on May 27, 2013
Pull out your big-pockets and don't expect something light, but this package provides plenty of power
The Praise (Good Things)
* Small form factor for the amount of battery content
* Charge status and level indicator LEDs
* Automatic power off
* PowerIQ(tm) feature to automatically route power and line connectivity based on the device plugged in
* Excellent value for cost
The Raze (Bad Things)
* Construction of the included cable is cheap
The Haze (Things to Consider)
* About the size of a 5" smart phone but thicker
* Substantially heavier than an average smart phone
* Charges more slowly than the power it supplies
* Will not charge low-power-draw devices due to Auto-Off function
* Charging this device draws more power than some chargers can provide
* Does not come with an AC power adapter to charge itself so charging off USB is a very long process
AnkerDirect has changed the product on this ASIN to a "2nd Gen" version. Many of the older reviews are reviews of the original first generation. This review has been updated to the second generation product currently provided here.
Edit February 25 2015:
Due to the increasing average size of smart phones, some terminology has been changed to better reflect the changing reality around the world.
This battery comes in a comfortable packaging with good instructions and a few interesting items. A double-sided mini-booklet advises how to get in touch with support in case of issues and solicits reviews in case of happiness. A short Micro USB cable is included as well.
Sadly, I have to touch on the raze item right here:
The construction of the USB cable is continuing the Anker standard of low quality. The outside sheath that covers the Micro USB connector should be the proper place to grab to remove the connector from a device, however just like in the Anker car power adapter, this sheath is not connected securely and slides down the cable instead. This exposes the connector to additional stress as the protective cover is gone and getting the connector out without sliding that protective cover down requires pulling on the cable itself, which is not good for it.
This is really secondary and overall not worth a star off, however Anker really should address this issue since it has now come up in two separate products that I have purchased from them.
What I would honestly love to see is some way to have things plugged into this without the cable sticking out so far. Phone and Battery, back to back with a low-profile connection to each would be truly-portable charging.
Battery for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late night snack...
Nobody can deny that the digital world of today is a power-hungry place. Charging stations have cropped up all over and it's not uncommon to see folks' phones plugged into the local wall sockets at coffee shops or bars or hotels. Phones and tablets are faster, brighter, and more powerful, but they eat batteries like mad. Even with an extended life battery clipped to the back or stuck inside, most people will find themselves running low at some point. That's where an external charger battery comes into play.
Let's start with some numbers and quick facts:
USB specification carries 5V (five volts). Officially, it carries 500mA (milliamps), or 0.5A. Running something at 500mA for one hour will consume 500mAh (milliamp-hours) of energy. Amps are a unit of DRAW - or "pull" - not "push". If a battery has 1,000 mAh of capacity, it can have a 500mA draw for two hours. With 10,000mAh of capacity, it can support the same draw for 20 hours. The mA or Amp rating of a power supply (3A in the case of this external battery) is how much load (pull... remember?) it can take without overloading. It will not "push" that much through and kill things, however it can have problems if the load placed on it exceeds its capacity. So basically, a battery can provide energy for hours equal to its capacity in mAh divided by the average draw in mA.
Batteries are just a chemical reaction that makes electricity. More chemicals means more energy can be stored. But more chemicals also means a bigger battery and a heavier battery. Plus it's important to consider that the Lithium-Polymer battery stores electricity at 3.7 volts, so there also has to be circuitry to change that up to 5V for the USB connector. More power takes more space and more weight. As a good example, the battery in an HTC One M7 is 2,400mAh, or a bit under 1/4th the capacity of this. Thus, this device will have a battery that is about four times the size and weight of the battery inside the HTC One. That also means this can potentially recharge an HTC One about four times. It's important to realize that in reality, there is a moderate loss in power capacity due to conversion circuitry so it's normal to expect about 80% or so of the pure math as a result. In my testing, I encountered about 96% of the raw math. Some of that is overhead and safety zone on the devices though.
Got all that?
Just make it work FASTER!
Both Apple and Android device makers (as well as others) realized that it takes a Long Time to charge a battery with only 500mA of input. So they made their devices capable of drawing more power, often 1.5A or more. They needed a way to know whether they were plugged in to a normal USB port that could only deal with 0.5A though, so they wouldn't overload the port. So both developed circuit signalling that would allow a high-amp charger to identify itself so the device would use the higher current and charge faster. Both of these signalling methods are enabled on this external battery, which is a boon to quick-charging devices. The battery pack implements PowerIQ(tm) to automatically detect the charging type, rather than separate ports, which allows the charging of two Apple or two Android devices simultaneously.
