Mophie’s 19,500mAh Powerstation XXL external battery features a USB-C port

Laptop batteries are often full of compromises — you’re usually giving up portability for capacity, or vice versa. Mophie’s Powerstation XXL is an external battery pack that wants to help.

The Powerstation XXL, the newest and largest in Mophie’s lineup of external battery packs, is one of the first with a USB Type-C charging port. It supports rapid charging rates up to 30 watts, and operates bidirectionally, meaning that the USB-C port both charges and discharges the Powerstation’s internal battery. Other nifty features include soft-touch housing, a pass-through charging mode, and an LED indicator. But the Powerstation XXL isn’t the only external battery competing for your hard-earned dollars. Here’s how it stacks up.

A stylish-but-functional design

The Powerstation XXL has a tapered, fabric-wrapped design that looks and feels like its $150 price tag. In our testing, the Alcantara-like grippy material prevented the battery from falling off surfaces, protecting it from nicks and scratches. (It matched our t-shirts, too.)

Mophie Powerstation XXL review flat angle
Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends
Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

We liked the four-LED capacity meter on the side, too, which also serves as a the Powerstation’s status indicator. Pressing and holding down on the power button lights up each LED sequentially in the direction of the charge, toward the USB ports when the Powerstation is discharging and away from the ports when it’s recharging.

Mophie says the LEDs will flash if there’s an error, but we’ll have to take their word for it — we never encountered one.

Power 101

It’s tough to contextualize the Powerstation XXL without basic electrical know-how, so let’s break it down. A battery’s charging power is based on electricity (energy), measured in Watts; current (electrical flow), measured in amps or milliamps; and voltage (electrical potential), measured in volts. Total power is determined by the product of the current (amps) multiplied by the the electrical flow (voltage).

It’s tough to contextualize the Powerstation XXL without basic electrical know-how.

So why don’t chargers with laptop-level wattage blow your iPhone 7 to smithereens? You can thank USB Power Delivery, the specs that dictate how quickly your phone, tablet, and laptop sip power, for that. Older specifications like USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 pull around 5 volts, while USB 3.1 maxes out at a whopping 20 volts.

As you know if you’ve ever plugged a new iPhone into a ten-year-old desktop, USB is backward compatible. That’s why your phone sips power happily from older chargers without short-circuiting — in USB devices with USB 2.0 and newer, a special chip called a CC pin communicates the device’s power requirements to the charger, and a micro-controller sets up the correct voltage and current settings.

A versatile charger

The Mophie Powerstation XXL is no different. A built-in Cyprus CCG2 chipset regulates the voltage, ensuring that plugged-in devices don’t receive more electricity than their circuits can handle.

How’s that work in practice? In output mode, the Powerstation’s USB-C port supplies up to 30 watts of power, or just over the 28-watt maximum of Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 4.0 spec. Mophie claims that’s enough to recharge a smartphone to 50 percent in 15 minutes.

Quick Charge 4.0-compatible devices are currently hard to come by, so we weren’t able to put those claims to the test. The Galaxy S8 Plus, which supports Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging tech, seemed to handle the Powerstation’s wattage just fine, as it noted it was fast charging. But with the phone plugged into the battery’s USB-C port, it took about 20 minutes to top off the battery from 90 percent — which may have taken so long due to Samsung’s fast charging technology. An HTC Bolt plugged into the USB-A port the same time as a Galaxy S8 Plus didn’t cause any problems, though it did not charge rapidly.

Mophie Powerstation XXL review ports
Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends
Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

A Moto Z2 Force charged from 40 to 48 percent within 10 minutes via the USB-A port, which is far better than the results for the S8; and the Google Pixel XL went from 86 percent to 100 percent in 16 minutes, via the USB-C port.

The Powerstation lasted for hours. After a 9-to-5 day of charging a Galaxy S8 Plus, an HTC Bolt, and a ZTE ZMax Pro, the battery LED indicator showed two full bars of power remaining (about 10,000mAh).

In the course of our testing, we came to appreciate the Powerstation’s pass-through feature, which charges a plugged-in device via the USB-A port while the battery’s tethered to a wall charger. It’s not a feature most people are likely to use, considering the Powerstation’s capacity. But it’s handy if, say, you ever want to top off the battery and your phone/laptop/tablet at the same time.

As good an external battery as the Powerstation is, though, it has room for improvement. The Powerstation’s 19,500mAh capacity isn’t as high as cheaper competitors like the Intocircuit Power Monster (32,000mAh) and XTPower MP (30,000mAh). While the addition of USB-C is very much appreciated, we would’ve liked to see more than two charging ports.

Still, few external batteries with as much polish have come across our desk. It’s priced a little steeply at $150, but if you’re in the market for a battery that’ll charge virtually any USB device you plug into it, the Powerstation XXL’s the one for you.

Cars

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…
Computing

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.
Computing

Microsoft's latest Surface Laptop 2 runs past the updated MacBook Air

Apple recently updated its venerably MacBook Air, giving it a sleeker and more modern design. That pits it against the Surface Laptop 2, Microsoft's update of its own traditional laptop.
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Mobile

Verizon is launching real standards-based 5G in 30 cities in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.
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

Samsung’s wide range of Galaxy products means there’s something for everyone

Samsung launched a host of new products on February 20, with prices ranging from just $35, all the way up to nearly $2,000. This was not by chance, and the company believes it has something for everyone in 2019.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. OnePlus 6T: Can the Flagship Killer survive?

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the new affordable flagship on the block, but at $750, it's $200 more than the OnePlus 6T. Does the Flagship Killer stand a chance against the new generation of flagship devices? Let's take a closer look.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for February 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Product Review

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are a brilliant combination of value and comfort

With six hours of battery life, an extremely comfortable fit, sweatproofing, and a very palatable price tag, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are putting all other true wireless earbuds on notice.
Deals

Amazon drops a sweet deal on the Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch for women

Unlike many other smartwatches geared toward women, the Kate Spade Scallop offers a more chic and minimalistic look. With this Amazon sale going on right now, you can get it for $109 off its retail price.
Cars

Lyft’s Shared Saver service offers cheaper rides, but you’ll have to walk a little

Lyft has launched a new ride option called Shared Saver that offers cheaper rides if you're willing to walk a little. Shared Saver designates a nearby pick-up point and drops you off a short distance from your final destination.
Deals

The 5 best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods, nice as they are, aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, and if you're looking to buy a pair of high-end in-ear headphones, we've got the best AirPod alternatives on the…
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. iPhone XR: Cut-price flagship showdown

The Samsung Galaxy S10 range has been revealed, and it heralds a new age of powerful technology. The Galaxy S10e packs the new power and design into a cheaper price point. But is it better than the iPhone XR?