Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hands-on with Xiaomi's credit card sized 10,000mAh power bank in red

Is it red or is it pink? Your pick

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Remember the days when phones had dial pads and every phone brand had their own special charging connector? Those were the days, a single charge would be enough for a week's worth (or maybe even more) compared to today's breed of smartphones with power hungry hardware, you'll be lucky to get through a full day. The simple solution to this problem is either to buy a smartphone with an excellent battery life or just learn how to conserve your battery. Today in particular, I will be taking a quick look at Xiaomi's new 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank in this striking red color.

But seriously, it would be nice if smartphones come with a slightly bigger battery for that extra mileage. Fast charging technology is cool and all but nothing beats having more juice in the tank. Speaking of batteries, charging them used to be through a wall outlet but with the move to smartphones, power banks (or portable batteries, external batteries, battery packs, or whatever you like calling it) naturally gained popularity as an essential accessory to carry around even to cater for those 'just in case' moments.

Personally I am not too sure what is the most popular power bank brand (could be Anker) is in other regions but in Southeast Asia, Xiaomi's line of Mi Power Banks have surged in popularity due to it's eye-catching price of just $10 for a quality power bank that also features a premium build quality (something about aluminum that instantly makes tech products more premium). Xiaomi in general prices their products pretty low but the assurance of quality and product innovation is there. Sorry for the somewhat cheesy intro, sometimes I just got to have a little fun writing. On to the more serious stuff after the break.

Unboxing 10,000mAh

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Xiaomi is pretty minimalist when it comes to their packaging and the box that the Mi Power Bank comes in is on par with what Apple does minus the labels on the back and the obligatory overpack sticker accustomed to shipping power banks. Opening the cardboard lid will reveal the contents of the box in a snug fit. The power bank itself takes up 80% of the space (no surprise) and the rest of the space is where the white microUSB cable and product manual lives.

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Key Specifications:

  • 10,000mAh/3.6V Li-ion battery cells
  • 2.1A output
  • 2.0A input
  • 91 x 60.4 x 22mm
  • 207g
Pretty standard stuff here, no special carrying case included but seriously, you don't want to cover up the glorified red color which conveniently also resembles the color pink depending on how you look at it in a pouch. However, if you do want to safeguard it from damage, Xiaomi does offer a silicone wrap for it's power banks. Overturning the box will unpack the power bank alongside the included accessories. The included microUSB cable is about 27cm and does not feature any Xiaomi branding, there's just a lightning icon on the microUSB end. The cable itself is a little longer to my liking, I would prefer the 15cm cable that Xiaomi included with their previous Power Banks.

Moving on to the actual Mi Power Bank itself, this 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank is actually the successor to Xiaomi's first Mi Power Bank which is the 10,400mAh version that launched in Dec 2013. This is not my first time using Xiaomi's Mi Power Bank and one thing I like about it is that it charges devices pretty quickly. I will be doing a quick picture comparison below but basically what Xiaomi did was improve on the overall dimension by introducing new higher capacity battery cells (from Panasonic/LG) that are higher capacity and thus making this new 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank about 25% smaller than it's predecessor. Fun fact, Xiaomi does enable pass-through charging which means that you can charge your smartphone through the power bank while charging the power bank. Not something to recommend but its nice to have it when you only have one USB port to charge.
"Xiaomi uses battery cells from Panasonic,Samsung and LG for their Mi Power Banks"
Something to note about batteries is that they will never reach 100% efficiency as science has taught us that energy will inadvertently be lost through work and there is no such thing of a 100% efficient battery (at the time or writing that is). So, this means that you will not get the advertised 10,000mAh capacity but the rule of thumb is to factor in 30% of energy lost to get an actual estimate. Xiaomi in particular is kind enough to do the math for us and they are assuring a minimum of 6,250mAh of the actual output capacity out of the 10,000mAh batteries but besides the quality battery cells from Samsung and LG, Xiaomi is also using circuitry from Texas Instruments and Monolithic Power Systems, Inc. to get a conversion rate of up to 93% which means at peak, the Mi Power Bank will only lose 7% of energy.
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With the new battery cells, Xiaomi managed to bring the footprint of their mid-sized 10,000mAh Power Bank to about the size of a standard business card. This sounds pretty impressive but Asus was the first to introduce a credit card sized Power Bank earlier this year with their Zenpower Power Bank series. But overall, I am pretty happy with the new 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank but basically I bought it just for the color and the fact that it was on sale during Xiaomi's (11/11) Singles Day sales. Words won't justify the color of this power bank, check out the set of images below.


Pictures (with captions)

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The back features xiaomi's website
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The front-side of the Mi Power Bank features the Mi branding alongside the red color. Also notice that the edges are chamfered.
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A closer look at that chamfer.
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The bottom displays some safety labels and also the battery rating.
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On the top there is a single full-sized USB port and microUSB port for charging and discharging, a nice and big power button and 4 LED lights

Mi Power Bank vs Zenpower

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The Asus Zenpower in gold and Xiaomi Mi Power Bank in red
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Did I mention that both Power Banks are credit card sized
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Xiaomi's credit card sized Mi Power Bank is slightly bigger at 10,000mAh compared to only 9,600mAh on Asus's Zenpower
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Both Power Banks come with only a single USB port
The Mi Power Bank is rounded in contrast to the Zenpower which has a more boxy design. I personally prefer the Zenpower's boxier design. 

Old versus new

The original Xiaomi 10,400mAh Mi Power Bank in silver compared to the newer 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank in red
Xiaomi managed to pull off the credit card sized form factor with new battery cells from Panasonic and LG
The new 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank is about 3/4 slimmer in terms of width
Last picture to round up this article. Personally, I think the 9,000-10,000mAh power banks is the sweet spot in terms of performance and portability. 

Insider talk

I think this is the first Xiaomi article I have written on this site, interesting foray. Will look into adding more Xiaomi topics to the list as the company itself is pretty good at impressing the crowd. Maybe another round when the new Xiaomi Mi Note or Mi 5 arrives. Stay tuned for that.