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back to article Ten external battery packs

Everyone with a smartphone knows how frustrating it can be to reach the afternoon with diminishing batteries. While it may be a relief to lose access to your phone when you're away on a camping trip, for many it's an inconvenience we could do without. However, with the price of external juice packs falling quicker than …

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erm

There really shouldnt be a market for these things, if only phone manufacturers bundled their phones with a decent sized battery and made them more efficient...

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Re: erm

Well quite, hear hear... batteries should be ever lasting, only ever needing a charge at the factory during manufacturing. In fact, I'm annoyed that I have to refuel my car every couple of weeks, now you've mentioned it!!

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FAIL

Re: erm

And while they're at it, why don't the phone manufacturers make their phones telepathically controlled. Oh but then I guess we wouldn't need phones to communicate with each other.

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Re: erm

There's an incredible amount of research and development that goes into making phones as energy efficient as possible. They could easily use bigger batteries, but those would obviously make the phones larger and heavier, and most people don't want to be carrying around a brick.

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Product convergence

I was quite happy to put the double size battery and big cover on the back of my Motorola Timeport, back in the 90s.

I think that phone manufacturers are all chasing the one market. I'd have thought that, like the big-button market for older users there was a case for a big-battery market for people like me away from base for days.

I agree that the fact that so many of these external devices exist show the phone makers are being a bit too mee-too in following each other down one road. Lets have some divergence for a change.

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Re: Product convergence

Having a bigger phone with a bigger battery... isn't that effectively what you get by putting a battery-case on an iPhone? Okay, there are enough units sold of each iPhone to justify 3rd parties to make add-ons for them... making custom (battery) cases for other phones might be a suitable reason for every town to have a 3D printing bureau (that, and printing spares for washing machines etc).

What I feel from looking at the battery packs featured in this article is that they all leave you with a cumbersome lump, two devices inelegantly joined by a cable... not convenient for actually using your phone during charging, or quickly stowing away. I'm assuming that these devices are used on planes, trains and in cafes (ie, not at home, in the car or office), and they could all be improved by incorporating a suction-cup to keep the phone attached during charging.

(A suction cup probably isn't the ultimate solution, but is just to show these things could be easily improved)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: erm

"and most people don't want to be carrying around a brick."

but the fact remains their is enough people that end up carrying around a large brick for extra power when needed anyway....

what the phone makers really cold do with is coming up with a phone design that you can replace the battery with a larger capacity cell along with a additional back for the phone that will enclose the larger battery.... you make your choice, thick or thin !!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: erm

Making a phone efficient is impossible with the Fandroid morons always chirping in about how a phone must have a 4-5 inch screen, quad core CPU, 2GB of RAM and masses of storage.

Nokia have put a decent sized battery in their Lumia 920 and people then moan about the weight of the phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: erm

It's called choice. You can choose to have a light phone or you can carry around some extra power.

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Re: Product convergence

"I was quite happy to put the double size battery and big cover on the back of my Motorola Timeport, back in the 90s."

If you're willing to take a bit of a gamble there are several Chinese manufacturers that produce larger batteries for the more popular Android phones. They come with a replacement back cover to accommodate the increased battery size. Have a search around Amazon.

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Coat

Re: erm

Some of us wouldn't mind a couple extra mm to be honest. Let's see what the difference is on a phone that does come in both regular and big battery options

Razr Standard:

- Weight: 127 grams

- thickness 7.1 mm

Razr Maxx:

- Weight: 145 grams (just 18 grams more)

- thickness 8.99 mm (1.89mm more)

Extra battery life offered 1530 mAh

Doesn't sound like a bad thing to me, a battery with 3300mAh in return for 18 extra grams and less than 2mm extra thickness...

The Galaxy SIII is 133g (so just 12 grams less than the maxx), and 8.6mm (so just 0.39mm less) by comparison and nobody is calling that a brick, or are you seriously suggesting that 12 grams and less than half a mm makes all the difference between phone and brick!?

