A Review of the Anker Astro3 External Battery Charger

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I’ve mentioned the importance of mobile battery backup and charging in a few articles recently (see 10 Travel Photography Essentials and 10 Tips for Better Photography Conventions & Trade Shows), so I decided it was finally time to start taking my own advice. Let’s face it– “getting away from it all” sounds great in theory, but the reality is that most of the time we have to stay connected. And while location shooting, travel, trade shows, chasing down new business, and shuttling my kid from one activity to the next can all be fun and rewarding, they do tend to drain the life force out of phones, tablets, and laptops pretty quickly. While a car charger obviously helps, it doesn’t come anywhere close to solving the problem. That’s why I decided to try the Anker 2nd Generation Astro3 12000 mAh External Battery Charger. In a sleek- lightweight package only slightly bigger than my iPhone, this thing really packs a punch.

Specs

  • Capacity    12000 mAh / 3.7V
  • Input    5V / 1.5A
  • Smart Output    5V / 2.4A (min 50mA)
  • Universal Output    5V / 4A (min 50mA)
  • Total Output    5V / 4A
  • Dimensions    4.4″ x 3.3″ x 1.0″   (111 x 83 x 26mm)
  • Weight    11 oz. / 300 g

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What’s in the Box

  • 1 Anker 2nd Generation Astro3
  • Travel pouch
  • Micro USB charging cable (USB-compatible wall plug not included)
  • Note:  You may want to use a longer cord for charging the Astro3. The included 8″ cord will probably work better with hubs than with wall outlets.

Impressions

The highest praise I can give any product I review is that it does what it says it does and does it well. A reasonable price tag doesn’t hurt, but I’m often willing to spend a little more for peace of mind. Thankfully, that’s not necessary with the Astro3. At $50.00 (USD), it is rugged, compact, and has enough juice to fully charge an iPhone six times, and larger capacity phones like the Galaxy S4 almost four times.

The Smart charging port detects the type of device connected and provides full-speed charging of up to 5V/2.4A — this includes all Apple products, Android phones, Galaxy tablets, and other USB-enabled devices. The Universal ports charge most devices at up to 1.5A (4A max) through a custom circuit designed to charge Android phones at full speed. More on this in a little bit.

I also like the fact that there are no buttons or other external moving parts  that might break. Once plugged in, a simple shake starts the charging process. The LED indicator shows the Astro3′s current charge in 10% increments. The indicator remains lit while the Astro3 is either charging or being charged. The indicator lights turn off automatically when charging is complete.

Black or White?

The Astro3 is available in black or white– a fact not usually worth noting, but in this case it actually makes a difference. In what I can only describe as a design mystery, the black version has one Smart port and two Universal ports, while all three ports on the white version are Smart ports. I’m not a big fan of white equipment and peripherals, but I could be quickly changing my mind– especially since there appears to be no price difference between the two. If I can charge three Apple products at once– all at full speed– why settle for an option that only lets me charge one at full speed? The difference between the two in no way changes my high opinion of this battery/charger. I bring it up only so you’re not surprised when you open the box. I’m super impressed with Anker and have already put some of their other products on my wish list. Anker’s marketing department also tells me that there are plans to upgrade the black version to three smart ports some time in April.

Recommendations

This is my first mobile battery backup/charger and I honestly feel like I’ve won the lottery. I have no idea why it took me so long to plug in. The peace of mind that comes with knowing I don’t have to ration battery power or scale back on device usage while traveling or shooting on location is huge. While we don’t really have a formal rating system here at DIY Photography, this little pack of power would get my highest marks if we did. For serious power users who may need more capacity than the 12000 mAh of the Astro3, check out the Astro E5 (15000 mAh) or the 2nd Gen Astro Pro 2 (20000 mAh).

For more information on this and other Anker products, be sure to check out their website.

  • Richard

    Bought one few months ago from Amazon UK on Black Friday for around £35. Absolutely fantastic charging the iPad mini and GoPro on the go whilst travelling. Build quality of the product is fantastic.

  • gtvone

    Love my Anker gear! Good review, thanks.

  • Ping

    I have to question the click-through marketing tags on all the amazon links. Is this legitimate content or thinly veiled marketing?

    • http://www.diyphotography.net/ udi tirosh

      Hi Rick,

      we only recommend products which we believe in. With affiliate links we get a small percentage of the purchase. We are pretty open about it.

  • Michael

    This would beat my RAVPower 14000mAh in the USB ports. But I’m okay with the two USB ports of my RAVPower. It works for me. One for my iPhone and the other for my iPad. All needs are being met.