05 August 2016

Anker PowerCore 5000: Potent Portable Power Pack in your Pocket

So I got a bit carried away with the alliteration in that title, but it's all true!

Like all Anker products, this one arrived in an easy-to-open box without a lot of excess packaging to get in the way. Inside the box, I found the PowerCore 5000 itself, a short (~2ft) micro-USB charging cable, a high-quality mesh carrying pouch, a minimal illustrated user's guide, and the usual "Happy?" product feedback card. I've used many Anker products and can honestly say that they do want their customers to be happy with their products, and they stand by that with a no-hassle 18-month warranty on every single item.

The PowerCore 5000 is a plastic cylinder about the same diameter as a soda bottle cap and a little taller than a soda can. The matt black finish of the cylinder wall looks great in an understated way and - probably more importantly - is easy and comfortable to hold onto. There’s a round power button on the side, as well as three white LEDs used to indicate the current battery level of the charger. Each end is glossy plastic slightly recessed, with the micro-USB input and USB-A output ports on one end and all the obligatory labels and information printed on the other. (On a related note, I love that even an inexpensive product like this features an individual serial number. That’s encouraging to see, and makes me much more comfortable with the company honoring their advertised warranty.) The internal battery causes most of the PowerCore’s weight to be at the label end, which means it becomes quite stable when stood on end for charging.

The charger is a little bit larger than I had anticipated for some reason. It’s still quite compact and small enough to fit in just about any small bag or jacket pocket, though you might get some interesting looks if you slip it into the front pocket of your jeans (“no, I’m not happy to see you, though I am happy to have 5000mAh of power to go!”). The cylindrical design actually makes squeezing the PowerCore 5000 into an already-stuffed bag quite easy, so you never need to be without a little bit of extra juice.

The provided mesh carrying pouch is a fantastic added bonus to go along with the PowerCore 5000. It feels very high quality and durable, and the drawstring closure makes sure you won’t lose any items. And on that note, it’s a perfect size for keeping an extra charging cable or two with your charger.

Operating the portable charger is dead simple. Simply press the button on the side to display the approximate battery level via the white LEDs, and use the provided micro-USB cable to either charge the PowerCore or your micro-USB-equipped mobile device. You can of course also provide your own cable to charge other electronics with USB-C, Lightning, or other charging port styles.

The 5000mAh capacity is plenty to charge most phones completely and then some, but don’t expect a charger in this size to provide multiple full charges. Similarly, the single USB output port means you can only charge one device at a time - though, again, that’s probably not a bad thing given the somewhat-limited capacity. What it does charge it charges quite well, and Anker’s clever PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technologies ensure that your USB devices charge at the fastest possible speed supported by the USB 2 spec (no Qualcomm Quick Charge nor USB-C Fast Charge).

Real talk: if you need to charge larger batteries, multiple devices simultaneously, multiple times, or using proprietary charging specs, this probably isn’t the right portable charger for you. If, on the other hand, you want a compact charger to keep around “just in case” (or for an extended Pokemon Go outing!), Anker’s PowerCore 5000 might just fit the bill perfectly.

(Full disclosure: I was provided with a sample device for testing and evaluation in exchange for an honest review. I have done my best to not let that color my impressions of the product.)