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.
Whatup nerds? I’m Jay Shareef.
Welcome to another episode of Tech Tuesdays.
Every Tuesday I make a video about whatever
gadgets or tech I’ve bought in the last week.
And I’ve had some exciting
deliveries in the last seven days.
I’ve received not one, not two, but
THREE rugged solar power banks.
And today we’re going to have
a look at this quirky little niche.
It’s not as boring as it sounds, OK?
However, I can’t promise a
rollercoaster ride of emotions.
It’s an episode about charging your
phones, cameras and accessories.
There is almost zero chance of
excitement in the next seven minutes.
Let’s get started.
Now none of these are branded. They’re
all from generic Chinese manufacturers.
So I’m just going to call them Power Bank A,
Power Bank B and Power Bank C.
All of them can charge multiple devices at once.
And they’ll work with both my
smartphones and my action cameras.
Two of these I bought with my own money.
The other one I was sent for free.
But, as always, I will give you an unbiased review.
On this channel, I will always be straight with you.
I will always give you an honest opinion.
So, firstly, I have this rugged and
supposedly waterproof power bank.
This one, which I’m calling Power Bank A,
is priced at £45 GBP on Amazon.
I will say up front that it’s not
worth that as far as I’m concerned.
And there are plenty of similar
ones available on Amazon
that can be picked up for about half that price.
Power Bank A has a battery capacity
of 22,000 milliamp hours (mAh).
Which is plenty big, in all honesty.
A quick lesson for you now about batteries.
In case you weren’t aware, there are two
important numbers when it comes to batteries.
If you take the battery out of
your camera or your phone
then you will see values on it for Voltage,
which is a number followed by the letter “V”,
and for milliamp hours, which is usually written
as a number followed by the letters “mAh”.
So here is an example of a Sony battery.
As you can see, this is the Sony NP-BX1.
If you have a Sony camera then there’s a
good chance you own one of these already.
As you can see, this battery is 3.6 Volts
and it has a capacity of 1240 milliamp hours.
The voltage value is something I’m
sure most of you already understand.
“Voltage” tells you the size of the electronic
force that’s pushing electrons out of the battery.
That’s the simplest way I can think of for describing Voltage.
The battery is pushing electrons out
of one side and, in normal operation,
electrons are also coming back into
the battery from the other side.
And this is a lovely little visual
animation of a battery in action.
Most of the batteries you’ll come
across will have a voltage of 1.5
So this AA, this size C and this size D are all 1.5 Volts.
They are noticeably different though, and the
difference between them is all to do with capacity.
In other words, how long can they keep running.
And that’s the second most important
metric when it comes to batteries
“What is the battery capacity?”
In other words: how much energy can we get out of it?
So, this Power Bank A has a battery
capacity of 22,000 mAh. Is that a lot?
Well, yes that’s quite a lot for day-to-day use.
For the sake of comparison,
this is my four-year-old GoPro.
The battery inside of this GoPro is just 1000 mAh.
And the battery inside my main camera
is about the same size as well.
What that means is that the 22,000 mAh battery in
Power Bank A could recharge this GoPro 22 times.
Here’s a quick visual comparison of battery
sizes in some popular cameras and phones.
Power Bank A has enough capacity to recharge
a large modern smartphone maybe five or six times.
Alternatively, it could recharge a modern iPad
about three times over. That’s a pretty big capacity.
So some quick observations first.
This Power Bank A is trying very,
very hard to look outdoorsy.
It has this powerful torch light on the back.
Which could come in handy if
you’re away from civilization.
It also has multiple modes of operation.
There we go: SOS.
This carabiner here suggests it’s something to take
with you when you go hiking or mountain climbing.
However, I’ve got to say, I’m not
convinced it’s particularly rugged.
It feels very light and very plasticky.
And these blue lights on the front are
supposed to tell you how much charge remains.
But, as you may be able to see,
they’re not exactly working well.
Which suggests the build quality is pretty poor.
Also, I am very skeptical about
the claim that it’s waterproof
because this cover over the USB
inputs and outputs is very, very flimsy.
It could probably keep out some light
rain but, realistically, that’s the limit.
I definitely wouldn’t be taking it swimming with me.
The next solar power bank that
I’ve got was given to me for free!
This is Power Bank B. It normally
costs £20 GBP on Amazon.
And I think that it’s far, far superior to the
more expensive one I actually paid for.
When you look at them side by side, a couple
of things are immediately obvious, I would hope.
