Hands on: MiPow Power Tube 3000 Lightning

Time to juice up! This battery pack always knows how much power it has left

It’s impossible to know how much battery is left in most external battery packs, but the Power Tube 3000 shows you exactly how much juice you have with its very own app.

Until smartphone batteries see the revolution we’ve been promised for years, those of us wanting to make sure we’re not caught without power will have to rely on extended battery packs. The market is flooded with external chargers that come in all shapes, sizes, and prices.

One of the newest additions is the MiPow Power Tube 3000. It may not have the best name in the world, but it does boast a cool claim to fame — It’s the world’s first Bluetooth Smart connected battery pack with an app, and it’s a surprisingly handy little feature.

At first, things look all too familiar. The Power Tube 3000 has a set of three LED lights on the front, which indicate how much power is inside the battery. Almost all other packs have the same setup, and it’s not all that helpful when it comes to carefully judging how much energy is left in the battery pack. However, the Power Tube 3000 also has a Bluetooth connection to your phone, which links up to an app.

MiPow Power Tube 3000
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Open the app, and you get an exact percentage of how much life is remaining inside the battery. For example, right now one light appears on the Power Tube 3000, which logically means there’s somewhere between 0 and 33 percent energy remaining. While 33 percent would be adequate for an emergency charge, 3 percent probably won’t. Fire up the app, and it reveals that there’s a mere 9 percent left inside — meaning it’s definitely time to charge it back up.

What’s more, the Bluetooth connection also reminds you if you leave the battery pack behind, warns you if the temperature rises too high, and alerts you when the battery cell reaches a certain capacity during discharge.

The app needs some love

Although knowing exactly how much battery you’ve got left is great, there are a couple of problems with the MiPow Power Tube 3000. First, the Bluetooth range is so long that I had driven my car down the road before the app told me I’d left the Power Tube behind. The delayed reaction isn’t so bad when I’m in control of the vehicle, but it would be more of a pain if I were in a taxi. Second, the alerts don’t override the mute function on an iPhone, so if you keep your phone silenced, they can’t be heard. The app’s design is also a little outdated, which will annoy some users.

The app’s design is a little outdated, which will annoy some users.

As far as charging goes, the device performed well. The 3,000mAh battery took an almost flat iPhone 6 Plus to just under a 70-percent charge in a couple of hours. However, the Tube itself needs about the same time to recharge. Handily, there’s no need for any additional cables with the Tube. It comes with a full-size USB, so it can plug right into an adaptor. Plus, a built-in Lightning or Micro USB connecter allows quick connection to your phone.

Combine this with its small size and low weight — it’s only 85 grams — plus a pleasant little storage bag, and the Power Tube 3000 is very convenient. It disappears in a bag, and there’s no need to carry around (and potentially lose) any cables. The soft-touch casing feels great, and the design is sensible. I’d rather carry this in my pocket than the flat Mophie Juice Pack. If MiPow can give the app an overhaul, and tweak the distance reminder alerts, then we’d have little to complain about.

The Power Tube 3000 smart battery pack is also well priced at $50/£45, and it can be purchased directly through MiPow’s own online store. There are plenty of mobile extended battery packs out there, and while its app and nifty accessories make the Power Tube 3000 stand out, the app needs a little love to bring out the full benefit of that unique Bluetooth Smart connection.

Highs

  • Connects using Bluetooth Smart
  • Precise charge measurements
  • Built-in connections
  • Small and lightweight
  • Well priced

Lows

  • App isn’t pretty
  • Alerts don’t override phone mute
  • 1A output means it’s only for phones
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.
Home Theater

Here's a handy guide to mirroring your favorite devices to your TV screen

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device (or PC) to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen.
Deals

Stay fit and save cash with our top 10 affordable Fitbit alternatives

As much as we love Fitbits, they're rather expensive. If all you want is a simple activity tracker, however, then check out these great cheap Fitbit alternatives. With offerings from brands like Garmin, you don't need to pay full price.
Mobile

Flip from portrait to landscape as we reveal how to rotate a video on iPhone

If you've accidentally shot a video in portrait orientation and you want to flip to landscape, then this is the guide for you. We'll explain how to use iMovie to rotate a video on your iPhone or iPad for free and suggest alternative apps.
Mobile

How to perform a reverse image search in Android or iOS

You can quickly use Google to search, and reverse search, images on a PC or laptop, but did you know it's almost as easy to do in Android and iOS? We explain how to do it here, whether you want to use Chrome or a third-party app.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for February 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

Apple brings back the iPhone SE with a $100 clearance discount included

Apple is offering the iPhone SE on their online clearance store once again. With discounts of $100, you can get a brand new unlocked iPhone SE for as little as $249. This offer is only available while supplies last.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Deals

Looking to upgrade? These are the best iPhone deals for February 2019

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for February 2019.
Deals

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for February 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Mobile

Apple stomps on one FaceTime bug, only to have another one appear

Having fixed a FaceTime bug that let users eavesdrop on calls, another issue with Apple's video chat app appears to have surfaced. It concerns adding people to group calls, though there is a workaround.
Mobile

With Galaxy S10e, Samsung unapologetically rips a page out of Apple’s playbook

Samsung's Galaxy S10e -- a new entry in the Galaxy S-series -- has a few things in common with Apple's lower-cost iPhone XR. From the price tag to the color, we take a look atthe similarities.
Deals

Protect your iPhone or iPad with the IPVanish VPN, on sale through February

One of our favorite virtual private networks for iPhones and iPads, IPVanish, is now offering a huge discount on its two-year subscription as part of its 7th-birthday promotion. Read on to find out more about how this VPN works and how you…