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Rugged Waterproof Solar Chargers for Phones and Cameras

For a while now, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of owning a rugged and waterproof solar power bank. As someone who travels often, it seems like the perfect companion to keep my smartphone and action cameras topped up with full battery power while I’m out and about. I imagined they’d be an upgrade on my current small and limited mobile charging devices. So this week I received THREE solar power banks, and decided to review them for you. My conclusions were definitely not what I expected. Especially regarding the surprising inclusion of Qi Wireless Charging!!

Power Bank A: https://amzn.to/3doYG5i
Power Bank B: https://amzn.to/3lHJdAc
Power Bank C: https://amzn.to/372gQsq
Slim Power Bank: https://amzn.to/3drgg8v

NOTE: I was given Power Bank B for free. However, this does not in any way affect my review or recommendations.

TRANSCRIPT


0:00:04.480,0:00:10.040
Whatup nerds? I’m Jay Shareef.
Welcome to another episode of Tech Tuesdays.

0:00:10.040,0:00:14.700
Every Tuesday I make a video about whatever
gadgets or tech I’ve bought in the last week.

0:00:14.700,0:00:18.240
And I’ve had some exciting
deliveries in the last seven days.

0:00:18.240,0:00:22.300
I’ve received not one, not two, but
THREE rugged solar power banks.

0:00:22.300,0:00:26.540
And today we’re going to have
a look at this quirky little niche.


0:00:26.540,0:00:29.039
It’s not as boring as it sounds, OK?

0:00:29.039,0:00:33.120
However, I can’t promise a
rollercoaster ride of emotions.

0:00:33.120,0:00:36.280
It’s an episode about charging your
phones, cameras and accessories.

0:00:36.280,0:00:40.700
There is almost zero chance of
excitement in the next seven minutes.

0:00:40.700,0:00:42.400
Let’s get started.

0:00:42.400,0:00:46.920
Now none of these are branded. They’re
all from generic Chinese manufacturers.

0:00:46.920,0:00:51.480
So I’m just going to call them Power Bank A,
Power Bank B and Power Bank C.

0:00:51.480,0:00:53.820
All of them can charge multiple devices at once.

0:00:53.820,0:00:57.880
And they’ll work with both my
smartphones and my action cameras.

0:00:57.880,0:01:02.260
Two of these I bought with my own money.
The other one I was sent for free.

0:01:02.260,0:01:06.000
But, as always, I will give you an unbiased review.

0:01:06.000,0:01:11.439
On this channel, I will always be straight with you.
I will always give you an honest opinion.

0:01:11.439,0:01:16.280
So, firstly, I have this rugged and
supposedly waterproof power bank.

0:01:16.280,0:01:20.940
This one, which I’m calling Power Bank A,
is priced at £45 GBP on Amazon.

0:01:20.940,0:01:24.660
I will say up front that it’s not
worth that as far as I’m concerned.

0:01:24.660,0:01:27.160
And there are plenty of similar
ones available on Amazon

0:01:27.160,0:01:30.000
that can be picked up for about half that price.

0:01:30.000,0:01:35.400
Power Bank A has a battery capacity
of 22,000 milliamp hours (mAh).

0:01:35.400,0:01:37.759
Which is plenty big, in all honesty.

0:01:37.759,0:01:41.040
A quick lesson for you now about batteries.

0:01:41.040,0:01:45.720
In case you weren’t aware, there are two
important numbers when it comes to batteries.

0:01:45.720,0:01:49.020
If you take the battery out of
your camera or your phone

0:01:49.020,0:01:54.060
then you will see values on it for Voltage,
which is a number followed by the letter “V”,

0:01:54.060,0:01:59.400
and for milliamp hours, which is usually written
as a number followed by the letters “mAh”.

0:01:59.400,0:02:02.820
So here is an example of a Sony battery.

0:02:02.820,0:02:06.620
As you can see, this is the Sony NP-BX1.

0:02:06.620,0:02:11.300
If you have a Sony camera then there’s a
good chance you own one of these already.

