12
Oct
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Running out of juice in your smartphone or tablet is a part of life. An unfortunate part, no doubt, but it's something that we all have to deal with. As if a depleted battery isn't bad enough, we're not always in an ideal place to recharge, either. In order to combat this annoying quandary, I never leave the house without a portable charger. Having an extra battery that can quickly top off my tablet or phone at any given moment has saved me more times than I can count, and I think everybody should have one. I've spent the last few weeks using the Mophie Powerstation Duo as my go-to charger - let's take a closer look at all it has to offer, shall we?

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  • Features: 6,000mAh, Dual 2.1 Amp charging ports, LED power indicator
  • Dimensions: 2.28" x 4.30" x 0.78"
  • Cost: $99
  • Availability: Mophie, Amazon

Design, Feel, and Build Quality

The first thing I noticed about the Powerstation Duo after cracking open the package is that it looks quite a bit like a phone. A really thick phone. But still, a phone. I actually like the design and look of it.

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The front and back are coated in a soft-touch plastic that feels pretty incredible. The sides are wrapped in a nice unpolished aluminum, giving the entire thing a very clean, minimal, matte look. Very sophisticated. The front is graced by a solitary Mophie logo, as well as some invisible LED lights that don't show until you hit the button directly below (on the side). That's actually one of the my favorite features of the PD, because it just adds to the overall minimalistic appearance.

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On the back, you'll find three small icons indicating what the USB ports (found on the very top) do: two for powering other devices and a microUSB port for charging the Mophie itself. At the bottom is all the normal regulatory junk and the serial number.

The unit is solid and feels really well put together, with all seams joining nicely as to not leave any gaps. It's heavy for the size (like most portable chargers) and feels really dense in the hand. The solitary button on the device has a nice click feeling when depressed, and is quite stable.

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Overall, the design of the PD is probably the best I've seen in a portable charger, and it's really well made. I love that everything is matte, and the fact that the USB ports are on top of the device makes it easy to charge your phone or tablet without having to take the unit out of your bag.

Functionality and Use

The way I see it, there are only a few things one needs to consider when picking a portable charger: how well it's made, battery capacity and output, and which devices it will charge. We've already covered the foremost consideration, so let's take a look at the the latter two now.

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As stated above, the Powerstation Duo packs a reasonable 6,000mAh battery and dual USB ports. That's enough to charge the LTE Galaxy Nexus' 1,850mAh battery from zero to full three times with a little to spare. Needless to say, that comes in handy.

One thing you probably never have to worry about with chargers such as this one is phone compatibility. What's questionable, though, is whether or not it will juice your tablet. Unfortunately, the state of Android slates isn't what we'd like it to be: the iPad is the undisputed champion in that realm, and thus, most chargers are made to suit. As a result, they may or may not work with most Android tablets. The Mophie Powerstation Duo is no exception.

During my tests, the PD was pretty hit and miss. Considering this is my third or fourth portable charger review, though, I already had a good idea of which tabs would work out of the box. In a nutshell: anything from the ASUS Transformer line is a no-go, but the original Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1/8.9 both work beautifully, as do the Toshiba Excite 10 and 7.7. Given the Nexus 7's microUSB charging port and 2 amp stock charger, I figured the Mophie would juice it up without issue - but I was wrong. The PD will not charge the Nexus 7, and I'm honestly not sure why. Theoretically, there should be no problem - the N7 charges over microUSB and the PD has a strong enough output, but it just doesn't work. I'm still baffled by this.

The one exception here is if the N7 is turned off. To me, that makes it basically unusable, because I don't want to render my device useless just to charge it.

Conclusion

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At the end of the day, this can be the most aesthetically pleasing, well built charger on the market, but if it doesn't deliver the charge you need, it's useless. The fact that it can't charge what's now the most popular Android tablet on the market is a huge ding for the Powerstation Duo - one that leaves me in no position but to reserve recommendation for current or would-be N7 owners.

If you have a different tablet, however, it might be worth your while. I was only able to test it out with the tablets I had immediately accessible to me, so your experience may vary if you're using it on one that I didn't mention.

It's worth noting here that if you're looking for a good charger that will work with the Nexus 7, the SPIGEN kuel f60Q is an excellent option. While it doesn't offer dual charging ports like the Powerstation Duo, it's a worthy investment if you only need to charge one device at a time.

Buy ($99): Mophie, Amazon

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    >> The one exception here is if the N7 is turned off. To me, that makes it basically unusable, because I don't want to render my device useless just to charge it.

    I recall that when my Nexus 7 arrived, I read that (forgot from where, may be a paper inside the package or online) it won't be chargeable if it's hooked up to a computer's USB port when it's turned on. In reality, I can do that without any problem. However, may be it has something to do with your experience here.

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    Ok, here it is:

    http://support.google.com/nexus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2568820

    It states: Your Nexus 7 can be charged via the USB port on a computer only when Nexus 7 is in sleep mode (screen off) or turned off.

    As I said above, I can always charge it thru my computer even when the screen is on. I am not even using the cable that comes with the Nexus 7 (it's the cable I got from my OG Droid.)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      That's because USB ports only put out 500mA to 900mA, which isn't enough to charge the N7. This unit puts out 2.1A, which should theoretically be enough to charge it without problems..

      The SPIGEN kuel f60Q I mention at the end of the article puts out 2A, and it charges the N7 just fine, which is part of the reason I'm so confused.

      • ins0mn1a

        i had a problem with third party in-wall chargers for nex7 as well. the standard 5V / 2A USB tablet charger should be a no-brainer, one would think, but no, some of them didn't work. what i managed to discern through some web-digging is that there are deliberate limitations in place on the amount of charge that can be pulled via USB when you connect a device to a "dumb" source (i.e. a wall outlet or battery pack as opposed to a host computer that can negotiate and regulate the charge). this limit is well below the optimal charging current for tablets, so other methods are used to signal the tablet into pulling more charge, and this usually involves the shorting of data connections on a USB of a charger in some way. unfortunately, this is not standardized, so different tablets have different implementations, and are compatible only with appropriate chargers.

        what i never managed to find out (wtf internet?) is how exactly this is done. i was all set to hack a nex7-incompatible charger that I purchased in my misguided search, but couldn't find a way to do it. probably not a good idea to hack a $100 battery pack anyway though, but i would still like to know what exactly they do to those data pins, just for the heck of it.

        tl;dr: there is no standard USB 5V / 2A charger.

      • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

        As I said, I have no problem charging it from my PC's USB port, even when the screen is on (the Google notice only says that the Nexus 7 cannot be charged via a PC's USB port when its screen is on.)

  • Alan

    Get yourself a charge-only cable (i.e. one with the two data lines shorted), and I'm sure you'll have better luck.

  • SK

    I don't get why all these new portable chargers are still can't beat the New Trent IMP99D. It's cheaper (got it on sale for $42) and has more capacity (9900mAh) than all these new ones!

    • smeddy

      I agree except with the yaoboo 12000ma, which is the exact same design as this one - for 40 quid (UK)