External battery packs are fairly ubiquitous when it comes to owning mobile devices, namely smartphones. Our daily demands typically exceed what the smartphone’s battery can deliver, and nearby outlets aren’t necessarily convenient to use.
With the hundreds of external battery packs available to choose from, it can be challenging for some to stand apart from others to get noticed. Power Practical, the makers of the PowerPot, have snuck such a battery under the radar. The Power Practical Lithium 4400 battery stands out due to the built-in lantern that shines brighter than the rest.
The Power Practical 4400 battery has a very unique shape, sort of like an airplane wing. The smooth plastic tapers down to the rounded edge where the LED lights are. It’s not very stackable, but at least it won’t roll around when set down.
The input/output USB ports lie on the top end with their labels etched in the plastic casing. The single 3-way switch toggles the battery from off to either charging or lantern mode. Easy.
If you’re looking for something durable, you have it right here. I’ve sat on the battery, dropped (ok I lie, I’ve thrown it) it off the table, and let my daughter do her best to destroy it.
It holds up very well, earning a place in the “outdoor rugged” category. Just don’t get crazy. Weaknesses? Fingerprints and smudges. All day.
Along with the battery comes a flat 3-in-1 USB cable for charging. You can charge any Micro USB, Mini USB, or 30-pin Apple device. The cable is a fast-charge cable of excellent quality. It’s decently durable too.
The tips are long enough to fit perfectly in most all of my gadgets. I can’t stand when a USB cable is poorly made and won’t even sit flush properly.
The Power Practical 4400 battery won’t charge out unless the switch is flipped. A button might have been better, since the switch itself is a little loose and can likely shift if the battery is in a bag with other items.
When the battery is set to charging out, the LEDs will light up according to how much battery life is left. Each of the 4 lights indicate a 25% threshold, though I’ve found it to be slightly inaccurate.
The first two LEDs disappear far quicker than the last two, confirmed by marking the power output over time with respect to the lights.
Note: Most external battery packs I’ve ever purchased and used came only partially charged, so I’ve always made it a habit to fully charge them before use. I tend to fully charge and discharge a new battery a few times, just so I can level out the charge states of the individual cells. It helps to maximize the battery’s manufacturer-listed potential.
The standard efficiency rating of external battery packs currently on the market is 70%. This means that 30% of the battery’s listed capacity is consumed while charging up devices. So, for example, a standard 1000mAh battery would effectively deliver 700mAh of energy.
Given the 4400mAh capacity of the Power Practical 4400, one would expect it to provide a useful 3080mAh of energy. After the battery went though a handful of full discharge-recharge cycles, it now delivers a consistent 3100mAh (give or take 25mAh).
If the switch is left to the charge position, the battery does drain over time due to the LEDs, though not as quickly as when it’s in lantern mode. The switch flips easily, so watch out or you’ll be out of energy for when you really need it.
Many external battery packs out there feature a built-in “flashlight”, which is typically a single, uncovered LED bulb. Most all of these so-called “flashlights” emit a paltry amount of light, equivalent to a simple keychain light. There are also a number of apps available that use the smartphone’s flash bulb as an illumination device, rendering external battery pack lights inconvenient and laughable.
The Power Practical Lithium 4400 battery calls the 4 LED array a “lantern” when the switch is flipped down. Even if the battery is not full, all of the LEDs light up.
I had initial doubts about how useful this lantern would be, but I quickly found that it’s decently useful. My garage turns pitch black in the middle of the night, and the lantern is able to illuminate the 2-car garage front to back, side to side, while standing at one end.
It’s not near as powerful as a good flashlight, of course, but the gentle flood of light is good enough to let a user identify objects and have a depth of field. I would absolutely trust the Power Practical Lithium 4400 battery to help me navigate a campsite or dark woods.
With my hand down to my side, the lantern provides about a 3-4 foot radius of strong (relatively speaking) light to pick out rocks, branches, and terrain (backyard tested). Beyond that, it only shows shapes and shadows in muted colors.
Though it can work in a pinch, I wouldn’t use it for midnight reading. Searching through bags? Sure. But it’s not quite the right color of light (to me) for something like reading or extended smartphone use.
Despite that the lantern on the Power Practical Lithium 4400 battery is better than most, it still pales in comparison to flashlight apps using a smartphone’s flash LED bulb as a light.
One can randomly click around in Amazon’s electronics section and come across some external battery pack from any manufacturer within a minute. There are literally hundreds to choose from, most all of which can perform adequately for charging devices on the go.
The Power Practical Lithium 4400 battery stands out because of how useful and effective the lantern lighting is. While it can’t compete with the range of a flashlight, it will help you navigate in the dark safely. It’s a great accessory to have while camping, hiking, or backpacking, especially since it’s small and light enough to carry in a pocket.
With a usable 3100mAh of energy, it’s enough to charge up a typical iPhone 5 battery twice. It can charge a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 once, however the 1A output will take twice as long as the Note 2 wall plug. Just pack some patience and you’ll be fine.
If the decision to acquire an external battery rests solely on capacity and output, the Power Practical Lithium 4400 takes a back seat to similarly-priced products with multiple ports and/or higher capacities. But if you need a battery backup that doubles as a reliable light source, the Lithium 4400 is the best and brightest option by far.