0:02:11.300,0:02:14.000
As you can see, this battery is 3.6 Volts

0:02:14.000,0:02:19.920
and it has a capacity of 1240 milliamp hours.

0:02:19.920,0:02:24.800
The voltage value is something I’m
sure most of you already understand.

0:02:24.800,0:02:31.080
“Voltage” tells you the size of the electronic
force that’s pushing electrons out of the battery.

0:02:31.080,0:02:34.260
That’s the simplest way I can think of for describing Voltage.

0:02:34.260,0:02:38.700
The battery is pushing electrons out
of one side and, in normal operation,

0:02:38.700,0:02:42.560
electrons are also coming back into
the battery from the other side.

0:02:42.560,0:02:47.660
And this is a lovely little visual
animation of a battery in action.

0:02:47.660,0:02:51.820
Most of the batteries you’ll come
across will have a voltage of 1.5

0:02:51.820,0:02:57.580
So this AA, this size C and this size D are all 1.5 Volts.

0:02:57.580,0:03:03.360
They are noticeably different though, and the
difference between them is all to do with capacity.

0:03:03.360,0:03:06.460
In other words, how long can they keep running.

0:03:06.460,0:03:10.400
And that’s the second most important
metric when it comes to batteries

0:03:10.400,0:03:12.380
“What is the battery capacity?”

0:03:12.380,0:03:15.960
In other words: how much energy can we get out of it?

0:03:15.960,0:03:24.860
So, this Power Bank A has a battery
capacity of 22,000 mAh. Is that a lot?

0:03:24.860,0:03:27.620
Well, yes that’s quite a lot for day-to-day use.

0:03:27.620,0:03:32.080
For the sake of comparison,
this is my four-year-old GoPro.

0:03:32.080,0:03:36.959
The battery inside of this GoPro is just 1000 mAh.

0:03:36.960,0:03:41.280
And the battery inside my main camera
is about the same size as well.

0:03:41.280,0:03:52.120
What that means is that the 22,000 mAh battery in
Power Bank A could recharge this GoPro 22 times.

0:03:52.120,0:03:58.799
Here’s a quick visual comparison of battery
sizes in some popular cameras and phones.

0:03:58.799,0:04:06.020
Power Bank A has enough capacity to recharge
a large modern smartphone maybe five or six times.

0:04:06.020,0:04:13.040
Alternatively, it could recharge a modern iPad
about three times over. That’s a pretty big capacity.

0:04:13.040,0:04:15.620
So some quick observations first.

0:04:15.620,0:04:20.860
This Power Bank A is trying very,
very hard to look outdoorsy.

0:04:20.860,0:04:24.240
It has this powerful torch light on the back.

0:04:24.240,0:04:27.100
Which could come in handy if
you’re away from civilization.

0:04:27.100,0:04:29.900
It also has multiple modes of operation.

0:04:29.900,0:04:31.720
There we go: SOS.

0:04:31.720,0:04:37.600
This carabiner here suggests it’s something to take
with you when you go hiking or mountain climbing.

0:04:37.600,0:04:42.320
However, I’ve got to say, I’m not
convinced it’s particularly rugged.

0:04:42.320,0:04:45.520
It feels very light and very plasticky.

0:04:45.520,0:04:50.440
And these blue lights on the front are
supposed to tell you how much charge remains.

0:04:50.440,0:04:54.100
But, as you may be able to see,
they’re not exactly working well.

0:04:54.100,0:04:58.000
Which suggests the build quality is pretty poor.

0:04:58.000,0:05:02.140
Also, I am very skeptical about
the claim that it’s waterproof

0:05:02.140,0:05:08.320
because this cover over the USB
inputs and outputs is very, very flimsy.

0:05:08.320,0:05:13.200
It could probably keep out some light
rain but, realistically, that’s the limit.

0:05:13.200,0:05:16.260
I definitely wouldn’t be taking it swimming with me.

0:05:16.260,0:05:21.680
The next solar power bank that
I’ve got was given to me for free!

