Upgrades from Anker

A 40 watt wall charger and a 12,000 mAh battery from Anker find their way to our office!

Last year we started to have a large amount of mobile devices around the office including smartphones, tablets and even convertibles like the ASUS T100, all of which were charged with USB connections. While not a hassle when you are charging one or two units at time, having 6+ on our desks on any day started to become a problem for our less numerous wall outlets. Our solution last year was Anker's E150 25 watt wall charger that we did a short video overview on.

It was great but had limitations including different charging rates depending on the port you connected it to, limited output of 5 Amps total for all five ports and fixed outputs per port. Today we are taking a look at a pair of new Anker devices that implement smart ports called PowerIQ that enable the battery and wall charger to send as much power to the charging device as it requests, regardless of what physical port it is attached to.

We'll start with the updated Anker 40 watt 5-port wall charger and then move on to discuss the 3-port mobile battery charger, both of which share the PowerIQ feature.

Anker 40 watt 5-Port Wall Charger

The new Anker 5-port wall charger is actually smaller than the previous generation but offers superior specifications at all feature points. This unit can push out more than 40 watts total combined through all five USB ports, 5 volts at as much as 8 amps. All 8 amps can in fact go through a single USB charging port we are told if there was a device that would request that much – we don't have anything going above 2.3A it seems in our offices.

Any USB port can be used for any device on this new model, it doesn't matter where it plugs in. This great simplifies things from a user experience point of view as you don't have to hold the unit up to your face to read the tiny text that existed on the E150. With 8 amps spread across all five ports you should have more than enough power to charge all your devices at full speed. If you happen to have five iPads charging at the same time, that would exceed 8A and all the devices charge rates would be a bit lower.

Using our standard power meter we did see power draw as high as 52 watts with the unit though, indicating that either some efficiency is being lost in the conversion (likely) or that the unit will indeed pump out more than 40 watts in some case.

To test the capability of this device we plugged in a handful of units and measured power draw from the USB port. We included an iPad Air, two NVIDIA SHIELDs, a Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 and a Lenovo Tablet 2. When plugged in on their own this is how power draw looked:

  • iPad Air: 2.3A
  • SHIELDs: 1.86A / ea
  • Galaxy Note 8.0: 1.65A
  • Lenovo Tablet 2: 1.2A

The even when all 5 ports were populated, the iPad Air, our biggest power draw, continued to be able to pull a full 2.3A allowing for the best possible charging time. Obviously some units that were plugged in later would not be charging at the full rate once we hit the 8A limit of the wall charger itself.

The 5-port wall charger comes with a standard length AC cable, which is noteworthy only because the battery below does not. 

Anker 2nd Gen Astro3 12000 mAh Battery

The Anker 2nd Gen Astro3 12,000 mAh battery unit uses the same PowerIQ intelligent USB ports but does so without being tied to a wall outlet. Instead it has a massive battery in a small package to help get you running and connected on the go.

The Astro3 is obviously heavier and a bit larger than the 5-port wall charger and only includes a set of three smart USB ports. The unit has a maximum output of 20 watts and 4 amps making it less effective and charging multiple power hungry devices. Even two iPads would bring this unit to its maximum power draw point. Still, having 4A capability for a external battery is pretty great and would allow the shortest charge times possible.

The battery uses a circular pattern of LEDs to indicate internal battery levels and it lights up when the battery is moved or shaken. Don't worry about power draw of the LEDs while the battery is in your bag though; Anker claims it takes 100,000 light cycles to take 1% of the battery capacity.

When connected one at a time, our devices drew slightly less power from the battery than they did the wall charger.

  • iPad Air: 2.05A
  • SHIELD: 1.76A
  • Galaxy Note 8.0: 1.51A

With all three devices plugged in, the charge rate of the iPad Air fell to 1.84A; still good but the intelligent design is obviously doing some balancing on the output. 

Unfortunately the Anker Astro3 does not come with a wall plug to charge the battery, though it does come with the micro USB cable. To connect the battery to the wall for charging you'll have to use another wall-wart you already own or pick one up separately. Charging times range from 6 hours to 12 hours depending on the output capacity of the wall charger (maximum charging rate is 2A). I would have loved to see this input rate higher for quicker battery fill ups, but we'll take what we can get.

Also worth noting is that you cannot both charge the Astro3 and connect devices to it to be charged – there is no "pass through". That eliminates the ability to use the Astro3 as a "best of both worlds" type product.

Closing Thoughts

Both units are great but serve different purposes. For me, the wall charger will find a perfect home in our shelf of phones and tablets, keeping them topped off for future testing. The battery will be placed into my backpack and taken on upcoming work trips where I might be away from a wall outlet for some time. The horrors of CES spring to mind. 

The Anker 40 watt 5-port USB wall charger is currently selling for just $25 on Amazon and is available in both white and black. The 2nd Gen Astro3 12,000 mAh battery is going for $45 on Amazon, also available in both black and white. It's hard to recommend one over the other since they fit into such different spaces. If the Astro3 would allow you to both charge and draw power from it to some degree that might help but otherwise these units are for totally unique scenarios. If you have a lot of devices that need to be charged at home or on the road (at the hotel) then the 40 watt 5-port wall charger will be perfect. If you need power on the go while you in your car, covering an event or just don't have time to sit and watch a phone power meter go up, then the Astro3 is the answer.