We can never squeeze enough juice out of our batteries to make our smarphones last as long as we want, so it is no surprise that more and more of us are turning to power banks to give our devices a little boost when we’re stuck on trains, planes, and automobiles.
If you are stuck on a eight-hour flight, or the trains are having trouble with leaves on the line over the winter season, and you fancy catching up on all those shows you’ve downloaded from Netflix – then you’ll need a power bank on hand to keep that bright 1080P+ display running to get you to the season finale.
We have tested a variety of these power banks on TechFruit in recent months, so when the folks at AskBorg sent us their collection of external batteries to test out, we were keen to see how they compared to the competition.
The three power banks we reviewed are:
The 5200 is the smallest of AskBorg’s ChargeCube power banks, and is designed to fit easily in your pocket or handbag. It’s one of the most compact power banks on the market, measuring just 10 x 5 x 2.8cm and weighing 140g, and is solidly made out of matte black plastic.
As the name suggests, it carries a 5200mAh charge, and with power industry standard bank average efficiency rate of about 70%, that means that it should give your smartphone double or more of its battery life.
There’s no Speed ID or QuickCharge technology in this power bank, and charges at the standard 5V/1A, so it is designed to be plugged into your smartphone for use rather than being plugged in briefly for a quick recharge. As with most traditional 5V/1A chargers, we found this would provide a smartphone with about 1% charge every 60-90 seconds.
Checking how much charge the power bank is holding is as simple as a single button press, where there are four LEDs that show its charge in 25% increments – it’s simple and clear, even for the least tech savvy amongst us. There’s even a LED “torch” you can switch on to help you find the USB charging port (or MicroUSB input) in the dark.
The 10400 is AskBorg’s mid-sized power bank, which offers enough charge to replenish the juice in most smartphones about three times, or a tablet twice.
It’s still quite compact, measuring 10.3 x 7.7 x 2.2cm and weighing 256g, but is really designed more to fit in a laptop bag or handbag then into a jacket or trouser pocket.
It looks like a slightly large wallet or classic cigarette case with its faux black leather covering, and would not look out of place sat on a traditional writing desk. There is a trend for minimalism within the tech industry at the moment, but AskBorg’s design looks went for the more classic look, which makes for a nice change.
There are four LEDs on the front of the power bank, to show how much charge it is holding, which again is very straight forward, and there are two USB charging ports (alongside the MicroUSB input), and an LED “torch” to help you find the right one in the dark.
One of the USB ports is a 5V/2.1A port for smartphones, offering a 1-2% charge in 60 seconds, while the second port ca offer up to 5V/4.2A using AskBorg’s Speed ID technology that detects the device you are charging and sends the maximum current it can handle. 2.1A is the maximum current many smartphones can handle, but for tablets the extra current can make a real difference – bringing iPad or Android tablet charging time down to that of a smartphone, with 1-2% charge per minute.
The 20800 is AskBorg’s largest power bank and is quite a hefty device, measuring 16.3 x 7.9 x 2.2cm and weighing 493g. But with that size comes a massive 20800mAh battery, which is enough to recharge most smartphones five or six times, or a tablet thrice.
If you are going on a weekend trip away and know you won’t have a change to plug in your devices for a whole weekend, then this is the device you want – you’ll be covered for a full 72 hours with most devices. However, this will not fit in your pocket or small clutch bags – it is definitely designed to be carried in a weekend bag or laptop case.
In terms of the tech, it is quite similar to the ChargeCube10400 in that alongside the MicroUSB input, there is a standard 5V/2.1A USB port and a second Speed ID USB port that can deliver up to 5V/4.2A.
However, in a major improvement to most large power banks on the market, the 20800 ChargeCube includes a small display screen that can convey exactly how much charge is left on the device. LEDs with 25% increments is not sufficiently accurate to display charge of such a large battery – and it is good to see AskBorg understand this and instead show a percentage battery indicator. This screen allows you to know exactly how much charge you have left, so you don’t get caught out – I wish all power banks had this feature.
NB – AskBorg often run discounts on their Amazon store, and alongside their power banks, they also make high-quality braided nylon USB-lightning connector cables and dual-port car chargers.