Review: RAVPower Dynamo 14000mAh External Battery Charger
Following last year's release of two power-hungry iPads with Retina Displays, developers have released a number of high-capacity battery packs designed to restore as much power as possible to Apple's tablets, generally in the 10,000 to 12,000mAh range. Previously unknown to us, and shipping its batteries in what look to be lightly customized OEM packaging, RAVPower has just introduced the Dynamo 14000mAh External Battery Charger ($130) -- one of the highest-capacity USB battery packs we've ever seen. Aside from the power and pricing, there's literally nothing amazing about this new option, but we're providing a quick review so that you'll know what to expect.
Made from matte plastic and shipped in either mostly black or mostly white versions, Dynamo 14000mAh measures roughly 4.8” by 3.2” by 0.8”, and feels like it’s almost entirely stuffed inside with a blocky battery. One edge is lighter than the rest, and that’s the silver plastic side where you’ll find two full-sized USB outputs—one for 1-Amp charging, one for 2-Amp—plus a micro-USB input, and a flashlight-like LED. The top has a single blue light bar that illuminates in four segments to indicate the remaining power; RAVPower dubs the black version of this battery “Knight Rider” since the bar looks somewhat like the red light panel on the car from the 1980’s TV show. A button on the top doubles as a power switch and trigger to make the bar show the battery’s remaining power; hold it down and the tiny flashlight turns on or off, for whatever that’s worth.
Rather than taking the standard route and including one micro-USB to USB cable plus an Apple-specific cable of some sort, RAVPower packs Dynamo 14000mAh with two coiled USB cables that can interface with a small variety of included plugs—notably two classic Dock Connectors, but no Lightning connector. You’ll have to supply your own Apple cables for newer devices. There’s also a soft velvety carrying bag for all of the parts, a fairly common pack-in for batteries like this.
Dynamo 14000mAh’s performance is on target for its capacity. Testing with a fourth-generation iPad, we were able to achieve an 85% recharge, which is 10-15% more refueling than we’ve seen from more common 12,000mAh cells. The pace was consistent with 2-Amp recharging speeds, slower than the peak rates supported by third- and fourth-generation iPads, but not bad. Smaller iPads will easily be able to achieve one full recharge from this battery, and iPad minis may even come close to two recharges; iPhones and iPods will commonly get five or more full charges before Dynamo needs to be refueled. One hitch is that this battery is itself refueled at a peak rate of 1-Amp, which is far behind best-engineered rivals and essentially means that you’ll need to leave it connected to a 1-Amp USB power source—not supplied in the package—for a very long time, perhaps half of a day.
The factor that is most dicey with this battery is its suspiciously low street price: despite the $130 MSRP, it’s currently going for street prices under $45, which makes it cheaper than many batteries with less than half the capacity. RAVPower is also an unknown quantity to Apple device users, promising a limited 12-month warranty for this particular cell, and we can’t vouch for the longevity of its products or the reliability of its service. So as comparable as it might be to Just Mobile’s $130 Gum Max Duo on paper—twin USB ports and a 11,200mAh battery with a 75% iPad recharge—you’re trading off on external materials, charging speeds, and some quality-of-experience internal components with this model.
Our flat B rating and general recommendation should be understood this way: during testing, this battery performed exactly as advertised, and delivers solid value for the MSRP. If you can get it for the crazy low street price, you’ll likely be thrilled with it until its recharging capabilities wane, something we’d predict is likely to happen earlier here than with premium options from other companies. In the event that we begin to see long-term issues with this battery, our recommendation may be modified in the future.