Considering how dependent we are on our gadgets these days, there are few things as horrifying (yes, #firstworldproblems) as watching the battery on your phone drop into the red knowing that you are hours away from being able to get to an outlet.
After having lived out this particular scenario dozens of times and ending up on the losing end of it with a useless phone in my pocket, more often than not I started carrying around external batteries with me on a regular basis. As a result I’m often on the look out for something more interesting than the standard run-of-the-mill external batteries, which is why I jumped at the chance to review a couple options from PowerStick.com.
They have an expansive line-up of external batteries that have garnered numerous CES awards over the years, but the two that I chose to review are the newly-available PowerJump and one of their award winners, the PowerTrip.
The smaller of the two batteries that I reviewed, the PowerJump, starts at $44 and offers 2,300 mAh of extra juice. To put that in perspective, that’s a full charge for a Moto X (2014) and about 70 percent of a full charge on the Galaxy Note 4. Suffice to say, unless you are livestreaming your entire day in 4K, this should get even the heaviest of users through the day.
From a design standpoint, the PowerJump is quite simple with just a USB port, microUSB port, power button and four LEDs to display the battery level. At 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.45 inches, it is basically the size of a credit card and slightly thinner than a DVD case. The PowerJump weighs approximately 2.8 ounces, so you’ll barely notice you have it along.
The PowerJump includes with it a minuscule microUSB cable, which is really convenient to have. I’ve picked up a couple NomadKeys in the last year to avoid having long cables curled up in my bag, and the included cable here isn’t much larger than those.
I was initially slightly concerned with the durability of the PowerJump, as the light from the LEDs bleeds through the case when on, making it apparent that it isn’t terribly thick plastic. But after a month with it getting tossed around in my bag, it still looks pristine, so I don’t have any misgivings about it holding up long term.
At 5,700 mAh, the PowerTrip is considerably larger than the PowerJump in capacity and size. It starts at $99 and will fully charge a Moto X (2014) about 2.5 times and will fully charge a Galaxy Note 4 approximately 1.75 times. The PowerTrip is sufficient to get most people through a weekend trip without ever needing to think about finding an outlet.
While the design itself is still fairly simplistic, the PowerTrip has quite a bit more going on than its smaller sibling. As you might expect, it features a USB port and a microUSB port. Beyond those basics, it also offers a built-in standard wall plug as well as a solar panel. It also ups the ante on the battery display with a grayscale display giving you 8 (12.5 percent) increments. All this is packed into a device that is not much taller and thicker than a deck of cards. At just under 7 ounces, the PowerTrip doesn’t disappear like the PowerJump, but if you are tossing it in a bag it’ll go unnoticed.
The solar panel on the PowerTrip was probably the most intriguing aspect of it to me, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. I just leave it out on the windowsill in my office or on the dashboard of my car and it is basically always topped up when I need it. Based on my experiences over the last month, I estimate 4 hours in full sun was enough to charge it back up all the way.
The PowerTrip includes a mid-length microUSB cable, which for some situations is going to be preferable to the tiny cable included with the PowerJump, but for me I would have preferred another shorty cable.
There is a small amount of flex at the sides of the PowerTrip, but overall it feels extremely solid. As with the PowerJump, after a month of carrying it around with me in my bag, it still looks brand new, so I don’t consider durability to be a concern here either.
One of my favorite things about the PowerStick.com batteries is the ability to have one of their selection of images printed on the top cover of the battery or, for an additional $10, you can upload an image of your own along with some text to personalize the battery. Both of the units that I reviewed were personalized and they came out quite nicely, as you can see in the photos. For individuals, it’s nice to not have all of your gear look so generic, but it’s also a great feature if you are looking for corporate giveaways.
Another unique option with most of the PowerStick.com line is the ability to add 8GB or 16GB of flash storage to the battery for $10 or $20, respectively. This is standard flash storage accessible via your computer. Anytime I can squeeze additional functionality out of one of my gadgets, I’m on board.
Lifetime Warranty – Update
I neglected to mention this in the post originally, but the lifetime warranty offered by PowerStick.com on virtually all of their external batteries is a huge selling point for them. As long as you purchase through an authorized dealer and have proof of payment, your PowerStick.com battery is guaranteed against defects for life.
External batteries aren’t likely to be the sexiest gadget in your bag, but I consider them to be one of the most vital, as they are the last line of defense against a dead phone or tablet. Both of the PowerStick.com batteries I tested performed the simple task of charging my devices well and, thanks to the images on the cover, they look good while doing it. I also came to appreciate the flash storage as, particularly with the PowerJump, that added functionality means it is adding quite a bit to my bag in a very small package. Depending on your needs, the PowerTrip might be a bit large to be a daily carry, but it is absolutely in my bag if I’m traveling or heading out to work away from home for the day. I can’t overstate how impressed I was with the solar charging in particular on the PowerTrip, as long as it isn’t perpetually overcast where you are the PowerTrip becomes a tiny little generator for you.
If you have been considering picking up an external battery, I absolutely recommend taking a look at either the PowerJump or PowerTrip. If neither option is quite right for you, then check out the rest of the PowerStick.com line-up. They have a USB flash drive (the PowerShot II) that weighs less than an ounce and offers a 400 mAh charge, all the way up to the recently announced PowerWireless, which will ship in January and comes in 6,000 or 10,000 mAh and offers dual USB output along with Qi wireless charging.