Almost exactly a month ago we wrote about the new high-capacity Anker Astro 3 External Battery.
This unit holds 12 Amp hours of power – enough to recharge a typical smart phone almost ten times, or enough to recharge a large-sized tablet once plus a smart phone and an MP3 player too, and with a bit left over for something else.
That’s a huge amount of stored power. Yes, there are definitely times when you’ll want all this power – if you’re on a long journey somewhere with many hours on flights and no onboard power, you might find you need to recharge your tablet if you’re watching movies on it, or recharge your eBook reader if you’re reading books, and probably recharge your MP3 player too.
But what about for when you’re ‘just’ traveling around your local area for a long day, and find your phone is getting perilously close to zero? Most modern smart phones struggle to get through a long hard day of usage without a top up, and it adds an unpleasant edge to your daily activities to be anxiously watching your battery charge state dropping and dropping still further, causing you to start to ration your use of the device for fear of running out of battery life.
Sure, by all means get one of the Astro 3 units. At just under $25 on Amazon , they are excellent value for what they are. But some might consider them overkill if all you need is perhaps a single recharge of your phone and maybe an emergency partial top-up of some other portable device as well.
Recognizing this part of the market, Anker have just released a smaller, lighter, and less expensive product, the Anker Astro (rather than the Astro 3), and priced at $20 on Amazon . Here’s a table of the differences between the two units
|Weight||8.8 oz||10.6 oz|
|Amp Hour capacity||6.0 Amp hours||12.0 Amp hours|
|Number of Ports||One||Three|
|Max charge rate||2.0 Amps||4.0 Amps|
The new Astro has an interesting advance in technology. Whereas the Astro 3 has three ports to charge from, with one being optimized for fast charging of iOS devices and two being optimized for fast charging of Android devices, the Astro has managed to cram all the electronics for intelligent fast charging of both types of device into the single port.
On the other hand, its max charge rate is 2.0 Amps rather than 2.4 Amps (per port and 4 Amps total over the three ports) with the Astro 3. But that merely reflects the different design and purpose of the Astro. It is a smaller more compact unit (half the volume of the Astro 3) designed as more of an emergency top up unit rather than an ultra-extender such as the Astro 3.
If we were buying a unit for ourselves, we’d get the Astro 3. Twice as much capacity doesn’t only mean twice as much stored power, it also means you can tap into the power more regularly and not need to be always topping it up again. So it is a more generally convenient and multi-purpose device, but it is also more expensive and bulkier.
The Astro unit is perhaps ideal as a stocking stuffer for people who you feel deserve a $20 gift, but not a $25 gift. 🙂
Anker have a wide range of external batteries, including three latest generation external batteries, with either one, two or three ports. Most people will choose between the single port Astro and its 6 Amp hour capacity, or the Astro 3 and its 12 Amp hour capacity (the Astro 2 has a 9 Ah capacity).
Both units distinguish themselves from competitors by their clean design, intelligent high current charging circuits, good value, and 18 month warranties. Our preference is for the Astro 3 , but the Astro is an excellent unit if you’re keen to minimize the space/weight you devote to electronics in your carry-on, or if you’re, ahem, gift-giving on a slightly less generous budget.