Over the past few years, standalone battery packs have become much more common, so it’s easy today to find high-performing, high-capacity charging units in relatively small and affordable packages. Tylt’s Energi ($40) is somewhat different, effectively fusing a 1-Amp/5-Watt wall power adapter with a rather small 1800mAh battery. It’s rare to find such a low-capacity battery outside of case-based solutions these days; one of the major benefits of standalone cells is added room for the battery. But Tylt’s price point and execution may make Energi compelling for some users.
The low capacity doesn’t mean that Energi is a bad option. It uses a compact plastic housing that measures around 3” tall, 2.5” wide, and a little less than 1” deep—easy to slip into a pocket or a bag, without the need to carry a separate power charger, because integrated wall blades fold out from the back. There’s no Micro-USB input, though, so you’re not able to refuel the battery using a computer, and the width of the unit may present issues if you’re connecting Energi to a power strip.
Users have two options for charging devices from Energi, although with this model, only one is iOS device-compatible. A micro-USB cable tucks into the side of the unit when not in use; a Lightning connector-equipped version of the battery is listed as coming soon. As the battery only puts out 1 Amp, it’s better suited to iPhones and iPods than most iPads. To charge them, you must plug in a self-provided Lightning or Dock Connector cable. A separate USB to micro-USB cable is included, enabling you to charge two micro-USB accessories at once.
Based on our previous tests of batteries and battery cases with the iPhone 5, we expected Energi to be able to provide a charge of 80% or so. The result was a little lower than that: a fully-drained, Wi-Fi/LTE-connected iPhone recharged to only 74% before the battery ran dry. Relatively few standalone battery packs fall short of a full device recharge, but then, very few double as wall chargers.
Viewed as a wall charger with a battery packed-in, Energi is actually a pretty smart product. You can charge as normally at home or in the office, and then have extra juice when you’re on the road. Executed properly, it could be a really good choice. Unfortunately, the battery size is a bit below ideal for current iPhones, the 1-Amp recharging speeds are similarly iPhone- and iPod-limited, and there’s no direct connection for iOS devices. Though pricing will determine its value, the Lightning-specific version may be a better buy, so we’ll add our thoughts to this piece once it’s available. For the time being, this version of Energi earns our B rating. We recommend it, but would love to see it refined.
Company and Price
Compatible: All USB-charging iPods, iPhones, iPads