High-Capacity USB-C Battery Pack Comparison and Review

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Feb 25, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    A few years ago, it was difficult to find a USB-C battery pack capable of charging a MacBook at a speed of 30 or 45W, but with Apple and other companies increasingly embracing USB-C technology for everything from smartphones to laptops, high-powered USB-C battery packs have become more readily available.

    Higher-watt USB-C battery packs are ideal for fast charging iPhones and iPad Pros, providing power for MacBooks and MacBook Air models, and even charging up a MacBook Pro when charging speed isn't an issue.

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    In this guide, I'll be comparing 27, 30, and 45W battery packs with capacities ranging from 19,000 mAh to 26,800 mAh from companies that include Mophie, Anker, RAVPower, Jackery, and ZMI to help MacRumors readers find the best USB-C battery packs.[*]Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD Charger (30W)
    [*]RAVPower 26800mAh PD Portable Charger (30W)
    [*]Mophie Powerstation USB-C 3XL (45W)
    [*]Jackery Supercharge 26800 PD Portable Charger (45W)
    [*]Anker PowerCore 19000+ PD Portable Charger and USB-C Hub (27W)
    [*]ZMI USB PD Backup Battery & Hub (45W)
    USB-C Battery Pack Basics

    All USB-C battery packs suitable for use with devices like the MacBook or MacBook Pro are large in size and generally just under or over a pound in weight. You're not going to want to stick one of these in your pockets, but they fit into a bag or a backpack.

    Each of the battery packs we tested are 45W or less, because there are no higher watt battery packs available on the market. They all come in at under 100Wh, which is the limit that you can take on a plane in your carry-on luggage (power banks like these can't go in checked baggage).

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    All of these battery packs have additional USB-A ports so that you can charge more than one device at a time, but keep in mind that the maximum power for each one is distributed between devices when you have more than one thing plugged in. If you want the fastest charging for something like a MacBook that takes all of the available power, charge it alone.

    For recharging these battery packs, you're going to want a USB-C PD power adapter that provides 30 to 45W of power. Some of them come with an appropriate power adapter, while some of them don't. You're going to get the fastest recharging speeds over USB-C, and when dealing with a power bank of this size, faster recharging is essential. Most of these will recharge in 2 to 4 hours using a 30 or 45W power adapter.

    While all of these battery packs are between 19,000 and 26,800 mAh, no battery pack provides the maximum stated capacity because some power is always lost when transferring charge from one device to another.

    Charging iPhones

    All of these USB-C battery packs are able to fast charge compatible iPhones, which includes the iPhone 8 and later. With fast charging, if you use a USB-C to Lightning cable, you can charge an iPhone to right around 50 percent within 30 minutes, and to about 80 percent in an hour.

    Charging slows as an iPhone's battery gets fuller, which is why it doesn't get to 100 percent within an hour.

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    I tested all of these battery packs with an iPhone XS Max and an iPhone X just to make sure everything was functional, and every single one was able to charge these devices to 50 percent in a half an hour with very little deviation, and to about 75 to 80 percent in an hour.

    As for capacity, these battery packs are able to charge an iPhone multiple times over. Expect to see at least three charges for an iPhone XS Max from the smaller ~20,000mAh battery packs, and somewhere around 4 to 5 charges from the 26,000mAh battery packs. You'll get more charges for the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and iPhone XS, and similar performance from the XR.

    Charging iPads

    For the current-generation 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, if you use a USB-C to USB-C cable, you can charge them faster with one of these USB-C battery packs than you can with the standard 18W charger that comes with them.

    On average, the 18W USB-C power adapter from Apple charges my iPad Pro to 45 percent in an hour. With a 30 or 45W USB-C battery pack, the iPad Pro consistently charges to 65 to 66 percent in an hour. The higher capacity battery packs provide about two full charges to an iPad Pro, while the lower capacity ones are about a charge and a half.

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    Older iPad Pro models that support fast charging capabilities will be able to fast charge using these USB-C power banks paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable.

    Charging MacBook and MacBook Air

    All of these USB-C battery packs will charge the USB-C MacBook and MacBook Air at the same speed that you would get with the standard MacBook or MacBook Air power adapter. There's no benefit to using over 30W, so each of these offers about the same charging speed with the only difference being capacity.

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    The higher capacity battery packs will charge a MacBook or a MacBook Air one and a half to close to two times, while the smaller capacity models offer about a full charge and then another 20 percent.

    Charging MacBook Pro

    Because the 15-inch MacBook Pro models ship with a 85 or 87W Power Adapter for charging, it might come as a surprise that you can also use all of these 30W and 45W chargers with the MacBook Pro.

    Charging is a good deal slower than what you get with the more powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro power adapter, but it works. In fact, as you'll see in my testing below, it even works when the MacBook Pro is in use for tasks that are not super system intensive like web browsing, using social media, writing, sending emails, light graphics editing, watching YouTube videos, and more.

