Saturday, August 13, 2016

Anker PowerCore+ 26800mAh Power Bank - Ultimate Battery For Wilderness Photographers

Before I get started on the review for today, I want to give a warning to everyone who might buy this power bank or has already bought this power bank. The unit I am reviewing here is a replacement from Anker. The original unit I got was defective and managed to overheat and fry one of my chargers. I will give more details about this incident at the end of this article/blog post. As a precaution, I would recommend everyone who get this power bank to closely monitor the device for the first few charge and discharge cycles to make sure the unit you get is not defective. If you do get a defective power bank, you can contact Anker's customer service. I've been with Anker for years and most of their products are fine. When I do get a defective device, Anker is quick to make things right. Their great customer service is one of the main reason I am still their customer after all these years.

Also, I participate in the Amazon Associates Program so Amazon does pay me a commission for every sale I make through the product links in this article/blog post. This won't cost you anything extra and the money helps fund my blog, photography, and videos. If you do buy through my links, thank you for your support. My product reviews are of my honest opinions and recommendations. I do not let the commission I make affect me in anyway. You can trust me on this, because if I was really in it for the money, I would not have told you about how the original defective unit fried my charger. I cover the good and bad of products.

Today I will have a bit of an in depth review of the Anker PowerCore+ 26800mAh Power Bank with Anker PowerPort+ 1 Quick Charge 3.0 USB Charger. Some parts of the review is fairly technical so don't be alarmed if you don't understand certain parts. The photos in the article/blog post can be viewed bigger by clicking on them. The review will be separated into the following sections: Specifications, Review, and Incident With The Defective Unit. The sections are clearly labeled with a larger title, so if you wish to skip to a certain part in the article/blog post, just scroll around.


Specifications


Let's first start off with what you get in the box. In the bundle you get an Anker PowerCore+ 26800mAh Power Bank, an Anker PowerPort+ 1 Quick Charge 3.0 USB Charger, an Anker micro-USB cable, and an Anker drawstring storage pouch for the power bank.


The size of the power bank according to Anker is 180 x 80 x 24 mm (7.08 x 3.15 x 0.95 in). You can see the power bank compared against a ruler (inches) in the photo above. The weight of the power bank according to Anker is 590 g (20.8 oz).

The size of the Anker PowerPort+ 1 Quick Charge 3.0 USB Charger according to Anker is 56 x 53 x 28 mm (2.2 x 2.1 x 1.1 in) and it weighs in at 70 g (2.5 oz).

The included Anker micro-USB cable is 0.6 m (2 ft).


The power bank itself can be recharged via any USB charger with a micro-USB cable, however it is recommended to be charged with a Quick Charge 3.0 charger for the fastest recharge speed. The power bank recharges via Quick Charge 3.0 (you can also use a Quick Charge 2.0 if 3.0 is not available). As for the USB ports on the power bank that is used to recharge other devices, there are 3. One of the ports is a Quick Charge 2.0 USB port with an output of 5v at 2.4A, 9v at 2A, and 12v at 1.5A. The Quick Charge 2.0 port can be used to charge other non-Quick Charge devices too. The other 2 ports are regular Anker PowerIQ USB ports that can output 2.4A per port with a combined 3A maximum output. The USB ports used to output power will not operate while the power bank is being recharged (no pass through charging). This is probably a good thing as pass through charging is not good for the battery cells.


Review

Now that I have given you the specifications and features of the products in the bundle that you get, I will proceed with the review of the products. Since the package comes with 3 main products (excluding the Anker drawstring pouch), I will sort of split the review into 3 sections.


The first thing I want to talk about is the included Anker micro-USB cable as this is an item with a major flaw. The included micro-USB cable is bad because the cable is too thin and the wires inside are too thin. I spent an hour trying to charge the power bank with the included micro-USB cable and the power bank didn't go up in charge. The power bank has 10 LED power indicators and has a recharge time of 8 to 9 hours on Quick Charge 3.0. If you do the math, the power bank should gain about 1 LED per hour. Both the charger and the power bank got a bit hot (not to the point of overheat, but warmer than usual). I work a lot with DIY electronics and stuff, so I knew very well this is due to the included micro-USB cable. The included cable isn't defective but is designed too thin, therefore causes a high amount of resistance hindering the flow of electricity. This kind of cable might work with some smaller or older electronics that doesn't require as much of a voltage and current draw, but is not made for big devices like this. I am not the only one complaining about this issue as I saw another review on Amazon that mentioned this problem. This isn't too big of a deal as I just went ahead and used one of my own Anker PowerLine micro-USB cables (which is a thicker than the included cable) which fixed the problem. You can see in the above photo that the included micro-USB cable (top) is thinner than the Anker PowerLine cable (bottom). I wish Anker didn't cheap out and included a better micro-USB cable in the package.


