Compatible: iPhone 5, iPod nano 7G, iPod touch 5G
Macally MBP26L 2600mAh Portable Battery Charger with Lightning
Macally's MBP26L 2600mAh Portable Battery Charger with Lightning ($50) is similar enough in design to Flex Pocket Charger from PhoneSuit that it's familiar, but not so much that it's a straight-out clone. Coming only in a white and silver color scheme, the battery pack connects to the bottom of Lightning-based iPhones and iPods, and claims to fully recharge an iPhone 5 in 1.5 hours. It features five white LEDs to display the battery life, and micro-USB charging, as well as 1-Amp output. The Lightning connector is substantially extended past the edge of the battery, but uses a plastic connector housing that's much too large to work with most cases. A micro-USB recharging cable is included.
Unlike PhoneSuit, which impressed us with its metal-bodied battery, Macally went with plastic—a material that’s not bad, but doesn’t have the same premium feel. Also missing is the cap to protect the Lightning plug when the battery is not in use. Viewed from the edge, it has a teardrop-shaped design, tapering inwards towards the top, which makes the unit feel smaller than Flex Pocket Charger. Case compatibility regrettably remains an issue with MBP26L. Unless you’re using a shell—which we don’t recommend—or another case with a fully open bottom, you won’t be able to connect due to the plastic around the plug.
We expected that MBP26L would perform about as well as Flex Pocket Charger, considering it has the same 2600mAh cell inside; PhoneSuit’s battery was able to deliver a 116% charge to an iPhone 5. The charger from Macally actually fell short of that number, though, and was able to provide only 104%, which is also below the average of all the other batteries we’ve tested. Additionally, the first full charge of an iPhone 5 took almost three hours, or double the 1.5-hour claim. This leads us to believe that, for some reason, it may have been putting out 0.5A, instead of the listed 1A.
On its face, MBP26L seems to be a pretty good deal, but it’s ultimately not as strong as we hoped. The lower price doesn’t make up for issues ranging from case compatibility to poor charging performance to slow speeds. That’s why we’d recommend Flex Pocket Charger over this one, which earns a limited recommendation, unless the price is your primary concern. If so, doubling the iPhone 5’s battery life for $50 isn’t too shabby, and iPod users will find both its capacity and speed more fitting for their needs.