Review: Lepow U-Stone 12000mAh Power Bank
Based in Hong Kong, battery maker Lepow recently released two portable power packs that can work with iPads, iPhones, and iPods: the Moonstone 6000mAh Power Bank ($70), which we received for review in green, and the U-Stone 12000mAh Power Bank ($120), which arrives in a natural-looking rock gray color. As you can probably guess from their sizes and capacities, U-Stone has the ability to recharge full-sized iPads -- and anything else -- while Moonstone is primarily for smaller devices, ranging from iPad minis all the way down to iPods. Each of the batteries is modestly odd for different reasons, but one of them might appeal to you based on performance or features.
U-Stone’s basic pitch is that it’s capable of recharging anything from a full-sized tablet down to a pocket device, and the 12,000mAh capacity is certainly more up to the task than smaller rivals. In our testing with a full-sized fourth-generation iPad, U-Stone managed to bring the tablet from 0% to 72% power, which is nearly identical to the 71% result we recently saw from New Trent’s 12,000mAh iCarrier. Lepow says that U-Stone operates at a 1.8-Amp speed, below the peak refueling speed of today’s full-sized iPad, but it took a not-so-bad 4.5 hours for the charge. Most of Apple’s other devices will refuel quite quickly from U-Stone, and achieve two or more full recharges—the iPad mini will be closest to two, with iPhones and iPods getting five or more, depending on model.
The issues with U-Stone are mostly in functionality and pricing. As contrasted with the twin-USB-recharging iCarrier, U-Stone recharges only one device at a time, and it’s physically much larger, adding perhaps 50% additional physical volume to carry around. It doesn’t include its own wall charger, though it does refuel at a faster 2.1-Amp input speed comparable to iCarrier, so you’ll only need around seven hours to bring it back to full capacity—fine by the standards of such a capacious power cell. Unfortunately, Lepow’s power indicator for U-Stone is really weird—a set of four blue lights that do fine to indicate progress when the battery is being recharged, but flipped from 3 lights down to 1 and empty far too quickly during iPad recharging. There’s no button to activate them, either; you’re supposed to shake U-Stone to trigger them, a “cute” idea that’s not particularly practical, and in real-world testing generally required more of a shake than should really be necessary.
U-Stone’s price is also somewhat daunting. Lepow prices it at a $120 MSRP, with a $100 street price versus iCarrier’s $70 crazy-low MSRP and even crazier $58 street price. You get more in the box with iCarrier, including a carrying case and wall charger, and New Trent’s design is smaller and easier to carry around. Lepow slipped a papery-fabric carrying case into a separate envelope in our review box, but we’re not sure that it’s included with all U-Stones. The only advantages Lepow is offering here are the look of the much larger battery, and a 1% difference in charging performance with a high-capacity tablet.
Overall, Lepow’s batteries are both intriguing entries with small issues. Moonstone is certainly the more appealing of the two from our standpoint, as its impressive output performance and reasonable MSRP are enhanced by even more aggressive $40 street pricing, offset only by its slow self-recharging speed. It’s worthy of our B+ rating and strong general recommendation. U-Stone by comparison is a bit too big and expensive, but it performs pretty well. Consequently, if you really like the unusual industrial design, it’s worth considering nonetheless. It merits our flat B rating and general recommendation.