Lifehacker recently featured a deal where you can buy a battery pack for $20 (now $28). $20 is my "not real money" limit, and when I spend the day reading at my favorite tea store, the battery on my phone tends to die. I got the battery on Friday and went out on Saturday, and it worked well enough I thought I should do a review.
I brought the battery pack to the tea store on Saturday while I was reading and blogging, and it kept the battery on my Nexus 4 at 100% for about 4 hours (I was expecting to be out longer). Then I went out to dinner with some friends, and conveniently, one of them had run the battery on his Morotola DEFY XT (1,540 mAh battery) down down to 20%, and the charger charged it back up to 70% over the course of the next hour. Then, we went out to a bar and another friend's iPhone 5 (1,440 mAh battery) died, and the battery pack charged it up almost to full before I left, and the charger still hadn't died (but was below 25% charge, according to the LEDs).
- 4500 mAh capacity is about enough to charge three phones up to full. Using it for a single phone, this would likely keep my phone running for at least 24 hours with heavy usage, or around a week with minimal usage (more with a less battery-intensive phone).
- The 1 Amp output is more than fast enough for the intended purpose.
- The small size and folding micro-USB cable make the battery almost exactly the same size and shape as my phone, and extremely convenient. Not needing to carry a separate cable is a huge plus.
- The USB port is useful if you want to charge non-micro-USB phones (like the iPhone).
- The build quality is solid.
- 10000 mAh and 15000 mAh battery packs are available for only slightly more, but they look larger, and don't contain the built-in micro-USB cord. There's also a nearly identical 6000 mAh charger for about $10 more. These larger sizes may be better if you want to charge something like a tablet, but tablets usually have longer battery life anyway.
- If you have an iPhone, the best feature (the folding micro-USB port) won't work for you, so you may prefer something designed for iPhones.
- It doesn't come with a solar panel on the back, like some chargers have. I suspect solar battery packs aren't very useful though, since I find it hard to imagine a situation where I would be completely off the grid, have access to 8 hours of direct sunlight (tiny solar panels charge slowly), and would be using my phone heavily enough to wear the battery down.
For my uses, the 4500 mAh battery pack is exactly what I wanted. My experience on Saturday shows that that capacity is significantly more than what I need, which is great because I was able to charge other people's phones too. The size and folding micro-USB port turned out to be the most important features, because it's small enough and comfortable enough to take with me without needing an extra bag or being uncomfortable. I judge the value of a purchase by how much I regret it afterwards, and I don't regret this purchase at all. If you frequently have trouble running your phone's battery all the way down, and don't have an iPhone, then I'd definitely recommend this 4500 mAh battery pack (or the 6000 mAh one if you really need it, but I suspect that most people don't).