“a helpful & lucid review site for all things budget” — the new yorker
In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Universal Chargers
  2. Travel Chargers, Portable Charger Battery
  3. Portable Chargers, Micro USB Chargers
  4. Best Portable Charger, Universal Charger Reviews
  5. Discount Universal Chargers Features Comparison Table

Cheap Universal Chargers Buying Guide

Cheap universal chargers are an answer to the prayers of business travelers and other heavy users of mobile devices. Imagine it's the end of the day, and after hours of phone tag you finally get hold of a key client or friend.

Related Guide:
Batteries
But the minute you launch into your pitch, you hear that first, ominous beep: your battery's about to die. Luckily an array of the best portable chargers is available for the rescue.

In the absence of an outlet, a mobile device charger can revive your gadgets using battery, solar, or even wind power. Many chargers that use alternative energy sources come with unpleasant price tags. But you don't have to spend (too) big to get your hands on one of these little lifesavers. We found cheap universal chargers, as well as more expensive models, from a number of mobile-accessory makers, such as MiLi and iGo, and familiar battery brands such as Duracell.

The chief difference between cheap universal chargers and more expensive chargers is battery capacity. Pricey chargers boast batteries that can juice up even an iPad or a laptop in an emergency. The budget chargers we picked generally can't do that, but they have enough oomph to charge your cell phone, smartphone, MP3 player, PDA, PSP, GPS, Bluetooth, and more. We looked for less costly universal chargers with batteries big enough to fully charge a typical smartphone at least once before having to be recharged themselves.

Review continues below

Another feature to note when choosing a cheap universal charger is compatibility. Many low-cost mobile device chargers use only one type of connector: a 30-pin connector for Apple products, for instance, or a mini-USB cable for certain cell phones. But most of us have more than one mobile device. And what happens when you buy a new phone with a different charging interface? To help you get the most for your money, we included only cheap universal chargers that come with a variety of connectors.

The best portable chargers we found are the I-Up 5400 (starting at $40) and the MiLi Power Crystal (starting at $26). We like the I-Up 5400 for its power as well as its broad compatibility. The cheap mobile device charger from MiLi, a line of Apple-certified accessories, boasts a battery capacity of 2,000 milliampere-hours (mAh) and six connector tips -- no other mobile device charger we found offers so much power for so many devices at such a low price. We picked two good universal chargers: the iGo Charge Anywhere PS00273-0001 (starting at $35) and the IOGEAR GearPower GMP1001B (starting at $15), the former for its dual functionality as a wall charger and array of connector tips and the latter for its super-low price and light weight. Another IOGEAR model, the GearPower GMP1001W6 (starting at $35), matches the MiLi charger almost amp for amp and tip for tip, but with its higher price tag and some unhappy user reviewers, it doesn't make our list.

The performance of these cheap universal chargers goes hand in hand with where they rank in terms of power and compatibility. Performance also depends on the types of devices you're charging. So before you buy a cheap universal charger, look at the storage capacities of the batteries in your electronic devices and compare them with the battery capacity of the charger; consumers who expect a 1,000 mAh charger to fully charge a 1,500 mAh smartphone will be disappointed. In online reviews of cheap mobile device chargers, some users also fault their units for being altogether unable to charge certain devices. Make sure the cheap universal charger you choose is compatible with not only the brand name of your device but also the particular model. Many handset makers have switched connectors in recent years. Research In Motion, for example, used to power its BlackBerry smartphones via mini-USB, but newer models call for micro-USB chargers.

Review continues below

by Kara Reinhardt (Google+ Profile)

Back to top »

Best Cheap Universal Chargers

MiLi Power Crystal
Gold Medal

MiLi Power Crystal

This cheap mobile device charger offers an unmatched combination of price, power, and compatibility with a wide range of gadgets. The MiLi Power Crystal's sleek design is the icing on the cake.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
I-Up 5400
Gold Medal

I-Up 5400

This external battery has more than two-and-a-half times the storage capacity of other low-cost mobile device chargers and gets positive reviews from users.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »

Good Cheap Universal Chargers

iGo Charge Anywhere PS00273-0001
Gold Medal

iGo Charge Anywhere PS00273-0001

The iGo Charge Anywhere PS00273-0001 is one of the priciest budget mobile device chargers, but it doubles as a universal wall charger. It earns bonus points from users for its vast and growing array of available connector tips and its ability to charge two devices at once.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
IOGEAR GearPower GMP1001B
Gold Medal

IOGEAR GearPower GMP1001B

The IOGEAR GearPower GMP1001B charger conspicuously lacks a connector for devices powered by micro-USB, which is on its way to becoming the worldwide standard for cell phones. But you can pick up an adapter for a few bucks extra and still not spend as much as you would for a similar charger.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
 

Don't Bother

IOGEAR GearPower GMP1001W6

The specs on this charger are up to par, but too many users complain that the tips don't fit their devices or the connectors feel flimsy. Given the price it seems wise to charge elsewhere.

Read more »

Cheapism.com on Facebook
 
Is It Cheaper to Buy a Printer or Go to the Copy Shop?

Investing in a printer is worthwhile for anyone who prints fairly often. Save photo printing for providers with the right equipment.

Weekly Update: Best Cheap Bluetooth Headsets, Cheapest Place to Buy Groceries, & More

April Fool's Day is just around the corner but don't be duped into spending more than necessary. ...

What to Buy in April

April is an excellent month to take advantage of sales on car parts, laptops, cookware and more!