How to Charge Your Smartphone Without Access to Electricity

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By this point, the act of plugging your phone in for a charge at night is about as mundane as brushing your teeth or showering… but what would you do if nothing came out the other side of the outlet?

Our phones are only as good as the batteries they have installed in the back, so learning how to keep them alive and kicking without a reliable source of power is imperative for anyone in an emergency situation or otherwise.

Whether it’s a natural disaster or just another day on the hiking trail, these are a few of the best ways to keep your phone alive after the power goes out.

The PocketSocket

Living up to its name, the PocketSocket is about as simple as personal power generators come. The charger features a standard 12v outlet, into which you can plug any device through a USB charger or AC converter. Once jacked in, you just crank away at the handle, and watch as your battery slowly climbs up the bar and out of the red.


Though the actual rate of power does vary depending on the device you’re trying to keep alive, overall the average boost you can expect is about one minute of cranking to one percent of battery while the device is still on. Turned off, this statistic boosts a bit more, to about 1.5 percent per one hundred rotations.

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Admittedly this doesn’t sound like much, which is why the PocketSocket is recommended for emergency situations only. If you find yourself stranded on the side of the road with no power left and a totaled car, the PocketSocket can give you just enough time to get an emergency service on the line and out to your location.

The K-Tor PocketSocket 2 sells for $64.95 from the company’s website.

The SivaCycle Atom

What about those long bike rides, where you’re out enjoying a sunny day on the street, but the music streaming into your headphones is chewing up battery life faster than your phone can keep up?

That’s where the SivaCycle Atom comes in.


The Atom is a small, human-powered generator that works by hooking onto the gearset of your bike, and by harnessing the movement of your wheels, charges a small battery pack that can be used to bring your portable devices from dead to daylight in just a matter of minutes.

The Atom differentiates itself from other bike-based charging solutions with its extension that allows you stay plugged in while you’re on the road, so you never use more power than you have to while you’re still in motion. For anyone who commutes to or from their work on a bike and needs to stay connected at all times, this device is the ultimate in keeping your devices happy and full of juice no matter where you go.

The only drawback for the Atom is the relatively small capacity of its portable battery pack, which rates at just 1650mAh. In layman’s, this amounts to about 15 percent of a charge on an iPhone 6. But even so, while that may not sound like much, in a pinch it’s still better than nothing at all.

The SivaCycle Atom is one of the pricier solutions here, but considering that you get a portable battery pack and the entire bike kit for $129.99, the tradeoff is more than worth the extra bump in cost.

The Levin Solar Charger

The Levin Solar Charger has many benefits over other solar chargers you might have seen ranking near the top of your Amazon search list.

While many of those chargers boast bonuses like big batteries and wide panel footprints, none do as good of a job combining all the features we care about most. The Levin is a powerful, durable, 100 percent waterproof solar panel that can easily fit in your sidebag without any fuss and does everything we need it to for the amazingly low price of just $24.99.

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Though not optimal for cloudy days lost in the wilderness, the Levin is still a solid piece of tech that belongs in any serious backpacker’s toolkits. The 2.1A output from the 6000mAh onboard battery provides more than enough charge for any cellphone, and even produces enough electricity to keep tablets and laptops running long past their due date.


When left out in direct sunlight for 7-8 hours of exposure, the charger will get an iPhone 6 up to about 50 percent battery on a single surge. The Levin will also hold its charge for weeks at a time, which means that you can power it up when it’s convenient, and save what you need for when the going gets tough and the lights go out after a big storm.

You can snag your own Levin Solar Panel in your choice of four colors, which for our money is one of the best portable sun chargers on the market today.

So what should you do the next time a natural disaster strikes and you run out of battery to call friends or family members in the crisis? It turns out the best kind of power is human power, and these alternative mini-generators have got more than enough to spare.

Image Credit: SivaCycle 1, 2, K-Tor, Levin

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