28
Dec
CIMG1148

The stakes for the ZAGGsparq 2.0 aren't low -- after all, the 6000mAh charger won not one, but two innovation awards at CES 2010, and its claim to charge a smartphone up to four times is downright stunning. But underneath the shiny black exterior and all the fancy marketing prose, is it really all that? Well, not quite...

At A Glance

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The ZAGGsparq 2.0 features:

  • 6000mAh of juice
  • Dual charging ports -- one labeled "general," and the other "optimized"
  • Compatibility with both phones and tablets

The Good

  • 6000mAh – It’s not the most powerful or juice-filled portable battery we’ve come across, but with 6000mAh under its hood, the ZAGGsparq 2.0 still isn’t anything to scoff at… at least not on paper.
  • Dual USB ports – Never underestimate just how convenient it can be to have two USB charging ports on your battery pack – especially if you have multiple phones. One is labeled “regular,” and the other “optimized.”
  • “Optimized” charging port – Truth be told, I’m not quite sure what the technical difference is between the ZAGGsparq’s “regular” and “optimized” ports, and in practice I didn’t see much of a difference between them; but still, it’s a nice feature to have (if only for bragging rights).
  • Lightweight – Though its plastic body suggests questionable build quality, at least the ZAGGsparq won’t weigh you down.

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  • 4 LED charge indicators – At the bottom of one of the ZAGGsparq’s sides lies a clean black button that, upon a press of your finger, illuminates a certain number of orange lights above it. If four lights light up, you have 80%-100% of your battery left; if only three are lit, you’ve got 60-80%; if two, 40%-60%; if one, 20%-40%; and if none, 0%-20%.

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  • Unique flip-out power plug – For the most part, the ZAGGsparq doesn’t have all that many defining features; after all, it’s somewhat difficult to find a unique feature that really makes a portable charger stand out. However, its power plug is somewhat different than most – instead of being permanently fixed in one position, it can be maneuvered so that it’s either upright and smooth against the left wall of the charger, or so that it sticks out and can be plugged into an AC port.

The Bad

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It was worth a try…

  • No Honeycomb tablet support – When I tried to plug my ASUS EEE Pad Slider into the ZAGGsparq 2.0, I was greeted with a rather unpleasant surprise: both the “regular” and “optimized” ports of the ZAGGsparq are incapable of charging an Android 3.0 tablet. To be sure, the Slider definitely recognized that something had been plugged into it, as it awoke from sleep mode; but charge it did not. ZAGG’s website does list compatibility with the iPad, though, making the case all the more curious.
  • Poor build quality – Quite frankly, the ZAGGsparq 2.0 feels like it could break or spontaneously split open at any second. My first review unit arrived with a broken power plug.
  • Less than desirable charging speeds – While it’s not unbearably slow, the ZAGGsparq’s charging speeds aren’t quite up to par with some other chargers. Have a look at the statistics:

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    • As you can see, I plugged my EVO into the ZAGGsparq just before 3:30 p.m.; it wasn’t fully charged until a few minutes after 7:00 p.m. When the device was charged up to about 50%, I switched it from the “general” port to the “optimized” port; as you can see, the charging speed actually seemed to decrease. Disappointing to say the least.
  • No LED indicator for 0%-20% – As mentioned above in “The Good” section, the ZAGGsparq relies on a series of LED lights to display the amount of juice left. When the amount of remaining battery power drops below 20%, however, no lights are illuminated, making it impossible to tell whether the ZAGGsparq is completely dead or still contains some power.
  • Price – At $99.99, it’s very difficult to recommend the ZAGGsparq 2.0 over, say, our recently reviewed DroidAX PortaCharge – sure, it’s only 5400mAh, but it’s got a nifty digital screen, and Cameron’s tests seem to indicate it’s more capable than the ZAGGsparq in practice. And more importantly, it costs just half the price ($50).
  • Limited amount of charges – Herein lies the ZAGGsparq’s single largest fault: while 6000mAh sounds powerful enough, the battery is, for some unfathomable reason, unable to charge my 1730mAh EVO 3D more than 2 (2.5 at most) times. This is particularly underwhelming since ZAGG’s website claims the charger can fill up “most” smartphones 4 times – granted, the EVO 3D’s battery is probably a bit larger than “most,” but the ZAGGsparq should still be easily capable of charging it up at least 3 times.

Conclusion

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Frankly, I can’t think of a single reason to pick the ZAGGsparq 2.0 over the competition – it’s comparatively expensive, charges rather sluggishly, and certainly doesn’t live up to ZAGG’s claim of being able to recharge “most” smartphones four times. At the end of the day, the ZAGGsparq is an undeniably disappointing device, and I can’t in good conscience recommend it.

Jaroslav Stekl
Jaroslav Stekl is a tech enthusiast whose favorite gadgets almost always happen to be the latest Android devices. When he's not writing for Android Police, he's probably hiking, camping, or canoeing. He is also an aspiring coffee aficionado and an avid moviegoer.

