Ruth, with our friend Andrei at the Orheiul Vechi Historical Complex at Trebujeni, Moldova. Photo taken December 2, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

External battery packs for your smartphone

We have joined the 21st century and now have a new to us iPhone. We don't really need it for day to day use, although I did take it with me when we did shopping the other day. The only reason we decided we need to have an iPhone is to make our travels better. We like to use it mostly for mapping, so that we know where we're going in new areas, and so that we can track some of the walks and hikes that we do.

But the one thing we noticed while testing it is that the battery life is not as good as we would like it to be. So we started looking at solutions to this problem.

What I found was that many other people have this same problem, and the solution is to buy an external smartphone battery pack. But there are a lot of different sizes and manufacturers out there to choose from!

The first thing you have to decide is how much extra battery power do you need.

Smartphones come with installed batteries that are rated between 1,400 and 2,900 mAh (milliamp hours depending on your model of phone. Our iPhone 4s battery is rated at 1,900 mAh. So I would assume that external battery pack of the same size will approximately recharge the battery once.

Available external battery packs have power ratings that range from 600 mAh, to 30,000 mAh. Of course the size of the battery pack is directly related to it's power rating. The higher the power rating, the bigger the battery pack.

So you have to decide how much extra power you want versus the portability of the power pack.

Another factor is the rate of charge. In other words, how fast will this power pack recharge your smartphone? Again, the battery packs are rated. A slow charging pack would be rated at perhaps 0.8 amps output, while a reasonably fast pack would be rated at 2.1 amps output.

I've been watching them for a couple of months now, and last week the one I wanted came on sale at Amazon.ca.

Here's the one I bought...

Jackery 6000mAh External Battery Pack on Amazon.ca - Canada

Jackery 6000mAh External Battery Pack on Amazon.com - USA

At the time, it had come on sale for $26.99 CAD (with free shipping and no tax!). And I received it yesterday.


I decided on one rated 6,000 mAh, with 2.1 amp output. It's probably a little heavier than I thought it would be, but it will recharge our iPhone between 2-3 times. But, I'm impressed with the design and the product itself. Its seems very heavy duty and well made.

Slightly smaller than the iPhone itself.

It comes with a USB cable so that you can charge the battery pack itself. From empty, it says that the battery pack itself will recharge in 5-6 hours. I plugged it in last night, and it was charged this morning.

If you search Amazon, you'll find that Jackery also makes a mini charger that is rated 3,200 Ah, and a giant charger that is rated 12,000 mAh. The mini one is on sale now!

I'm sure that as we use our iPhone over time we will find other uses for it that are suitable to our needs. In fact, yesterday I deposited our paycheques using an iPhone app. How cool is that?! No more trips to the bank!


21 comments:

  1. I love my Iphone, so many app's for travelling. Unlike others, I never had an issue with my battery. I can get about 5 days off the battery charge. I think that's pretty good.

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    1. We haven't really had a chance to use it properly yet so it will be interesting to see how we make out with it when we are in Colombia, Having said that when we had it out on our a few of our hikes last month the battery definitely didn't last long enough for the really long hikes so having the external battery pack will be nice for that.

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  2. I use various sizes of external battery packs depending on where and what I will be doing that day. Recently I bought the giant 12,000 mAh pack for my trip to Alaska plus multi plug car charger...I can plug in my camera as well as my iPhone plus others can plug in to recharge too. Yes, the mapping is pretty cool and I can actually see streets and buildings...if you turn it to street scene. Use it in New Orleans where the city lay out was weird and the mapping took us right to our hotel and in/out of city....amazing!!

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    1. Yep, 12,000 mAh is a huge battery pack, some how I can't see us getting one of those, We are hoping that this battery pack we just bought will be significant enough for our uses that we won't need anything else because we travel light, less is better for us. We did by a USB car charger the other day though.

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  3. We own two of those external battery packs - hubby bought them on a black Friday sale. Another piece of awesome technology. The only other thing he has bought recently (he loves loves loves gadgets but they have to be reasonably priced) is a small sony blue tooth rechargeable speaker. We use our iphones with it and now have music anywhere we wish. We are even taking it on holiday next month as I have lots of great music stored on my phone now.

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    1. It seems that there are number of "must" have gadgets out there now, if we were to get them all we wouldn't have room for clothes in our bags, lol!

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  4. Ooh, I love technical posts, especially electrical ones! I bought a 7800mAh Jackery off your blog for $35 last July and I love it. To properly size an external pack, you must take charge efficiency into account. Battery charging is not 100% because some of the energy is turned into heat in both the external pack and the device. For most lithium polymer cells, efficiency is about 70%. So my 7800mAh pack is really effectively only 5460mAh. Thus it will charge my 3950mAh Nexus 7 tablet fully once---then 38% a second time---because 5460/3950 = 1.38.

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  5. Oh and welcome to the 21st century you guys! Now you just need to get Sherman some LEDs!

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    1. But we hardly use our lights that it doesn't make sense to spend the money on the LEDs at least for now.

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    2. Good LEDs are now just $1.50 a bulb, and you only LEDify the fixtures you use most. Part of joining the 21st century is coming out of the incandescent RV Dark Age.

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    3. I know, I remember you explaining that to us when we saw you in January. We'll see as I said we use our lights so little and with the solar it isn't a priority at the moment.

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  6. great post, I have a Mophie for my iPhone and love it. I have no idea of the specs, but it lasts a good two days with a full charge and is a bit bigger than yours, but smaller than the phone. Now I am hoping to find something that can actually have enough power for my iPad that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and weight a ton.

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    1. Now you are going to have Kevin checking out the best prices and sizes for battery packs for iPads. ;-)

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  7. Getting along great now with your I-phone, the you use it the more you will use it, enjoy !

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    1. We really haven't had much opportunity yet to really put the iPhone to the test, but Kevin is getting there.

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  8. Looks good but be sure to order the necessary USB cable to charge the charger. (Description states one is not included)

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  9. Input: 5V/1A, Input charging time: 6-8h via Standard USB or AC adapter (not included);
    Perhaps it is referring to the AC adaptor, although on the US ordering site it gives one the option of ordering the charger and USB cable together for $40 - puzzling

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    1. I think all the Jackerys include the charging cable, which is just a standard USB to USB Micro. Wall chargers are definitely extra, and usually unnecessary.

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    2. Yes, ours came with the USB cable. But no, the AC adapter is not included.

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  10. Very cool. I might need to check into one.

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    1. If you find that you are needing to recharge your phone when you are away from a electrical source then this would certainly come in handy. We can't wait to give ours a workout but I think it will be a while before we get a chance to do that. :-(

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