The second item I want to talk about is the Anker PowerPort+ 1 Quick Charge 3.0 USB Charger which has a slight oversight by design. In my photos above, I compare it to my Choetech Quick Charge 2.0 charger (Choetech has a QC 3.0 charger out now that is the same size) which is on the left in the first 2 pictures and right in the last picture. Ignore the tag on the Choetech charger. As I have mentioned at the beginning of the article, the original defective power bank I got fried one of my chargers. I taped a note on there so I don't accidentally use the charger again. Anker's customer service helped me replace the charger with one of their own so everything is good. As you can see, due to the orientation of the plug on the Anker charger, it covers 2 electrical outlets which the Choetech charger does not do. The 2 chargers are about the same size (Choetech's charger is a tiny bit smaller by like half an inch width wise) but the orientation of the plug changes a lot. While the plug on the Anker charger does fold in for storage, I feel it is more important for a charger to not cover 2 electrical outlets than to save a tiny bit of space in storage. This could be a problem if you are at a hotel or have a limited amount of electrical outlets available. Also, I wish Anker had a bundle where they included the Anker PowerPort 2 Quick Charge 3.0 USB charger instead of their charger with 1 USB port. This way, you can recharge your power bank and your phone at the same time.


Finally I get to reviewing the Anker PowerCore+ 26800mAh Power Bank which I did not find any design problems on. This power bank is huge and a bit heavy but that is needed in order for it to store this much electricity. You are probably aware of this by now but I am a nature photographer who goes into the wilderness a lot so a power bank of this size is needed to keep my electronics powered off the grid.

In the photo above, I have the following devices charging simultaneously by the power bank:
If you are just looking for a power bank for casual use or you are a photographer who doesn't go off the grid for more than a day, I would recommend something smaller with less capacity as there is almost no way you can use all the power in this power bank in one day. There is no need to pack the extra weight and I doubt you need all those USB ports. If you are looking for a phone charging solution for your whole family, I would recommend you just get a few smaller and lighter power banks. That way your family members can still use their phones while it is being charged and no one person would be stuck carrying all the weight.

If you are a wilderness photographer, camper, backpacker, or a person that will need to be off the grid for a few days, then I would recommend this power bank to you. This power bank is awesome with its 3 USB outputs as you can use it to charge up several USB devices at once (comes in really handy for photographers) and should have enough power to last a few days of general use. There will most likely be no signal in the wilderness so your phone will drain faster because it will constantly be searching for a cell tower. Sometimes people put their phones in Airplane Mode to prevent this, but I normally don't. In some wilderness areas, cell towers has been set up for emergency purposes. I usually leave my cell radio on because you never know when an emergency will pop up.

Since this review/article is more directed more towards wilderness photographers, I'm going to talk a bit more on this topic. One thing you may be able to do with this power bank is charge up your camera/DSLR batteries. You may think that your camera/DSLR battery can't be charged via USB, but you could also be wrong. I had the same thought with my Canon LP-E6 battery which powers my Canon 5D Mark III. Then I found a 3rd party USB charger on Amazon that did the trick. There might be one for your camera/DSLR battery too. Just go to Amazon and search for "(replace with your battery model) USB charger". Since we are dealing with very low voltages and current here, there is very little that can go wrong. I still highly recommend you read the reviews of a particular product first before purchasing though. Another thing you can do with this power bank is recharge the Li-ion batteries found in certain high power flashlights (as demonstrated in the photo above). If you are a night or cave photographer, you more than likely have one of these high power flashlights. There are USB Li-ion battery chargers that can be found on the internet (such as the Nitecore UM20) that recharges this kind of battery. Another thing I can think of (that I don't do myself currently), is recharging your rechargeable AA or AAA batteries. There are USB battery chargers that recharges these batteries too.

