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.

Deals

Simplify your life with one of these wireless smartphone charger deals

Banish nightly cable fumbling with a wireless smartphone charger. If your smartphone is compatible with wireless charging, the simplicity of placing it on a pad is a beautiful thing. Wireless chargers are also excellent gifts for coworkers.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Deals

18 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up and plugged in while on the go (or for some great stocking stuffer ideas), we've rounded up 18 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding…
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Mobile

Vanquish lag for good with the best routers for gaming

Finding the best routers for gaming is no easy task. With so many out there, how do you know which to pick? We've looked at the many options available and put together a list of our lag-free favorites.
Mobile

Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 now available on the Apple Store

The Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 is now available on the Apple Store for $150. The sensor strip, which is only 2 millimeters thin, automatically tracks a wide array of sleep data when placed under the user's sheets.
Deals

Save up to $750 with the best smartphone deals for December 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $750.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Google to end support for Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich

Anyone with an old phone that is still running Android 4.0 may want to look into upgrading their phone, as Google has announced that it will be ending support for this older version of Android.
Mobile

Amazon knocks $30 off its Paperwhite ebook reader in limited-time deal

Amazon is running a couple of limited-time deals for its Paperwhite ebook reader. One offers a $30 discount, while the other throws in a pair of headphones and a free, extended Audible trial.
Mobile

New Galaxy S10 leaks showcase display sizes, confirm headphone jack return

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.