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Sound Advice: Breaking down pros, cons of portable phone charger

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Tech Advice

Q. Your column about Father's Day gifts appeared in my newspaper this morning and I was interested in the ChargeCard phone charger. I went to Amazon and looked at the verified buyer reviews, most of which were unenthusiastic at best. Many of the 5-star reviews were one or two words or very short sentences, often a sign of fake reviews. I look forward to seeing your unbiased review of this product.

—S.C., Richmond, California

A. I just finished a two-week test of the $69 ChargeCard phone charger, using it with an iPhone 8 and an iPhone 11 Pro Max. When I saw the word “unenthusiastic” in your email I realized it summed up my impression about the product, and it is an impression that runs both ways. I was not especially enthusiastic about it and there was no sense of excitement, but with the lack of excitement is the realization of its understated competence. Simply put, it gets the job done when you don’t want to carry around a full-sized power bank charger.

I got a second ChargeCard for my girlfriend and we took them with us on vacation to the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida. A theme park or vacation resort vacation is a perfect application for the ChargeCard. I have several power bank chargers that cost less, have more capacity and charge faster. A good example and one of my favorites is the excellent Coal Portable Charger, which cost around $35. Despite the capabilities and low price of a Coal charger, without looking at the actual weight and dimensions it feels like it is about 20 times heavier and bulkier than the ChargeCard, and far more so than the phone itself. I would not want to put one in my pocket and tote it around a theme park all day. Conversely, if you put a ChargeCard in your pocket you probably won’t even notice it is there. I use a phone wallet so it just took the place of two credit cards I knew I would not need in the park. Even the cable fits unobtrusively as part of the ChargeCard.

Getting to the basic competence of the product, it charged my phone and the display LEDs indicated how much power remained in the charger. It did not charge especially quickly, but starting the day with a fully charged phone the ChargeCard provided enough additional power to make it back to my room late in the evening with over 20% power remaining. Without the ChargeCard I am sure I would have run out of power before leaving the park, given all the picture taking, texting and video-taking that happened during the day. The Florida sun also requires the phone screen to be at maximum brightness, which consumes a lot of power. The charger seemed to charge the iPhone 8 noticeably faster than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but this is just because of the larger battery in the larger phone.

 

Something else to consider is the likelihood you will actually use the ChargeCard or any other portable charger. If it is small and unobtrusive you are more likely to take it with you, and a small charger in your pocket is much more useful than a bigger, faster one sitting on your desk miles away when you need it.

Reading through what I have written here, perhaps I am more enthusiastic about the ChargeCard than I first thought! While it may have limitations, it will keep you powered up and you can’t ask much more of it than that. You can see and order the ChargeCard at theaquavault.com.

———

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