Review: Zagg Mobile Charging Station
We've recently shifted our coverage of standalone batteries to our Gear section, explaining that battery packs have become a known commodity in an oversaturated market, with testing offering few surprises. We also noted that certain innovations would be exceptions, and worthy of our full review — Zagg's new Mobile Charging Station ($80) is one of those exceptions. Mobile Charging Station, first seen at this year's CES, is a portable station with a 5000 mAh battery which can recharge an iPhone and an Apple Watch simultaneously. The portable power station comes with a Lightning cable and a 6' micro-USB cable, which is used to recharge the station's battery. An Apple Watch charging cable must be supplied separately by the user. Mobile Charging Station has two separate outputs — a 2.1A output for Lightning devices, and a 0.5A output for the Apple Watch.
Mobile Charging Station has a slightly smaller footprint than an iPhone 6 Plus, and it’s mostly made of plastic, with a soft touch bottom to prevent it from scuffing surfaces. Under the station’s black cover are two clearly labeled USB ports for Apple Watch and iPhone. A center piece enables cord management. The Apple Watch’s charger fits in a small watch mounting system that allows the watch to be charged while flat, or upright in Nightstand mode. The Lightning cable is routed out to the front of the station, while the micro-USB charging port, a battery meter, and a power button are on the back of the station, out of view. It’s a pretty convincing package.
Using Mobile Charging Station is simple. Plug in your iPhone and hook up your Apple Watch, and they’ll both start charging. Power can be controlled with the button on back of the station. It’s worth noting that the power station can also charge the devices directly while it’s plugged into the wall — passthrough charging allows the battery and connected devices to charge together — so even if you’re not in dire need of an Apple Watch/iPhone battery, it also acts as a more traditional dock, as well. We found the station fully recharged an iPhone 6s in about 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is standard.
It’s easy to see the immediate appeal of Zagg’s Mobile Charging Station. Apple Watch users travel with iPhones, so instead of lugging around multiple adapters and cables, just take this battery with integrated cables along (and a micro-USB cable for recharging during long trips), and you’re good to go. You can even use it as a home dock — just leave the micro-USB cord plugged into the wall, and attach your iPhone and Apple Watch at the end of the day. Now, we’d agree Mobile Charging Station isn’t necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing product we’ve seen recently, but for travel purposes, is it any less elegant than plugging in multiple loose cables?
We’ve found that Apple Watch is always able to get through a full day without charging, so if you’re unmoved by the idea of an Apple Watch battery, we understand. But the total package offered here by Zagg — a compact battery/dock that can charge your iPhone and Apple Watch, with an included Lightning cable — is too appealing to ignore. Mobile Charging Station earns our high recommendation.