Anker PowerCore Essential 20000 PD Review – The Best Power Bank in the World…

Anker PowerCore Essential 20000 PD Review – The Best Power Bank in the World

I’m going to save you some time picking a power bank: because I have family in Asia, I often have to stay in places with poor to no power at all. In Manila, it’s a miracle if your electronics don’t catch fire, considering the insane overvoltage and current variations I’ve seen. On top of this, most countries I travel to are superheated in the summer, and my battery packs tend to get damaged when they lack temperature control. I always have at least two power banks on myself. One in my to keep my cellphone alive (usually a PowerCore Slim), and a bigger one in my backpack.

I try and pick power banks that a) have at least 2 ports, b) output at least 2.4A, if not 4.8A, and charge a phone fast c) use high quality batteries and d) can gracefully handle overvoltage, high temperatures and current fluctuations. Over the years, I have had many power banks of different brands, price ranges and quality. To give you an idea, here’s a short list of the ones I’ve used in the past few years alone:

  • Anker PowerCore 20100;
  • Anker PowerCore 13000;
  • Anker PowerCore Slim 5000;
  • PowerAdd EnergyCell 5000;
  • RavPower 6700mAh Silver;
  • RavPower 20000mAh White with LED flashlight;
  • Silicon Power 20000mAh Power Bank;
  • A few no-name 5000mAh received as promotional gifts;
  • Many smaller 2500-2600mAh USB power banks.

Long story short, I’ve had a lot of decent power banks, and also a lot of shitty ones. Anker and RavPower tend to rank higher, but only Anker supports all the interesting charging standards and features that make their battery packs stand out. Which brings us to…

Why it’s the best

Amongst all of the power banks I’ve used, only one has the right combination of output power, port count, weight, charge speed, build quality, temperature/overvoltage protection circuitry and value for the money. That’s the PowerCore Essential 20000 PD. This thing has survived everything that I’ve thrown at it, from charging my iPhone 12 Pro Max to 50% in half an hour, to juicing up my laptop on a long trip (Lenovo x1 Nano, through USB-C!). It has handled dozens of drops, hundreds of top-ups, many 4-hour train rides and a couple of 12-hour plane trips – and came out victorious. I just wouldn’t trust any other battery pack. For some of the newer, bigger phones, it’s in fact the only option.

Where to get it

I got mine on Amazon, on sale for 40 instead of 60. Canadians like me can also get it on Amazon Canada. There are also plenty of sellers carrying it on eBay.

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Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD power bank Review

Some things in life seem like you can never have enough of them: time, money, bandwidth. For tech fans who are out there living the mobile lifestyle, “power” has got to be up at the top of that list. Phone hardware’s in a constant tug-of-war with itself, balancing advancements in power-efficient components against our desire for bigger and brighter screens or thinner and lighter handsets. And while we see hints of progress here and there, many of us still end up keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll make it through the day without running our batteries down to zero.

Even if our gadgets themselves aren’t always up to the task of storing all the power we demand from them, there’s a vibrant accessory market of external power packs looking to give our gear a much-appreciated battery top-up while still out on the go. These vary from.sized to those that look (and feel) more like a car battery than a mobile device, with battery capacity and feature sets running the gamut.

Today we’re checking out a high-capacity portable battery from Anker that goes much further than bare-bones solutions, offering high-speed charging (and recharging) as well as support for refueling certain laptops. Let’s take a look at what the PowerCore Speed 20000 PD power bank has to offer:

  • PowerCore Speed 20000 PD power bank
  • Wall charger
  • USB Type-C to Type-C cable
  • USB standard-A to micro-USB cable
  • Protective pouch
  • Welcome guide

Design

A hefty, traditional look with some Smart port options

Anker’s portable chargers tend to look pretty similar: the lipstick-tube ones notwithstanding, we’re looking at a rectangular solid with curved edges around its long sides. On one end we’ve got our ports: one standard-A and one USB Type-C, and on the other end you’ll find all the battery pack’s ratings and certifications in tiny print. Your only real interaction with the PowerCore Speed comes up near the port-end of the battery, where a side-mounted button allows you to check remaining capacity, indicated via a series of four blue LEDs on the pack’s face.