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    I have seen people ask whether using a lower-powered power adapter is going to damage the battery of the MacBook Pro, and from what I can tell from my research, the answer is no. It will charge slower, but it shouldn't ultimately impact performance compared to a standard charging method.

    Most battery packs from major brands like Anker and Mophie max out at 45W, but there are some 60W options on the market that are more expensive but would offer faster charging speeds for MacBook Pro models. There are also a few Kickstarters for 100W chargers, but these battery packs are not yet widely available for purchase.

    I didn't test these battery packs with the 13-inch USB-C MacBook Pro because I don't own one, but everything that pertains to the 15 inch model is also true of the 13-inch model. These battery packs will charge the 13-inch MacBook Pro even faster (though not at 61W speeds) and will provide more capacity than with the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

    30W vs. 45W

    Most of the USB-C battery packs available are 30W, with a few 45W options on the market, so both options are included in this review.

    For most Apple devices, there is no functional difference between 30W and 45W because MacBook, MacBook Air, iPad Pro models, and iPhones are not going to charge faster with a 45W power bank than with a 30W power bank. All of these devices max out at 30W, and some, like iPhone, max out at 18W.

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    Where 45W does make a difference over 30W is charging a 13 or 15-inch MacBook Pro. MacBook Pro models will charge noticeably faster with the 45W power bank than with a 30W version. 45W is, of course, lower than the 61W or 85/87W chargers 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models ship with, so don't expect standard charging speeds with these power banks.

    Testing Parameters

    I wanted to test these batteries in real world conditions with real world devices rather than relying on testing equipment to give potential buyers an idea of the actual performance they can expect from a USB-C battery pack.

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    Tests were conducted with a 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2016 (76Wh), a 12-inch MacBook from 2016 (41.4Wh), an 11-inch USB-C iPad Pro from 2018 (29.37Wh), and a 2018 iPhone XS Max (12.08Wh). iPads and iPhones were discharged to 1 percent before testing, and Macs were discharged to 5 percent. Charging tests were done in Airplane Mode and with displays off, with the exception of the in-use MacBook Pro test.


    Click here to read more...

    Article Link: High-Capacity USB-C Battery Pack Comparison and Review
     
  2. gatorknight904 macrumors 6502a

    gatorknight904

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    I have had nothing but problems with the usb-c port on this ravpower. Looking forward to trying some of these other brands.
     
  3. jclo Editor

    jclo

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    The RAVPower battery pack I tested was the only one where I was unimpressed with its reliability and performance. I don't know if it was just mine, but I can't recommend it.
     
  4. hansmoleman macrumors member

    hansmoleman

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  5. Orien macrumors regular

    Orien

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  6. Gyro Dragona macrumors newbie

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  7. B4U macrumors 68020

    B4U

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    You know, it should be mandatory to share those awesome wallpaper when you guys/gals show them. ;)

    Back on topic:
    In terms of reliability, do you mean the powerpack itself? Or in terms of long term usage with the phone?
    I am kind of split in between whether to get a USB C fast charging solution for my X, knowing that I just plug it in overnight and fast charging would simply degrade the battery faster.
     
  8. arian19 macrumors 6502

    arian19

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    You are missing one of the coolest features that comes with the RAVPower USB C charger. It allows you to plug the USB C into a MacBook, and use the other two USB A ports as data ports, via passthrough.

    Which could save you from carrying around an extra dongle
     
  9. illmatic41 macrumors regular

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    Aug 19, 2012
    #9
    The Wirecutter recommends the ZMI, so I picked it up a while ago. It's performed flawlessly and it was nice to know that ZMI has been the official producer of chargers and batteries for Xiaomi. The ZMI also works as a hub, but limits the speed to USB 2.0. On Amazon, someone took apart this pack and found it uses quality cells from LG. I had an issue with the light indicator when I first ordered it from Amazon, and ZMI quickly responded and sent me a replacement within two days from their offices in Sunnyvale, CA. Some may say it's a downside that it doesn't have a microUSB input to charge as you're more likely to find one to borrow if you're out, but to me that was a pro since I use a USB-C power bricks.
     
  10. cocoua macrumors regular

    cocoua

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    #10
    My old 2007 MBP 15 motherboard died after I was using it while charging it with a 60W Macbook charger, coindidence? Maybe BUT I dont think so.
    I dont think USB-C or magsafe makes diffenrence here, my guess is MBP 15 demands more power in some task and if it can take the enough load it can hurt the motherboard.
    I would not use the MBP while charging with a lower power charger.
     
  11. jclo Editor

    jclo

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    Sorry, I'll fix. Mophie's is 45W.
     
  12. DeanLubaki macrumors 6502a

    DeanLubaki

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    #12
    Still using mAh instead of Wh? Not even going to read this review.
     
  13. jclo Editor

    jclo

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    #13
    I mean the power bank itself. I wasn't getting the full capacity I should have been getting from it.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 25, 2019 ---
    I included both.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 25, 2019 ---
    That wasn't mentioned as a feature on the RAVPower website or the Amazon listing so I didn't test that with this power bank and wasn't aware of it. I'll have to go back and see if I can get it to work. The Anker and ZMI battery packs both also function as hubs, though.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 25, 2019 ---
    I researched this but could find no evidence that it was harmful.
     