Firstly, they are both using
exactly the same solar panel.
And I do mean exactly the same
in every way. It is identical.
Secondly, this cheaper power
bank is significantly smaller.
However, what will probably surprise you is that
the smaller power bank is actually much heavier.
And it also has a much bigger internal battery.
It can store almost 5000 mAh more than the first one.
The total capacity is close to 27,000 mAh.
I do think Power Bank B does seem
to be of a much better build quality.
While this one does claim to be rugged and waterproof
it does feel like Power Bank B will
outlast Power Bank A by many years.
What it doesn’t have is an inbuilt torch but,
to be honest, that’s a very, very minor concern.
So, at this stage of the game,
Power Bank B is definitely in the lead.
But let’s not decide too quickly because
now it’s time to review Power Bank C.
And, on paper, this one is supposed
to be better than both of the others.
Power Bank C will set you back a little bit more
than Power Bank B. It costs £27 GBP on Amazon.
It does have a slightly bigger solar panel. It also has
the same large internal capacity as Power Bank B.
It’s supposed to be rugged and
waterproof, just like Power Bank A.
And it has an inbuilt torch as well.
While the other two can only
charge two devices at once,
Power Bank C can charge up to four devices at once.
But wait… there’s more!
Power Bank C has a very special party piece:
This little gadget can wirelessly charge your phone.
That’s obviously only going to be possible if
you have one of those newfangled phones
that can utilize wireless charging stations.
Luckily for us… I do!
This is my Ulefone Armor 6.
It’s also a rugged and waterproof device.
And I’m now going to try and charge
it wirelessly using Power Bank C.
OK, so what you’re supposed to do
is press this button to turn it on.
The light turns red.
And then you put your smartphone on top here.
And, if it’s working, the light should turn blue.
It has turned blue and my phone
is now charging wirelessly.
What I’ve got here are two
rugged and waterproof devices.
One of them, a solar power bank,
that’s recharging the other one.
I know I’m too easily pleased but
that has really impressed me!
I love that.
OK, so having reviewed all three of these,
I now need to decide which is the best.
Power Bank A: what can i say?
I really don’t like Power Bank A.
It feels bulky. It has poor build quality.
It’s a lot more expensive and it has the
smallest battery capacity of the three.
Now, to be fair, 22,000 mAh is still a huge amount.
Taking everything into account though,
I’ll definitely be sending this one back.
Power Bank B and Power Bank C have the same
battery capacity: almost 27,000 mAh each.
They both seem well built and
I’d be happy to own either of these.
I do give the edge to Power Bank C, however.
Simply because it’s more rugged
and it has wireless charging.
Right now that’s not a big deal.
In future, wireless charging of
your phone will become the norm.
And having that facility on a rugged,
waterproof device is fantastic.
So, overall, I’m going to declare
Power Bank C the winner.
But now it’s time to be really, really honest.
One important thing to remember
about all of these solar power banks
is that they aren’t actually that good at solar charging.
You are supposed to charge them at
home and then take them out with you.
Because the solar panels can’t
really generate a lot of energy.
This is a gimmick at best, because the
solar recharge rate is very, very slow.
And, for that reason, I can’t really bring
myself to recommend any of these.
Also, they are pretty damned heavy and I don’t
fancy keeping one of them in my camera bag.
They’re only useful if you’re genuinely
heading into the wilderness for a week.
Obviously (obviously) I’m holding on to
this one that they sent me as a gift for free.
But I don’t recommend that you
should buy a solar power bank.
In the meantime, I’m actually going
to keep this in my camera bag.
It’s a 5000 mAh power bank.
It cost me just £10 GBP and I picked it up
at my local supermarket a few years ago.
It’s extremely thin and lightweight. It will charge
the average big modern smartphone at least once
Which is perfect if you’re just heading out for the day.
And this one can also charge two devices at once.
So my consumer advice is as follows:
Do not buy a solar power bank!
In fact, don’t buy any large capacity power bank.
They are cumbersome and the
solar charging rate is very, very slow.
The only reason to get one of these is if you are
genuinely going into the wilderness for a few days.
Most of you are better off getting
a small and slim power bank.
And you really don’t need one bigger than 10,000 mAh.
So there you have it. More useful consumer advice.
There are links in the description if you decide
you do want to buy any of the power
banks I’ve featured in the show today.
This has been another episode of Tech Tuesdays.
I’ll be back again next week with more.