  • Jeffrey Young

    Not sure how it equates, but I noticed on my Galaxy Nexus LTE that the general port shows as charging AC and the optimized port shows USB.

  • Scott

    The Zagg Sparq 2.0 charges both my Kindle Fire and Dell Streak 7, so it does work with (at least one) Honeycomb tablet.

    The XPAL chargers are really excellent. The XP4000 charges more and faster than the Sparq does even though it's rated at 4000 mAh vs 6000 mAh, respectively.

  • Anand

    Many of the bigger tablets can't be charged via USB. This isn't a fault of this portable battery but an issue on the tablet side.

  • himi

    bought the zagg sparq 2.0 about a year ago. having it for a few months i was expecting charging my phone (htc desire) only twice will improve. it did not, so i returned it to zagg. they accepted it as faulty and i got another one. this was the same story. after some discussions i gave up and bought another product. i would not recommend zagg sparq 2.0 to anyone, it won't charge any iphone-like phone 4 times as they claim. there are much better and even cheaper products out there!

  • http://www.octechnophile.com david amodt

    i've got one. despite the negative reviews, it works for me. charges phones on the go. tablets and iPad's need 10W outlets and requires a bunch of juice.

  • tvBilly

    Note also that it has terrible shelf life when sitting on the shelf, fully charged, but unused. Even though the battery type is LiIon, which has a negligible self-dischage, the circuitry in the sparq 2 draws enough current when it's not being used so that a fully charged sparq sitting on the shelf will be dead in a month. If it were designed correctly, it should be able to keep 85% of its charge sitting unused for six months. Even at half price (zagg has frequent sales), it's no bargain.

  • http://mexedavian.yolasite.com Mexedavian

    Yeah I have an ASUS Slider too. I've heard that this actually does not work; no matter what device. I read on Amazon that it dies completely and if not, it doesn't hold as many charges as promised on an iPod Touch or iPad. Some Android applications are apparently not compatible with the ASUS Slider. Does anyone know if Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) will make more applications compatible with the Slider? If not when Android 4.0 comes out, when are developers going to make more applications compatible with the Slider? Anyone know?

  • Michael

    It has nothing to do with the Operating system, it has to do with the power provided over USB. The problem with the Asus Eee Pad line is that they charge using the USB 3.0 Standard, they actually have an extra pin in the USB cable. That won't work with the Zagg Sparq. I'm not validating such, just pointing out a improper fact in the review. Try charging a Samsung Galaxy Tab with the device, they use a 2A charge like the Sparq supposedly supports through the 2.0 standard (just like an iPad) see what happens.

    It's actually similar to the issue that popped up when the iPad was released with charging off USB. Some computers don't offer a large enough charge to the iPad which resulted in the "Not Charging" Message.

    The Transformer line WILL charge....just very slowly and only when the device is off.

  • http://mexedavian.yolasite.com mexedavian

    Oh OK. Do you know why so me apps aren't compatible with the ASUS tablet line? I really want to get these certain apps on the market,but they aren't compatible. Any solutions?

  • Vineet bhojnagarwala

    I've used one myself, it discharges completely giveing an ipad2 40% juice. At times tried charging both iPad and nexusS both plugged in together at almost around 2-3% battery, found my nexus dead after a while and iPad at 30%, and the sparq too dead. Bad product.

  • http://www.goodandevo.net Paul King

    I have a similar product that was given to me for review. Some things to note are if you're charging a 3500mAh battery with a 3500mAh portable battery charger, you'll get a charge of about 2700mAh.

    A charger with a 6000mAh battery is probably going to charge 4000mAh.

    Your slow charging speeds and tablet issues are probably because it's not charging at an amp or higher... pad probably needs 1-1.5amps charger and plugging this in would just drain it.

    These things are good for carrying around to get you a charge when you notice you're screwed, but unless you get 5-10x your battery, you're not getting anything overly impressive out of it.

  • http://twitter.com/binghypo Bing Hypotenuse

    NewTrent. I bought one of theirs over a year ago for charging my Droid X while on weekend camping trips and bicycle tours, and it's been rock solid. Their current max is 11,000 mAh. I can't recommend it highly enough.

  • fwald

    I bought one and not only was the charging ability underwhelming, as others have documented here, but the flip-out plug is flimsy and was broken in six months.

  • Tim

    Hi Jaroslav, - I first appreciate you reviewing the Sparq2.0. I have to disagree though with alot of what you have said. I have been using the 2.0 on my iPhone for the past year and have had nothing but success. Yes it doesn't charge as quickly, (speed), as a wall outlet, but that is one of the detriments of a portable power unit. For what I use it for and the many others, it's a awesome little aesthetically pleasing device. Everyone has an opinion, but for what it's worth, this device was just what I was looking for, and a 6000mah powerhouse.

  • Denny

    What is even worse is that I have purchased 2 of them, and neither lasted over a year.

  • Carlos

    Im late to the party but i got this for ten dollars at a yard sale about 5 months ago and I'd say i got my moneys worth and then some :p. I get about 2 and a half charges with it and thats more than what i need really so im fine with all its "down sides" considering the price i got it for.