  14. B4U macrumors 68020

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    That could be a number of reasons.
    1) There is protection mechanism to prevent the battery from draining below a certain level.
    2) The battery does not have enough juice to provide the voltage needed to push the current into the phone.
    It still means the RavPower is not doing what it is saying it does.
     
  15. smartygus macrumors newbie

    smartygus

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    #15
    (emphasis mine)

    There's a couple of problems with this statement:

    1. Using the word capacity to refer to the maximum output power of the power bank is confusing. Generally capacity refers to the amount of charge the pack can store, and this is how you have used it elsewhere in the review.
    2. 45W USB-C PD is definitely not the highest power output available on a power bank today. There are numerous options available that range from 60W up to 100W output over USB-C. They are sometimes more expensive than the options reviewed here, but for higher performance sometimes the extra money is warranted.

    For example:

    - Omnicharge has a USB-C PD pack that does 60W output: https://www.omnicharge.co/products/omni-20-usb-c/
    - Batpower has a pack that also outputs 60W: https://batpower.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=74&product_id=176
    - (Not yet widely available) SanHo Corporation's newest Hyperjuice pack does 100W output on a single port and has a 2nd USB-C port as well: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hypershop/hyperjuice-worlds-most-powerful-usb-c-battery-pack
    - (Not yet released) Zendure's latest pack (SuperTank) also does 100W over one USB-C port and has a 2nd USB-C port: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/625327275/supertank-power-your-phone-for-a-week-recharge-in
     
  16. manu chao macrumors 603

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    #16
    Why? And how this different from doing the same with an iPad or iPhone? The worst that can happen is that you switch between charging and discharging the internal battery multiple times which at some point could wear down the battery a bit faster.
     
  17. KPandian1, Feb 26, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019

    KPandian1 macrumors 65816

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    #17
    One of the basic problems with the USB-C form - not just with the battery/chargers.

    The system is smart enough to do a lot of things, yet dumb enough to fry mother boards! This, even when the cable is "certified". The variety of "stupid" cables available for this format is ridiculous - there seems to be no central standards to enforce quality.

    Why should I buy the 2016-2018 MacBook and risk damaging it because the "wonder kid" is stupid? Even if Apple says I should - as it has been doing for the last 3+ years!

    The purported 40GB through-put (of USB-C) is not tempting enough - most people have their needs met with the previous specs. Four 5K monitors at the same time at full speed - not with these Macs, not for the most demanding smart professional today.
     
  18. jclo Editor

    jclo

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    #18
    Yes, you're right. I didn't use the right wording here and I'll fix it. I wasn't aware of the 60W chargers when this was written as they're not the mainline brands available on Amazon, so I appreciate the feedback.
     
  19. DeanLubaki macrumors 6502a

    DeanLubaki

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    #19
    Yeah but it's confusing because you jump from mAh to Wh to mAh to Wh. MacRumours should really just start adopting Wh.
    I can't believe people haven't learned from the XS Smart Case situation.
     
  20. gatorknight904 macrumors 6502a

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    It’s not just yours.
     
  21. Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

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    #21
    This could really use a summary table. My main metrics in choosing a battery are capacity to weight and capacity to dimension (volume yes, but linear dimensions matter too).
     
  22. nitropowered macrumors regular

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    Ohio
    #22
    I have both the ZMI and the Jackery. I originally purchased the ZMI but it wasn't going to arrive in time for a trip so I bought a Jackery.

    The Jackery is super nice, has huge capacity and has a two digit power display. I absolutely love that about it. However its bigger and not as sleek. Charges my iPhone and other accessories great. I went an entire week without charging it and still had power left over. However I did not charge my phone overnight (had access to wall power) and did not charge my 15" MBP with it. One other downside is it only has two ports, one standard USB and one USB-C.

    I prefer to carry the ZMI since its smaller, has 3 ports and with the rounded edges, plays nicer when stored in a bag. While I never used the USB hub capability, its nice to know its there. I did have some issues where the bank would turn off during the night and left my phone/Apple Watch not fully charged. Might be an isolated issue, will need to do more testing.
     
  23. jaknudsen macrumors member

    jaknudsen

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    #23
    I have also experienced this. In fact, I have never been able to fully charge my Watch with the ZMI. Maybe it draw too little current, so the ZMI thinks nothing is connected?
     
  24. nitropowered macrumors regular

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    Not sure. I'll have to do some tests.
     
  25. cocoua macrumors regular

    cocoua

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    #25
    Not exactly, as MBP can demand more power than charger delivers, so internally it could means troubles. A mac is a bit more complex as an iPhone in hardware, and also in software, where the iOS is completely sandboxed, macOS is not.

    I had my 15MBP dead after using it for a week with a 60hz 13MBP charger, I was working and runout of battery while charging, it shut down, never come alive again
     

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