As Portable Chargers, the ZAGG Power Amps Shine

The Power Amp 18. Photos: ZAGG
The Power Amp 18. Photos: ZAGG

As time goes on, we seem to use our devices more and more when we’re out and about. Pokemon Go, checking election polls, reading restaurant reviews, and mapping our route sucks the power out of our phones. Our kids watch videos on tablets while we’re on road trips. We read eBooks instead of paper ones. Our media and communications are so digital that it feels like we’re completely lost if our batteries die.

I used to be pretty down on portable batteries, but that was when they were still new and the only ones I’d seen were unreliable and couldn’t hold a charge, let alone charge something else. But something has changed recently. Portable power packs have become amazing. And the ones from ZAGG are affordable and effective (just like everything else I’ve used from ZAGG).

ZAGG makes a whole family of Power Amp portable chargers. They make a Power Amp 3, 6, 12, and 18, depending on what your charging needs and portability requirements are. I was fortunate enough to be able to test the 3 and the 18, hitting both ends of the power spectrum. All of the chargers come with a one year limited warranty, can charge devices while charging themselves, and include what’s called Quick Chip technology:

Quick Chip technology features a unique microchip that detects what kind of device you have and adapts to provide the fastest charge possible.

The Power Amp 3. Photos: ZAGG
The Power Amp 3. Photos: ZAGG

Starting with the Power Amp 3, you’ve got a 3000mAh charger. It’s good for charging most smartphones one whole time or so, or giving a small boost multiple times. The charger is small, light, oval, and will fit in any pocket or purse. It also feels nice in your hand, and comes in multiple colors: black, blue, pink, and two white options. It’s a 2.1A rapid charging battery, and in less than a half hour, it added about 20% battery power to my iPad Mini 4.

When you open the box with the Power Amp 3, it’s already pre-charged, ready to go to charge your devices. Or, use the LED flashlight that’s also part of the charger. The unit has one USB port for charging one device at a time, and comes with a USB/microUSB cable needed to charge the Power Amp. (You will need your own Lightning cable to charge your iDevices.) The device does get pretty warm while charging a device, so don’t keep it in the same pocket as any chocolates or temperature-sensitive items. If you want to see how much charge is left in the battery pack, pres the handy battery button, which will light between one and four lights, depending on the power level.

Unlike the small, extremely portable Power Amp 3, the Power Amp 18 is a behemoth. Sized similarly to a medium Maglite flashlight, this sucker has 18,000 mAh, the ability to charge an average smartphone six times, and has three 2.4A rapid charging USB ports for charging three items at once. There is a nice silicone cover for all of those ports as well, and includes the USB/micro USB cord. It also comes pre-charged, so it’s ready to go right out of the box.

It’s heavy, with an aluminum body, and a silicone cable management strap to keep your cords from tangling. In addition to the included LED flashlight (which is much brighter than the one on the Power Amp 3), it also has an LED lantern or emergency beacon. There is also a D-ring for hanging purposes, and a similar battery button to check on the battery power level, from one to four lights. For my iPad 4 Mini, it charged 1% about every 2 minutes, and for my iPhone SE, it charged just under 1% per minute, and barely made a dent in the battery’s remaining charge.

If your needs are somewhere in between “handy, pocket-sized to charge once” and “OMG charge all the things,” check out the Power Amp 6 or 12 instead.

Any of the Power Amp line of portable chargers are a great value. They are quick to charge up, quick to charge your devices, and reliable, and all also have a handy LED flashlight for those times when your phone’s flashlight just won’t cut it. I recommend any of these when looking to buy a portable charger. Tip: Any of them would also make a wonderful gift this holiday season.

Note: I received samples for review purposes.

Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.