Road warriors, jet-setters and the unreliably powered, this one’s for you.
Today I’m reviewing one of the latest power banks available from a company called AUKEY.
AUKEY are an established manufacturer of power banks, USB chargers and other mobile technologies, but today I’m reviewing what I’ve started calling their ‘King Kong’ power bank, although AUKEY refer to it as the somewhat cumbersome ‘30000mAh Power Bank with Quick Charge 3.0'.
It is worth pre-facing this review with a caveat; because this isn’t your ordinary power bank to be found in the mobile phone section of your local department store or supermarket.
If any power bank has ever been worthy of being called a “pro device” – this is the one.
Read on for more…
Removing the device from Amazon’s packaging, I was struck by the weight of the AUKEY in its cardboard box.
The weight of the device was one of the first indicators of many that this wasn’t going to be a run of the mill power bank which is designed to be slipped into a coat pocket, but i’ll come to that later.
The package contained the following items/accessories;
- AUKEY Power Bank (PB-T11)
- USB > USB-C adapter
- Instruction manual
- Warranty card
The included instructions are well detailed and come in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese.
I wasn’t sure what the included USB to USB-C adapter was actually for, as the model of power bank I received for review doesn’t have a USB-C port.
The instructions above seem to suggest that it should be possible to charge the power bank using USB-C, and perhaps that’s what the included adapter is for, but I’ve asked AUKEY to clarify that for me.
At time of writing my tweet to AUKEY has gone unanswered, which is a bit of a shame from a customer service point of view.
Like most power banks, this one has a basic set of controls and functions because it really only has one job; to power on and recharge devices.
To that end, the main unit has a single button on the top of the device.
Pressing the button once wakes the device, this allows charging from the USB ports labelled OUT1 & OUT2, and the button illuminates in one of three colours to display the amount of remaining charge.
White = 70-100% remaining
Green = 30-70% remaining
Red = 30% or less
Thinking about all the aspects of this device, the remaining charge indicator is actually its weakest feature, because seeing the indicator go from a potential 70% (green) to a less than 30% (red) doesn’t really tell you very much compared with, for example, 5 LEDs that could have represented 20% each and given a more granular view.
In reality though, this just means you charge the power bank at every opportunity, which is probably the sensible thing to do anyway.
In terms of energy saving AUKEY have everything covered. If no power is drawn from the device within 15 seconds of being turned on, it automatically turns itself back off.
The unit also features a torch function. Giving the power button a long press illuminates a super bright LED positioned next to the USB ports. A nice-to-have feature, but nothing extraordinary.
The ports available for charging external devices and recharging the power bank itself is what really sets it apart from its competitors.
The device includes two USB ports; OUT1 and OUT2;
OUT1 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, allowing devices that support it (full list here) to charge much more quickly than they would using a convential USB charger. Devices that don’t support Quick Charge can still use this port safely, but they charge at 5V 2.4A.
OUT2 charges any device up to 5V 2.4A
NOTE: The standard 2.4A output is higher than conventional USB chargers. Standard iPad chargers for example only supply 2.1A. As a result, devices charge noticably quicker than on a standard USB charger.
In terms of charging the power bank itself, things get even more interesting. With two separate inputs available for recharging its internal battery;
IN1 is a standard mini-USB connector.
IN2 is more unusual, because it’s an Apple lightning connector.
The addition of the lightning connector on a power bank is a fairly big deal for an Apple device user like me.
One of my long standing frustrations with power banks has been the need to carry two different cables, one for my iDevices, and an additional mini-usb to recharge the power bank itself.
The ability to leave the house with just the power bank and a single cable (whether you’re using a mini USB cable or a lightning cable) is a serious plus point from me, and shows that AUKEY has thought about its how to improve on the standard power bank experience.
Now, I need to introduce another caveat. I said this thing is the King Kong of power banks in the introduction, and it is, but one of Kong’s failings is that he needs to eat a lot of banana’s, and this is no different.
It’s size and weight of this device should give you a fair idea that it’s packing a HUGE battery, a 30,000 mAh battery to be precise, and big batteries have one drawback, they take a while to charge.
