PROS / This affordable solar phone charger has a 10,000-mAh capacity, which is enough to charge the Samsung Galaxy S5 three and a half times.
CONS / PowerBank doesn’t let you charge devices while it’s charging from a USB outlet.
VERDICT / The PowerBank CVADG-S81 is a useful complement to today’s big smartphones. Its large-capacity battery ensures days of use, and it's still smaller than the most popular smartphones.
Not all portable solar phone chargers are made the same. There are several that are great for outdoor use where finding an alternative power source just is not an option. The PowerBank CVADG-S81, however, carries enough power to manage your day-to-day needs and then some. This solar energy phone charger is great for anyone needing to travel light between work, school and home.
This device has one of the largest batteries of the solar phone chargers we reviewed. This may sound menacing, but its size is barely distinguishable from any other charger. However, it does weigh more similar models – almost half a pound. Much of that weight comes from the 10,000 mAh battery, which takes time to charge because it is so large. You can expect to be waiting up to 16 hours for a full charge from the sun. Charging from a USB outlet will cut that time almost in half, but it still takes around 9 hours.
The S81’s solar panel is remarkably well built. We calculated the efficiency at 6 percent, which is above average compared to the other devices in this solar phone charger review.
The panel covers most of the device’s front face, which makes a good use of maximizing the solar collectors. The lower portion of the panel conceals a touch-activated power switch and charging indicator lights.
The S81 is also one of the only solar chargers for cell phones we reviewed that has both a 500-miliamp and a 900-miliamp USB port. The lower amp USB port is perfect for recharging any battery, since that is the input limit for most cell phone batteries, but the higher outlet will allow you to charge your phone while you’re using it without affecting the charging time. Having two USB outlets also allows you to charge two devices at once; however, the amperage drops by 33 percent when you use both ports at the same time.
The PowerBank CVADG-S81 is smaller than a Samsung Galaxy S5, though it weighs a bit more. It’s highly portable and small enough to fit in your pocket. It’s perfect for long outings in the city where you don’t want to feel too tied to someone else’s power, and you'll likely have a little left over if you’re inclined to share.