Over the past few years, Tylt has built a good reputation by releasing elegant versions of common accessories — squared-off cases, blocky batteries, and flat cables — most with distinctively simple one- or two-color designs. Almost every one has merited our general or high recommendation, and the latest, Energi 2K Smart Travel Charger ($40) earned a finalist nod in our 2014 CES Best of Show Awards. Although the price jumped by $10 since it was announced, and the user interface is a little too confusing, this is still a good product.
Like several other accessories we’ve previously tested, Energi 2K Smart Travel Charger combines a USB wall charger and battery pack into a single enclosure. Roughly 2.1” wide by 2.8” tall by 0.9” thick, the rounded rectangular box has a single USB port on its bottom, fold-out wall prongs on its back, and a small power/battery life indicator button on its face — all similar to last year’s Tylt Energi 1800mAh Travel Charger + Battery, but smaller and boxier. This time, four different colors are available — jet black, neon green, flat blue, or a tangerine-like orange – each with a small light that changes from green to orange to red to indicate the remaining level of power. While the form factor is considerably larger than the 5W USB Power Adapters Apple includes with iPhones, it’s smaller than the typical combination of a wall adapter and virtually any spare battery pack you might have.
From a specifications standpoint, Energi 2K Smart Travel Charger is ideally suited for use with an iPhone or iPod. The USB port puts out 1-Amp of power, and the battery inside has a 2200mAh capacity, which together are capable of almost fully recharging current iPhones, as well as completely refueling iPods, both at full speed. Tylt omits only one key thing from the package — a Lightning or Dock Connector to USB cable — which means that you’ll need to supply your own, potentially at additional expense. Tylt notably sells the matching one-foot Syncable cable shown here for a gasp-inducing $30; Apple’s own Lightning cables sell for $19. (A larger and more expensive version of the Travel Charger called Energi 3K+ has been shown but not yet released, promising both an integrated Lightning cable and a more powerful 3000mAh cell.)
After we worked through some confusion over the way the power/battery indicator button is supposed to operate — you’re supposed to just tap the button to activate power, rather than even briefly holding it down – Energi did what it’s expected to do. The 1-Amp USB port brought a fully-discharged iPhone 5c to the 50% mark in a little less than an hour, running out at the 89% mark after an hour and 39 minutes. That number might have been a percentage point or two higher if we hadn’t needed to fiddle with the iPhone’s screen early on to see whether Energi 2K was working.
On that note, our only functional complaint is the lack of better visual power-on feedback, though this is only an issue when your connected device is fully discharged. A dead or nearly dead Apple device will only briefly show a black screen with an empty battery icon; since Energi 2K doesn’t keep its own light on to indicate that power’s flowing, you won’t know that the charging process is working until your iPhone or iPod reboots and begins to indicate the battery level on its own.
Overall, Tylt’s Energi 2K Smart Travel Charger merits the same general recommendation and flat B rating as the 1800mAh version we tested last year. While the new version is smaller and slightly more capacious than its predecessor at the same $40 price point, it loses both the integrated and separate USB charging cables Tylt previously included — a tradeoff that makes the options more similar in value than we’d expected when Energi 2K was announced. Seriously consider this accessory if you’re looking to save space in a bag and want nearly one full iPhone charge worth of juice, plus the ability to refuel whenever a wall outlet’s available.
Company and Price
Compatibility: All iPhones, iPods