The power bank takes about 8 to 10 hours to recharge with Quick Charge 3.0 when mostly or fully depleted. You can recharge the power bank on a regular USB charger, but it will prolong the charging time by a lot. On a regular 2A USB charger, it will take approximately 16 hours to recharge a mostly or fully depleted power bank. I recommend you recharge it overnight if you fully drain the power bank. As I have warned at the beginning, please monitor the power bank for the first few charge and discharge cycles to make sure your power bank isn't defective. After you confirm everything is working correctly, you can recharge it overnight. The recharge times may seem long, but you don't have to do this too often as the power bank has a really large capacity. Due to the long recharge times, I don't recommend trying to recharge this power bank via a solar USB charger. With a solar USB charger, it could take several days of sunlight to recharge a fully depleted power bank. You probably won't need to do that anyways because when this power bank is fully charged, it should last a few days of general use.

I have already done a full discharge cycle with the power bank. In my test, I recharged my Huawei Nexus 6P several times via an Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable (3 ft). At the time of writing, the better known Android phones (Samsung Galaxy, Flagship Google Nexus line) tend to have higher capacity batteries than their Apple iPhone counterparts. In other words, if you use an Apple iPhone, you may be able to get more charges out of this power bank than my Android phone. As for which USB port I used on the power bank, I switched it around each time I recharged my phone. The following are my test results (I purposely drained my phone battery to test the power bank):

15% to 100%
15% to 100%
15% to 100%
15% to 87%
77% to 80%
75% to 100%
15% to 100%
15% to 52%

I drained my phone down to 15% each time because that is Android's default cut off before turning on battery saver mode. I doubt anyone on Android would drain the phone completely down, especially on a large phone like the Huawei Nexus 6P. As you can see, it recharged my Huawei Nexus 6P approximately 5.5 times before the power bank died on me.

In conclusion, I love this power bank even though the included accessories had some design problems and my original defective unit fried one of my chargers. As always, it is a quality Anker product and their customer service is always good. They are not paying me to say this, but I want to say it because their customer service has been very helpful to me for years now and the company truly stands behind their products. In the end, I would highly recommend this product for wilderness photographers, people who go camping a lot, and backpacking. I will update the review if something bad comes up as I continue to use it. If you want to purchase the power bank, please use my link here.


Incident With The Defective Unit

The day after I got the original unit from Amazon, I plugged the power bank in for over 8 hours on the Quick Charge 3.0 charger that came with it, but the power meter never went up and it showed it had as much charge as when I first opened the box (3rd led flashing and 3 LEDs lit when unplugged). I also noticed the charger got a bit warm. I thought maybe it was the USB cable so I tried a different USB cable (one of my Anker PowerLine micro-USB cables) for an hour and the power meter didn't go up. I thought maybe the included charger was defective so I tried to charge it with my Choetech Quick Charge 2.0 charger to see if it was indeed the included charger that was the issue. After leaving it on my Choetech charger for half an hour, the battery indicator went up to 9 out of the 10 LEDs with the 9th one flashing. When I unplugged it and checked the power bank, it showed 7 LEDs or 70% capacity. I plugged the power bank back into the Choetech charger and it flashed the 7th LED indicating it was charging from 70%. I left it on the Choetech charger for another half hour. After half an hour, I noticed when I moved the power bank slightly, the LED indicators would turn off for about 2 seconds before going back up to 70% charged state. I felt my Choetech charger and it was so hot it felt like my hands was getting burned. I quickly unplugged everything and brought my Choetech charger up to my nose. As I suspected, there was a smell of burnt plastic. I didn't see smoke or anything, but I also wouldn't dare use that Choetech charger again. As I have shown earlier in this article, I stuck a warning label on the charger so I won't accidentally reuse it again. The defective power bank ruined a perfectly good charger that I have been using over a year. I believe the charging circuit in the power bank was defective, causing high amounts of electrical resistance, leading to the overheat.

After some back and forth with Anker's customer service (and some miscommunication), Anker solved the issue for me free of charge (I didn't even need to pay for any shipping fees). They replaced my Anker PowerCore+ 26800mAh Power Bank with Anker PowerPort+ 1 Quick Charge 3.0 USB Charger and gave me an extra Anker PowerPort+ 1 Quick Charge 3.0 USB Charger to replace my fried Choetech charger. As I have mentioned before, Anker really stands behind their products and has the best customer service ever. This is why I have been their customer for years. I am still putting this story up because a defect this big should not have went unnoticed. I understand there will always be lemons in the manufacturing process, but a big defect like this can't be simply ignored. The replacement I got works great so far. Anker fixed everything for me and made things right.

In the end, I still recommend Anker products. This incident did scare me a bit, but it doesn't change my positive opinions on this company. Again, if you want to purchase the power bank, please use my link here. I hope this article has helped you in some way and thank you so much for reading. 
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