There are currently 2 models available of this pack, one which has a capacity of 8400 MAH which costs $32.99 and another which boasts a capacity of 14000 MAH which sells for $43.99. Both of these prices were found on Amazon the day this review was written. As I'm a heavy user of electronics, this means I'm also one that goes for the higher capacity batteries. Besides, for $11 more, I get nearly twice the amount of power. SO, of course, that means this review covers the higher capacity 14000 MAH version of this pack.
This device measures 4.8 x 0.8 x 3.2 inches, and it weighs 10.2 ounces. It is constructed of smooth plastic and is about 4 times as thick as an iPhone 5, slightly longer, and slightly wider. There is only one button, located on the top of the pack which is slightly indented. On the front of the device, when the pack is oriented this way, from right to left are the following. A micro USB port for charging the external battery pack, a flashlight,and 2 USB ports: one port has an output of 2.1 amps, and the other with an output of 1 amp. The 2.1 amp output port is the one closest to the light, while the 1.0 port is nearest the left edge. This is important to note, since tablets such as the iPad cannot be charged with the 1.0 port, but a mobile device or mp3 player can.
What's in the box
Included in the box are two coiled USB cables and a few ends which will change the part that goes in to your device. Connectors for various Samsung products, a Mini USB connector, a 30-pin connector for older iDevices, and a micro USB connector. These cables and connectors are all nicely stored away in a pouch, which also comes with the pack. Finally, of course, you get the battery pack itself.
Operation and impressions
I've been using this battery pack for about 1 month now, so that I can get a good feel for what it does, how it works, and also how it will apply to real life situations. We can all put things through their paces in a short length of time, but I find it best to give devices some time before drawing any conclusions.
Bumping the flashlight and leaving it on without knowing it is on is always a concern for those who cannot see the light. TO turn the flashlight on, you must hold in the concaved power button on the top of the unit for roughly 2 seconds. During the month I tested this battery pack, I carried it around in my pocket most days. It had only been accidentally turned on one time, that I'm aware of. The design of the power button makes it rather difficult to accidentally bump, and the additional requirement of having to hold the power button in for about 2 seconds makes it even less likely that the flashlight will turn on unintentionally.
When plugging something in to charge, you must press the power button once to commence charging of that device. When you unplug something, whether that's on purpose or not, the pack will automatically shut off. There is a slight delay between the button press and the charge beginning, so press the button once quickly and give it a second before assuming the pack has not turned on. This could become an issue for those who cannot see the lights on the pack, as they cannot see it turn on and may continue holding down the button until the connected device notifies them that it is indeed charging. There is a risk involved in doing this, since you may activate the flashlight. However, a quick press of the power button will turn the pack on, and will not activate the flashlight.
This battery pack works as advertized. You're able to charge 2 devices at once, whether that be a tablet and a phone, 2 phones, an mp3 player and a tablet, or any other supported configuration. The only things to note are that if you wish to charge a tablet, or some other high end electronic that supports USB charging, you must use the 2.1 amp plug to get results. You can still use the 1.0 amp port for smaller devices such as smart phones while the 2.1 amp port is in use. This is important to me because I have both an iPhone and a braille display which sometimes require charging at the same time. I also like that 2 cables were already included, so that I could use those cables if I wanted. Sadly, no lightning connector was included, though the cable that came with my phone worked well for charging my newer Apple devices.
When charging just my iPhone 5, I'm able to get 7 full charges out of it, assuming that I leave the device off while it charges. If I'm using it while charging, I typically still get 6 full charges out of it when plugged in to the 2.1 amp port, though you may get more or less depending on the types of tasks you are carrying out on your device while it's charging. For example, if you're trying to stream video over a cellular connection while sending texts with a bluetooth keyboard and you also have your bluetooth headset plugged in, you're going to be drawing a lot more power than if you were simply using the touch screen and browsing the web on wifi. The same can be said for using GPS apps while connected to the battery. Which, by the way, if you plan to do for an extended period of time, can only be done with an external battery source, as it is quite taxing on the internal battery. This goes for all battery packs though, it's not unique to this one.
I did find, particularly when using my iPhone while it was charging, that the iPhone's battery was able to be charged much faster while using the 2.1 amp port. I didn't really test using GPS all the time while charging the device to see how many charges I would get out of it, but you could certainly get many hours of operation out of it before depleting the external battery completely.
Like all external battery packs on the market, this one does not have an accessible way to tell when it is fully charged. However, I did have someone sighted look at the LED lights which indicate how fully the battery is charged a few times, and it seems to take about 8 hours to charge completely. So if you plug it in at night and go to sleep, it should be done charging by the next morning. Sadly, no AC charger was included, so I used one of my wall chargers. I wouldn't bother charging this on your computer, most USB plugs on computers don't supply enough juice to charge a high capacity pack in any reasonable amount of time. Though if you have 36 hours to spare, I suppose you could do so.
While the RAVPower External Battery Charger Pack has the above minor issue with respect to the power button, it's a rugged device that will probably even survive a drop, though I have not tried doing so. At less than half the cost of the Limeade 18000 MAH battery pack See my review on that here, it offers about 80% of the same capacity along with more connectivity options out of the box. For someone wishing to save a few bucks and not wanting to compromise much on battery life or features, this device certainly seems to fit that bill, all pun intended. The only other draw-back to this external battery pack is that it is composed of smooth material. This makes it easier for the battery pack to slide around, which could leave it more prone to sliding off of a desk, for example.
Either way, it's great to see several high quality devices on the market that give the consumer many different options. These types of batteries come in great handy for emergency situations, long flights, or when you just don't want to bother plugging in to an outlet. For those on a budget, I think this battery pack certainly would pay for itself in a very short time.
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