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Fake capacity power banks exposed, or why you should buy genuine accessories

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Fake capacity power banks exposed, or why you should buy genuine accessories

There's one thing we can all agree on – power banks are pretty awesome. They store back-up charge in their own, internal battery and let us recharge our phones anytime, anywhere, even when we're away from an outlet. But not all power banks are created equally. Some are small and light, designed to fit in the smallest of pockets; others are large and bulky, but hold much more charge. Then there are the power banks that blatantly lie about their capacity. Needless to say, you don't want to own a power bank of the third kind.

These fake power banks can't be found in your local BestBuy, that's for sure. You won't see them in reputable online stores either. But if you've ever searched for a power bank, you might have come across fakes on eBay, its Chinese alternatives, or other places where dodgy smartphone accessories can be found. Most of these are sold without branding, but fakes portraying themselves as genuine brand-name accessories do exist. 

How to spot a fake power bank?


Well, using common sense should do the trick. Most power banks hold between 2,000 and 10,000 milliamp-hours (mAh) of charge – the higher the capacity, the larger the physical size of the accessory. The largest models on the market do reach capacities over 20,000mAh, but they're a rare sight among average consumers due to their size, weight, and price. 

Go to eBay, however, and you may come across power banks that supposedly pack 50,000 to 100,000 mAh of charge – an astonishingly large amount – but usually cost next to nothing. These are the fakes you should stay away from. Sure, they almost certainly will work as a power bank, but their actual capacity is guaranteed to be less than what the listing wants you to believe. In fact, if a power bank could really store 100,000 mAh of charge, it would be large enough to require a backpack to be carried around.

Certainly not 50,000mAh power banks

Certainly not 50,000mAh power banks


We're not saying that every single power bank that offers lots of charge for little money is a fake. Indeed, there are some good value-for-money offerings, such as the 10,000mAh power bank from OnePlus costing $19, or the 20,000mAh one from Aukey priced at $25 on Amazon. But if a deal seems too good to be true, then it could really be a scam. Do your research before making a purchase.

How bad are those fake power banks anyway?


To answer this question, we spent some $10 on one of those suspicious no-name power banks. (So you don't have to!) Our unit was supposedly capable of storing 20,000mAh of charge, which was quite a lot – about enough to provide an iPhone 6s with 10 full charges. However, the accessory could barely recharge an iPhone 6s twice before it ran completely out of juice. Clearly, the thing's actual capacity was much less than the advertised 20,000mAh, so we cracked it open to see what was really going on under the hood. 

Fake capacity power banks exposed, or why you should buy genuine accessories

Honestly, the internals of the accessory didn't look as bad as we expected them to. Inside we found four lithium battery cells (type 18650, a popular standard) and a circuit board to control the charging process. The cells, however, looked fishy. The most alarming thing about them was the complete lack of labeling: neither their manufacturer, nor their voltage and capacity were stated. We could only assume that they were either old or of low quality, based on our experience with the accessory. In any case, four genuine, high-quality cells of this type should easily hold enough energy to recharge an iPhone 6s at least four times, but can never provide the advertised 20,000mAh capacity. 


Conclusion: are fake capacity power banks worth it?


To summarize, fake capacity power banks are looking like a bad deal. The only "good" thing about them is that they cost very little money – between $10 and $20 in most cases, depending on the model. And yes, they seem to work. But as the saying goes, you do get what you pay for, and what you're most likely going to get is a bunch of lies – a bank that can hold very little charge for its size, made with lithium cells of dubious quality. If you're looking for a power bank, our advice is to go for one made by a brand name you can trust. Sure, it might cost a bit more than the fakes, but it is much more likely to give you the performance and features that its manufacturer is promising. 

13 Comments
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posted on 11 Feb 2016, 05:03 8

1. rd_nest (Posts: 1578; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)


Nice article PA!

I need to read more of these types.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 05:42

2. joevsyou (Posts: 672; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)


good to know!, I would easily called B.S on 50k-100k but 20k i might have let it slide.

ever since i got me a s6 i need buy me a new that has a higher voltage so that enables fast charging.

i bought extra Samsung fast charging cable to keep in the car because whenever i stay over at my friends place, regular android cables just don't cut it anymore lol

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 06:07 1

3. Kelley71 (Posts: 70; Member since: 26 Nov 2012)


There are some legit 20M's out there; I have one by Anker from Amazon that puts 2-2½ 5-95% charges into my Nexus 7 (2013) (~4M mAh) with ~50% remaining. That's about where it should be.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 06:45 5

7. lallolu (Posts: 449; Member since: 18 Sep 2012)


Anker is very legit.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 06:48 3

8. tomn1ce (Posts: 200; Member since: 12 Mar 2012)


Anker is a well known power bank manufacturer along with their battery chargers which are very good. I had one of their adjustable battery charger back in the G-Nexus days and it worked fine, that one charger could charge different size of batteries since it was adjustable. Since then I have bought a couple of Anker fast chargers to keep at the house and at work and they have work great.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 06:09 1

4. villagerguyz (Posts: 87; Member since: 22 Jul 2015)


Fake powerbanks has less warranty period like one week compared to real ones.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 06:11 1

5. maddmike89 (Posts: 4; Member since: 05 Feb 2016)


I have an EC Technology 22,400mAh bank that I have had for a couple years now. Bought it off a guy used for $30 and its still going strong. Amazon is currently has the 2nd Generation model for $33. I also have a 5,000mAh PowerBag, and an 18,600 mAh bank from ZeroLemon. All have served me very well over the years. Definitely a very good article PA.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 06:29

6. Michael.Parker (Posts: 273; Member since: 22 Aug 2015)


I'm planning to 3D print my own power bank case and use decent sized phone batteries in with the circuitry from an old charger.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 06:51 6

9. tomn1ce (Posts: 200; Member since: 12 Mar 2012)


This was a good article for those looking for power banks just like the other article about the dirt cheap, fake high capacity microSD cards that pop up in some questionable web sites.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 07:42 1

10. buccob (Posts: 2495; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


I got a NewTrent 7000 power bank that was good for about a year but then it didn't hold charge and swollen... So I threw it away... My next buy will be Anker.
On a side note my Mophie one works pretty good but it can only charge once my device (4000 mAh) though it already have 2 years of use

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 09:02

11. catt4u (Posts: 144; Member since: 09 Jul 2011)


I went for the Xiaomi 16000mAh six months ago and it just delivers!

http://www.banggood.com/Original-Xiaomi-16000mAh-Universal-Battery-Charger-Power-Bank-p-953908.html

On their site you can check if you've bought a original one by scratching the label on the packaging and check the production number ;-)

They've got powerbanks ranging from 5000 up to 20.000 mAh so if you're looking for a good one at a neat price, Xiaomi is the way to go.

posted on 11 Feb 2016, 10:43

12. xq10xa (Posts: 582; Member since: 07 Dec 2010)


Great article. I hate me some lying power banks. I have had my share!

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 21:49

13. HTC_ONE_MAX (Posts: 148; Member since: 06 Feb 2015)


My sister left the same power bank but in white color and it's capacity down to 12000 mAh but i doubt it.

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