TLIFE 2200 mAh 18650 Charger Power Bank Review
Today we will be looking at the TLIFE 18650 battery charger and power bank sold by Tmart.com. This setup is very interesting and is certainly a unique gadget that I have not seen before. Since the batteries are removable, the batteries can be used on their own or as a power bank in its charger.
If you're a heavy user of the 18650 battery, then this gadget should certainly peak your interest. Based on Tmart's site listing, four batteries are included with the charger.
2x USB (5V, 1A & 2A)
L100.2 x W64.3 x H26.7
The packaging is pretty standard with materials kept to a minimal. I usually like packaging that's easily recyclable or sturdy so it can be used for later storage. Based on what I have received, it looks like Tmart does ship the batteries in its own plastic case in the same package.
There's a bit of a discrepancy here that needs to be clarified. Each battery is 2,200 mAh, but the total capacity can go up to 10,800 mAh. I guess Tmart does not include the highest capacity with the package, which is understandable considering the price point. Since I did my testing with the included batteries, I do not know for sure if they will work with other capacities.
What's In The Box
Aside from the charger itself, the contents are pretty straight forward with a standard USB Type-A to micro-USB cord for charging and a specifications sheet. There's not much guidance in terms of charging instructions or maintenance nor do I feel there is a need for it. It's very self explanatory and the display on the actual charger essentially provides you with everything you need to know.
I apologize in advance for this image quality as it is partially due to the glare and partially due to the labelling. The specifications are not printed on, but rather engraved with very little changes in color depth.
As you can make out, it does come with two USB ports to charge up to two devices at once. One port is capable of an output up to 2A while the other one is only 1A. However, real world testing showed a slightly lower output.
The charger is able to differentiate input from output as well as the number of batteries in it. By default, the micro-USB input is used to charge up to four 18650 batteries. Once the power button is pressed, that's when you will be able to use the output to charge your various devices (my smartphone for me).
Before we get to the charging, we have to open it up and plop in the batteries so here are the before and after photos below.
Installing The Batteries
Similarly, it is a bit difficult to see the positive and negative polarity in the photo. They will definitely be more noticeable once you have it in your hands. The batteries have a nice snug and tight fit so there is no worry of them falling out or coming loose.
While the sliding mechanism does lock up with the teeth you see at the bottom, I would have liked to see it a bit more durable than it currently is. I suspect there will probably be long run wear and tear on the sliding mechanism since it consists of a set of overlapping teeth on each side.
The display for input and output is slightly different. What you're seeing right now is the output status. I took this picture as I was charging my phone so you can see the current voltage and output current. Since only output 2 was used, this is why you see no current with output 1.
I find this very useful over other power banks to determine if your device is fast charging. Since this power bank does have any form of fast charge certification such as Qualcomm's Quick Charge, it is really just cranking up the current to charge your device faster. There isn't anything wrong with this since older smartphone chargers do this as well. My over four years old Samsung charger does crank the current up to 2A to charge faster so this isn't something I'm too concerned with.
This is the other display you will see, which is when you charge the 18650 batteries inside. Since all four batteries are inside, I can see the charge progress of each battery. I find this useful as well since it does appear the batteries had different initial charge levels. This will also be useful if you choose to charge your own 18650 batteries or if you order additional batteries from Tmart.
Overall, I like this display a lot. It's is much more extensive than the typical four LED light indicator supposedly measuring 25% each. While the charging display is sufficient, I would like to see the output display improved. I would have liked to see a percentage breakdown when discharging to provide a more accurate measure of capacity. I know this is possible as my previous LifeCHARGE and AskBorg reviews do have percentage based displays.
Use A Quality Wall Charger!
I cannot stress this enough in each one of my reviews. Make sure to use a reputable wall charger to charge your high capacity power banks. There are enough horror stories on the news about chargers catching fire or exploding due to pour circuitry and insulation. If you need a wall charger, I highly recommend the one listed below. Owning one myself along with other Aukey power banks, this brand speaks quality and is my top go to.
I tested this charger as a power bank with my Sony Xperia XZ. It has a 2,900 mAh capacity so it should average out for most smartphone users. On one test, let's take a look at how long it took to charge especially since it is not Quick Charge compatible.
This power bank is slightly on the slower side. While I did use the 2A output port, the true output was only a consistent 1.4A. This is one of the factors contributing to the slower charge. The other contributor to a slower charge is due to the last 10%, which always charges at a slower pace. It seems this power bank charges at a much slower pace than its competitor. Nevertheless, it gets the job done and pushes through without a problem.
Given its performance, I estimated that it was capable of charging my phone for a bit over three times. This is also on par with the expected capacity and efficiency loss of power banks so it does speak true to the capacity advertised. If you swap out the 18650 batteries for even higher capacity ones, I'm sure you can get an additional charge cycle.
This power bank is definitely very functional serving to recharge 18650 batteries or using these same batteries as a power bank. The long term benefit I can see with this power bank is you can easily swap out the batteries as they degrade over time. You don't need to buy a whole new power bank, but then again power banks do not cost a lot in the first place especially as they are becoming equipped with Quick Charge 2.0 to 3.0 in the near future.
Nevertheless, you can stock pile a bunch of 18650 batteries instead of several power banks or one super high capacity one. This could definitely be more convenient to travel with. For what its worth, this power bank is definitely worth considering especially if the 18650 batteries are part of your daily driver.