RAVPower Element 5600 Power Bank Review
The RAVPower Element 5600 offers a great balance between power & portability
If you look at the photo to the left, that's the size of the RAVPower Element 5600. It's really that small, which makes it even more amazing that it still packs a punch - even in the world of portable power banks.
In this review we'll consider the specs of the RAVPower Element 5600, how to get the most out of using it yourself, how to manage your battery life to maximize smartphone/tablet use, the pros of this model, and even the cons of it. Everything has ups and downs, and we'll take a look at all of them.
This is a more in-depth review of the Element 5600 model power bank made and sold by RAVPower. If you'd like a broader comparison of a whole bunch of power banks for iPads, iPhones, Galaxies, Kindles, and 99.9% of all smartphones and tablets please check out my article "The 10 Best Battery Packs & Power Banks". Thanks!
Disclosure: RAVPower provided me with this device and specifically asked to have an honest write up of their device. I seriously doubt this clouds my judgement - which should be be evident from the fact I do not attack competing products. Also, I'm leaving the comment section open; I'd love to hear your tips, questions, and feedback!
RavPower 10400 - For a little extra boost
While the 5600 works phenomenally well for smartphones (like my iPhone 4) you will need a larger capacity bank if you want to get any significant charge for a tablet. RavPower also makes a top-rated tablet battery pack, clocking in at 10400 milliamp hours.
I've been using the RavPower 5600 for several months, and haven't had one time when it's let me down. I've tested it extensively with both my smartphone and iPad - in fact, that's a really cool feature with this power bank: Using any default USB adapter you can charge basically any handheld device you have. In my case, it's worked really good for:
- iPhone 4 Recharging I can go from zero battery to a full charge in just a couple hours. Easily takes any worry out of going dead on the road.
- iPad 3 Recharging The 5600 capacity on the RavPower unit is significantly less than the capacity for the iPad battery (and iPad Air is even higher), but this still gives me a boost of a few percent. That's more than enough time to finish my immediate work and save or upload what I'm doing.
- Anything that charges by USB Anything that uses USB to charge can be used with the RavPower battery pack. I can charge my old fliphones (I still have a Motorola Razr for emergency use) and iPod and get several more hours of juice I'd otherwise just have to go without.
In short, this unit works exceptionally well for smartphones and smaller devices, and can be used in a pinch to give you an extra helping of electricity to your large-battery device like a tablet. So-called "Phablets" (like large-screen smartphones) will obviously score somewhere between the two, but likely closer to the smartphone range. I don't have a large screen phone, but the specs and capacities of phablets are closer to smartphones than to tablets so you can do the math.
This also means the larger the battery is going to be, so there's a balance between size and power, and how much power you actually need to power your device. For example, if all you have is a small screen device and you only need an overnight or two-day charge, a lower capacity power bank will be more than enough. But if you're a heavy tablet user or you'll be gone for a week you will need to have a higher capacity battery pack.
To work out a simple way to tell how much power you need on a battery pack, compare amp-hours with how much energy your device uses. For a super simple example, a phone that draws 10mAh on standby mode can go for 50 hours on a 500mAh power bank. That gives you a rough idea of how long you can last if your phone in standby and connect it to even a low-capacity bank.
There's no use buying a power bank that is too big to use conveniently.
Obviously, if price and size were no object we'd all have humungous power banks - but it's not that simple. The thing is, the higher the mAH of a power bank, the larger it has to be - and larger batteries can get pretty heavy with just a little increase in physical size.
So, ask yourself:
- Will I need the backup power for a smartphone or for a tablet?
- How long will I be away from an outlet and will depend on the power bank?
There's no use buying a power bank that is just too big to use conveniently. After all, that's the whole point of a power bank: Convenience. Power bank prices are not that high, really. It's perfectly acceptable to err on the side of smaller and easier to carry than to pay more for something you'll be less likely to actually take with you and use.
This is one of those cases where you don't have to buy the largest one you can afford - because, in this case, it might just be too big or too heavy for you're actually get much use from.
Where to Buy the RavPower Power Bank - Of course, Amazon offers the best price & it's 100% guaranteed
The RavPower pack can be picked up on Amazon for a song, considering how well it functions. Read through the reviews on Amazon if you need a second or third opinion - you'll find that it's an incredibly well received power bank. 970+ reviews and almost a full five stars? That's hard to beat. Plus, if you don't find it to be as good as all that you can return it for a full refund.
