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.

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. 

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. 



1. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

Nice article PA! I need to read more of these types.

2. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 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

3. Kelley71

Posts: 105; Member since: Nov 26, 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.

7. lallolu

Posts: 733; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

Anker is very legit.

8. tomn1ce

Posts: 247; Member since: Mar 12, 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.

4. villagerguyz

Posts: 96; Member since: Jul 22, 2015

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

5. maddmike89

Posts: 6; Member since: Feb 05, 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.

6. Michael.Parker

Posts: 273; Member since: Aug 22, 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.

9. tomn1ce

Posts: 247; Member since: Mar 12, 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.

10. buccob

Posts: 2975; Member since: Jun 19, 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

11. catt4u

Posts: 145; Member since: Jul 09, 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.

12. xq10xa

Posts: 810; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

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


Posts: 170; Member since: Feb 06, 2015

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

14. allanwellhausensr

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 28, 2016

My girlfriend received one of these fake power banks by way of her aunt who had gotten it for her iPhone, It didn't work so she gave it away. It was clearly marked for an iPhone complete with the apple logo My girlfriend kept complaining that it didn't work, So I went to work looking for information about it online. I expected an Apple iPhone website to come up, one didn't. that didn't make sense to me, So since it didn't work I looked up fake iPhone Power banks and this site came up. It was most helpful, especially when the site showed one taken apart. Well, I'm not tech savvy as far as power banks go, But when you said 100,000mAh would need a backpack to carry is, well I knew something was wrong. Since it didn't work anyway, I took it apart and saw more or less what was in this report, and more... there were indeed 4 unmarked batteries, two of them were not even hooked up in any way. Just sitting there taped to the other two. I tried testing them all four of them. None had a charge nor could any of them be charged, A further look showed that the so call apple power bank didn't even have the right cable to charge an iPhone, in fact, the cable didn't work at all for any device. I guess what bothered me the most, is that if nothing worked why even bother with a circuit board? Other than to fool people into thinking you were charging it. I wish I could say at least I got the 4 batteries to use, but they were worthless.

15. walker2721

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 15, 2019

I bought a claimed 500,000 (yes...half million) mAh power bank for less than $10 on eBay. I paid with my trusty Paypal account. It took 6 weeks to arrive from HK and only managed to re-charge my iPhone 8, twice. :-( So I complained to Paypal about the misleading claim, and result!....my paypal account was NOT debited...and of course, I was not expected to return the "fake" item. Yey! I have now done this 6 more times with other suppliers who made outrageous capacity claims... and keep getting them for free, thanks to good ol' Paypal. They all made fantastic Xmas prezzies, for no cost. I just tell the happy recipient they have around 6000mAh capacity....and all is fine. So, there you go chaps...just buy, receive, complain...pay nothing.

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