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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.