Mines the one with 12 grams more in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: erm

However long the battery lasted it would not be long enough for some people. It all comes down to how much you use it - if you make a few short calls and no web browsing / GPS / gaming expect your battery to last much longer - play Angry Birds for 5 hours straight and it won't.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Product convergence

Get a phone that has a removeable battery or get one of these boxes - pretty small / light and you can charge all your USB devices then.

I'd much rather a smaller phone that I had to charge once a day than some tank that I had to carry twice the weight all the time. I can charge at my desk, at home, in my car and with one of these boxes when I'm out and about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Product convergence

A bit of a gamble eh - yes a gamble on it setting fire to you and your device. Think I'll stick to genuine batteries than you very much - for the extra cost over the lifetime of the unit is it worth the 'gamble'.

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Re: Product convergence

Yes because that *never* happens with branded batteries...

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Mushroom

Re: erm

Rediculous that you havnt even covered the market leader - Power Gorilla. I have two of them for festivals, etc and they are awesone - and far in advance in terms of capacity of anything covered in this review (21,000 mAh)

https://powertraveller.com/_code/download.php?f=VS_powergorilla_data_sheet_09.pdf

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I have 2 teknet 7000ah

about 25 quid. Completely recharges my galaxy tab overnight. If I don't go overboard with usage I can be out 6 days. And the battery pack recharges in the car. The tab struggles to keep up with usage on the Samsung car charger.

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Re: I have 2 teknet 7000ah

I've got a TeckNet 5 Ah dual port and it looks pretty much like the Scosche GoBAT II - just slightly squarer. The twin ports (with one rated at 1 Amp) are really handy although I hardly use the lower power output one.

Richard Jukes does have a very valid point but phone manufacturers are stuck on this idea of form over functionality so phones have to be slim and have small batteries. So carrying one of these round, especially in areas where phone signal is poor so the phone has to turn up its power to stay on the network, is actually a pretty simple way of making sure that you have the power to make a call when you need it.

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Go

Re: I have 2 teknet 7000ah

I have a teknet 7Ah too. what this review doesnt seem to take into account is charging ports. Two charging ports is a good idea when you have your phone on hotspot and a tablet running at the same time, or a phone and a DS (picky on cables but they can be recharged) etc.

I dont think the energenie has more than one port (the website is a bit light on info) which is shocking for the price.

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Meh

amprere hours

Figures in mAh are pretty meaningless when the things have various different output voltages.

Unless all of them have a single 3.6v Li-ion inside and use boost converters, which is not clear and pretty unlikely (some of them must use more than one cell)

Please quote the energy capacity in watt hours. It would be much more useful.

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Re: amprere hours

Ah, but that is likely to produce lower numbers, so how will manufacturers be able to say it's better than the competition? cf hard-drive manufacturers, digital camera manufacturers.

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Re: amprere hours

What would also have been useful is to put a small comparison table at the bottom (or top) of the article that chose several items (typical smartphone, tablet, and laptop) and how many charges you'd get. The iPhone, for example is listed as having a 1140mAh battery. The Galaxy S3 has a 2100mAh one.

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Re: amprere hours

Reviewers need to support their readership and start including the battery capacity and power life in their reviews.

This way manufacturers will see it's an important issue to us.

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Re: amprere hours

ampere hours is a unit of energy capacity... a very standard unit... it gives me enough information to know just how long it will last at various demand currents.

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Mushroom

Re: amprere hours

Wh = mAh × V / 1000

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Re: amprere hours..... 74Wh...

http://www.made-in-china.com/showroom/netbookpowers/product-detailJenxOqsEguVb/China-Universal-Battery.html

Shows a battery i bought in 2009 or 2010, but mine has a red LED, not blue.

The thing is a heavy beast, maybe 2 pounds. It takes about 5 hours to fully recharge from depletion, using a provided adapter, which i do not take unless i will travel or be somewhere where i have time to rechareg the battery.

As for USING the battery, on my 17inch HP pavillion with 2 hard drives, host PcPlinuxOS/guest Win 7, i can get about 3.5 hours out of it with the hp battery in, already topped off. My 15" gateway in a similar setup but only on hdd, but with 4 cores or cpus, and less maniacal fan activity, sees almost 4 hours befor the Stiger winks out. After that, the laptop batteries kick in, and run about 2 hours each, no games, mostly CAD and document editing.

