Whenever I review an external battery pack, there's always at least one commenter who says "get an Anker battery pack -- they're just as powerful and much less expensive." So when a PR firm pitched me on Anker's Astro 3 12,000 mAh External Battery (US$99.99 MSRP, available on Amazon for $44.99), I decided to jump on the opportunity. Check out this short review, and then enter for a chance to win one of these units for yourself.
If you're looking for fancy packaging, don't bother with Anker. You're getting a plain brown box with a little slip of cardboard around it. But it's what's inside the package that counts.
The Astro 3 comes with a nice mesh-like carrying bag, full well-written instruction manual, returns and exchanges policy, and even a USB to microUSB charging cable with a micro-USB to 30-pin Dock connector adapter. That's everything you'll need to be able to charge most pre-2013 iPhones and iPads.
The battery itself is a 10.5 ounce (approx. 300 grams) black rectangle measuring 4.375" x 3.25" x .94" (11.1 x 8.26 x 2.39 cm). The long sides of the unit are rounded to make it easy to hold, and it's covered with a soft touch black matte plastic.
On one end, you'll find four ports -- a micro-USB port for charging the battery, and a trio of USB ports. The ports provide 5 Volts at a combined 4 Amp output; one of the ports is referred to as a "smart port" that provides a maximum of 2.4 Amps of current to quickly charge one device. For some odd reason, Anker doesn't list any iPads except the original and the iPad mini as being compatible with the Astro 3, although the old 2.1 Amp AC charging adapters worked just fine with most of the earlier iPads.
Unlike just about all of the competitors, the Anker Astro 3 has no external buttons on it. Instead, to either get a reading of the battery charge on the device or "wake it up" for charging your phone or tablet, you just give the Astro 3 a shake. When the white LEDs arrayed in a circle on the top light up, you're ready to go.
What can I say? The Astro 3 works fine with any iPhone, and I was also able to get it to power my third-generation iPad with no problems. I like the fact that the white LEDs pulse gently while the Astro 3 is charging your device, giving you a reminder that power is flowing into your iPad or iPhone. If it's an iPhone you want to keep topped off with power, Anker says you'll be able to recharge it "6 or 7 times".
At a price point through Amazon that is similar to other 12,000 mAh batteries on the market, the Anker Astro 3 provides some nice little extras and a unique user interface. It'll keep your gear going long after you've left the power outlet behind.
- Good capacity at 12,000 mAh
- Buttonless design and "shake to wake" work well for determining charge capacity and starting charge
- Included carrying bag and cables are useful although you'll need to supply your own Lightning cable for newer devices
- Price is very reasonable, and manufacturer has a good reputation
- Soft finish tends to pick up fingerprints quite easily
Who is it for?
- The budget-minded iPhone or iPad owner who wants a way to keep devices powered up away from the wall socket
TUAW and Anker are teaming up to give away one Astro 3 External Battery. Here are the rules for the giveaway:
- Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
- To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
- The entry must be made before August 7, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
- You may enter only once.
- One winner will be selected and will receive an Anker Astro 3 12,000 mAh External Battery valued at $99.99
- Click Here for complete Official Rules.