Pocket-Sized Power - For decent pockets
This is important to consider. This is thicker than a 5" smart phone. Take the HTC One again as an example:
5.4 x 2.7 x 0.4 inches <- HTC One
5.4 x 2.6 x 0.59 inches <- Anker Gen 2
The face of the battery pack is slightly smaller than the phone, but the pack is also slightly thicker. In my case, I wear cargo pants due to everything I need to carry for work. Not only do I have normal side pockets big enough to completely hold a 7" tablet, but I also have cargo pockets. Having effectively "another phone" in size and about two or three phones in weight is no big issue for me. If you have a very small handbag or wear tight pants with tiny pockets, this may not really be "pocket sized" for you. At the same time, this is the most-compact power supply I have found so far, with the amount of power it holds being very good for its size. It's easy to find others that are just as big or even bigger yet hold substantially-less juice. It's also easy to find others of the same price or more expensive that can't hold as much juice either. So in both Power/Size and Power/Cost, this is a winner.
Features that matter
The Charge Level Indicator LEDs will tell you how it's doing both when charging this battery as well as when using this battery to charge other things. The simple push-button operation makes it easy to turn on and it will turn itself off when the current draw is too low. Nothing connected? It turns itself off. So you can check its battery level with a push and see if you need to recharge it before heading out. Many phones also draw less than this when they are fully charged and asleep, so again, auto-off.
However it's important to note that minimum draw. Some things like Bluetooth headsets and other devices draw very little current when charging. Try to plug in a tiny little on-the-ear headset and charge it and you might be in for a surprise as it doesn't draw enough power to keep the battery pack on.
A thing to consider is that the battery itself draws 2 amps when charging. Remember: It doesn't come with a power supply unit. Plug it in to your average computer USB at 500mA or a charger that can't provide enough juice and suddenly... Doom. There is a chance for overloading the supplying source, which can cause it to heat up substantially. Voltage can drop on the supply, causing the external battery pack to not charge at all. And in the even that the battery pack recognizes that it can't get enough current, remember how long we discussed it would take to charge the 10,000mAh battery at 500mA? Yup. 20 hours. More, actually, since there is conversion loss in the charging circuits.
Oh, hey, look! There are reviews that talk about charging it for four hours and not getting past one LED lit and the wall charger heating up. So there are precisely the symptoms of charging on a normal computer USB or with something like a 1A wall charger.
It died for SCIENCE!
Several things combined with other reviews create one chilling consideration: Numerous people appear to have discovered that the discharge protection on battery packs can be defeated by a highly-intent person.
"But what does THAT mean?" you ask? Time for more science:
Lithium-Anything batteries (Lithium-Polymer in this, Lithium-Ion, etc) must -NEVER- be 100% discharged. Due to this fact, devices (cell phones, media players, iPads, and other things that use Li-Ion batteries) will "lie" about the discharge status and consider the battery to be 0%, or "Completely dead", when it still has about 10% capacity remaining. This is why even when the device says "Dead! No more!" it can still turn on its screen using that "dead" battery for just a second to show you there is no more.
The batteries don't explode if they are discharged too low, or swell up (swelling happens from being overcharged and the charging circuit not going to float voltage), or release toxic gasses. They just Stop Working. Completely. If they are fully-discharged, whether by draw or by age, they will never, ever, EVER hold even an inkling of a charge ever again.
The various reviews that indicate that it would never recharge are likely just people who plugged it into underpowered power sources for insufficient time, however the very nature of this kind of system means that people will Do Not-Good Things. Trying to squeeze the last tiny bit of power out of this battery... fully discharging it and then desperately trying to get it to turn on just for those last few moments... The result: Dead battery pack forevermore.
Summary - In the end, I hold the power.
Though it is not perfect and does have room for improvement, this is a very solid device. You can't beat the Power for Size ratio, nor the Power for Cost ratio. The company is on their game, paying attention to reviews and buyers and responsive to inquiries. As long as you pay attention to the charging time needs of this device and the power needs, you'll have no issues with performance. If you don't wear super-tight pants or have a tiny handbag, this is as pocket sized as a Smart Phone and is definitely more pocket-sized for how much power it holds than others.
Take a look at the info I give you and you should be able to tell if this is the best purchase for you. If there's not enough information, let me know what questions you have and I'll try to find out and let you know.
As always, please let Amazon and I know if my review is helpful to you. If it's not, let me know why in a comment so I can give better information in the future. I monitor my comments and reply to questions, and I do updates on reviews when I am able.
Long term update:
The original battery pack is still going strong, and for the sake of ensuring this review stayed up to date I acquired one of the 2nd Gen packs that is now on this page. The review has been updated to reflect the 2nd Gen product, but I do still recommend it. The new battery pack has been in use for a month plus prior to the review update to ensure that it is in good working order and to give the most accurate information.