0:05:21.680,0:05:25.640
This is Power Bank B. It normally
costs £20 GBP on Amazon.

0:05:25.640,0:05:32.460
And I think that it’s far, far superior to the
more expensive one I actually paid for.

0:05:32.460,0:05:38.320
When you look at them side by side, a couple
of things are immediately obvious, I would hope.

0:05:38.320,0:05:43.120
Firstly, they are both using
exactly the same solar panel.

0:05:43.120,0:05:47.280
And I do mean exactly the same
in every way. It is identical.

0:05:47.280,0:05:52.460
Secondly, this cheaper power
bank is significantly smaller.

0:05:52.460,0:05:57.920
However, what will probably surprise you is that
the smaller power bank is actually much heavier.

0:05:57.920,0:06:02.100
And it also has a much bigger internal battery.

0:06:02.100,0:06:06.900
It can store almost 5000 mAh more than the first one.

0:06:06.900,0:06:11.820
The total capacity is close to 27,000 mAh.

0:06:13.120,0:06:17.560
I do think Power Bank B does seem
to be of a much better build quality.

0:06:17.560,0:06:20.880
While this one does claim to be rugged and waterproof

0:06:20.880,0:06:26.620
it does feel like Power Bank B will
outlast Power Bank A by many years.

0:06:26.620,0:06:32.040
What it doesn’t have is an inbuilt torch but,
to be honest, that’s a very, very minor concern.

0:06:32.040,0:06:36.400
So, at this stage of the game,
Power Bank B is definitely in the lead.

0:06:36.400,0:06:40.880
But let’s not decide too quickly because
now it’s time to review Power Bank C.

0:06:40.880,0:06:45.340
And, on paper, this one is supposed
to be better than both of the others.

0:06:45.340,0:06:50.880
Power Bank C will set you back a little bit more
than Power Bank B. It costs £27 GBP on Amazon.

0:06:50.880,0:06:57.560
It does have a slightly bigger solar panel. It also has
the same large internal capacity as Power Bank B.

0:06:57.560,0:07:00.600
It’s supposed to be rugged and
waterproof, just like Power Bank A.

0:07:00.600,0:07:02.639
And it has an inbuilt torch as well.

0:07:02.639,0:07:06.080
While the other two can only
charge two devices at once,

0:07:06.080,0:07:10.160
Power Bank C can charge up to four devices at once.

0:07:10.160,0:07:12.000
But wait… there’s more!

0:07:12.000,0:07:15.980
Power Bank C has a very special party piece:

0:07:15.980,0:07:18.280
Wireless Charging!

0:07:18.280,0:07:21.280
This little gadget can wirelessly charge your phone.

0:07:21.280,0:07:25.480
That’s obviously only going to be possible if
you have one of those newfangled phones

0:07:25.480,0:07:28.780
that can utilize wireless charging stations.

0:07:28.780,0:07:31.380
Luckily for us… I do!

0:07:31.380,0:07:36.300
This is my Ulefone Armor 6.
It’s also a rugged and waterproof device.

0:07:36.300,0:07:41.560
And I’m now going to try and charge
it wirelessly using Power Bank C.

0:07:41.560,0:07:45.680
OK, so what you’re supposed to do
is press this button to turn it on.

0:07:45.680,0:07:47.920
The light turns red.

0:07:47.920,0:07:52.020
And then you put your smartphone on top here.

0:07:52.020,0:07:55.340
And, if it’s working, the light should turn blue.

0:07:55.340,0:08:01.360
It has turned blue and my phone
is now charging wirelessly.

0:08:01.360,0:08:05.680
What I’ve got here are two
rugged and waterproof devices.

0:08:05.680,0:08:10.900
One of them, a solar power bank,
that’s recharging the other one.

0:08:10.900,0:08:14.639
I know I’m too easily pleased but
that has really impressed me!

0:08:14.639,0:08:16.680
I love that.

0:08:16.680,0:08:23.200
OK, so having reviewed all three of these,
I now need to decide which is the best.

0:08:23.200,0:08:25.760
Power Bank A: what can i say?

