Is anyone else frustrated that it is 2015 and cell phone batteries seem to be bone dry when you want them or need them? What about when you need to charge your phone and no outlet is available? This brings me to the actual point of this review. We are perpetually reliant on batteries and more specifically charging these batteries.
I currently have an iPhone 5 64GB that is attached at my hip (yes I know it is old, I preordered the 6s Plus in 64GB). To me this a necessity, one that I now struggle to live without. I do not think I am alone in having to charge my phone every night, squeezing as much time out of the battery as possible. Screen dimmed, excess apps closed, background data switched off for apps until I need them. Even with these small energy hacks I still tend to use my phone all day and end the day with less than 10% battery.
When there is no wall power you need other means to charge your device. My lovely wife bought me a ReVive Solar Restore (model chsr000100bkew) this past Christmas from Amazon and I have been itching to try out this solar battery. I have never had a solar charger and I decided to give this a test over this past weekend.
Fast forward to my first primitive camping trip with my 6 year old son, the Cub Scout. Yes, I said primitive. This means tent, backpack, sleeping bag, no power, no plugs, limited tech. It is not completely backwoods, as there is a shower/bath house with running water. We had 48 hours with no source to charge, other than the stored charge on my battery pack and the potential for solar recharge. Who could ask for a better test situation?
The rule of thumb for primitive camping tends to be pack light, pack only what you need. This device seemed to fit the requirements as it is about the size of my iphone 5 in nearly all aspects. The manufacturer specs are 2.2 x 4.6 x 7.8 inches, at a weight of 5.6 ounces.
The device is phone shaped, has a battery indicator button on the back, included micro USB charger and has a weird LED snake light on the side which seems like an after-thought. Most smartphones have built-in or app flashlights. Thus it seems more important to use the battery power for my device and not a flashlight that does not like to stay in its holder. I digress, enough about the flashlight. The instructions state the ReVive Solar Restore pack will charge via included micro USB in 5 hours, AC charge in 3 hours, solar charge to 50% in 6 hours sunlight. This is conveniently printed on the case as listed. What does this actually mean?
Prior to the trip, I charged the device via USB to my laptop and had 100% power in about 5 hours as advertised. Starting at 10% phone power, I plugged up the device via my lightning USB cable (not included) to my iphone 5 and waited. After 2.5 hours I was at 98% on my phone and the battery pack showed 50% remaining. I continued to use my device a while longer and went to bed for the night. In the morning my phone had 60% power. I again plugged up the device (battery indicator 50%) and waited. After 1 hour the phone was at 78% and the device battery was empty.
In the morning I laid the device out in direct sunlight for the recommended 6 hours and, as advertised, the battery indicated 50% capacity. I suspected that the battery would only charge about 20% and when I plugged the battery into the iphone I had 22% extra charge.
It appears that the battery indicator on the device is more like a gas gauge in your car than a true percentage remaining. It seems the first 50% provides more power to the device than the second 50%.
I tried this same test with a galaxy s5 from a fellow camper and had similar experience in percentage refilled from solar charge. When I returned home, I charged the device from USB and found similar charging capability for my wife’s galaxy s5. However, the difference here is the included micro USB was all that was needed to charge her phone. So far, both ios and android devices charged fully from 100% battery pack, leaving indicator LED on device at 50%.
I did test a few other aspects of the device. It does not charge well if I used the iphone while simultaneously charging on the device. Typing this review with 10% phone charge and 50% battery indicator on the device got me to 20% phone charge before the device was out of power in about 15 minutes. I recharged it via USB in 3 hours and left my phone attached and increased from 18% to 100%.
This device is inexpensive, costing around $20 and currently has free shipping from amazon. There are a few other devices at this price point, all with similar reviews and stars of about 3.5/5 stars. I do not have other solar chargers or emergency battery with which to compare this device. I can say it was a wonderful gift from my living wife, well worth $20 and I would recommend it to others.
It is easy to use, a good manageable and packable size, works great as emergency backup, maintains a full power charge for at least a week, with indicator still showing 100%. Long story short, if precharged via USB, It will likely give you a full charge on your phone. If you are in a pinch a roughly 20% boost from the solar function can keep you connected and online. The LED solar flashlight, although weird, is another potential perk. It is about as bright as a phone flash light. Again, for 20 bucks I think asking for this device to do more is a bit much. 1500 mAh battery is good, of course 2000+ would be better. The next tests I will pursue will be to charge other non phone devices like my 3ds Xl, ipad air2 64 gb.
Buy on Amazon: ReVIVE ReStore Solar Phone Charger & External Battery Pack