The power bank’s surface is a nondescript matte black plastic all over, and the unit measures about ¾-inch thick, a little under 2-½ inches wide, and just over 6-½ inches long. The whole thing’s got a good amount of heft to it, weighing 371.2 g, or about 13 ounces.

While you probably could get away with carrying the PowerCore Speed in your. between the thickness and its weight, that may not be the most comfortable idea, and you’ll resent the charger a lot less if you just find room for it in your bag.

Functionality

USB Power Delivery open some tantalizing new doors, but it’s no universal panacea

As you can probably tell from the product’s name, we’re looking at a power bank in the 20,000mAh range – and here, it’s slightly over at 20,100mAh.

anker, powercore, essential, 20000

We are living in an increasingly USB Type-C world, and the PowerCore Speed is absolutely designed to fit right in. Its Type-C port does double-duty as both power input and output, helping to simplify the unit’s design.

The unit supports up to 22.5W output, meaning it’s not going to have any trouble at all powering something like your phone. If your handset supports USB Power Delivery, you’re already in great shape, with the phone able to communicate its power needs directly with the power bank through its USB Type-C port.

Since not every single phone is USB PD-compatible, the PowerCore Speed has a great fall-back in the form of its PowerIQ system. While this isn’t formally the a Qualcomm Quick Charge device, it works along the same lines and optimizes power output to recharge devices as quickly as it can. For example, using Samsung’s included fast charger with the Galaxy S8, the phone recharges in about one hour, forty minutes. Using the Anker pack, the phone took one hour, forty-five minutes to recharge – a negligible difference.

Keep in mind, though, that even if your phone can take advantage of USB Power Delivery, you may need some extra hardware to tap into it. Last year’s iPhones are ready to be used fast-charged with this battery pack, but you’ll want to grab a USB Type-C to Lightning cable first.

The PowerCore Speed power bank isn’t just for phones and tablets, and its USB Power Delivery output is beefy enough that it may be able to recharge your USB Type-C equipped laptop. Now, this is going to depend heavily on what laptop we’re talking about – and keep in mind that just because your laptop uses USB Type-C for power delivery doesn’t guarantee that it will fully work here.

What you want is a laptop whose power demands fall on the lower end of the spectrum. Anker specifically points to MacBooks as being compatible, but the Lenovo laptop we had on hand (which uses a 45W USB Type-C adapter) wasn’t able to charge at full speed. If you’re really counting on using this power pack with both your phone and your laptop, make sure you check in advance on your notebook’s power requirements.

Considering that recharging a laptop can exhaust the PowerCore’s battery reserves all in one go, though, sticking with smaller gadgets can be Smart, too – especially if you’re going to be going for a while between having access to an outlet.

Speaking of that, this unit isn’t just rated to discharge in a high-power mode; it also supports recharging itself at an accelerated pace. Anker ships the PowerCore Speed with a 30W wall adapter. That means that even with its big 20,100mAh battery, maybe six or seven times the capacity of the battery in your phone, this power bank can recharge in just about four hours – not bad at all.

Conclusion

Anker’s put together one well-rounded battery pack here, and its USB Power Delivery support helps elevate it above simpler solutions that mainly FOCUS on juicing-up your phone, and wholly ignore larger devices like your laptop.

It carries a decent amount of charge, is able to deliver that power quickly and conveniently, and maybe best of all it recharges at a very brisk pace.

In fact, there’s not a lot we don’t like about the functionality of the PowerCore Speed 20000 PD. But it’s still not going to be for everyone. The price is a bit of a turn-off, with the power bank selling for just about 100. You can pick up any number of QuickCharge 3.0 20,000mAh battery packs for less than a third of that price, so you’re paying a hefty premium for these USB Power Delivery features.

