Rose Stone + Tarot
Tarot is the smallest of Powerocks’ battery packs. It’s just as wide as a credit card, and only a little taller, with a thickness equivalent to roughly 10 cards stacked atop one another. The top and bottom panels are aluminum, while the outer edge is a continuous piece of white plastic. In addition to the full- and Micro-USB ports, there’s a power button on top, and four battery indicator lights; all in all, it’s really quite simple. While it doesn’t feel as polished as a product from Just Mobile or another company known for similarly high-quality accessories, Tarot feels pretty good for a $35 battery.
We tested this battery on a fully-drained iPhone 5. It’s worth noting that the USB plug doesn’t fit all the way into Tarot, leaving about 4mm of metal exposed. This is likely a design chosen to save space. The pack was able to deliver a 64% charge, which is just a few percentage points lower than we would’ve expected from historical averages. Considering the low price and small size, it’s a pretty good performer.
Moving up the line brings us to Magicstick. We’re not sure what the relationship is between Powerocks and Mipow, but the similarities between their tube-shaped packs is obvious. This one’s just about 3.5” long, and about 7/8” in diameter. Silver, black, red, blue, and purple versions of the battery are listed on the company’s website, although we received an unlisted gold-colored model for review. Again, Powerocks went for simplicity here: on one end of the tube you’ll find the power inputs and outputs, while the other side is a button with an embedded LED to let you know how much charge is left.
Although it only puts out 1 Amp of power, we tested Magicstick on a third-generation iPad due to its relatively high capacity. It was able to deliver a better than average 17% charge. This indicates good things for the battery being used with an iPhone or iPod; one should see a full recharge plus another 25% or so, based on that figure. Once again, the USB plug fits most, but not all of the way in; this one is also particularly tight.
Finally, there’s Magic Cube. Naturally, the largest capacity battery of this group has the biggest footprint, and is the heaviest. It’s 2.75” wide, 3.25” long, and a little over 0.75” tall. This one comes in black, silver, blue, purple, or pink aluminum; all five colors have black plastic caps on either long end. One stays in place, with a power button and four LEDs in a column beneath it, while the other one can be pulled off to reveal integrated Micro-USB and USB plugs, plus a USB port. This cap is attached with a small tether so that it doesn’t get lost, and a small divot allows the Micro-USB cable to poke through with the lid closed.
Of the bunch, this one is best-suited for iPad charging, as it puts out 2 Amps of power. While that number falls short of the 2.4-Amp peaks of third- and fourth-generation iPads, it’s at least better than the otherwise very slow 1A. We tested Magic Cube with a fully discharged third-generation iPad, and found it delivered a 55% charge, which was once again right in the range we were expecting. It took four hours and 20 minutes, however, which is a pretty slow recharging rate.
These three batteries are good, although not necessarily exciting options. They do the jobs they’re supposed to, in attractive enough shapes, but they’re not necessarily distinctive. They look like common enough OEM batteries, differing more in pricing and capacities than anything else relative to options we’ve previously tested.
Based on its particularly low price and compact size, Tarot earns a strong general recommendation. Its performance didn’t blow us away, but it’s a smart buy for backup power. Magicstick is worthy of a general recommendation: the price is just about on target, as is the charging ability. Finally, Magic Cube earns a limited recommendation, due mostly to its high price relative to its capacity.
Updated September 11, 2013: Powerocks subsequently sent the cosmetically identical but higher-capacity version of Magic Cube (12000mAh, $110) and a 6000mAh version called Rose Stone ($70), the latter featuring “mysterious and cool” LED indicators and twin 1-Amp USB ports. In our testing, however, one of Rose Stone’s USB ports recharged an iPad mini to the 89% point in 2 hours and 40 minutes—far faster than would be expected from a 1-Amp charger, and in the same general recharge capacity range as other 6000mAh batteries we’ve tested. It merits our strong general recommendation and B+ rating. The 12000mAh Magic Cube achieved a 74% recharge of a fourth-generation iPad at 2.1-Amp speeds, slightly better than the 71-72% numbers we commonly see for batteries of this capacity, though at a relatively high price; its rating remains unchanged. Photos of those two models, which are substantially similar to earlier versions, are above.
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