Although Apple opened up its Lightning port specs four years ago, allowing its MFi partners to build Lightning ports into their accessories, we haven’t seen a lot of companies actually taking advantage of this new freedom, especially when it comes to things like battery packs where the more common micro USB and USB-C connectors will naturally appeal to an audience beyond iOS device users. Most likely due to its close relationship with Apple, however, Mophie has taken the plunge and recently announced a new lineup of “Apple exclusive” Powerstation accessories that will allow iPhone and iPad owners to use the Lightning cables they already have to recharge their battery packs. Today we’re looking at the most interesting entry in the new lineup, Mophie’s new Powerstation Plus XL, which not only supports wired Lightning charging but also wireless Qi power input, and even includes a built-in Lightning cable to connect your iOS device.
Powerstation Plus XL is available in a choice of four colors: Black, Heather Grey, Slate (shown), and Deep Blue. The front and back are covered with the same type of fabric finish as Mophie’s other Powerstation Plus and Powerstation AC battery packs, which we think is a nice touch that adds a bit of class and a nice tactile feel. Mophie also suggests that it prevents scuffs and scratches, although it’s not completely wrapped in fabric; the sides are still plastic and while the corners are rounded and not sharp, we’re still not sure we’d want to just toss it into a bag next to an uncased iPhone or iPad. Note that Powerstation Plus XL includes nothing in the box except the actual power pack and a getting started guide, so you’ll need to supply your own power source to recharge the battery pack.
That said, however, one of the main advantages of Mophie’s use of Apple’s Lightning port on these new Powerstations is that you’ll be able to simply use the cable that came with your iPhone or iPad. As users who live almost exclusively in Apple’s ecosystem, we can see the advantage of this approach, since sometimes the only reason we pack a micro USB cable when travelling is to recharge a battery pack, so dealing with one less cable is a definite plus, and it’s also worth noting that you can even recharge Powerstation Plus XL on some Lighting docks.
Even more interesting, however, is that Mophie has also incorporated a Qi wireless power receiver into Powerstation Plus XL, which means that you can simply drop it on any Qi wireless charging pad to recharge it, such as Mophie’s own Charge Stream Pad+. While it’s a cool idea, and it’s hard to argue with having more options, we’re somewhat split on the practicality of it, since of course most Qi chargers can only charge one device at a time. If you have a wireless charger by your bed or at your desk, you’ll probably be using it to charge your iPhone when you’re there, and when you’re out and about chances are you’ll want to have the battery pack with you. That said, it is a handy feature if you happen to have multiple Qi chargers strategically placed around your house.
Using the battery pack to charge your iPhone or iPad works much like you’d expect. The built-in Lightning cable means you won’t have to tote a cable around with you while you’re on the go, and at seven inches it’s one of the longer ones we’ve seen — it wraps around two edges of the Powerstation Plus XL for storage. There’s also a standard USB-A port for charging other devices, and Powerstation Plus XL can charge two devices simultaneously — one through the Lightning cable and one through the USB port. Mophie’s Priority+ Charging feature allows pass-through charging of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, ensuring that power is directed to fully charging the connected device before charging the battery pack, and this even works when charging Powerstation Plus XL wirelessly, which means you can essentially use it as a wireless adapter for non-Qi-capable iOS devices. Although pass-through charging isn’t available through the USB-A port, one other interesting trick that Powerstation Plus XL has up its sleeve is the ability to pass a data connection through when you’re connected to a Mac or PC; in other words, you can connect your iPhone to Powerstation Plus XL’s built-in Lightning cable, and then connect the power pack to your computer and sync your iPhone to iTunes, all while still charging your iPhone and the battery pack.
As battery packs go, Powerstation Plus XL is probably one of the most versatile that we’ve seen, but it comes at a premium price for the amount of power that it packs. You can find 10,000 mAh battery packs for considerably less than the $100 asking price of Powerstation Plus XL, but of course you won’t get the benefits of full Lightning connectivity on both ends along with wireless charging. It’s also worth considering that if you have wireless charging pads around at home, at the office, and at the coffee shops you frequent, Powerstation Plus XL’s wireless charging capabilities could mean you almost never have to worry about carrying extra cables around at all. While there are certainly less expensive battery packs available in terms of raw power, Powerstation Plus XL is a premium battery pack with premium features that we think easily justify its higher price tag for anybody looking for this kind of flexibility.
Company and Price
Model: powerstation plus XL