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TechnologyTell Review: Kensington 5200mAh USB Mobile Charger

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Is there ever going to be an end to external battery packs? Probably not for quite some time. So you might as well get in and get one now, right? While there are many, many to choose from, not all portable battery packs are equal. Curious as to how this one by Kensington holds up? Read on!

Design

The Kensington 5200mAh USB Mobile Charger is a very Kensington looking product. Flat black and satin silver colors. Simple yet effective design. Having known and used a wide variety of Kensington devices over the years (at least 14 and counting), I like being able to instantly recognize one of their own and expect a certain type of quality. And my general impressions of many of Kensington devices is that they are affordable, dependable, and focus more on the job at hand than providing fancy looks.

Kensington 5200 mobile charger battery box

It’s a very ‘Kensington’ product.

Despite having a simple, rectangular shape with rounded sides, the Kensington 5200mAh charger has a great tactile feel to it. The metal exterior is smooth and just the right size to fit comfortably in the hand while holding. Both the top and bottom are perfectly flat for standing it up vertically. The top, or ‘business end’ as I like to call it, has the power button, input micro USB and output USB ports, and the battery gauge.

Like most all external battery packs out there, the Kensington 5200mAh charger features a system of 4-LEDs to indicate remaining power. Unlike most, these LEDs are the size of pin pricks that are practically invisible unless you’re staring at them straight on. And you have to be close enough too.

Kensington 5200 mobile charger battery end

Nothing fancy, but that’s ok since it works well.

While I don’t mind having brighter LEDs to check the charging status from across the room, some do. But that’s all I like the lights for anyway, since most of these energy gauges aren’t terribly accurate. Each LED is meant to represent a 25 percent threshold of power.

Consider it a very rough estimate, and this Kensington unit is no more or less exact than the rest; it will still show 3 lit LEDs even when the actual remaining battery life is less than 30 percent.

The included USB charging cable doesn’t have much for looks or feels. The cable material is kind of stiff and the tips are rather uninteresting. But who cares about appearances when the cable included with the Kensington 5200mAh charger is a fast one!

I’ve learned to expect a basic 5V/1A cable with most external battery packs, even if the battery itself has higher input/output amps. It usually means that you’d have to provide your own quality battery in order to get the most out of it. So Kensington gets a definite two thumbs up for supplying a cable that can match the maximum 2.1A output.

Battery Performance

While recharging the Kensington 5200mAh charger, each of the minute LEDs take their turn blinking one by one until each remain lit, indicating a full battery. Even though the total capacity of this external battery pack is considered small/portable, the 2A input is very nice for quick recharging. Much appreciated.

Kensington 5200 mobile charger battery hand

Nice hand feel with a satin finish to it.

The Kensington 5200mAh charger doesn’t have auto-detect, so you have to manually press the power button each time you wish to charge out. Although the power button itself lies flush with the top to prevent the majority of accidental activations (e.g. when carried in a bag with other gear knocking around), this battery features auto-shutoff.

As soon as 15 seconds pass without anything connected, it turns itself off to conserve energy. One thing different about the Kensington power button is that it is a toggles. Press it once to turn it on and then again to turn it off.

As you charge out to a device, the LEDs blink softly. You’ll know the battery is empty when the LEDs are dark, and they all flash in unison a few times when you press the power button. Unlike some other external battery packs, this one has no passthrough charging. I had to mix and match some cables just to confirm, because the two USB ports are so close to each other. But if both are occupied with cables, the battery does nothing. So that’s that.

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.

Kensington 5200 mobile charger battery front

The fast cable complements a fast battery (both ends)

The standard efficiency rating of external battery packs currently on the market is 70 percent. This means that 30 percent of the battery’s listed capacity is consumed while charging up devices. So, for example, a basic 1000mAh battery would effectively deliver 700mAh of energy.

Right out of the box, the Kensington 5200mAh charger was able to deliver a total of 102 percent charge, or 3284mAh of usable energy, to my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 battery (3220mAh).That’s equivalent to 63.1 percent efficiency. It’s ok, just a touch under standard. However, all additional charge cycles resulted in 113 percent charge to my Note 4 battery, which is 3638mAh, putting the peak and average efficiency of the Kensington 5200mAh charger to 69.9 percent. I’d have to say that this is probably the most consistent-performing external battery pack I’ve used. At least that I can remember. Can’t go wrong with that.

So what can you do with 3638mAh of battery energy? That’s good for 1.13 full charges to a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (3220mAh), or 2.0 full charges to an Apple iPhone 6 (1810mAh), or 0.8 full charges to a 7″ Kindle Fire HDX (4500mAh).

Verdict

If you happen to like and/or don’t mind the plain, satin silver finish of the Kensington 5200mAh USB Mobile Charger, it’s a pretty good external battery pack to own. Although there is nothing extreme, fancy, or mind-blowing, it’s a solid performer with a very very consistent efficiency rating for power output. The overall size is nice and compact, and the 2.1A output is appropriate for today’s mobile devices.

But what sets this Kensington 5200mAh charger apart from most similar/typical battery packs is the 2A input for the small(er) battery capacity, and the inclusion of a quality charging cable. Too many battery packs being sold charge up at the pokey 1A rate. And ones that charge up at 2A tend to include a junky cable that’s only good for 1A. Kensington gets a tip of the hat for doing right by the consumer. No frills, no problem. This is a good device to own.

 

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