It’s no secret that Anker’s power accessories are some of the very best options available in their respective categories: its affordable, powerful wall chargers, car chargers, and battery packs have become sensations over the last couple of years. Heading into the holidays, Anker has debuted a fantastic option for both iPad and Retina MacBook users — the new PowerCore+ 20100 ($70).

(For our review of the PowerCore+ 26800, PowerCore+ 10050, and PowerCore+ 13400, as well as the PowerPort+ and PowerDrive+, head over to 9to5Toys.)

Redesigned and improved from an earlier model, PowerCore+ 20100 uses even better materials and more powerful charging circuitry to expand its appeal. This time, PowerCore+ sports a USB-C port, enough amperage to recharge Apple’s latest 12″ MacBooks and iPad Pros, and notably faster recharging speeds. Having tested it with an iPad Pro, I was able to take the 12.9″ tablet from 0% to 100% power with plenty of juice left over, and the Retina MacBook is in the same camp. iPad Air and iPad mini owners can expect around two recharges, while iPhone users can get four or more recharges…

iMac 27"

Key Details:

  • Latest Anker battery can fully recharge a dead iPad Pro or 12″ MacBook with power to spare
  • Handsome black aluminum frame
  • USB-C cable and port included
  • Recharges at fast 2.4A speed using iPad or Anker wall charger
  • A mid-sized high-capacity option

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PowerCore+ 20100 is a big battery pack, but by going with a narrower, taller, and thicker shape, Anker manages to make it feel markedly smaller than the ultra-high-capacity Astro E7 I reviewed early this year. It’s still an extruded pill, but at 7.2″ by 2.4″ by 0.9″, it has a more bag-friendly footprint than the 6.5″ by 3″ wide by 0.75″ thick Astro, and feels nicer in the hand. Compared with the prior PowerCore, it’s a hint thicker, a little wider, and around 0.7″ taller — not enough to make a major difference, but PowerCore+ does look and feel a bit bigger. Anker bundles PowerCore+ with a slightly larger version of its prior, great mesh drawstring bag.

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Most of Anker’s batteries are made from plastic, but PowerCore+ 20100 is clad in jet black aluminum — the color and texture Apple abandoned after making a few memorably stealthy iPods and iPhones. As a result, the battery feels cool to the touch when it’s not in use, and its edges have just a hint of the chamfered shine of recent Apple products. I really liked the matte plastic finish of the prior PowerCore more than the glossy plastic Astro E7, but the PowerCore+ feels premium compared with both of them.

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One of PowerCore+’s best features is on the top: a deluxe 10-light remaining power indicator, with white dots arranged in a circle. These lights provide a granular sense of how much energy’s remaining, and how much additional recharging time PowerCore+ needs, versus the common four-light indicators on batteries such as the prior PowerCore and Astro E7. Here, power is indicated in clear 10% increments rather than big 25% steps, so you can easily judge how filled or empty PowerCore+ really is. Additionally, thanks to a 2.4A input, PowerCore+ can recharge itself faster than most batteries: 8 hours if paired with a 12W wall adapter such as the one that comes with the iPad Pro, or as Anker recommends, one of its own PowerPort USB recharging hubs. The speed is a major improvement over the prior PowerCore, which would only be 3/4 filled after 8 hours.

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PowerCore+’s other key benefit is enhanced power output. Anker promises up to 6 Amps of total output, though the per-port output depends on what you have connected. For the two full-sized USB ports, iPad users will tap out at 2.4A per port, as that’s the top recharging speed supported by iOS devices — notably including the brand new iPad Pro. New to this model are USB-C and 12″ MacBook support: unlike the micro-USB-based PowerCore, PowerCore+ comes with a USB-to-USB-C cable and a USB-C port. You can flip the included cable, connecting PowerCore+ to a USB-C device such as the 12″ MacBook, or to a standard USB port for recharging. Since USB-C works bi-directionally, you can recharge PowerCore+ from the MacBook, or recharge the MacBook from PowerCore+; holding down the power indicator button activates the USB-C port’s outbound MacBook recharging mode. Again, you’ll be capped at 6 Amps total across the ports.

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In my testing, PowerCore+ was able to fully recharge a dead iPad Pro (with a 38.5Wh battery) to 100%, with over 30% of PowerCore’s capacity remaining for another device — enough to give an iPad Air 2 an additional 45% charge. Since the 12″ MacBook’s battery is only slightly larger (39.7Wh), you can similarly expect a full recharge with extra power to spare — expect enough for a full iPhone 6/6s Plus recharge. That’s a great level of capacity for a single “connect it to everything” battery that’s you can carry around anywhere.

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Given the range of capacities, prices, and sizes Anker’s batteries now cover, the only remaining question is which one is right for your personal needs. I still have a soft spot for Astro E7 (currently $60) due to its incredible combination of battery capacity and pricing, but as I noted when testing the original PowerCore, Astro’s size is just a little too large, and its inclusion of triple USB ports wasn’t needed. The first PowerCore (currently $40) has a great size, capacity, and price point, but the $70 PowerCore+ offers faster recharging, MacBook support, a better remaining power indicator, and superior cladding for a premium. Go with whichever one best suits your Apple devices, but regardless of the one you choose, you’ll be impressed by the quality and performance for the price.

Manufacturer: Anker Price: $70 Compatibility: All iPads, 12″ MacBook, iPhones, iPods, Apple Watch