Kensington PowerLift Back-Up Battery, Dock and Stand for iPhone Review

by Reads (7,676)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 7
      • Features
      • 7
      • Performance
      • 7
      • Durability
      • 7
      • Utility
      • 7
      • Total Score:
      • 7.00
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

I must admit, the Kensington PowerLift has slowly grown on me during its review period.

It has its flaws (which will be thoroughly covered later in the review), and I’m just not sure how much practical application one could find for it considering its $50 price tag. But this little external battery does a great job of its base function, which is giving your mobile Apple product (i.e. iPod or iPhone) a significantly longer operating life.

While Kensington’s advertising focus definitely leans toward the iPhone, the manufacturer also listed the product in the iPod accessories section of its site, so with this consideration in mind, I used my second-generation iPod touch for the battery tests, which are featured later in this review.

BUILD & DESIGN

The body of the Kensington PowerLift is a solid black block of battery. It has as handsome a design and a silver kickstand standing in nice contrast to the rest of the device. The only breaks in the design are a battery indicator button/light up display and fissure containing the USB cord.

Kensington PowerLiftWhile the design is generally aesthetically appealing as far as batteries go, there are four irksome aspects of the build that inhibit the PowerLift’s functionality and made me question its quality:

No traction
The bottom of the PowerLift is made of a mildly textured plastic, which seems like a slight, ultimately failed attempt at keeping the battery from sliding around while in kickstand mode. Interacting with the Touchscreen will slide the PowerLift around annoyingly, and any attempt to press the home button requires a user to hold down the PowerLift with their free hand.

While the stand works well for things that don’t require use of the touchscreen, like FaceTime or watching a video, a rubber strip along the bottom could have easily made the PowerLift less of a hassle when typing or accessing apps.

Keeping your device on a short leash
The PowerLift’s USB cord is a measly four inches long. This may work fine in some situations, but as someone who usually uses his laptop on his lap, I found it terribly inconvenient. I could never stretch the cord far enough so that the PowerLift and my iPod weren’t just dangling awkwardly off the side of my MacBook.

Flimsy kickstand
As solid as the body of the PowerLift feels, the kickstand feels like it could give at any minute. It flexes easily when pressure is applied, and it seems like the plastic piece would be mangled if it became caught on something when coming out of a pocket. With that said, it’s still intact after nearly a week in my care, a feat that many devices cannot claim.

No headphone jack consideration for the last generation
This is the main indicator that the PowerLift is tailored primarily to iPhones. Because of the placement of the 30-pin charging plug, I could not plug headphones into my iPod while it was attached to the device (this was while using a second-gen touch, Kensington PowerLiftwhich features the headphone jack on the bottom next to the charging port).

I can’t formally condemn Kensington for this design flaw; the company can’t make the product work for everyone, but this oversight and lack of functionality made for a very quiet two-day trial period, and I feel that users with older iPods should beware. Even if you primarily plan on using the PowerLift with an iPhone, but also have an old iPod touch or Nano or any other design that features a headphone jack on the bottom that you might want to use with the PowerLift, know that the battery will restrict headphone use with these devices.

That list seems pretty disheartening, and it is to some extent. Some of the build features just seem like they could have been more finely crafted or well thought-out.

The PowerLift officially measures in at 2.5″ (L) x 2.3″ (W) x 0.7″ (D), making it about the same width of my iPod, with half the length and twice the depth. It fits comfortably in a pocket by itself, although not so much when attached to a device (imagine trying to pocket something that’s an iPhone-and-a-half long).

That should say more than enough about the build. How about the PowerLift’s actual performance as a charger and external battery?

PERFORMANCE

Kensington PowerLiftTo test the performance of the Kensington PowerLift I attached it to a fully charged, second-generation iPod touch, and ran the same video on repeat at 100% brightness with auto-brightness and Wi-Fi both turned off.

With the PowerLift attached, my iPod was able to survive for eight hours and fifty minutes (or through 4.6 viewings of The Bourne Ultimatum, as it would be) before both iPod and PowerLift were completely drained of battery.

Comparatively, under the same conditions without the PowerLift attached, my iPod lasted for four hours and forty-five minutes. This means that the PowerLift provided an extra four hours and five minutes of battery life, nearly doubling the iPod’s lifespan.

After running the second test without the PowerLift, I wanted to charge my iPod for the car ride home. The PowerLift can recharge a device even if it’s not connected to a power source, so I let it do the job. Over approximately 45 minutes, the PowerLift had recharged my completely dead iPod to about 50% battery, and still had three out of four bars of life, according to its battery indicator.

After one hour, the PowerLift had two bars of life and my iPod was 80% full.

CONCLUSION

The Kensington PowerLift does a great job of adding battery life. Although some aspects of its build keep it from being a five-star product, customers who can look past its flaws will find a reliable external battery that can keep a selection of iProducts kicking for much longer than they would otherwise.

Pros

  • Provides 4+ extra hours of battery life
  • Charges even when not plugged in
  • Looks appealing and professional

Cons

  • Short USB cord
  • Slides around when user uses Touchscreen (so, not really hands free)
  • Kickstand feels flimsy


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