As I’m writing a review, I wanted to do everything properly and decided to time precisely how long the PB-T11 took to charge from empty and the results were…well, take a look:
Total charge time using a 5V 2.1A (iPad) charger;
12 hours 28 minutes !!!
In fact, to put it in perspective, charging the AUKEY took so long that I eventually gave up watching it and went to bed.
I had to devise a way of knowing exactly when it did finish, so I ended up leaving the power bank charging in front of a timelapse camera, with an old Blackberry showing the time nearby so I could tell what time it finished.
You can share in the magic of my experiment in the GIF below, where you’ll see the AUKEY button turn from green to white (fully charged) at around 2:45am.
While puffing your cheeks at the amount of time this thing took to charge is perfectly understandable, you do have to keep a few things in mind for balance;
a) This is a 30,000mAh battery. The 9.7" iPad Pro battery is 7,306mAh and lasts about 12 hours. You’re charging a HUGE battery here.
b) I was charging it using a 5V 2.1A charger. AUKEY sells a range of turbo chargers that will replenish the power bank more quickly if its a problem.
My advice regarding charging the unit (for a multitude of reasons) would be to top it up whenever you can, because as ridiculous as it might sound, an overnight charge for most people won’t fit into twelve and a half hours unless you sleep for very long periods.
I suspect most people have some pre-conceptions about power banks. I imagine most people picture those £10 devices that basically look like an AA battery or two inside a plastic case with a USB port at the end.
The PB-T11 is not one of those devices.
Weighing in at a whopping 525g, this device is not thin, it’s not light and it’s not meant to fit in your pocket.
Sure, it will fit into a coat or trouser pocket, but expect to be lop-sided for the rest of the day if you do decide to carry it around that way. Shirt pockets though are a definite no no.
It would be easy to portray the size and weight of this device as a negative. We’re used to devices like iPhones and iPads which are designed to be as thin and light as possible, but as I said in the introduction, what we’re talking about here is a pro device.
You’re not going to carry this device around to quickly top your phone up once, or maybe you will, but the difference here is that you’ll still have nine charges remaining without needing to get anywhere near a power outlet.
If you or a loved one is looking for more than a power bank, if you’re looking for a device to leave in the glove box or keep in a rucksac and you need to charge a tablet like an iPad without being the annoying guy or girl in a coffee shop who asks people to move tables so you can plug in, then this might be exactly the device you require.
Performance / Conclusion
Finally then, we get to the guts of the review and the bottom line.
As outlined above, the PB-T11 can take a long time to charge, it’s not pocket sized, so you’re not slipping it into a tiny handbag with your phone and your lipstick.
But for every negative in design there’s a positive in performance, and that’s where AUKEY have put the King in Kong.
Because over the space of a week, I used the PB-T11 to charge my iPhone and my partner’s iPhone a whopping total of 12.5 times before it ran out of charge itself.
Breaking that down in real terms, the 12.5 charges actually consisted of;
11.5 x full charges (iPhone SE)
2 x full charges (iPhone 6S)
I did exactly the same thing with my iPad Pro (9.7") for a week, and I managed to charge it from completely flat 3 times.
Considering the far larger battery in the iPad Pro, that’s an impressive feat.
Here’s the thing; you’re reading a review for a power bank.
It’s not particularly pretty. It’s not Apple thin or feather light. It’s won’t slip discreetly into your trouser pocket to take to the pub with you.
But it fits in a rucksack. It fits into a desk drawer, a suitcase or your car’s glove box. I’m sure it will even fit under the seat of a scooter (untested!).
You can forget to charge it 9 times and it will still save you from being phone-less on the 10th, it’s a very forgiving device.
If you go away for work and you forget to pack a USB charger, chances are the AUKEY power bank will save you from being down and out, as well as saving you the $15 you’d spend on a charger.
If you’re in the market for a great looking power bank, or an ultra-portable power bank, this is probably not the one for you.
If you’re after a solid (I dropped it from 4ft onto a concrete floor and it was fine) power bank that slips into your rucksack alongside your tablet and will keep you going for a week at a time if needed, this might just be the one for you.