Lightning Review: Xiaomi's Portable Battery Is Ridiculously Powerful

There's nothing more frustrating than being caught without power. If your phone is dead in the middle of a long day, you can't call, or text, or check Facebook. If your tablet is dead in the middle of a long flight, you can't pass the time with movies or reading. That's where a USB battery pack comes in handy — and Xiaomi's latest is hugely powerful.

Xiaomi is a huge technology mover and shaker in China, but most Australians have probably never heard of them. The company's influence outside of that country's borders is practically nil, since it spends its time building smartphones, apps and accessories for a specifically Chinese market. As well as some nifty handsets, Xiaomi has a new portable battery pack that is worth investigating.

Xiaomi's MI Charger USB battery is notable both for its capacity — 10400 milliamp-hours, which is a lot — and its price — only 69 Yuan, or about $12. When you consider that a bargain basement 5000mAh cell off DealExtreme is at least twice that price, Xiaomi's offering starts to look extremely attractive. It uses batteries made by LG and Samsung, too, so there's a lot of R&D inside its smooth metal casing.

And here's the thing — it's so worth it.

Apple's plastic product packaging — think iPhone 5C and the iPod family — was clearly an inspiration for Xiaomi in designing this battery's transparent case. There's not much to actually package, of course — just the battery and its short USB-to-microUSB cable — but when we first unpacked it, we had serious flashbacks to Apple unboxings of years past.

It's blatantly obvious how much Apple design has influenced this product. The entire mass looks like it was designed by Jony Ive, wrapped in soft-touch anodised aluminium, with two endplates in stark white with a MacBook Pro-esque circular power button. Honestly, we're surprised Cupertino lawyers aren't knocking down Xiaomi's doors as we speak. But, legalities aside, this battery pack looks beautiful.

The bottom face of the Xiaomi battery pack is featureless; it's not worth showing. The top face is where all the action happens — there's the aforementioned power button, a full-sized USB socket, a micro-USB socket, and four tiny white LEDs in series. Press the button, and the LEDs light up to tell you how much battery capacity the pack has remaining.

In terms of actual operation, this battery pack could not be simpler. Plug a USB cable into the full-sized connector and hook it up to a smartphone or tablet or other device in need of a charge, and the MI Charger automatically kicks into action. Plug a cable into the micro-USB socket and connect that to a USB wall-wart (the kind you charge your phone or tablet with), and the cell starts to restore its lost capacity.

The 10400mAh capacity rating is, by our measurement, spot-on. From a fully topped-off charge, we discharged and recharged a Telstra 4G Advanced Wi-Fi hotspot four times before the Xiaomi battery reported it was empty. With a 2500mAh battery in the hotspot, that's 10000mAh of capacity put to good use; almost perfectly in line with Xiaomi's claims.

Having this much spare battery capacity in a single relatively compact cell comes in so handy sometimes. There's enough energy stored away in the Xiaomi to restore the health of your Samsung Galaxy S5 (2800mAh) three times with plenty of change; an iPhone 5S (1560mAh) can be charged almost seven times. Even the massive, power-hungry Samsung Galaxy NotePRO (9500mAh) can be fully recharged with a little juice to spare. Can you imagine never feeling a twinge of anxiety about whether your phone can make it through the day again?

If there's one big complaint we have with the 10400mAh MI Charger, though, it's the slightly imperfect charging implemented for the battery itself. Charging it from empty to full is simple enough, although it takes time — we clocked a little over five hours for the battery to completely charge and report 100 per cent capacity. But if you're in the middle of charging and disconnect the battery from its charging point, it can sometimes misrepresent the amount of charge you have available. We charged the battery to around 80 per cent and pulled it from the charger; the battery reported full power (four bright LEDs) and wouldn't charge any more after we reconnected it. Since you don't have to charge it often — it has 10400mAh of capacity, for God's sake — it's a bit disappointing that it's possible to only charge it partially by accident.

All of this is wrapped up in one more unfortunate happenstance. When you factor in shipping to Australia and a few Chinese middlemen taking a cut, it's almost impossible to find this battery pack online for less than $30. eBay prices are usually up around the $50 mark, although a bit of creative Googling and putting your faith in a site you've never heard of can get you a better deal. We bought one off eBay for $40.

Even with that pricing caveat, we still really like the Xiaomi MI Charger. It's an odd thing to like, but we get a genuine kick out of throwing the battery into our backpack of a morning and knowing that we'll never run out of phone, tablet or hotspot power at an inopportune time. [Xiaomi]


Comments

    Wow. Been looking for a good backup battery solution and this could be the answer - and at that price I could grab one for the missus and a spare for the car.

    Just looked at eBay $22.99AUD free australian delivery, buyer had 100% after 83 sales, even if it doesn't turn up, i'll hit up paypal

      That's a great deal - got a link that you can share?

        Just search ebay for "xiaomi 10400" and it is there

        http://stores.ebay.com.au/dinsey23?_trksid=p2047675.l2563

        Last edited 04/04/14 3:20 pm

          bought one from this seller and it arrived fine. they are in melb, allow 5-10 business days.

          it was 3 quarters full when i opened it, good for travelling.

          Careful doing that, there's A LOT of fake Xiaomi products out there.

        Sorry about that Campbell, was off to the pub by the time i got your message came in Friday ;)

      Saw the eBay poster your referring to. He has 83 but it's from buying, not selling

        I just ordered one, I figure (as with periphia) for $23 and with the protection I get with Paypal I can't really go wrong.

