How many times have you heard the dreaded "beep" of your phone, warning you that you have only a few minutes of battery life left? We've all been there, and generally the solution is to either charge your phone at the nearest outlet or turn it off and conserve the precious few minutes of power it has left. Today we're going to review a third option: the Ontrion LifeCharge Pack with LED light.
The LifeCharge Pack is a small device that packs a 4500mAh battery. That size is three times larger than the rated power for Apple's iPhone 5, and twice as large as the Samsung Galaxy S3. Based on the specs, the device should allow a user to run their phone for days without needing to plug into a fixed power source, although we don't recommend using this as anything more than a stopgap for a tablet like the iPad or Kindle Fire.
- 94 x 43 x24 mm, 113g
- Capacity: 4500 mAh
- Input: 5v-1 amp
- Output: 5v-1 amp
- Full Charge Time: 6.5 Hours
- Four blue LED lights show capacity
- Input: MicroUSB
- Output: USB
Although the Ontrion LifeCharge Pack comes in both black and white, we only received the black version to review. The device looks slick with a glossy piano black top and bottom and a chrome band around the middle. The charger has only a single button on the top, a micro USB port on the side to charge it, and a regular USB port on another side to charge other devices. There's also an LED next to the regular USB port to use as a makeshift flashlight.
A single button press illuminates four blue LEDs that tell the user how much power is left for charging. If your phone is connected via the USB cable, then the single button press begins the charging function. Holding the power button down will turn the flashlight LED on and off.
While the flashlight is nice in a pinch, it won't be something you want to rely on in most situations since the LED flash on your cell phone is far brighter and more useful. I would've prefered to see a red laser pointer on the LifeCharge Pack, as that would be handy to use during presentations while on the go. Overall, though, that's a minor quibble.
So how does the Ontrion LifeCharge Pack with LED light hold up in the real world? To test the device's power, I decided to test the performance by using only the LifeCharge Pack to power our Samsung Galaxy S3. On a normal day, my S3 usually gets down to around 30% capacity. I plug the S3 into the wall before I got to bed so that I'm at 100% the next morning. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I ran the test in two different ways to see if there was a noticable difference in capacity if the LifeCharge was left plugged in, even after the phone was fully charged.
- Replace the wall charge with the Ontrion LifeCharge Pack overnight
- Fully charge the S3 with the Ontrion LifeCharge Pack then disconnect before bed
I'm happy to report that both tests performed identically, so there's no concern with "overcharging" and draining the battery of the LifeCharge Pack by leaving it plugged into an already charged device. In each case, using a fully charged LifeCharge Pack, I was able to charge my Samsung Galaxy S3 up to 100% two nights in a row, and up to 85% on the third night. In essence, this device allowed me to use my phone for four straight days without having to plug it into the wall--an impressive feat.
How fast does the LifeCharge Pack charge up the phone? In my tests, I was getting roughly 1% of extra battery power for every two minutes of charging, based on the battery usage meter shown on the Galaxy S3. By comparison, plugging directly into the wall gave me roughly 1% of extra battery power for every 1.5 minutes of charging. This was an unscientific study: Regular background processes, such as Touchdown (email), were always running in the background, but the comparisons give a good ratio.
Overall, I can highly recommend this product for anyone who needs a way to charge when you're not near a power outlet. The performance is very good, providing over half a week of regular phone usage on a fully charged LifeCharge Pack. Its compact size makes it easy to put into a pocket or in a bag, and it does what it says it does: charge your portable device.
There are a few minor complaints. First, the LED flashlight isn't much of a feature. Sure, it'll work in a pinch, but in most cases you'd be better off using an app on your smartphone that allows you to activate the LED flash as a flashlight as it's much brighter. It would've been nice for the road warrior to have a laser pointer instead. The other minor issue is that it costs $45, and there are other devices with cheaper price points and/or higher battery capacities. However, since I haven't had a chance to use any of those devices, I can't say how they compare to the LifeCharge Pack.
The only other minor issue is that of branding. I've been calling it the "LifeCharge Pack," because that's what the box says. However the back of the device says "Power Bank," and has no company branding at all. Even Ontrion's own page adds to the confusion, calling it the LifeCharge Power Bank in a few spots. As Shakespeare says, "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
That said, if you need a way to power your smartphone while away from a power outlet, don't hesitate to pick up the Ontrion LifeCharge Pack with LED Light.