There are a lot of accessory categories in the iPhone and iPad ecosystem that have become commoditized to the point where they often have so few distinguishing features that they’re not worth reviewing. In the last year or so, external battery packs have solidly landed in this category, and as a result we’ve moved most of them into our Gear section, providing a few photos and a basic overview of their specs. However, every once in a while, a product comes along that offers something extra, and is thus still worth a closer look; Nifty’s new Mobile Charger is a good example of a battery pack that goes beyond the basics, both in design and capabilities, offering not only basic 2.1A charging for an iPhone or iPad through the standard USB port, but also offering ultra-fast USB-C charging for the iPad Pro and MacBook, and even the ability to charge two devices at once.
While there’s not often much to say about product packaging these days, we felt that Nifty’s was particularly noteworthy, with an unboxing experience that rivals the early Apple iPods — a particularly unusual move for an accessory in the often unremarkable category of battery packs. Nifty comes in an elegant black box that opens to reveal the charger itself prominently displayed on a tray, with two boxes below containing USB-A to micro-USB and USB-A to USB-C cables, and a pouch to store Nifty in when it’s not in use. It’s a packaging experience that definitely leaves you with the impression that Nifty is something that stands out in its category. The only downside worth mentioning for those of us in the Apple ecosystem is that Nifty doesn’t bundle any Lightning cables with its Mobile Charger, so you’ll need to supply your own.
At 6,800 mAh, Nifty Mobile Charger is about average for capacity, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in performance and design. It’s one of the more attractive battery packs we’ve seen, and available in three colours: Stone Red, Stone Grey, and Suede Black. A five-stage LED on the front shows you the current capacity in 20% increments, and the USB port on the end is illuminated by an LED border to help you find where to plug your cable in. There are also no power switches — the Nifty Mobile Charger wakes up with a shake, lighting up the LEDs and displaying its capacity.
From a technical standpoint, what’s particularly interesting about Nifty Mobile Charger is that it provides several different charging technologies in a single device, covering all of the important rapid charging specs. Although there’s nothing special here for iPhone and standard iPad users, the USB-C port will provide 15W of power output for charging a 12.9” or 10.5” iPad Pro — 3A at 5V. It’s not quite as fast as Apple’s 29W USB-C power adapter, but it’s fast enough, and in our testing had enough capacity to bring a 10.5” iPad Pro from a dead battery back up to 48% in about an hour. It can also be used with any MacBook that requires USB-C charging, where Nifty promises an additional 10 hours of use — although we expect your mileage may vary in that area. In addition, Nifty provides Quick Charge 3.0 support via the USB-A port, although we didn’t test this as it’s not applicable in the Apple ecosystem.
It’s worth noting that the Nifty Mobile Charger also provides dual charging capabilities through the USB-A and USB-C ports simultaneously, with 24W of total output capacity so that it can still provide charging at virtually full speeds even when both ports are in use. Since the USB-A port puts out a fairly standard 10.5W (2.1A at 5V), it charges an iPhone at the same speed as most other modern battery packs, but of course it’s faster than the 5W adapter that Apple includes in the iPhone packaging. In dual-port mode, however, you can also plug in a MacBook or iPad Pro to the USB-C port and still have it powered at up to 15W; Nifty dynamically adjusts the output from each port based on device demands.
Nifty Mobile Charger performed very well in our experience, but it’s important to keep in mind that, like many battery pack manufacturers, Nifty’s marketing has to be taken with an appropriate dose of salt. For instance, Nifty’s claim that it “can charge your iPhone twice as fast” is based on a comparison to the Apple-supplied 5W USB power adapter, but most modern battery packs provide the same 10.5W output as Nifty. Similarly, Nifty claims that it can charge your “smartphone” up to four times from a single charge, without specifying what type of smartphone they’re basing this claim on; iPhone 7 users should expect about three full recharges, while iPhone 7 Plus users will get about two.
All of that said, however, the bottom line is that for iPhone and standard iPad users, Nifty Mobile Charger provides exactly what you should expect from a battery pack of its capacity, and manages to look good while doing it. However, if you’re looking for a battery pack exclusively for your iPhone or standard iPad, the elegance of Nifty’s design might not justify the higher price — you can definitely find higher capacity in other products at a similar or even lower price — where Nifty really comes through is for users of the iPad Pro and newer MacBooks, where it can keep your devices powered up over USB-C, and charge them up in a fraction of the time of competing battery packs, and with the new 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pro models both supporting faster USB-C charging, Nifty Mobile Charger will be great for quickly getting you back up and running when you’re on the road with your iPad Pro.
Company and Price
Company: Nifty Electronics
Model: Mobile Charger