0:08:25.760,0:08:29.820
I really don’t like Power Bank A.
It feels bulky. It has poor build quality.

0:08:29.820,0:08:34.380
It’s a lot more expensive and it has the
smallest battery capacity of the three.

0:08:34.380,0:08:39.880
Now, to be fair, 22,000 mAh is still a huge amount.

0:08:39.880,0:08:44.580
Taking everything into account though,
I’ll definitely be sending this one back.

0:08:44.580,0:08:52.240
Power Bank B and Power Bank C have the same
battery capacity: almost 27,000 mAh each.

0:08:52.240,0:08:56.700
They both seem well built and
I’d be happy to own either of these.

0:08:56.700,0:08:59.680
I do give the edge to Power Bank C, however.

0:08:59.680,0:09:03.700
Simply because it’s more rugged
and it has wireless charging.

0:09:03.700,0:09:05.860
Right now that’s not a big deal.

0:09:05.860,0:09:09.660
In future, wireless charging of
your phone will become the norm.

0:09:09.660,0:09:14.240
And having that facility on a rugged,
waterproof device is fantastic.

0:09:14.240,0:09:18.540
So, overall, I’m going to declare
Power Bank C the winner.

0:09:18.540,0:09:21.640
But now it’s time to be really, really honest.

0:09:21.640,0:09:25.200
One important thing to remember
about all of these solar power banks

0:09:25.200,0:09:28.540
is that they aren’t actually that good at solar charging.

0:09:28.540,0:09:33.240
You are supposed to charge them at
home and then take them out with you.

0:09:33.240,0:09:37.839
Because the solar panels can’t
really generate a lot of energy.

0:09:37.839,0:09:42.940
This is a gimmick at best, because the
solar recharge rate is very, very slow.

0:09:42.940,0:09:48.220
And, for that reason, I can’t really bring
myself to recommend any of these.

0:09:48.220,0:09:54.160
Also, they are pretty damned heavy and I don’t
fancy keeping one of them in my camera bag.

0:09:54.160,0:09:59.700
They’re only useful if you’re genuinely
heading into the wilderness for a week.

0:09:59.700,0:10:05.300
Obviously (obviously) I’m holding on to
this one that they sent me as a gift for free.

0:10:05.300,0:10:10.000
But I don’t recommend that you
should buy a solar power bank.

0:10:10.000,0:10:14.720
In the meantime, I’m actually going
to keep this in my camera bag.

0:10:14.720,0:10:18.120
It’s a 5000 mAh power bank.

0:10:18.120,0:10:23.839
It cost me just £10 GBP and I picked it up
at my local supermarket a few years ago.

0:10:23.839,0:10:30.160
It’s extremely thin and lightweight. It will charge
the average big modern smartphone at least once

0:10:30.160,0:10:32.920
Which is perfect if you’re just heading out for the day.

0:10:32.920,0:10:37.120
And this one can also charge two devices at once.

0:10:37.120,0:10:41.020
So my consumer advice is as follows:

0:10:41.020,0:10:45.180
Do not buy a solar power bank!

0:10:45.180,0:10:48.480
In fact, don’t buy any large capacity power bank.

0:10:48.480,0:10:53.400
They are cumbersome and the
solar charging rate is very, very slow.

0:10:53.400,0:11:00.460
The only reason to get one of these is if you are
genuinely going into the wilderness for a few days.

0:11:00.460,0:11:04.440
Most of you are better off getting
a small and slim power bank.

0:11:04.440,0:11:09.340
And you really don’t need one bigger than 10,000 mAh.

0:11:09.340,0:11:13.040
So there you have it. More useful consumer advice.

0:11:13.040,0:11:15.720
There are links in the description if you decide

0:11:15.720,0:11:19.760
you do want to buy any of the power
banks I’ve featured in the show today.

0:11:19.760,0:11:22.880
This has been another episode of Tech Tuesdays.

0:11:22.880,0:11:25.720
I’ll be back again next week with more.

0:11:25.720,0:11:27.480
Later nerds!

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