In today’s bustling society, staying connected through our devices is more important than ever. This rings especially true in the busy streets of China, where technology intertwines with daily life at almost every corner. One innovative concept that caught my eye upon moving here was the shared power banks, a solution to the all-too-common problem of your phone battery dying while you are on the go.

Now, let’s picture this scenario: you are out exploring the city, capturing photos, and suddenly, your phone flashes the dreaded low battery warning. We’ve all been there, and it’s a situation that can quickly turn frustrating. However, in China, a simple solution is at your fingertips—shared power banks. This ingenious idea is as convenient as it is practical. These power banks are stationed at various points around the city, ready to provide that much-needed juice for your phone.

The concept is simple yet revolutionary. Shared power banks stationed in various locations around the city, from malls to restaurants, and even on the streets, allowing individuals to borrow a power bank, use it to charge their devices, and then return it once they’re done. It’s a pay-per-use service that has quickly become a staple in modern Chinese society. The ease and convenience of finding a charging solution, precisely when you need it, is a game-changer.

In the next sections, we’ll delve deeper into the origins of this innovative concept, how it rapidly gained popularity, and the way it seamlessly integrated itself into the day-to-day life of people living in China.

The History of Shared Power Banks

The idea of shared power banks made its first appearance in China around 2014, embodying the shared economy concept that was starting to take root in the country. The period between 2015 and 2016 marked the exploration phase in the shared power bank industry, where the feasibility of the shared charging model was tested and validated. The real momentum, however, picked up with the completion of mobile payment systems, which facilitated easy access to these shared resources.

The years following saw a substantial growth and acceptance of shared power banks, turning from a novel idea into a daily life essential. The period from 2017 to 2019 is often referred to as the market nurturing phase, where the shared power bank model matured, and the user base expanded significantly. By 2020, shared power banks had spread across 95% of the cities in China, showcasing the rapid expansion and acceptance of this service.

The business models also evolved, with three main commercial models emerging: direct operation, service provider, and agency. Each model had its own set of advantages, catering to different market needs and operational efficiencies.

Technology played a pivotal role in the growth and facilitation of shared power banks. The advent of mobile apps made it incredibly easy for users to locate, borrow, and return power banks. With a simple scan of a QR code, users could access a power bank, and the cost would be deducted from their mobile wallet. This seamless integration of technology not only made shared power banks accessible but also helped in promoting the concept as a convenient alternative to carrying personal chargers or power banks.

Furthermore, the back-end technology enabled operators to manage the distribution of power banks efficiently, ensuring that stations are well-stocked and functional. Data analytics gathered from the app usage also provided valuable insights into consumer behavior, helping operators to optimize the service further.

Major Brands of Shared Power Banks

China’s shared power bank industry has witnessed the emergence of various brands, each striving to carve a niche for itself in this competitive market. Among the numerous brands, AnkerBox, Laidian, and Jiedian have managed to garner significant attention and user base. Let’s delve into a brief overview and comparison of these brands in terms of pricing, availability, and user experience.


AnkerBox is known for its reliable and high-quality power banks. It has made a name for itself by providing user-friendly services at competitive prices. The availability of AnkerBox stations across urban areas and its easy-to-use mobile app makes borrowing and returning power banks a breeze. Moreover, its pricing is transparent with no hidden fees, which enhances the user experience significantly.


Laidian is another prominent player in the shared power bank market, with a wide network of charging stations across the country. It offers a variety of pricing options to cater to different user needs. The brand has invested in technology to ensure the availability and functionality of power banks, making the user experience smooth and hassle-free. Laidian’s mobile app is intuitive and provides real-time information on the availability of power banks near you.


Jiedian has established itself as a trustworthy brand with a substantial presence across many cities in China. The pricing is competitive, and the brand often runs promotions to attract more users. Jiedian’s mobile app is user-friendly, and the process of borrowing and returning power banks is straightforward. The brand has received positive feedback for its customer service and the overall user experience it provides.

Pricing of Shared Power Banks

Shared power banks in China adopt a pricing model that typically includes a rental fee plus a per-hour charge. The rates might vary from one brand to another and sometimes even from one location to another within a city. For instance, it’s common to see charges like 4 RMB per hour in cities like Beijing, but the prices can go up to 10 RMB for 30 minutes in some areas of Hangzhou. This model allows for flexibility, catering to the needs of individuals who might require a quick charge to those who might need to keep the power bank for a more extended period.

When it comes to comparing the cost of using shared power banks with buying a personal one, several factors come into play. A personal power bank can be bought for around 80 RMB, which could be seen as a one-time investment, especially useful for individuals who frequently find themselves in need of a charge. On the other hand, shared power banks provide a pay-as-you-go solution, which could be more economical for individuals who only occasionally find their devices running low on battery while out and about.

The convenience of not having to carry around a personal power bank and the availability of shared power banks at numerous locations across urban areas might tip the scales in favor of shared power banks for some users.

Controversy surrounding shared power bank

The controversies surrounding the shared power bank industry in China have been a topic of discussion. The issues highlighted include:

Unavailability of Slots:

A common grievance among users is finding all slots on shared power bank stations filled, making it impossible to return the borrowed power banks. This leads to users having to pay a higher fee due to the extended borrowing time. In extreme cases, users might have to purchase the shared power bank before they can return it successfully.
Security Concerns:

Hack Your Phone:

Some low-priced shared power banks have been reported to exploit vulnerabilities in mobile phones to control the devices, thereby obtaining user information and even committing fraud. This has raised security and privacy concerns among users.

These controversies indicate that while shared power banks provide a convenient solution to the battery life problem for mobile users on the go, there are still challenges and issues that need to be addressed to ensure a safe and reliable user experience.

In conclusion, the shared power bank industry in China is a fascinating blend of technology and shared economy, addressing a common problem faced by many in today’s digital age. Despite the controversies and challenges, the convenience of having a charging solution right at your fingertips, literally anytime and anywhere within urban areas, is undeniably revolutionary.

For anyone planning to visit China, experiencing the ease of shared power banks is something I’d highly recommend. Not only does it eliminate the worry of running out of battery during your explorations, but it also provides a glimpse into the innovative solutions that are characteristic of modern life in China.

As you stroll through the bustling streets, take a moment to appreciate the convenience brought about by these compact power reservoirs, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself becoming a fan of shared power banks just like I have.

So, the next time you find yourself in China, don’t let a dying battery put a damper on your adventure. Go ahead, borrow a shared power bank, and keep the exploration going!