The landscape of mobile battery packs is just as diverse as the people who buy them.
Think about any conceivable situation in which you’d need to charge up your phone, iPad, accessories or even laptop away from a wall socket, and there’s a battery out there to serve you. I typically carry a 10,000mAh battery with just a single USB port — it’s something compact I can always carry with me, and I’m willing to take the trade-off of only charging up phones one at a time.
But then I bought a new MacBook Pro, and started to transition more aggressively to making everything in my life USB-C. The number of great USB-C batteries out there is small, and the number properly supporting the USB-C Power Delivery spec is even smaller — but it’s something that I’d ideally have to charge up my MacBook Pro just as well as any phone or tablet.
I found this Anker PowerCore battery with its massive 26,800mAh capacity, and my mind has been changed about carrying big external batteries.
Yes I realize I’m legitimately talking about buying a $100 battery pack in a world where you can get some really great ones for less than $30. But this Anker PowerCore 26800mAh battery if worth it, at least in my case.
Having USB-C Power Delivery immediately changed the calculus of lugging a big battery around.
I typically scoff at such large portable batteries because I feel I’m never going to be away from a wall plug long enough that I’d need to charge a phone eight times or a tablet three times. And at the same time, such a huge battery typically takes forever to charge back up. My flip-flop on both of these feelings comes from one thing: USB-C Power Delivery.
USB-C PD lets the battery output 30W of power — enough to charge a MacBook Pro 13-inch, but also charge an iPad Pro (or any number of new Android phones) at its fastest possible rate. Just as importantly, the battery also uses USB-C PD for recharging itself. So now instead of waiting overnight, or connecting two chargers at once, it takes just 4.5 hours to get this big battery from dead to full. A game-changer, in both respects.
Beyond the USB-C port, there are also two high-speed USB-A ports for plugging in whatever you want. These are “PowerIQ” ports that output 5V/3A — plenty capable for your iPhone, iPad, accessories and cameras. Having a portable (well, relatively portable) battery that can charge my laptop, phone and tablet at the same time is awesome and extremely important when I’m traveling. When I can’t find a wall socket, or just don’t want to carry a wall charger, it’s immediately worth more than that $100 price.
Then there’s an extra bit of nice-to-have kit in the box: a 30W USB-C PD wall charger. This little charger, with its foldable plug, can of course charge up the battery but also works perfectly with a MacBook Pro or iPad Pro (provided you have a USB-C to Lightning cable) as a travel charger, or with any USB-C phones or tablets you may have around. A real value-add that’s worth factoring into this $100 price, especially when Apple’s 29W USB-C charger lists for $49.
Let’s quickly address the one downside here. Yes, the battery is huge compared to your typical choices — but moreover, it’s dense, weighing in at 1.29 pounds / 590 grams. Part of that weight comes from its hefty metal construction, but it’s mostly the massive battery capacity inside. It is far too big to put in a pocket or easily carry around while you’re using your phone. But it is comfortably under the 100Wh limit for carrying on a plane. Good call, Anker.
This isn’t a go-anywhere portable battery; it’s a venerable power station for all of my devices.
But this isn’t supposed to be a go-everywhere super-portable battery for just your phone — you can find those anywhere. This is a venerable power station that you can take out knowing it can not only recharge a phone eight times, but more importantly can charge up your phone once while also giving a 100% charge to your MacBook Pro or other USB-C laptop on the go.
Am I going to get rid of all of my smaller batteries and just stick to this monster? No, that’s just not practical. Sometimes all I need is a 5000mAh battery to slip into a jacket pocket to top up my phone, and I’ll keep using those. But for a battery that’s going to stay in my bag, ready to charge up anything I need while I’m out of the house or traveling, it’s going to be this Anker PowerCore 26800mAh battery.