- Massive power capacity
- Easy to read display
- Brushed metal casing
- Slow to charge
Quick TakeAn exceptional battery pack for a solid price.
The IntoCircuit PowerCastle 15000 looks good for $40, but does it perform to specs? We find out.
First, a quick explanation of terms. Batteries in smartphones and tablets are typically rated in milliamp-hours, or mAh for short. A flagship smartphone will typically be rated somewhere around 2500 mAh, a flagship 10-inch tablet around 7000 to 8000.
The PowerCastle 15000 gets its name from the fact that it is rated to deliver 15,000 mAh of juice on a single charge.
Almost needless to say, 15,000 mAh is a LOT. To put that in perspective, the manufacturer rates the device as being capable of providing an iPhone 5S just under 7 full charges; more than 4 full charges for a Galaxy S5; and to be able to fully recharge a 10-inch tablet like the iPad Air more than once.
All that capacity does come at a price of course; the 15K has a footprint comparable to a typical smartphone, but roughly two and a half times the thickness and weight (0.9 inches thick, 14 ounces). That’s not something you’d typically carry around in your pocket, but given the 15K’s features, you might seriously consider having it close at hand at all times. Fortunately, the brushed aluminum casing makes it durable for the road, and the included slipcase means it won’t scratch anything else.
The “Power Castle” has two USB output ports, each of which is capable of providing a maximum of 2.4 amps of current. That means that both ports can handle recharging tablets, rather than having one high power and one low power port, like a lot of other battery packs. Further setting it apart is the indicator screen. Most battery backups offer little to no idea of how much power you actually have left: at best, they’ll provide something like three LEDs that light up. “Full, Not Full, Almost Dead.” At worst, you’re left guessing entirely. Instead of doing that, the Power Castle has an actual LCD display, complete with backlighting, which tells you with the press of a button the exact percentage of battery power remaining, as well whether the battery pack itself is charging, or if it’s providing power to another device.
Second is its inclusion of what the product description calls “SmartID,” by which it claims to be able to identify a particular device’s recharging needs, and deliver exactly that. I was pretty skeptical going in, assuming that this was just marketing lingo for “it can provide enough juice to charge your device.” I was really wrong. My Galaxy S4 had been complaining lately about any non-Samsung charger, and refusing to charge a lot of the time. I hooked it up to the 15K, and it began happily eating up the electricity. Same with two tablets I own, one of which I had thought was permanently dead — it wouldn’t respond to any generic charger, and I couldn’t get it to turn on. After a while hooked up to the 15K, it had charged enough to start up and was good as new.
Of course, all the nice fancy functions pale in comparison to the more ruthlessly practical fact that when you need more power, you need to have it with you.
Although it might not be a “carry in your pocket” type of gadget, the Power Castle 15000 would make a great addition to any gear bag or travel kit. Not only is it handy in charging that finicky device that just doesn’t want to charge, but when you really need it, the huge battery capacity and high current charging come through. And for $40, with everything it delivers, no other battery pack can really compare.