Review: iWalk Link 5200i External Battery Pack with Lightning Connector
One of the more interesting battery designs we've seen in some time, iWalk's new Link 5200i ($75) combines a power source and a stand into one accessory. Shaped like an extruded triangle, it can charge equipped devices directly thanks to a plug hidden under a cap at the top. There's also a full-sized USB port on one edge, and a Micro-USB port on the opposite side, plus a slide-out tray for holding devices charging with a self-provided cable. iWalk provides a travel pouch and Micro-USB cable.
The battery pack comes in both black and white, depending on your preference. It’s mostly plastic, although there are rubber pads along the bottom to keep it sturdy, and one along the top corner of the triangle that’s there for aesthetics. It’s 2” tall, 3” wide, and 2” deep — fairly compact for the capacity. The tray, which slides out from the bottom, adds about 0.75” without compromising the stability. Instead of LEDs in a row, the power indicator on this one is a triangle, matching the design of the pack itself. Its corners glow to show the remaining battery level.
To access Link 5200i’s Lightning plug, you lift off a cap along the top. It’s on there pretty tight, with a small divot in the middle of the seam for your fingernail. Underneath, three’s a mirrored surface with the plug jutting up from the center, surrounded by plastic that severely limits case compatibility. When you put a bare iPhone on, it stands straight up and down, rather than at an inclined angle. We’d prefer it to lay back a bit, because it’s easier to read the screen that way. The plug isn’t strong enough to hold iPads; they must be plugged in with a cable connected to the USB port.
Because it’s only capable of putting out power at 1-Amp speeds, Link 5200i is capable of charging tablets, but is better suited for phones. Still, we hooked up a first-generation iPad mini to the pack to test its charging capabilities due to its capacity. Starting out with no charge, the iPad got to 76 percent before the battery stopped delivering power. That figure is just shy of the average result, but falls within an acceptable range.
iWalk’s most recent battery pack is a smart idea that we’d love to see refined. There’s nothing to complain about with the battery itself, and the price is reasonable. It’s the setup of the Lightning dock that leaves a bit to be desired. While we know that the issue of case compatibility has to do with Apple’s MFi licensing rules, it’d be better if the iPhone would at least lean back to a more natural angle. Full-speed iPad charging would be a good thing, too. Ultimately, Link 5200i warrants a B rating, our general recommendation.