You might use your phone for recording your rides these days, and you might also use it for routefinding. And you might find that the battery life doesn't quite match up to your epic ride expectations. That's where a product like the SmartPhone Holder with PowerPack 7800mAh (catchy name) comes in.
At its heart it's a battery from which you charge your phone or Garmin or iPad or lights or whatever. Its 7800mAh capacity is decent, enough for two or three mobile phone charges or five full juicings of a Garmin Edge 520, so it'd need to be a pretty long ride before you'd exhausted it. On top of that (well, around that actually) there's a silicone cover that doubles both as a phone holder and also as a bike mount. You fit your phone to the stretchy straps on the top – and they're very stretchy, so plus-sized phones are okay – and you velcro the underside to your stem (better) or bars (not as good; more on that later) so you can see your phone while you're riding along. Handy if you're following a route on it.
You can pull the battery out of the silicone cover and use it as a standard battery too, but since a 10000mAh battery will cost you about 15 quid on Amazon and this is £69.99 at full retail, the reason to buy it would be the mounting option. So should you? Well, it depends.
It works as a mount, no doubt about that. It only mounts in one spot and the mount itself is made of rubber, so it does tend to wobble a bit. That means it's not transferring shock to the phone, which is a good thing, but the display of your phone can be a bit hard to read at times, which isn't. The wobbling can lead to the battery rotating around what it's mounted to. This was much more of an issue when mounted on the bars than the stem, probably because there's more of the weight of the unit further away from the axis of rotation.
You get a micro USB lead with the battery (complete with cable tidy) and you can plug your phone in simply enough and off you go. On the back of the battery there's a level indicator which is handy for knowing how much you have left, and the battery also features an LED light which is pretty handy for rooting around in your saddlebag after dark on that 400km audax. I left my phones (Motorola Moto G, and more recently Sony Xperia Z5 compact) plugged in and it kept them topped up just so. The Xperia in particular has a long battery life anyway, and even with the screen on full time for routing I reckon I'd get a good 15 hours out of the phone and battery setup. There are 1A and 2.1A USB sockets for lower and higher capacity devices, and you can use both at once.
My Xperia Z5c is fully waterproof, even the USB port, which means I can use it for routefinding in the rain. The main issue with this battery is that it's not waterproof, and so you can't effectively use it as a mount for your waterproof phone in a deluge.
Given that the main reason for buying one would be to extend your ride time, and we live in the UK where going outside for anything over about half a day means you're going to get wet at some point, that's a fairly serious failing. You can sling a sandwich bag over the whole thing, of course, but it's not an elegant solution. And you can't keep the battery out of harm's way when it's raining and then put it back when the sun comes out, because the mount doesn't work without the battery in. What you can do is turn the battery around in the mount so the ports are protected from the weather.
That means you can't charge your phone while it's raining but I'm pretty sure the battery would survive almost anything like that. If it rains all day on your audax you'll have to recharge at coffee stops. Which, obviously, you could do anyway, with a much cheaper battery.
The ports are reasonably well protected from the rain: they're at the back of the battery, facing away from the direction of travel, and there's a silicone lip around the exposed end protecting them a bit more. You'd probably get away with it for showers, but if you're relying on the battery to get you home on a long ride it's not worth taking chances.
Overall then, a mixed bag. It's still a useful thing, and great for long rides in the sunshine but the lack of waterproofing makes it less useful for UK conditions.
Good battery with decent mounting options for your phone, but not so good in the rain
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Make and model: Topeak Smartphone Holder w/Powerpack
Size tested: 13x6.9x5.7cm,
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A great solution for smartphone users going on long distance rides. This high quality silicone holder tightly grips any smartphone (4.5' - 5.5' screen) with or without a case. The high power 7800mAh dual USB port power pack mounted below can charge two devices simultaneously. On a ride, you can charge your smartphone, sport camera or front light. When you're off your bike, it becomes a portable power bank to charge your smartphone or tablet, either separately
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Battery 7800 mAh Li-Ion
Material Silicon / Engineering grade plastic
Charge Time (approx) 8 - 12 hr
Output Dual USB ports
DC 5V 1A / 2.1A
Input Micro USB
DC 5V 1A (Max)
Mount Stem, handlebar or ø22.2 - ø40 mm tubes
Certificate CE / FCC / RoHS / BSIM
Added Features Dual USB ports
4 LED power gauge
1 white LED
Auto-off for battery reserve
Size (L x W x H) 13 x 6.9 x 5.7 cm
5.1' x 2.7' x 2.2'
Weight 280 g / 9.88 oz
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Nicely put together, solid feel
Rate the product for performance:
Good battery performance, easy to fit to your bike. battery and phone wobble a bit in use but generally very good. Not waterproof.
Rate the product for durability:
Rubberised case gives an extra level of protection for battery and phone. mounting strap is secure
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
It's a fair lump of weight but most likely you're not on your lightest bike...
Rate the product for value:
It's a lot for a battery, The case and mounting option is good but you're paying about £55 over the price of an equivalent battery for them.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Well, with the exception of a bit of a wobble and the fact it isn't waterproof
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to use, lots of extra battery life
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not waterproof, slightly wobbly, straps can obscure screen a bit
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Overall it's decent. The lack of waterproofing makes it less appealing as a mounting/directions option for audaxes and the like, but it's an effective mount otherwise and the battery life is good.
Age: 43 Height: 189cm Weight: 92kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
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