Power for your pockets
External battery packs are something most smartphone users take for granted. They're not glamorous accessories like cases or headphones or car mounts, but they're important. When you're running out of battery while running through the airport trying to catch your connecting flight because your first flight was stuck on the tarmac for three hours, having a battery pack that is not only dependable but easy to use on the go is not a luxury, it is a necessity. And while I've been using the Zens Qi Wireless Power Bank, it has seen airports, long car rides, stormy nights, and the bottoms of a lot of different bags.
Here's how it held up to all of that.
The Zens isn't exactly svelte, being roughly the same size and shape as an older portable hard drive, but at least it's a size that's easy to pack and plays nice with most gear bags. It's not as thin as some other power banks in this range, but the Qi wireless charging understandably adds a little extra thickness. Both the microUSB in and the USB out ports are on top, with the power button just around the corner. The LED indicator for both power level and Qi charging on the front face above the Qi logo, where the charging coil is located.
The plastic on the front and back plates is a soft-touch plastic that offer a modest amount of grip while still being slick enough to slide in and out of the whatever pouch/pocket/purse you're stowing it in. don't let the silver sides fool you, that's plastic, too, not that that's a bad thing. For a power bank, it feels somewhat light in the hand, but it's still a solid little brick that's fit into my life fairly well.
I chose to review this power bank because I do not have any Qi chargers besides the one that came with my Moto 360 and I wanted to have a spare I could rely on if I left the 360 charger in my apartment during my frequent trips back to Austin. First rule of using gadgets: always have a spare. And while the 360 will indeed charge with the Zens, it doesn't always play exactly nice. Now, granted, no charger will work as well as the stock cradle that comes with the watch — which led to occasional hiccups — but most of the time the Zens gave the Moto 360's small battery much-needed juice and kept it ticking on vacation.
Charging my Moto X with the Zens's wired charging has been a decent experience, with the 2A output usually giving between 20-30% back if I charge it during a newscast. Recharging the unit doesn't take terribly long either, though to be fair, I usually turn to my power banks when my phone's between 25-40% rather than full-on dead.
Qi charging is wonderful and wonderfully easy. And if you're looking for a battery that'll offer both Qi charging for devices that have it and regular wired charging for devices that aren't cool enough to offer it, the Zens Qi Wireless 4500mAh Power Bank fits the bill nicely and can easily keep your devices juiced up over an impromptu weekend getaway or errant power outage. It may not have the highest capacity around, especially for it's size, but the added ease of Qi charging more than makes up for its size, and you can pick one up from us right here.