Considering how powerful the iPhone and iPad are, their power management is particularly impressive. I can typically use either device all day long without any concern about running out of power. There have been times, however, when I have been out of my office and I have made extensive use of either device, so much so that I am running low as I near the end of the day. This is not a problem when I am close to an outlet because I can simply plug in the devices, but sometimes that is not an option such as if am at a meeting or CLE out of the office with no easy access to an outlet, or if I am traveling. (Airports are getting better about providing power outlets for travelers, but it is not always easy to get a seat close to one.) I used to use small external batteries such as the RichardSolo 1800 to charge my iPhone, but those devices don't provide enough power to charge an iPad while you are using the iPad, and the 30-pin connector doesn't work with the new iPhone 5. RichardSolo sent me a free review unit of the iSound Portable Power Max 16,000 mAh Backup Battery, and I've been using it for the last few weeks. As the name suggests, it contains a huge, 16,000 mAh battery and it outputs 2.5 Amps so it has no trouble providing power to a third generation iPad or an iPhone 5, or any of the earlier iPads or iPhones.
The device itself black on the top and bottom and silver around the edges. It is 5.75" long, 3.25" wide and one inch high. It weighs 14.6 oz., which is one of the few negatives of the device. That's about two-thirds the weight of a third generation iPad, and is over four times the weight of iPhone 5. You're not going to want to carry something this heavy in your pants or shirt pocket, but it will be fine to put it in a briefcase or purse.
The device comes with a simple travel bag to protect it from getting scratched up.
One edge of the device has an on-off switch next to a series of lights. The first light is green when the device is on.
The next four lights are next to a button with a battery icon below it. If you press that button, those four lights will come on depending upon how much power the device has remaining (one light means 25%, two lights mean 50%, etc.).
Finally, there is a LED light and a switch to turn it on as a flashlight. RichardSolo has always loved to sell iPhone batteries that include some sort of flashlight, and I've never understood why, nor have I ever found a reason to use such a light. But given the size of the battery, I suspect that this light could stay on for a VERY VERY LONG time, so if you have a need for a light with a ton of battery power, with this device you have it.
The other edge of the iSound Portable Power Max Backup Battery has five USB ports:
Whether you can actually use all five USB ports at one time depends upon what you are charging. The device will output 2.5 Amps, so your devices cannot total more than that. My understanding is that an iPhone (including an iPhone 5) will draw 1 Amp from this device, so you could charge two iPhones at one time. On the other hand, an iPad will draw 2 Amps, so you cannot cannot charge an iPad and an iPhone at the same time. (If you try to do so, the lights will flash on and off to alert you to the error.) But if you have an iPod, that only draws .5 Amps so you could charge an iPad and an iPod at the same time, or you could charge up to five iPods at the same time. It is a shame that the device cannot charge both the iPad and the iPhone at the same time as that would be quite useful.
You can also use this device to charge items that have a micro USB or a mini USB connection. Included with the device is a cord that has a standard USB plug at one end and both micro and mini USB plugs at the other end. I've seen external keyboards, external speakers, Bluetooth headsets, and many other iPhone/iPad accessories that are charged via micro or mini USB. Thus, you may be able to use the iSound Portable Power Max Backup Battery to charge not only your iPhone or iPad, but also one or more of your accessories at the same time.
The 16,000 mAh battery is a lot of power. The RichardSolo website says that is enough to provide an 83% charge to a fully-drained third generation iPad, in a period of 5 hours. I got even better results than that. I connected my third generation iPad to the iSound Portable Power Max Backup Battery when the iPad was down to only 2% battery power left. In about 90 minutes the iPad was back up to 25%. After two and a half hours, the iPad was at 40%. I allowed it to continue to charge overnight, and when I woke up, my iPad was at 100% power and the Portable Power Max still had a little bit of a charge remaining.
In another test, I plugged in two iPhones at night: an iPhone 4S that was completely drained, and an iPhone 5 that was at 10%. The next morning, the two iPhones were completely charged and the Power Max still had about half of its charge left.
In another test, I connected a fully drained iPhone 5. In an hour it had 65% power, In 90 minutes it had 90% power, and it was fully charged in two hours. And after fully charging that iPhone 5 from 0% to 100%, the device displayed three blue lights, so around 75% of its battery remained.
I cannot tell you how much I wish I had this device when Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans six weeks ago. My house was without power for four days, and I depended heavily on my iPhone to keep up with critical news, but I had to use every trick in the book to stretch out my iPhone's power. At the time, I would have paid top dollar for a device like this with such a large battery. Hopefully losing power for days on end is not going to be a common occurrence for me or any other iPhone J.D. readers, but a device like this is an incredibly useful component of any emergency preparation kit. And if you go camping or engage in other activities where you are away from power sources for more than a day, this device would be very handy.
To charge the device itself, it comes with an AC adapter. If the battery is depleted, it takes 7 to 9 hours to charge the device. Note, however, that you can charge an iPad, iPhone, iPod, etc. that is plugged in to the device while the device itself is receiving a charge from an outlet. This is helpful because it means that at night you can charge one or more devices plus the battery itself at the same time. I mention this because there are other external batteries on the market that lack this feature.
The retail price of the iSound Portable Power Max Backup Battery is $129.99, so that is what you will pay if you order from the manufacturer, iSound. However, RichardSolo sells the device for only $79.95. And if you order this device between now and October 31, 2012, RichardSolo was nice enough to provide a discount for iPhone J.D. readers. When you checkout, use coupon code "jeff" to get a 15% discount on this item, which brings it down to $67.96 — almost half of the MSRP.
I wish that this device could somehow be even lighter, and it would be nice if you could use it to charge an iPad and an iPhone at the same time, but those are really the only complaints that I have and they are minor complaints. If you want a portable device that can recharge multiple iPhones multiple times or recharge an iPad, the iSound Portable Power Max Backup Battery is an excellent solution. This is a great device to have with you when you travel out of town or when you are out of the office all day long and plan to get a lot of use out of your iPhone and/or iPad, and as a side benefit it is a great addition to any emergency preparation and camping kit. The price from RichardSolo is fantastic, and I've long been a fan of that company, which was started by Richard Thalheimer, the founder of The Sharper Image. Indeed, a RichardSolo battery for the iPhone 3G was the very first third-party accessory that I reviewed on iPhone J.D., back in December of 2008 when this site was brand new. It's nice to see that almost four years later, RichardSolo is still selling useful accessories for the latest and greatest devices from Apple.
Click here to get the iSound Portable Power Max Backup Battery from RichardSolo ($79.95, plus save 15% with coupon code "jeff").