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.