There's the moment when your phone goes below 20 per cent power and you get that foreboding notification — if you don't plug in soon, you're going to die. In some situations, even careful planning can't guarantee a recharge. That's why there are portable power packs — when the power is out, or your travels take you far from an outlet, these are the gadgets that hold a charge for other gadgets. Do these little juice boxes work?
We hooked the chargers to a team of gadget guinea pigs low on juice — an iPhone 4, a Samsung Galaxy S3 and an iPad 1. We recorded the battery life on the computer and timed how long it took to recharge on the power packs. After each recharge, we'd deplete the gadget's battery again, and match a different gadget with another charger. For these portable power stations to be effective, they have to work quickly, and they can't crap out before the device is totally gassed up.
3rd Place: Duracell Powerhouse USB Charger
The Duracell doesn't have a long life span. When charging the iPhone 4 at a 45 per cent charge, it lasted for an hour and 10 minutes, boosting the phone to 80 per cent before it cut out. Once the power pack was tapped out and then plugged in, it took a whole three hours to regain its own charge. That's pretty awful, considering that's longer than the amont of time it was working. It's also not compatible with tablets. With a USB port and a mini USB attached, you could technically charge two gadgets at once with this little guy, but you wouldn't want to.
Duracell Powerhouse USB Battery size: 2000mAh Dimensions: 2.5 by 3.3 by .75 inches Weight: 0.5kg Ports: USB, microUSB, microUSB output Time To Recharge: 3 hours from empty Time At Work:one hour and 10 minutes on iPhone 4 Price: $US17.99
2nd Place: Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation Mini
The sleek, all black Mophie Juicepack powerstation is lightweight and compact — easy to slip in your purse or your pocket. But it's another case of something that isn't capable of charging your gadget all the way. If you need a power source while you're out for the day, it's a decent option. While it works more swiftly and lasts longer than the Duracell, don't anticipate getting much oomph out of it.
Plugged into an S3 with 24 per cent battery left, the Juicepack took the phone to 54 per cent, over the course of two hours, then it died. The Mophie needed to charge for an hour before it could be used again, after which it took another hour to bring the phone up to a full tank. (Obviously, this was just for testing — in a real scenario, you'd simply plug in the S3).
The Juicepack doesn't work for tablets. That said, it charged more quickly than the Duracell, and it didn't take all that long to be up and running again. If you're out all day and worried about your battery, this is a good thing to have on hand.
Mophie Juice Pack Battery size: 2500mAh Dimensions: 1.92 by 3.64 by 0.53 inches Weight: 196g Ports: 1x USB, 1x microUSB Battery life:2 hours on S3, iPhone 4 Charging:2 hours from empty Price: $89.95 RRP in Australia
BESTMODO! HyperJuice Plug
The HyperJuice Plug is the only charger you need. That is if you were on a long camping trip or suffering through an extended power outage The stalwart brick will power up your iPhone and your iPad simultaneously, and filling them both up without running out. Claiming to be capable of charging your phone 12 times before it goes dark, the HyperJuice Plug is fast and enduring. It took a little over an hour for it to zip the iPhone from 29 per cent to full. Meanwhile, it was also nourishing the iPad, which went from 39 per cent to max power in an hour and a half. And it still had more power left in it. Although it's much heavier than the two chargers it bested, this is the kind of thing you want to remember to pack every time you go on a trip.
HyperJuice Plug Battery size:: 15,600mAh Dimensions: 6.1 by 3.4 by 0.78 inches Weight:453g Ports: 2x USB Battery life:13 hours charging just iPad, 23 for iPhone Charging: 12 hours from empty Price: $US159.95 with Australian adaptor