Are Portable Back-up Power Devices Useful?
No amount of pushing the power button could bring it back to life.
It’s pathetic, I know, but something inside me dies when the screen on my phone goes black, like I’ve lost something vital. I’m not alone, a lot of people have this obsessive connection to their phone.
After hurricane Sandy knocked out power lines recently there was one plugged into the wall at every outlet in my local shopping mall for the next few days, and a limp, forlorn looking owner slumped nearby on the floor.
I use my Samsung Galaxy SII for everything: Checking email, accessing notes, taking notes, snapping photos, Facebook, Twitter, comparing prices when I’m out shopping–I even make calls on it. I’m a heavy user so by the end of the day it’s beeping at me, asking to be plugged into a power source.
Testing the Innergie PocketCell™
I’d been investigating portable back-up power solutions for a while when I got the opportunity to try out the Innergie PocketCell™ ($79.99), described on the packaging as a “rechargeable battery bank for USB mobile phones”. It’s taken me months to actually review it because I didn’t want to be swayed by the initial, buoyant feeling that it gave me–that I’m now some how invincibile when I head out for the day. I wanted to give a true account of how useful these type of accessories actually are–or are not, as it turns out.
I hardly used it, and here’s why
It’s important to note that I’m using this as someone who travels occasionally, but who rarely goes more than 24hrs without access to a power source. Had I been testing this as a piece of kit to take on a more remote adventure I would have different requirements (maybe I’ll test it this way one day).
I’m looking for a solution that enables me to continue using my phone immediately after (or shortly after) the internal battery dies, not something to plug into overnight. Although the Innergie PocketCell™ does allow for this it lacks a secure connection with the phone. Now, this is not entirely an Innergie problem but a Samsung problem–the micro USB connector is not held very tightly in the phone and falls out easily if not placed on a flat surface.
Unsecured connectors make charging on-the-go difficult
I have no confidence that my phone will remain connected to the Innergie PocketCell™ when it’s bouncing around in a pocket, or a bag. The short 20cm cable also compounds this issue by offering no slack between battery and phone; you end up with a rather clumsy assemblage that’s akin to having a ball-and-chain attached to your phone, not in weight but in terms of inconvenience.
The Magic Cable Trio ($19.99) is neat, it has a micro-USB, mini-USB, iPhone/iPod connector all in one cable. It works well, the different connectors all snap securely into each other when not in use, however, I don’t see myself replacing multiple cables with this 3-in-1 solution. If I’m stopping to charge one device the chances are I have others I could top up at the same time.
Terrific battery life, equivalent to 2 extra iPhone batteries
The 3000mAH Li-ion battery in the Innergie PocketCell™ promises over 15 hours of extended use for a standard smartphone, and over 25 hours for an iPhone (the iPhone 5 only has a 1440mAH battery). So there is plenty of juice in this little box that measures a paltry 90.9 x 29.8 x 21.1mm, similar in size to a cigarette lighter.
There are other accessories like the Mophie Juice Pack, made specifically for the iPhone, that act like a protective case and an extra 1500mAH battery in one, which I imagine would work a lot better for my use. Mophie also make a 4000mAH rechargeable battery pack ($79.95), that’s similar in size to an iPhone, and connects to a variety of smartphones.
Whilst I rarely used the Innergie PocketCell™ there was definitely value in knowing that I had it with me–that there would be life after an empty phone battery.
Like an insurance policy, you hope you never need to use it, but having it is peace of mind. These type of rechargeable external battery packs are probably best suited to situations where you anticipate being without power for a couple of days and need a way to charge your phone overnight. For an on-the-go option look for a case/battery combo.
The Innergie PocketCell™($79.99) and Magic Cable Trio ($19.99) can be purchased direct through the myInnergie website (http://myinnergie.com/).