Battery Capacity for Popular Smartphones
Compare the specs of several popular handsets and see how good the RavPower 5600 is
When looking to buy a battery pack, it's important to look at basically one single specification: Capacity. Battery capacity is measured in something called "milliamp hours", or mAh. The higher the capacity of mAh the battery is rated, the longer it will last.**
I've excluded tablet from this list since the RavPower 5600 is a smartphone-rated power bank and is basically too low for tablets - though of course entirely usable.
- Apple iPhone 4 1420mAh
- Apple iPhone 4S 1432mAh
- Apple iPhone 5 1450mAh
- Apple iPhone 5S 1750mAh
- Samsung Galaxy S 1650mAh
- Samsung Galaxy SII 1850mAh
- Samsung Galaxy Note 2500mAh
- HTC One 2600mAh
- Nokia Lumia 520 1430mAh
- Nokia Lumia 820 1650mAh
So, as you can see, a power bank that's rated at 5600mAh and barely bigger than a couple packs of gum is definitely worth a second look.
**NOTE: The charge capacities of the smartphone-vs-power bank is not a direct correlation of how it will charge. For example, if you have a smartphone with a 1000mAh battery and a power bank with a 5000mAh battery you won't necessarily get five times the charge. This is because the chips on board each system fluctuate the rate of charge to get the best fill up. It's the type of battery the iPhone has that necessitates the varying rate of charge when you plug it in. So, while comparing capacities will give you a very good ballpark figure it's not going to be 100% accurate for how much time or juice you get. It's a good measure, but not exact.
Pros & Cons of Using the RavPower Element Power Bank
My own personal insights after using the power pack for a few months
Let's get one thing out of the way first: There's no replacement for good customer service. My biggest complaint against a company isn't always the quality - for example, Starbucks has a really high quality product but their customer support has lagged behind lately and that bugs me even though I still drink their coffee. RavPower gets it right. That's a huge shot in the arm when buying any new product, especially if it's related to delicate electronics.
RavPower service has been quick and very friendly. Any contact I've had with their representatives has been under a day to respond, and any questions I've had have always been answered.
Super easy to use The unit I tested is super easy to use. You unpack it, charge it, and use it. It uses the power cord of the device you're using - so, if you have an iPhone like me you use the same cord you use to sync up to your computer. Super easy to figure out.
Easy to charge To recharge the RavPower Element, you plug it into your computer using the included USB cable. It will charge in a few hours, and you can tap the test button to see when all four bars are on to know you're done charging and ready to roll.
Great for travelers The Element features a really bright built-in flashlight. At first, I thought this was a gimmick - kind of like those watches that also tell you what time zone you're in. But, I actually have used the flashlight feature several times because the unit is small, easy to carry, packs light, and recharges. Who doesn't want a rechargeable flashlight?
Easily extends battery life I can get at least two or three full charge ups for my smartphone, which is handy for weekends away, plus it also gives my iPad a nice boost on the go as well.
Can charge on the go I probably shouldn't do this, but I've also charged my iPhone in the bag or glove box while I'm traveling. The size and light eight make it really handy to plug in and tuck away in storage.
CON: Unit came a bit scuffed I have to say that the test unit I received came a bit scuffed on the surface, likely because it was a display unit or second hand. It hasn't impacted how well the device performs, but I was mildly irked that i was getting a second-hand unit that wasn't exactly shiny and presentable. Don't let this discourage you from ordering new units from Amazon, though. Brand new units will look beautiful and function as good or better than the performance I got.
CON: Not much juice for a large-screen device The RavPower Element only gave my large screened devices a tiny bump in juice. Enough to finish up the current task, but not enough for any workable extension of power. That's to be expected, however, because the unit is intended for smartphones - so I really can't complain.
What do you think?
Do you have any tips for extending battery life or suggestions for power banks? Let me know in the comments section below. All the readers will appreciate having some first-person tips!
This unit ships with a cool little velvety travel bag to keep it protected. It's big enough to store the power bank itself and the included charge cord
it also has four little lights on the top of the device. These indicate the approximate charge of the power bank's battery. So if you have 1 light on it means the internal battery has a charge under 25%. If you have 2 lights on it means you have a charge between 25-50%. If 3 lights are on you'll have a 50-75% charge, and if all 4 lights are on you have a full 100% charge and are ready to roll.
This is actually kind of handy. If you're using the power bank on the go (and who isn't, right?) you may find yourself fumbling around in the darkness of an airplane cabin, hotel room, or the back seat of a car on a road trip. The light makes it easy to get enough light to see what you're doing but it's not so bright it spoils it for the people around you.