Many people really love what they consider their ultimate iPhone case. For those folks, a bulky battery pack inside a case just won't do. If that describes you, but you still need additional power for your iPhone, the best choice is a small, handy, external battery pack that can be used with any iOS device—just plug it into the battery pack's USB port.
That's just what the Antec Advance PowerUp 6000 is. It's small, cleanly designed, full of 6000 mAh goodness, and could save the day by being able to charge your iPhone four times before exhaustion. And the price is great.
An iPhone case with a built-in battery has several disadvantages. First, if may be hard to charge another device—say, an iPad—in a crunch. Even if it can be used, an iPhone-class battery will not have enough power to give a full size iPad a serious boost. Finally, you don't get to pick the awesome iPhone case of your choice.
A portable Lithium-Ion battery pack solves that problem. It typically has a USB output port, and many can supply a full 2 amps, like this one, for a rapid charge of your device. Better, they can adapt to the amperage your device can handle.
The Antec PowerUp 6000 is a small battery back with a USB 2 port that allows you to charge any small 5V device, not just an iPhone or iPad, so long as it has a charger cord with a USB connector.
This device is made of a smooth, soft plastic just three inches long and weighs just 4.5 ounces. Its capacity is 6000 milliamp-hours (mAh). To get a feel for what this can charge, here's a list of the battery capacities, in mAh, of some popular Apple mobile products.
- iPhone 4/4S/5: About 1450
- iPad mini: 4400
- iPad 2: 6944
- iPad 3/4: About 11,600
Therefore, you could charge a modern iPhone just over four times, an iPad mini 1.33 times, or charge an iPad 3 about half full. That could come in really handy when you're away from an outlet: camping, hiking, or on the bus, train, etc.
As with most of these devices, you plug the charger cable into the unit with the microUSB end and the standard USB end into a power adapter or computer. A 5V, 2 amp (10W) power adapter is probably a better idea than using a USB hub on a computer because it will charge faster. In my case, it took about 5 hours, perhaps slightly less, to fully charge with an Apple 10W power adapter. (Antec's technical specifications cite 4 hours with a 2 amp source.)
There are four blue LEDs under the white plastic to indicate the charge level of the battery by quartiles. There are two things I didn't care for here. The first is that the LEDs behind the white plastic create a diffuse light that isn't aesthetically pleasing. (See the photo above.) I prefer the small, crisp LEDs on, say, the Mophie Juice Pack PowerStation (MJPP) that my wife uses.
Second, you'll have to press the flush button next to the LEDs to start the flow of current. A user who hasn't read the manual might just plug an iPhone in and think that the unit is defective when the iPhone doesn't chirp, confirming that it has juice. That's a nit, however. RTFM.
I used the PowerUp 6000 to charge my iPhone 5 in a test. I started at 25 percent iPhone battery charge and it took just under 90 minutes to fully charge it. At the end, three out of the four blue LEDs were glowing on the PowerUp, confirming that it still had 75 percent capacity.
The product comes in a really solid cardboard and plastic box along with a 12-inch charger cable, instructions in multiple languages, and a warranty statement. (One year.) Icons on the box affirm the Apple devices it's compatible with, but as I said, it should charge just about any modern tablet or smartphone that uses a standard USB plug on the power side.
I couldn't help but place the PowerUp 6000 next to my wife's Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation for an aesthetic comparison. ( A similar Mophie product was reviewed here at TMO last year.) The MJPP is made of aluminum and is about the same size, roughly half as thick, which helps explain its lower capacity of 4000 mAh. Here they are side by side.
L: Antec PowerUp 6000, R: Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation (4000)
The PowerUp retails for less, but sells for about the same price on Amazon. Given that its capacity is higher, it appears to be a better deal. The warranty, battery type, charge cycles and so on are the same. One notable thing the PowerUp has is Pass Thru. You can charge it while it, itself, is charging another device. On the other hand, if you like the metal aesthetics and thinner profile of the MJPP, that might be a better choice. My wife likes the MJPP because it doesn't take up much room in her purse, and its primary purpose is iPhone backup only. It's a toss up that ultimately depends on your personal needs.
Here's a comparison chart to give an idea of the various features. Technically, they're very similar.
In the process of asking some technical questions, the business development manager at Antec provided some interesting data about electrical protections that are of note.
There is an over charge detection, over discharge detection, over current detection, and a short circuit detection (150 to 540 microseconds), just to name a few. I asked about plugging the charging cable into the output port while still plugged into the microUSB end, (a closed loop) and so my contact tried it with no ill effects. That makes it kid-proof as well, because, you know, kids plug things in and wonder "what if?" I know I did.
Even while charging from a USB hub on my iMac, it remained very cool to the touch.
This isn't the most beautiful battery pack ever in my opinion, but then that's not a metric that's really worthwhile. These kinds of devices get tucked away in a briefcase or packpack and don't really get looked at until it's pressed into service. That's when you want safety, reliability and a big boost to your iOS device. In that regard, the price, capacity, documentation, packaging, and operation of the PowerUp 6000 are all just plain great.