even be enough to restore a drained smartphone to full power. But it's enough to get you through the day without having to scramble for a wall outlet. It's the perfect size to tuck into the side of your clutch for a night out, with still enough room for all your other essentials.
It's also fairly more affordable at US$24.
3. Veho Pebble Smartstick
If sleek is what you seek, then Veho's slim, narrow chassis is what you need. It's a beautifully designed power bank that houses 2800mAh of spare juice whenever you need. Given its design, it's something that I'd say slips easily into guys' pockets and girls' purses without adding too much bulk.
Its US$30 price tag is alright for pocket-sized convenience.
4. MiLi Power Angel 2
This is a personal favourite. The size is perfect - just a little bit thicker than any girl's standard compact, with built-in USB connectors for charging and a lightning connector that connects to your phone, allowing you to still use your mobile while charging.
It doesn't pack much - 2200mAh - but it's enough to tide you over until you find a wall outlet. Unfortunately, its best feature can only be maximized by iPhone users: If you're an Apple fan that needs a slim, non-bulky alternative to traditional power banks, then this one comes highly recommended. The biggest downside for me is the price: at US$40, it's a little pricey for a 2200mAh cell.
5. MiPow Mirror Power
It's as if this one was made specifically for women who worry about how much space their gadgets take up in their purses. The MiPow Mirror Power is designed to work as a power bank with 3000mAh - but also doubles up as a make-up mirror.
The price is a little higher than what most of us would be comfortable with, but if you have the money to spare and need to save space in your evening clutch, then by all means, choose this one.
Full disclosure: My obsessive need to always have a fully operational smartphone compelled me to pick up a handy, all-reliable 10,000mAh power bank for everyday use. But for those times when all I have is a small purse - weekends with the girls, music festivals, concerts, whatever - I keep a MiLi Power Angel handy. And until we get a smartphone that gives us, at least, all day power while running on data, it's a system that I would totally recommend.
If you have any other brands that you've tried and want to vouch for, feel free to let me know - I'm always on the lookout for something new to try.