It has been a while since we’ve reviewed anything not,strictly, gaming related. However, the timing of Anker emailing me asking if wewould like to review some of their newer PowerCore and PowerCore+ portable batteriescouldn’t have been better. It had been just the day before that I’d been sayingto Lefranzine that our year’s old portable batteries weren’t really up to thetask of keeping our Nintendo Switches charged up.
While we’d normally not review other, non-gaming specific,types of tech – I did say to Anker that we’d be happy to test their productsand review them in relation to keeping the Switch charged up. Though obviouslytheir uses go far beyond that – something I’ll touch on as well throughout.
We were sent two variants of the Anker PowerCore series ofbatteries. The fairly high end PowerCore+ 26800PD and the PowerCore Speed 20000PD. Priced at £102.99 and £49.99 respectively. While these might seem a bitmore expensive than other portable batteries out there, the price difference isgoing to be down to the technology within these excellent batteries that youmight not be familiar with – I know I certainly wasn’t!
I’ll admit first hand that batteries aren’t a speciality ofmine, and although I did Physics as far as A-Level, I can’t say that Iremembered all of the numbers related to electric capacitance and all that goodstuff. As a very rough guide, the 26800 and 20000 numbers are the mAh(milliampere hour) of the batteries – and describes how much charge thebatteries hold before requiring a recharge.
If you dig out a product specification for your Switch,Phone or Tablet you’ll find the required charge for those products. Forreference the Nintendo Switch has a 4310mAh lithium-ion battery. So very roughlyspeaking for our needs it’ll be the portable batteries capacitance divided bythe Switch’s capacitance to equal the number of times you’ll be able to,roughly, fully charge your Switch. Or at least it would be given perfect energytransfer, but oftentimes you’ll only get 85-90% efficiency – so it won’t quitebe precise number from that basic equation.
But we’d expect to see the PowerCore+ 26800 PD to charge theSwitch about 6 times over, and the PowerCore Speed 20000 PD to charge theSwitch about 4 times over.
And after a bit of testing, that isn’t far off what we found.The PowerCore+ 26800 PD has 10 LED charge indicators, and fully charging the Switchfrom 0% up to 100% depleted the second LED – suggesting between 5-6 charges outof it. The PowerCore Speed 20000 PD has 4 LED charge indicators, and fullycharging the Switch depleted one of them – suggesting the expected roughly 4charges out of that one. Both batteries took roughly 2.5 hours to fully chargethe Switch via the included USB Type C to Type C cable.
But while we’ve touched on the capacitance of the batterieson review, the other, arguably more important, part of the product name is the “PD”found at the end of both. This indicates that these batteries come with the “PowerDelivery” charging standard. Which I’ll admit, I’d never heard of before. Butafter a bit of digging, found that USB Gen 2 Type A (the “basic” type of USBthat you’re all no doubt familiar with) has a relatively low charging rate.Whereas the newer USB Gen 3.1, which includes USB Type C as well as theblue/red USB Type A ports you might have seen on newer PCs etc. Gen 3.1 allowsfor much higher charging rates which means gadgets will charge much quicker.
The PowerCore+ 26800 PD has a 30W power delivery, while thePowerCore Speed 20000 PD has a 24W power delivery while using their USB Type Cports. Both also sport a USB Type A port which is the 5V/3A standard.
The PD aspect, combined with the fairly huge capacitance does mean that without a PD charging plug these batteries take a LONG time to fill up. I took the PowerCore+ 26800 PD out of the box and it had 2 LED charging indicators lit – I plugged it into my iPhone wall plug with the USB Type A to USB Type C cable included, and it took over 24 hours to fully charge – running at 5V through a Gen 2 USB plug. It is safe to assume that with 26800mAh of charge, it will be quite a while before I need to charge it again. But if you do decide to invest in one of these, I would definitely recommend also picking up a PD charging plug, which drastically reduces the charging time down to about 6 hours by our testing (on the beefier battery)
We’ve looked at the capacitance and power of these chargingbricks, but the other important factor is physical size and weight. Peoplelooking for portable batteries want them to be just that, portable. And the rawcapacitance and power of these batteries does come with the draw back of being chunky.But not overly so in my opinion.
If you’re looking at batteries of this size, you’re eitherlooking to be able to charge smaller items like phones, smaller tablets andeven the Switch, multiple times. Or you’re looking to charge something biggerlike full size tablets or even some notebooks/Macbooks with it. Thus you’re notin the market for a marker pen sized charger that will top your phone up justthe once. These will live in your bag and keep your tech running longer term –and if they’re living in a bag, the size is less of an issue.
The PowerCore+ 26800 PD is 178mm x 80mm x 29mm and weighs inat about 580g, while the more slender PowerCore Speed 20000 PD is 166mm x 60mm x 19mm and weighs in at about 358g, so thisone could actually fit in a larger pocket fairly comfortably if absolutelyrequired.
So if you are finding yourself on the hunt for a newportable battery for your Nintendo Switch, and/or other electronic gadgets ofchoice, and you’re reading this review – are these Anker PowerCore batteriesfor you?
While the PowerCore Speed 20000 is at the higher end of whatI’d call the “mid-range” of power bricks, it is slightly smaller and thus willbe that much easier to take out on the go – while still getting 4 full chargesof the Switch (if it is just the Switch you’re charging – mileage will vary ifyou’re also charging your phone etc at the same time). I would imagine that formost people that would suffice. It all comes down to your planned usage: areyou the kind of person who is going to need to keep their Switch charged for asingle weekend away? If so this will, most probably, keep your Switch and phonecharged all weekend without any hassle. (Provided statistics: 6 charges of aniPhone 7, 1 charge of the MacBook 2016 and 2 charges of an iPad Air 2)
If you feel you need something beefier, possibly wanting aweek or two’s worth of Switch charging (depending on what you’re playing on theSwitch for how fast you’re draining it) and don’t mind paying out for it, thenthe PowerCore+ 26800 PD could certainly be recommended. It is nearly twice thesize physically, but does convey nearly a 50% capacitance increase. If you’regoing on holiday and aren’t sure you’ll be able to charge the Switch while away– this would most probably keep you going! Or if you require something that canalso charge your notebook in a pinch – this would cover that as well. (Providedstatistics: 10 charges of an iPhone 6S, 7 charges of the Samsung S6 and 1.2charges of the MacBook Pro 13!)
Thanks to Anker for reaching out, and sending us reviewsamples for the testing of this write up.