Like many USB-C users, I’ve been waiting for an all-in-one battery that could refuel my laptop, tablet, phone, and accessories on the go. Mophie’s just-released $200 PowerStation AC is the first to offer such capability, thanks to its rare inclusion of three different ports that guarantee it can charge any device you own.
PowerStation AC’s key differentiator is in its name: It’s an AC outlet. Promising up to 100W output, this rubber-capped three-pronged outlet is GFCI-certified and fast: It took my 13-inch MacBook with Touch Bar from 0 percent power to 100 percent in two hours, making it as fast as a wall recharge, with only one caveat — in addition to the battery, I needed to carry the power supply that came with my laptop. That lone feat was enough to fully drain the PowerStation, such that its USB-C and USB-A ports wouldn’t offer a drop of juice to other devices after completely refueling the laptop.
By comparison, PowerStation AC’s lone USB-C port is, like USB-C ports in most rival batteries today, capped at a lower speed. It’s certified for USB-C PD (Power Demand) at 30W, which means that it can refuel a USB-C laptop or tablet, albeit less efficiently and more slowly than a typical laptop charger. After several hours, a fully charged PowerStation AC’s USB-C port was able to bring my MacBook Pro from 0 percent to 96 percent, but wouldn’t go further.
The USB-A port with a self-supplied Lightning cable was able to bring a 10.5-inch iPad Pro from dead (2 percent) back to 34 percent before the battery stopped responding. The USB-A port is rated for 12W/2.4A output, the fastest you’ll generally see from the legacy rectangular connector.
How much power will you actually get from PowerStation AC? Mophie officially estimates 15 hours of added laptop time, 21 hours of tablet time, or 100 hours of phone time, but the actual numbers will vary based on your specific devices. Based on my testing and years of expertise with battery accessories, I’d call these numbers low for tablets and phones, but either accurate or on the high side for laptops. Recharging PowerStation AC requires you to use its USB-C cable and a self-supplied power adapter; the adapters that come with USB-C laptops will likely refuel the battery in roughly 4 hours, while tablet adapters may take twice as long.
Mophie gets novelty points for making PowerStation AC feel like something other than a giant battery. A thin layer of soft fabric wraps around its front, back, and spine like the cover of a book, while its top, bottom, and other edge include ports, fan ventilation, AC power, and remaining battery power indicator buttons. I’m not sure that I like fabric on consumer electronics, due to its tendency to attract grime and wear down, but Mophie’s dark gray option at least looks nice.
While the 20,000mAh battery feels dense and heavy and the combination of vents and an AC outlet add to its size, compared with similar-capacity Anker batteries, the additional functionality is necessarily wrapped in safety measures. I didn’t hear the fan kick on at all during laptop charging with either the AC or USB-C port, but that will likely depend on your climate.
The real question you’ll have to answer before buying PowerStation AC is whether its jack of all trades functionality merits its hefty $200 price tag. Anker’s smaller-sized 20,000mAh batteries are $50-$60 if you’re willing to give up the AC port and 30W USB-C charging. They also come with nice travel pouches and USB-A to micro-USB cables, while PowerStation AC only includes almost unusably short USB-A to USB-C and USB-C to USB-C cables.
From my perspective, these aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons, as PowerStation AC’s virtue is in the incredible wattage its GFCI-protected AC port offers, plus its fairly fast USB-C PD port. If you need their speed and are willing to pay the premium, PowerStation AC is ahead of the pack in performance.