USB Battery Stories August 18, 2015

“Bigger and better” has been a safe sequel strategy for years, but “smaller, lighter, and slightly more affordable” sequels began to take off when Apple debuted the iPod mini and iPod nano a decade ago. Anker relied upon “bigger and better” for its insanely powerful 25,600mAh Astro E7 battery, and now is using “smaller and lighter” with PowerCore 20100 ($40), a sequel with nearly 80% of Astro E7’s power. But Anker’s diverging from Apple’s formula on one key point: PowerCore 20100 sells for only 50% of Astro E7’s price. It’s still capable of recharging many iPads twice, which is more than enough portable energy for most people. Given its more manageable size and excellent price point, it’s likely to be an even bigger hit than its predecessor.

Anker has also released a “you’ll never need another USB charging port again” solution called PowerPort 10 ($40, shown above). PowerPort 10 steps up from Anker’s excellent 60W 6-Port USB Charger (reviewed here), which was recently renamed PowerPort 6. For only $4 more than PowerPort 6, PowerPort 10 gives you 4 additional USB ports for charging. Ten ports is enough for a family full of iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch users to simultaneously recharge all their devices. The only hitch: PowerPort 10 has the same 60W power output as PowerPort 6, the details of which I’ll explain further in the review below…

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USB Battery Stories April 15, 2015

Mophie’s Juice Packs are unqualified success stories. After debuting the first Juice Pack in late 2007, Mophie became synonymous with “iPhone battery cases,” and enjoyed years of popularity despite increasing competition. But the company’s USB battery packs aren’t as well-known. Ranging from minimalist to ruggedized, Mophie’s Powerstations range from 3,000mAh to 12,000mAh in capacity, and carry hefty $80 to $150 MSRPs. Regardless of whether they’re judged by features or battery performance for the dollar, they’re hard to pick over rivals, since you can now get a high-quality 25,600mAh battery for the same price as a 3,000mAh PowerStation.

Based upon last year’s iPhone 5/5s-specific Space Packs, the brand new Spacestation is Mophie’s shot at differentiating its USB batteries from the masses. Offered in 32GB ($150), 64GB ($200) and 128GB ($300) capacities, Spacestation combines an app-managed USB flash drive with a 6,000mAh battery, which promises “3X extra battery” life. Realistically, that’s enough power for a full recharge of the original iPad mini or three recharges of older iPhones. But since 6,000mAh batteries are getting cheaper every week, Spacestation’s appeal is mostly in its ability to at least double the number of videos, music, photos, and documents that can be accessed by your iOS device on the road…

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USB Battery Stories April 3, 2015

Anker specializes in accessories that deliver uncommon value. Like gigantic batteries that cost as little as small ones. Six-port USB chargers that are less expensive than two Apple one-port chargers. And iPhone battery cases that outperform rivals sold for twice the price. So it’s only natural that the company would leverage its power expertise to go beyond resuscitating little Apple devices and assist with real emergencies. With roughly the same footprint as its Astro E7 — a battery capable of fully recharging any iPad Air twice — the same-priced Jump Starter Portable Charger ($80) goes in a slightly different direction. You still get a pretty big 10,000mAh battery that can charge two Apple devices at once, but instead of E7’s third USB port, Anker includes jumper cables that can bring dead cars back to life.

Like all of the Anker products I’ve covered, Jump Starter is thoughtfully designed, efficiently packaged, and aggressively priced relative to competing products. Moreover, unlike some of the cobbled-together 3-in-1 accessories I’ve tested, its feature set actually addresses a related collection of problems a driver may have. But it’s not as much of an iPad-charging powerhouse as Astro E7; it’s best-suited to iPhone users. So is it the right battery pack for you? Read on…

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USB Battery Stories February 11, 2015

It’s not easy to create a legitimately novel accessory these days, and it’s even harder to sail smoothly through a crowdfunding campaign to bring one to market. Sanho — better-known as Hyper thanks to a popular line of battery products — spent much of 2014 preparing to release a female-friendly combination compact mirror and USB battery pack, using both Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns to raise funds for its production. After making a public splash at the 2015 CES alongside the new (and world’s smallest) laser pointer iPin, the mirror-battery Pearl ($40) is now shipping to customers.

The result — a 3.6″-diameter circular double mirror with a 3000mAh battery underneath — has been finished with silver, gold, or red glossy metallic exterior paint, and a white LED light ring inside. In short, it’s an elegant and welcome option for female iPhone users, delivering a combination of solid build quality and good value for the price.

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USB Battery Stories December 22, 2014

The secret to understanding USB battery pricing is that you tend to get what you pay for: cheap batteries lose their charges faster and can bulge and leak over time. Other companies specialize in selling atypically nice batteries that last longer and work better. Just Mobile is a leader in quality batteries: for the past six years, its Gum series (shown below) has spanned every Apple device type, size, and speed, but it has never built a Lightning cable into a battery before. That changes with the January release of TopGum ($80), which advances the company’s prior state-of-the-art Gum++ model in two ways: an authentic Lightning cable’s integrated into the battery’s left edge, and a matching magnetic battery charging dock is included.

topgum-8

Of course, these features – and a choice of gold or gray metal exteriors – come at a premium over typical all-plastic batteries, so if you don’t need the cable or dock, you’ll be equally well-served with the company’s earlier batteries. Read on for the full story.

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