          Yep! Ordered two myself. One will make a nice present.

      Hey if you could send the name of the seller or the link to the product
      Thank you

    Running MIUI from these guys on my HTC one at the moment. I really like what they're doing. Once they decide to expand outside China and people get over the stigma they will do so well.

    BOOOOOOM...... hand made batteries on the cheap :)

    Wow... that REALLY kicks the crap out of the 2200 mAh PowerPod Daytripper I have in terms of value for money and capacity

    There are many much higher capacity battery packs available, e.g. Amazon have number of 50,000mAh products here;
    http://tinyurl.com/lgepj3q

    At only $23 a pop, that's only the equivelant to a couple of lunches (or 1 if I'm really hungry...). Sold!!

    how do we get these in australia for the same price

    and what is the output current

    Useless if only 1A

      Battery type: import Lithium-ion battery
      Input Voltage: DC 5V
      Output voltage: DC 5.1V
      Input current: 2.0A (TYP)
      Output current: 2.1A (TYP)
      Rated Capacity: 3.6V/10400mAh (TYP)
      Charging time: about 5.5 hours @5V/2A charger, standard cable
      Item Size: 90.5*77*21.6mm
      Load test: automatic test load insert and pull out
      Safety protection :this product support input voltage protection, input the counter-attack protection, output over-current protection and output over-voltage protection, output short circuit protection, battery charge discharge protection, batteries PTC protection, charging/discharging temperature protection
      Protection and restoration: can be restored use charger for action
      Charging Temperature: 0°C-45°C (TYP)
      Discharge temperature:
      start output temperature:-10°C~+50°C(TYP)
      continuous output temperature:-20°C~+60°C (TYP)
      Weight: 250g

        thanks

        the memory issue is a downer though (if you dont recharge to max)

        Last edited 07/04/14 9:38 am

      says 2.1 in the specs

      Why is it useless if it's only 1A?

        because the charging rate is too low to be useful for devices like tablets

      2.1 amps

      But can it charge and be charged at the same time? As in, pass-through power like the hyperjuice micro? I don't think so! Actually, I don't know.. maybe it can.

    Just ordered two! Here's hoping they work well. Should be a godsend on long haul flights!

    I bought this charger last week. Review is 100% correct! It's a great little thing, looking forward to my 5-hour stopover

    It's. For $15 on aliexpress free shipping!

    where to buy? any direct shop?
    With shipping to EU.

    Great deal.
    $ 20.99 fs here: http://www.chinabuye.com/xiaomi-portable-power-bank-10400mah-for-xiaomi-m2-m2s-m3-red-rice-apple-and-android-devices

    Find one here with AU seller:
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/XIAOMI-10400mAh-Portable-Power-Bank-Li-ion-Battery-Charger-5V-2-1A-iPad-iPhone-/261478644375?pt=AU_MobilePhoneAccessories&hash=item3ce1577a97&_uhb=1
    Looks like they have imported the original stock.
    "Australia stock, all purchase with GST full yr warranty and direct shipping from Sydney"

    There are reports that all of the Powerbanks sold outside of Xiaomi's own shop are fakes and carry a serious risk of fire. http://en.miui.com/thread-19104-1-1.html
    http://www.spemall.com/forum/topic/1109-how-to-tell-xiaomi-power-bank-real-and-fake/

    Hey, I'm at Santa Marta (Colombia) and I was looking in of these "bazaars" (almost everything is smuggled though) and a guy offered me an "original" Samsung External Battery (I doubt it was original because the battery image was pixeld) 8020 mAh for 30$, I obviously said no and started looking for another one.. Then a another told me he had sold a "xiaomi.com" 1040mAh battery for 35$ and as this trademark is already chineese and unknown I told him to get another one, I bought it and I am extremely happy with it, it's one of my best buys. Xiaomi gives what it promises and I think I am a great fan now. The only bad thing I see is it has nothing to grip on a surface, I used gray Eva Foam and attached it to the battery.

    Be cautious for anything that sells "cheap" something. I got a power bank from amazon and i tell you it's totally worth the money. It never lets me down specially when i'm on long trips and my phone's battery decides to die on me just when i need it most.
    i got the power bank here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Adfilic-Lightweight-Rechargeable-Camcorders-Smartphones/dp/B00IU18SI2/

    i just bought this power bank cant wait to start using it but instructions are not in english and i have searched every where on the net with no success, i guess its basic but i didn't know how long you have to charge it for and there is always a light on mine so i can't tell if it's on or off lol

    I've just bought it. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/10400mAh-USB-Portable-Mobile-Power-Bank-Battery-Charger-for-all-Smartphones-iPad-/171401746058?ssPageName=ADME:L:OU:GB:3160

    How could it charge 2500 mAh battery 4 times that's exact 10000 mAh , as battery used in the powerbank are 18650-type which has a output voltage rate 3.6V which needs to be boosted to about 5V internally in order to supply the correct output for the smartphone or table. Thus conversion/boosting/current-switching process inevitably results in drops in efficiency . So you get 70-75% efficiency from this (which is good as compared to the reputable brands) . Hence , you can only charge it barely 3-3.5 times.

    http://www.mi.com/ph/

    You can certainly get the genuine one here, if you're in Australia :)
    http://www.mushtato.com.au/genuine-xiaomi-portable-mi-power-bank-li-ion-usb-battery-charger-231.html

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