It also comes with about 7 adaptor tips, but i only have needed 2 of the types. It did not come with special USB or any proprietary tips or connectors, so, no way yet to test it against my hand phone or Galaxy Tab. This monster autosenses the needed load, putting out at voltages of 12.6, 14, 15, 16, 18, 18.5, 19, 19.5, 20, 22, and 24. It takes an input of 16.5v DC. It has an output current of 7,000mA (max), and has a capacit of 74Wh.

It cost me about USD $85 at the time, iirc. At one point, the store had a holiday sale and i was tempted to but 2 more since they were down to 50 dollars each. But, at the weight, it would be murder on air travel, and, iirc, the tsa limits the number if spare batteries per laptop.

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Anonymous Coward

I feel lost

An interesting article but I'm still none the wiser on how much longer I could use my phone when buying one of these external power packs.

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Re: I feel lost

I've a Duracell portable charger, which can recharge my BlackBerry from flat to about 2/3s. Depending on what I am doing (e.g. email only on 2G vs frequent web use on 3G) that is between 1-2 days use.

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Happy

Re: I feel lost

If your current phone lasts for ~10 hours on a 2000mAH battery then a simple bit of Arithmetic will tell you how long a 5000mAH external battery will last.

5000÷2000=2.5

So 5000mAH will last for 2.5×10 hours plus your orginal battery.

So 35 hours.

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Re: I feel lost

That assumes 100% efficiency though :-)

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Re: I feel lost

my teknet 7Ah gets about 3 days use out of a galaxy S2 living as a hotspot and media station (on pretty much constantly throughout shifts). The S2 gets hot after a half day on solid hotspot though and goes into thermal screen brightness reduction.

Plug a galaxy tab into it at the same time and I get a couple of days - again lots of use during shift changes.

If you are using devices in a more conservative manner I imagine close to a week on a smartphone.

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FAIL

Replaceable batteries

Rather than get a tiny capacity charger like the Proporta 830mAh which claims to be able to provide 23% power to an S3, why not just get a 2nd battery? Its smaller, cheaper, lighter and more 4 times the capacity they claim.

I see the point of the bigger beasts (5,000mAh upwards) for long trips, but most of these are tiny compared to modern smartphone batteries.

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Re: Replaceable batteries

OTOH these can be used with pretty much anything that charges over USB. Personally I'd prefer a couple of these rather than spare batteries for every portable electronic item I own.

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Happy

Re: Replaceable batteries

Personally I'd hate to switch off my phone, remove the back and replace the battery then put the back on again and finally powerup my phone again!

The wear and tear on doing this every day would soon break sonething

Why not simply offer the customer a spare backplate that is 2mm thicker and so will accommodate a higher capacity battery for those who want one?

Makes far more sense...?

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Re: Replaceable batteries

not sure what your phone is like but if I power mine off, take the battery out and put another in, the internal charging meter resets so I get about 80% from a known fresh battery. Do a battery pull and im down 15% straight away.

Plus spare batteries and keys in pockets is usually a bad nut burning idea.

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Re: Replaceable batteries

Personally I have a wall charger and a couple of spare batteries. I let the phone run nearly out of juice and swap the batteries when it does, knowing that there's always a spare in my rucksack / pocket / whatever.

It takes a little under 30s once a day on average. The beauty is that my phone never needs to be tethered to the wall itself (only the batteries need to be charged) which I find a big improvement on having my phone no more than 1.x metres from the wall for several hours a day.

Only £16 for two spare batteries and the wall charger. I've been doing this on a GS2 for 17 months now without issues (that flimsy looking back plate is fine after all).

On a side note - those GS2s are a lot tougher than they look. Mine was hurled down 20ft of stone steps a couple of weeks ago, and came away with mild bruising along the edges and a small scratch on the screen. It hadn't even powered off.

I know the power devices here are very clever but they don't charge the phone instantly. I still have to have the thing attached to the phone in my pocket for several hours. Even though having one device to power any phone / electric item I want sounds great, I spent several hundred pounds on my phone. I don't mind chucking another few quid at the convenience of spare batteries.