In order to get the most out of this unit, you’re going to want to pair it with a laptop that can take full advantage of USB PD – otherwise, it’s hard to justify that purchase price. And as we noted earlier, just because your laptop charges over USB doesn’t mean it’s going to play nicely with the PowerCore, so be sure you check your laptop’s power draw before picking this accessory up.

But if you’re a mobile warrior with the right hardware to take advantage of the PowerCore Speed 20000 PD power bank, and you’re craving the convenience of being able to not just top-off your phone, but also your laptop without being anywhere near an outlet, then Anker’s solution can make a lot of sense. We’d still love to see the price drop quite a bit, but even at 100 there’s a good amount of value here.

Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD Power Bank Review

If you’re looking for a power delivery charger that offers your laptop, phone or tablet life away from the mains, the Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD is a great-value option.

Our Verdict

The PowerCore Speed 20000 PD is a good-value, high-capacity power bank that offers insanely fast charging and recharging speeds, and hails from one of the best-known brands in power-bank tech. Don’t make the mistake of assuming its 22.5W USB Power Delivery port will charge any USB-C laptop, however.

For years we’ve been talking about the benefits of fast charging, especially that enabled by Quick Charge. But for the fastest charging of all you’ll need USB Power Delivery, which can offer up to 100W in either direction.

anker, powercore, essential, 20000

This means it’s not only the fastest way to charge devices that can support a higher charging rate, but it is enough to charge USB-C devices such as your USB-C laptop that won’t charge over a standard USB adaptor.

The Anker PowerCore Speed offers 20000mAh of power for keeping your devices going, and as such is a lower-capacity and cheaper alternative to the 27W 26800 PD we reviewed last summer. But in design – and, of course, capacity – it looks more like the Anker PowerCore 20000, a slightly cheaper device but one with two USB-A ports and no support for USB Power Delivery.

anker, powercore, essential, 20000

You’ll pay £49.99 for this Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD in the UK, or 79.99 in the US. Although our review sample shipped with a 30W USB-C PD mains adaptor (with US two-pin plug), we don’t believe it comes with one in the UK. This should explain the difference in price, since you’ll pay upwards of £20 for such a plug in the UK.

Even so, a penny short of £50 for a device that offers insanely fast charging – and recharging (in just four hours), with USB-C PD also supported on the input – and up to 20,000mAh of power for your mobile devices sounds like good value to us. There’s also peace of mind associated with buying from Anker, which is one of the best-known brands in the power bank market.

Of course you won’t actually see 20,000mAh in real terms. Power banks typically operate at between 60- and 70 percent efficiency, so you might get around 13000mAh for charging your devices. That’s still enough to charge an iPhone six times or Galaxy S8 between four and five times.

The design is Anker’s usual fare, a rectangular plastic brick with a matte finish and softly rounded corners. Four LEDs are used to show how much capacity remains, which doesn’t give an especially precise impression when each LED represents 5000mAh.

The power bank is pretty heavy at 371g, which is understandable given the capacity, but it’s elongated design makes it feel bulkier than it is. You’ll find it more practical carrying the Anker in a bag than a

On the side is a button that activates these LEDs to show you what there is at a glance, though charging is automatic when you connect your device. You can add two if you like, with two ports found at one end: one is a USB-C PD port, and the other a 10W USB-A output with PowerIQ (tech that identifies your device type and delivers the optimum amount of power).

You can’t charge a device a recharge the Anker power bank at once (known as passthrough charging), though the USB-C PD input means having to charge each device separately is less of a hassle.

Specs

Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD: Specs

  • 20,100mAh/72.36Wh power bank
  • 22.5W PD Output: 5V=3A, 9V=2.6A, 15V=1.6A
  • Standard Output: 5V=2A
  • Input: 5V=3A, 9V=3A, 15V=2A, 20V=1.5A, recharges in 4 hours
  • four-LED charge indicators
  • carry case
  • Micro-USB USB-C to USB-C cables
  • 168x62x22mm
  • 371g
  • 18-month warranty

Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD Review

A 72 Wh power bank should fulfill all your smartphone needs, but can a PowerCore power bank be used to charge laptops as well? Let’s find out.

