Review: New Trent iCarrier IMP120D Dual USB Power Pack
Roughly a dozen similar ultra-high-capacity batteries are being sold by reputable vendors these days, leaving iPad and iPhone users with two key decisions: how much they're willing to pay, and how much extra battery life they really need for their devices. The batteries' prices generally range from $70 to $130, with capacities varying from 6,000mAh to 12,000mAh; the former promises two or three recharges of an iPhone or iPod, while the latter can substantially or fully refuel certain iPads one time. These days, many of these batteries have two or three outbound USB ports should you want to share their power between multiple devices at once, and the best also include wall chargers so that you can refuel them quickly between uses. Having checked off all the right feature boxes, New Trent's iCarrier IMP120D ($70) is a fascinating option, particularly because it's now being sold at an incredibly appealing price point.
iCarrier’s appeal comes from three key factors. While the battery originally carried an MSRP of $120, it now officially retails for $70; most alternatives around this price point offer half as much battery power. In fact, New Trent’s 12,000mAh cell is one of the largest in the industry, eclipsing options from better-known brands we’ve covered over the past few years. Moreover, unlike almost all of its rivals, New Trent includes not only the battery, but also a wall charger to refuel it—an almost entirely positive feature.
Given these major assets, you’re probably wondering whether there’s any catch. There are three, but they’re not fatal to iCarrier’s appeal. One is the battery’s all-plastic construction: top rivals such as Just Mobile’s Gum Max Duo are made substantially but not entirely from metal, and sometimes include ruggedized exteriors to protect the cells from damage. iCarrier is similar to competitors such as Gum Max Duo in physical size but decidedly simpler in materials, interrupting a matte black plastic shell with a blue ring that runs across the center—a fine rather than great design. The ring contains two outbound USB ports, a power button, and a circular inbound recharging port. New Trent also includes a soft fabric carrying case and two USB cables that can’t be used with Apple devices; you’ll have to self-supply an Apple device charging cable, a common issue with many of the high-capacity batteries we’ve tested.
iCarrier’s wall adapter is the battery’s second issue: the only way to refuel iCarrier is to use New Trent’s charger, which uses a large proprietary circular plug rather than the micro-USB ports favored by competitors. The good news is that the wall adapter and battery work together to recharge at 2-Amp speeds, which is to say that iCarrier can go from empty to full in under eight hours rather than 16 or 32, a problem we’ve seen with a few big battery packs. If those recharging times seem inconceivable, that’s because 12,000mAh batteries can take longer than a full day to recharge using old USB ports; New Trent’s packed-in wall adapter guarantees that you won’t need to wait this long, but the plug design prevents you from refilling iCarrier without it.
While iCarrier’s industrial design isn’t fantastic, it’s entirely adequate. The otherwise simple rounded rectangular enclosure features a contoured power button on the same edge with the twin USB ports, and three small battery level indicators (“low,” “mid,” “high”) provide a sense of how much energy remains inside if you tap the power button, with the “low” light flashing as the battery comes close to the end of a charging cycle. This isn’t bad, but more deluxe high-capacity batteries have far more granular remaining power indicators that can help you manage your time better both during device and battery recharging. Another modest design issue is the somewhat confusing labeling of the battery’s ports, which are only labeled “Output 1” and “Output 2.” You’ll need to flip the battery over and look at its bottom to learn that Output 1 is capped at 1-Amp output—ideal for iPhones and iPods—while Output 2 is the higher peak speed 2.1-Amp port made for use with iPads. It wouldn’t have been too difficult to label the ports “1-Amp Output” and “2.1-Amp Output” for greater clarity.
iCarrier’s power performance was a bit better than expected. On average, we would expect a 12,000mAh battery to deliver a 69% recharge for a fourth-generation iPad, and iCarrier went a little beyond that, bringing the tablet from 25% to 96%—a 71% recharge in just over five hours. The original iPad, iPad 2, and iPad mini can get a full recharge from iCarrier; the third- and fourth-generation iPads will fall short, as they’re particularly power-hungry. iPhone users should expect four to five recharges from iCarrier, depending on the iPhone model they’re using; iPod users will generally see five or more. New Trent’s performance is only noteworthy because we’ve seen a few batteries in this class fall markedly below their promised recharging capacities, as well as their advertised speeds; thankfully, iCarrier’s peak recharging speeds were completely consistent with its 2.1-Amp claim.
Our only concern would be longevity. New Trent promises that iCarrier will last for over 500 recharge cycles, but the warranty is extremely limited—180 days if you bought directly from the company and registered the product, no warranty if purchased elsewhere or left it unregistered. Sketchy warranty policies aren’t surprising, particularly for batteries, but given that New Trent isn’t a particularly well-known vendor, you’ll have to decide whether to take the risk of failure. The low price may help make your decision easier.
There’s a lot to love about iCarrier: New Trent is offering an ultra-high-capacity battery pack that’s hard to fault as delivered. Its assets include best-of-breed capacity, highly aggressive pricing, and an included high-speed wall charger, while its issues are relatively modest—second-tier body materials, a proprietary refueling interface, and a lack of Apple-specific cables. While the warranty issues raise a bit of a red flag, particularly if you’re buying iCarrier through a third party vendor, these concerns are generally forgivable for the price, from our perspective. All things considered, iCarrier merits a modestly caveated A- rating and our high recommendation; give it very serious consideration if you’re looking for an ultra-high-capacity battery for your Apple device.