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New Trent chargers

You missed this off completely. It's far better than of of those listed and half the price. I purchased the 11000mAh one for my trip around Europe and it was superb. The new one is now 12000mAh with dual USB outputs. For the current £37 on Amazon this makes it cheaper than anything else here for power per pound!

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Re: New Trent chargers

Yup, absolutely agree - I've got the 11000mAh model myself and was going to post that I'm very surprised that New Trent didn't get a look in.

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Crummy selection

Pretty useless selection of products I'm afraid reg. do a search on Amazon between 20 and 30 quid and there's loads. Personally I went for the powergen 8400mAh which I can vouch for as providing enough juice for two iPhones heavy usage for three days (festival last weekend) and only cost £23

And it's got a built in torch!

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Re: Crummy selection

Yes, I couldn't agree more. There are several brands of what is essentially the same product: Powergen, EasyAcc and Anker on amazon, all I think at £24 with 8400mAh and although I haven't really tried it, the claim that it'll recharge an iPhone from empty to full four times before needing a recharge itself seems credible. They have one 0.6A out and one 2A out (faster but less efficient charge). Owning one of these, I don't see how any of the ones discussed in the reg article could tempt me.

Especially since there's a newer one now with 10000mAh (£32) and it comes with adapters for a number of laptops as well. And I just spotted another one with 12000mAh (£35) and 4 USB outs (bit much perhaps) from the same guys.

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Re: Crummy selection here is one at 20,000mAh...

http://www.laptopbatteryinc.com/external-laptop-battery.htm

But, look at all the accessories, and the price. Still, it looks like a wort contender by dimensions and flatness to replace my nearly one inch thick Stiger 74Wh monster.

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whats more important than mAh is Amps...

My wall charger does 5v @ 2A. Most of these things only do 500mA. Maybe 1A. I've yet to find one that does 2A. If you had quoted the maximum current rating in the synopsis for each device, that's a good differentiation ...

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Re: whats more important than mAh is Amps...

trent 12000 is a 2 amp dual port.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: whats more important than mAh is Amps...

There are loads of these that do 2A - I have the Gum Max and it's about 10400mah and 2A - pretty small for the capacity (which seems genuine) - not the cheapest (RRP is about £95) but very well made and I'll pay a bit more for better quality lithium batteries / construction when it's carried with me every day.

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Anonymous Coward

output in amps?

would have been nice to have been given the output in amps - 1.0, 1.5 or 2

I have no-name 5000mAh pack from Amazon, works a treat with phones but the 1A output won't charge my Nexus 7

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What, no AAs?

Wouldn't it be far more sensible to simply use conventional rechargeables (or disposables) in a caddy that produces USB power, like this? http://www.amazon.co.uk/Battery-Extender-Pack-Takes-Batteries/sim/B002PHC1XU/2

AAs are cheap, high capacity, and available everywhere, and there are a bajillion different varieties depending on precisely what it is you're wanting to do. I can go camping with a handful in a bag which will continue to provide power even when a bespoke battery like one of these has gone flat.

And if you *really* want maximum power, use C or D batteries. Those things store a scary amount of energy.

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Re: What, no AAs?

They do because there are often 7-8 batterys in a D battery.

I have a few that use AA batterys they are not so good. I even have wind up ones for those who prefer flower power!

I can send you one of each if you like..

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Re: What, no AAs?

Yes.

I have a 4-cell caddy I got free with an external hard drive, and it is fantastic for topping up phones. And at £0.00 it was a bargain.

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Boffin

Re: What, no AAs?

I've made myself a 4xC cell rechargable pack using 6000mAH Ni-Mh hybrid batteries.

They don't discharge over time like normal Ni-Mhs and they output 4.8V which is inside the tolerate for USB 5V

You can use D cells with over 10,000mAH too.

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Re: What, no AAs?

If we are talking about AA, C and D batteries, aren't most of them NiCd or NiMh types? Doesn't that mean their energy density is lower than most packs in this article - which are Li-Ion or Li-Polymer? To me, that's one of the main advantages of using one of these custom power packs - and not using a bunch of AA's, D's or C's.

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