When you are away from the office for an extended time, it is often useful to have a portable battery with you. And nowadays, when many of us have both an iPhone and an iPad, it is even more useful to have a battery that is designed to work with either one. Because the iPad has such a large battery, when you carry an external backup battery that works with the iPad, you always need to balance capacity versus the size and weight and cost of that battery. The Lumsing 10400 mAh Harmonica Style Portable Power Bank strikes the right balance — large and heavy enough to get the job done, but small and sleek enough that you won't mind carrying it with you. Lumsing sent me a free unit to review, and I have been testing it for the last week. I like it a lot. This looks like a great battery to toss in your briefcase or purse when you are on the go, and it only costs $23.
Design and Features
My main concern with an external battery is simply that it work well, but since you are going to carry this thing around a lot, it is nice to have something that has a pleasing design. I was very impressed with this device. As the "Harmonica" in the name implies, this device is shaped like a long rectangular box which is curved on one long end and is tapered on the other.
The Lumsing Power Bank is about 5.5 inches long, almost 2.5 inches deep, and is about .8 inches high.
The curve on one of the long sides of this device makes it feel good when you hold it in your hand. A minor feature perhaps, but one that I liked.
The device weighs 8.35 oz. (An iPhone 5S weighs 4 oz; an iPhone 4S weighs 4.9 oz.) You probably won't notice 8.35 oz. in a purse or briefcase, but you'll definitely notice it if you slip it into the pocket of your pants.
The tapered end contains most of the inputs and controls. First, there are two ports, one which provides 1 Amp and one that provides 2.1 Amps. You can use either port with an iPhone, and as noted below, you will get a slightly faster charge with the 2.1 Amp output. For an iPad Air, you'll want to use the 2.1 Amp port.
Next there are a series of four blue lights, and then a long silver button. If you press the button when you are not using the device, it will display 1, 2, 3 or 4 lights depending upon how much charge you have left. When the device is almost out of power, only one light comes on and it flashes. When you are charging the Lumsing Power Bank, you will see the lights come on in a sequence. At first you see the first light, then two lights, then three lights, then four lights. After 25% of charge the first light stays on and you just see the other three come on and off. By the end, when all four lights stay on, the device is fully charged. Finally, when you are charging an iPhone or iPad, the lights stay on to show you how much power is left in the battery.
As noted above, pressing the button when nothing is plugged in shows you the remaining power. The button also serves to turn to device on, so to charge an iPhone or iPad you plug in a USB cord (such as the one that came with your iPhone or iPad) into one or both of the ports, plug in to your iPhone/iPad, and then press the button to start charging.
On the short side of the device, there is a Micro-USB connector. The device comes with a Micro-USB to USB cord.
Connect the cord to either your computer or any USB power supply. I used the Apple 10W charger that comes with an iPad, and it took almost seven hours to charge the Lumsing Power Bank — longer than I had expected. This is a device that you will most likely want to charge overnight.
The unit that Lumsing sent me is white, but I see that you can also get it in black or gold.
The unit comes with a carrying pouch. I didn't see any reason to use it.
Capacity and Charging
The Lumsing Power Bank has a battery capacity of 10400 mAh. The iPhone 5S uses a 1560 mAh battery and the iPad Air uses a 8,827 mAh battery. In theory, then, the Lumsing Power Bank could charge the iPhone 5S over six times and the iPad Air once with some to spare, but in reality you lose some of the charge to heat and other factors.
In my tests this week, when I used with completely charged Lumsing Power Bank with an iPad Air that had gone down to 3%, I was able to charge it back to 80% before the Lumsing Power Bank ran out of power about four hours later. It roughly added another 20% to the iPad every hour.
When I tested with an iPhone 5S that was at 3% or less power, the iPhone would be back to around 60% in an hour, and in just over two hours the iPhone was back to 100%. It takes a little longer to charge at the end, so you see almost 1% of power added every minute, and then going from 98% to 99% to 100% takes longer. Charging an iPhone with the 2.1 Amp port was slightly faster than using the 1 Amp port; a full charge took two hours with the 2.1 Amp port and about two hours and 10 minutes with the 1 Amp port. So you get slightly better performance charging an iPhone with the 2.1 Amp port, but it doesn't make a huge difference. With a fully charged Lumsing Power Bank, I could charge an iPhone 5S from 3% or less to 100% four times, and then had just a small amount of charge left over.
As noted above, you can also use the Lumsing Power Bank to charge both an iPhone and an iPad at the same time. When I did so, each device charged slower. The iPad Air received on average an additional 13% to 15% per hour, in contrast to around 20% when it was plugged in by itself. The iPhone 5S received anywhere from 20% to 38% of additional charge each hour, as opposed to around 57% when it was plugged in by itself. And while I could completely charge in iPhone 5S from almost 0% to 100% in just over two hours when it was plugged in by itself, when both the iPhone and iPad were charging at the same time, two hours just brought me up to around 60% on the iPhone.
You can also charge the Power Bank while you are charging an iPhone and/or iPad. Thus, you could plug in the Power Bank to a wall charger or computer and plug in an iPhone and iPad into the Power Bank to charge them all. When doing so, the iPhone and iPad seemed to charge at the same rate as when the Power Bank was not plugged in to AC power. Note, however, that at the outset when the Power Bank was close to empty, it would sometimes stop charging the iPhone and iPad for a short while so that it could charge itself, and then it would start charging the iPhone and iPad again (and I would hear them beep as if they were just plugged in).
There is something to be said for a smaller battery that is light and can be tossed in your pocket, like the Powerocks Super Magicstick that I reviewed a few months ago and which I see is now selling for only $19.50, $10 less than when I reviewed it. Small external batteries are great for bringing extra life to an iPhone.
But if you want to be able to charge an iPad, or if you want to be able to charge an iPhone over and over again, you need a larger battery. I know that there are lots of large external batteries for sale, but after using this one extensively for the last week, I really like the Lumsing Harmonica Style Power Bank. It is big, but not too big and heavy, and it feels nice in your hand when you carry it. It has a large enough battery to charge your iPad or your iPhone — or both at the same time. And best of all, it is a steal for only $23.