Today Xiaomi launched a US and EU  store. But, they are only dipping their tiniest little toe into these markets by selling just 4 products: Mi Headphones, 5000 mAh Mi Power Bank, 10400 mAh Power Bank, and the Mi Band. To celebrate , I want to introduce you to the 5000 mAh power bank. Battery packs like this are relatively simple products, so instead of boring you to death with walls of words , this will be all pictures supplemented by captions. Uh… sometimes long captions. The tl;dr  is that I expected mediocrity but instead was blown away. The Mi Power Bank is easy to fit in any of my pockets and lets me never worry about my phone running out of juice. That is TWO anxieties eliminated (staying charged and staying svelte) in for 10 bucks. How could Xiaomi possibly compete with the best battery pack that the Wirecutter found (The Anker 2nd gen 6400)? Well…
First things first, this battery pack costs $10. To be fair, that is before shipping. If you order on day 1 then expect shipping to bump the price up to something more comparable to other battery packs (competition is probably in the $20 to $30 range) however, I'm feeling pretty confident that Xiaomi will sort out shipping soon.
Normally, I don't care much about packaging. But, in the past, every product I've ordered from a Chinese company has come in sharp and ugly plastic with the product sort of awkwardly shoved in. Above you can see the at the Powerbank (white box) packaging looks... ok. There are a lot of weird cautions on the back and the little scratch off to "prove" authenticity certainly does the opposite of what it is intended to do.
This is everything in the package. The Wirecutter differentiates between two shapes for battery packs: Slabs and Bars. Slabs are shaped more like phones and designed for pocket-ability. Bars, on the other hand, are thicker so less pocket friendly, but are great for tossing into a bag. This Xiaomi pack is the slaby-est of slabs coming in at just 9.9mm thick. That is 36% thinner than the Wirecutter's pick for a slab battery
Seriously, this is by far the most pocket-able battery pack that I've ever owned. The smooth aluminum surface helps it slide into pockets and the thin broad shape is comfortable against your leg. The bar shaped packs that the Wirecutter loves usually have a rubber surface that makes them great for tossing into a bag, but terrible for getting in and out of pockets. Their Amazon slab pick is twice the price, thicker, and has a plastic case.
Fresh out of the box the Powerbank had 3 out of 4 lights worth of charge. You can see here everything that you can do with a powerbank like this: check the charge, add power to it, or charge your device with it. The Wirecutter writeup focuses on performance: capacity, speed to recharge the pack, and speed to charge devices. Their tests found small differences in performance. Those aren't my priorities though.
This is what I care about is: will this pack be fully charged if I plug it in at night? Will it give me at least one full recharge of my phone in about an hour? Will I like carrying it around? The Xiaomi Powerbank does all of these things, looks premium, and is the by far the most pocket-able pack I've found.
I love all of these exploded views of Xiaomi products from their site. This is as good a spot as any to call out the performance strengths and weaknesses vs the Wirecutter's pick. My tests of this pack found that it charges and discharges at basically the same speed as their pick when using similar equipment. I could quote numbers but... who really cares. When will you even notice if your battery if 5 minutes faster? That said, the Xiaomi pack can accept a higher current charger (2A for the Xiaomi vs 1.2A for the Anker) so you can reduce charge time by nearly half (ok more like 40%). The Xiaomi and the Anker can both charge your devices at 2A so high draw devices like iPads and the iPhone 6 will charge at full speed.
That said, the Xiaomi pack has 28% less total capacity. Which... I just don't care about. It still has enough to recharge 1.8 iPhone 6s. If you need to fully charge 2.3 iPhone 6s then I guess this isn't the battery for you. But if you are a normal person who just needs to charge a dying phone back up to 80% then capacity probably doesn't matter. What does matter is that this pack is easy to carry around and look shit hot.
Sure, they are flagrantly designing to match Apple products here, but they aren't exactly the first company to do that and Apple hasn't made a battery pack yet so there is a nice gap there. This thing looks great, feels great, feature matches the top picks from the Wirecutter on everything except capacity, and costs less than half as much. What could be better? How about having one final feature that those Wirecutter packs don't have: passthrough charging.
Passthrough charging allows you to plug the Powerbank into the wall to charge and then plug your phone into the Powerbank to also charge. This means that you can just plug everything into one wall charger at night and in the morning your phone and battery pack will be fully juiced up. The Wirecutter's current picks lack passthrough (previous picks had it). I'm a huge fan though. I love that I can bring just one charger when traveling. I love that I don't need to use up two sockets to have everything charged in the morning. I love that this daisy chain of phone and battery effectively lets me use my phone twice as far away from the wall while plugged in. Love love love. And remember, all of this can be yours for less than the competition's price.
OK. So I clearly ran out of pictures there by the end. To reiterate: The Xiaomi Powerbank has top tier performance, form factor, and features at a price substantially lower than any competitor. It is just better. So that was easy. After all of this excitement maybe you may want some links to click:
- Ready to dive right in? Here is the Xiaomi Store
- Need to do more research of your own? Here is the Wirecutter’s writeup on battery packs
- Have something to say about all of this? Tweet at me here on Twitter
Ok well it is just France, Germany, and the UK. The UK isn’t even part of the EU so this is hardly an EU store. *** Correction provided by @Worstell on twitter: The UK is absolutely a part of the EU proving that I know nothing. *** But, seriously, are you that bothered by me calling it an EU store? If so, feel free to flame away in the comments or on twitter and I’ll be more inclusive in the future. But, honestly, I’m not expecting to hear a word ↩
Celebrate? Sure. Why not. This is the type of site that like to celebrate stuff ↩
I really shouldn’t talk so badly about what is essentially the usual way this site operates ↩
tl;dr stands for “too long; didn’t read” in case you haven’t wasted enough of your life on the internet to recognize that ↩
They even looked at an older Xiaomi version and didn’t like it. It was too slow. If you haven’t noticed yet, I love the Wirecutter. Those ladies and gentlemen are just amazing ↩