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...
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 …
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.
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)
"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.
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.
"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 !!
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
- Weight: 127 grams
- thickness 7.1 mm
- 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
They will output even less when 25-50-75% discharged and under load. Try drawing 1-2A off them and see what the voltage sags to - would expect around 1.1v per cell (or less) - so 4.4v for the pack which may be too low for many USB devices. Would be better with a 5v boost regulator although then you also really could do with some input current limiting and low voltage protection. Easier to buy one of these packs as a similar capacity could have actually cost less than 4 x C sized 'hybrid' NiMH cells.
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.
I have a newnow 10000mah pack I got off Ebay from a UK seller for £25. It runs my HTC Sensation for 27 hours and if I charge from flat I get 6 charges from it. I am surpised it was not included here. It's got twin USB ports and a on off button.
It's the model be-04 2 outputs one 5v-2a and 5v-1a and it's fab!
I also have the solar backpack that was mentioned. I replaced the onboard one with this and I use it on my motorbike as I am travelling the world a bit. I have my Ipad and phone charged all the time. Even in the UK it would charge it quite happily.
It's well worth it - both are!
Most smartphones don't even last a day. If you look at the difference between the razer and razer max it adds very little to the size and weight. (A phone you cannot even turn on is utterly useless).
I don't think it is what people want (At least after using it for a day) it is the same as glossy junk laptop screens. People think they look nicer in the shop.
(I don't understand why people don't even attempt to be informed about anything).
The Duracell battery packs are available in lots of high street stores, it's probably the most common pack, yet it's not included in this review, even to show how it compares to it's peers. It's a shame you couldn't include the GP and energiser battery packs also.
Was this review just preformed on the samples that had been send into the reg office over the last few months?
Duh! icon for missing out on the obvious
I've got a 133Wh one. Had it a few years. great for long plane flights, camping, adventure sports, etc. cost about 80 quid.
I bought an old non-working PSU for a mac off ebay for a fiver and that got me a maglock connector I could wire up to it.
It outputs 19v, 16v and 5v (USB), so will power just about everything.
I can fully recharge my MBA about 4 times with it, or more usually it provides me with portable power when I'm out paragliding/paramotoring/mountain biking/etc for recharging my iphone, go pro, macbook air, sony camera, etc.
Yes it weighs a wee bit (1.5kg) but its an absolute godsend when you are spending a days or more up a mountain, etc, etc.
On holidays, I usually just keep it in a day rucksack with the air, etc. when I'm not using the air - its plugged in to the pack recharging, so when I pull it out to use it I've always got a full charge.
Got one of those as well. Very pleased with it - it might weigh a bit - but I used it on transatlantic flights, when working away from the office and generally away on holiday for my laptop and even camera (with USB charging).
I wish they would quote Wh figures in the article above though - mAh or Ah are useless with multivoltage devices - and even for s single one you have to sit down and do the maths - not easy to compare capacities quickly.
> Ah, solar chargers. I have yet to be impressed, but I do remain optimistic about the concept.
I'm more than optimistic, I've been impressed.
Last summer I took a Powermonkey Extreme to Iceland and it kept my iPhone working for 3 weeks. By working I mean reasonable rather than continuous use of camera, phone and GPS. Typically I'd use the external battery to charge the iPhone 2 or 3 times a day and let daylight keep the battery topped up. The sun is a lot lower than in the UK, although its available for longer. Besides, it charged even on cloudy days.
Drawbacks of the model I have are that the charging plug doesn't latch into the battery socket and it would be useful to have more options for attaching the solar panel to static and moving supports.
Beer for the Powertraveller guys.
...as in what devices can be charged from the pack.
Eg, if it only has 0.5A output, it won't charge the average tablet that requires 2A.
And sometimes the devices aren't even recognised as a source. Some phones need to see a voltage before it tries to draw current, and chargers need to have something trying to draw current before it turns on the power.
I have the small iSound charger and an HTC Desire Z. If I plug the phone into the battery pack, nothing happens. If I plug the battery pack into power for a few seconds, it kickstarts the output to the phone and you can unplug the power to the battery and it keeps going. Its ok if you are leaving home with a low battery, but poor in the middle of a field.
What's the point of this article?
It's not a review because you don't add anything that I couldn't find in the marketing material for each device.
It's not a comparison because you don't provide any meaningful figures to compare.
How hard would it have been to fully charge each device and then see how long it would power a reference device for?
That would have been a useful article.
I have the power monkey solar one and it is rubbish. Not the technology, that works most of the time, but the interface. It is soo complicated to just plug in and work. You never quite know when it is charging, discharging etc, so you have to keep the instructions with it all the time and even then it doesn't quite work as you don't know if you turn it on before working or plug it in etc. The instructions are poor and minimal and the kit itself is bulky, with adaptors and the box it comes in. Shame really. A recent holiday reound New Zealand and it was basically useless and I ended up use USB from my laptop or car cig lighter rechargers.
So I got the Go bat 2 and that is just 'plug and work'. glad to see El Reg' agrees with its reccommendation.
I've a Desire HD which is a joy to use. However, only for two hours or so. I use it every morning while walking the dogs, to send & receive emails, texts and tweets, and after two hours the damn thing's dead. So last week (before reading this article) I went onto Amazon and ordered an Anker Astro 2 battery. For under £25 it's a 8400mAh two-USB charger. With luck it'll keen the damn HTC working for a little longer until I can afford a Motorola Maxx.
"You can use D cells with over 10,000mAH too"
But at only 1.2v - you need to look at watt hours to compare like for like - lithium batteries have a much greater energy density so a D sized lithium cell could have more power than a D sized NiMH one.
A 10000mah NiMH battery is also likely to be pretty expensive - the last 'hybrid' ones I saw were about £18-20 for 2 - so to get 10000mah at near 5v you would need at least 4 - so that could be £36-40 just for the cells. Some of these lithium based solutions offer the same sort of output - would be a lot smaller - have a proper 5v regulated 2A output, charging circuitry, capacity indicators and are smaller and lights and cheaper...
Last time i flew i saw a sign specifying the maximum capacity of battery you are allowed to carry on - worth considering before buying a massive external battery pack. 100Wh is the limit if I've understood it correctly, so out of the listed products, only the first one is knocking against this limit (20,000mAh x 5V).
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13556_3-9839984-61.html - these are US regulations.
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