Redaktion. Klaus Hinum. ✓ Felicitas Krohn (translated by Martin Jungowski), Published 01/26/2018

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Design and Build Quality

Design-wise, the matte black power bank is fairly simple yet surprisingly appealing. The blue USB-A port and the four blue status LEDs are the only optical accentuations. The matte plastic feels great to the touch but is not particularly scratch-resistant. In addition, the edge on the side is not perfectly flush. Overall, the power bank is firm and strong and does not creak when compressed.

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Ports

As is quite common for power banks, Anker’s PowerCore Speed offers a USB-A port for charging devices with up to 10 W (5 V, 2 A). The second port, a USB-C port, is used for charging the power bank, but also for providing more power hungry devices with, well, more power. According to the manual, it supports up to 30 W of power delivery: 5 V/3 A, 9 V/3 A, 15 V/2 A, 20 V/1.5 A.

Teardown

Unfortunately, our review unit’s USB-C port broke a few weeks into our tests, and we were unable to charge the power bank henceforth. On the plus side, this meant that it was open for disassembly. We are certainly not experts when it comes to power banks, but it looked fairly decent on the inside, where we found six LGGBF1L1865 battery cells. According to our research, these should be 3350 mAh 18650 battery cells made by LG Chem. The cells are glued to each other and into the case, and seem very stable and rigid. A temperature sensor that shuts off the PowerCore at 60 °C (~140 °F) or more sits right above the battery cells. The ports are connected to two stacked PCBs. The 100 35V PH739 capacitors seem to be of questionable quality according to some older sources (see for example Tomshardware).

Real-World Experience: Smartphones

In the course of its life, we have charged various devices with the power bank. from Apple’s iPhone X to the Nvidia Shield Tablet or the Motorola X Play. and have never encountered any problems at all. The iPhone X was charged via the USB-C port and started out at 8.9 V and 1.6 A (14 W) but eventually settled at 5.26 V and 1-1.1 A (5.3. 5.8 W). Accordingly, the power bank’s 72 Wh capacity should be more than enough to charge the iPhone X’s 10.35 Wh battery multiple times. According to Anker, an iPhone 7’s 7.5 Wh battery can be charged up to six times (which would result in 45 Wh total capacity). Extrapolated from this manufacturer information we should be able to charge the iPhone X 4-5x. Despite support for QuickCharge 2.0, the Moto X Play was only charged with 5.8 W via USB-C.

Charging Notebooks via USB-C PD

and more notebooks are equipped with USB-C and support for power delivery (PD). Accordingly, the PowerCore should be capable of charging these notebooks as well. Unfortunately, the experience turned out to be a mixed bag of sorts. Due to its rather low power of only 30 W many notebooks completely refused to charge. In our tests we were only able to successfully charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro with the PowerCore. Not only was it charging, it also kept its charge level at 100% while we were using it. This obviously changed with more demanding tasks, which discharged the internal battery to ensure proper power supply.

Our experiences were much worse with other notebooks, such as the Eve V. While we were using the device, it kept flapping between “plugged in” and “discharging”. Consequently, we were only able to charge its battery in standby or when completely powered off. Our colleague “Technikfaultier” tried charging the XPS 13 and Xiaomi Air 12 to no avail: both devices failed to recognize the external battery at all. It worked well on the MacBook 12 though.

According to the specifications, the higher capacity PowerCore 26800 is not more powerful than our review unit at hand. We were thus not able to charge any notebook other than the MacBook Pro.

Verdict

Despite the broken USB-C port the Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD left a very good overall impression. Touch and feel, looks, and build quality were decent, and it seemed to be very well-built on the inside, too. It reliably charged smartphones, tablets, and Apple notebooks in our tests and even supported fast charging the iPhone X at higher voltages.

Its usefulness for charging Windows notebooks was severely restricted though. Many manufacturers configure their USB-C ports in firmware to ignore low-wattage power sources. It would thus be highly advisable to make sure your notebook supports charging from low-wattage power sources beforehand.

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