It’s hard not to fall in love with something called a Smart Mobile & Power Bank, so we’re going to try and restrain ourselves, and conduct this review in a fair and balanced manner. Even though the tag line of the product, proudly proclaimed on the front of the box, reads – ‘Wonderful Life Because of you.’ It’s just too flattering for words.
Anyway enough idle chit-chat, to the product itself. Well there are two things this portable charging block, which we will call the Solar Power Bank, has going for it (actually three if you factor in the amazing price). First, it contains a massive
20,000mAh storage capacity [but see below], which is about double what you typically find in blocks of this size. Quite frankly we’re awed by the capacity to size ratio, but we’ll try and stay calm. And second, well it works.
The device comes, as you can see from the video above, in a nice bright blue box, complete with…well not much actually. Just a small pack of adapters and a USB master cable. Of course you can use any USB cable you have lying around for both charging it up and charging your gadgets, but it’s a nice touch. The adapters include an Apple connector, microUSB and miniUSB. There’s no manual alas. Or alack.
The block itself is similarly unpreposessing, with just the solar panel (with some kind of weird plastic cover on it), a set of LED indicator lights that flicker when the sunlight starts the trickle charging process, and three ports, two for outgoing charges (1A and 2.1A) and one microUSB for incoming, to supplement the solar panel when you want to charge the block up in a hurry. Oh and a subtle little charge start button which is actually buried in the LED panel. Sneaky.
It’s difficult to give a lot of comment on a battery block really, isn’t it? It either works or it doesn’t, and while we know that there are issues to be careful of with regard to charge protection, charge efficiency and the like, this product seems to sport circuit protection and charge management, at least that’s what it says on the box. And who are we to argue?
We had no problem getting it to charge up a Lenovo tablet we had lying around, and jolly nicely it did too. Well we think it was nicely, but all you can actually see is the LEDs shining. Hard to tell. But at the end of the day we want you to remember three things. First, this puppy has a trickle charge solar panel built in, which offers 5.5V 300mA 1.5W of juice at peak. Second it holds 20,000mAh which should be enough power to charge your phone up to 10 times, and your tablet 5 times. And finally, it costs $32.93 / £19.19, which is around half the price of even lower capacity charge blocks.
Now we’re going to go out on a limb here and suggest that maybe this product doesn’t have the same level of build quality or components as the more established and well known brands, but on the other hand, maybe it does? The housing seems solid enough, and the USB sockets fit the incoming cables nice and tight, which is a positive sign. There is one small issue we discovered though, which is the fact that the charging stops immediately if you put the unit into the sunlight. It’s as though it can’t trigger the solar panel to trickle charge and send juice to a device at the same time. Which you may find annoying. We just turned the thing over on the desk and it worked fine without the sunshine to mess things up.
[Update: OK, just done a further test, and we were right to be cautious about the claims. Whatever it is - and we're going to open it up to take a look at the batteries soon - it's definitely not a 20000mAh charger. I've just charged up my phone from 21% charge to 100% charge, and it took around 3.5 hours to do, and at the end there's two out of the four lights still lit on the indicator. Which suggests that, unless the indicator is faulty, this is something like a 5000mAh pack or 6000 at most. Shabby work! Sorry folks.]
Well, it’s a huge charge block, it features a great little solar function, it costs very little relatively speaking, and we actually like it. We’ll let you know how it stands up to the wear and tear of being carted around as an emergency charger after a few weeks, but so far it’s done the job it is supposed to do impressively well. It’s not lightweight, you’ll definitely feel it in your pocket, like a mini brick, but it’s small enough to be handy on the move, which is what counts. Yeah, a cautious thumbs up from us.
Solar Panel Type: Polycrystalline
Dual USB Port
Output Voltage: DC 5.0V 2.1A (max), 5.0V 1.0A
Input Voltage:5.0~5.5V / 1000mA
Battery Size: 20000mAh
Solar PV Panel: 5.5V 300mA 1.5W
Solar conversing Rate: 10~11%
Compatible with Nokia, iPhone, iPad, MP3, MP4 and other mobile phones
Main Product Dimensions: 132x82x16 mm (L x W x D)
Main Product Weight: 224g