Editor’s note: It appears Boxtron has discontinued the Hercules Z1 since the time of publishing. The BuzzFeed Reviews team is currently putting together our new $ pick, and we’ll be updating this page shortly!
If you’re looking to spend less than a 20 on some extra power, you can’t go wrong with the Boxtron Hercules Z1. While you may not have heard of the name on the outside, you’ve almost certainly heard of the names on the inside. To begin with, it uses the Texas Instruments intelligent protection system to keep the charger safe. This chip ensures that the charger switches off when it’s supposed to, stops it from overheating, and keeps it from damaging your device.
It’s also Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 certified, meaning that it will charge your phone as fast as your device will allow. For most of our tests, this little thing could take an iPhone 8 or a Samsung S8 from 0% to 100% in about 1 hour and 40 minutes, with some minimal use for texting and checking emails. This was consistent with the time those same phones took to charge from a wall outlet.
Battery Pack Facks…..uh, Facts: If you’re shopping around for a portable power solution and find yourself asking, “What the hell is a milliamp hour?” then great news! Marketing has done its job. They’ve intentionally made this harder to understand than it should be.
Okay, so y’know how it takes 1,000 millimeters to equal 1 meter? It’s the same thing here. It takes 1,000 milliamps to equal 1 amp, which is a unit of measurement that tells you how much electricity is being used. A milliamp hour, or mAh for short, is how much power a battery pack can provide in one hour. So when you look at the specs and it says “10,000 mAh,” all that means is that this pack can supply about 10 amps (or 10,000 milliamps) in one hour.
Why does this matter? Well, this is a good indication of how fast a charger can charge your device. As a point of reference, most phones can’t handle more than about 3.1 amps, so 10 amps is fast enough to charge them in two hours or less. Those little lipstick chargers you can get at the bodega for five bucks usually can’t come close to that, which is why you can plug your phone into one of them, leave it for a week, and still only have 30% charge.
This is another reason the Z1 is the best choice at this price point: for about $15, you can pick up a charger that will do what you need — namely, bring your phone back from the dead in record time. During our tests, the Z1 fully charged a Samsung S8 about two times and an iPhone 7 about three before it needed to be recharged, which takes about 6.5 hours. This was similar to most others on the higher end of this price range, meaning the Z1 holds its own against higher-priced chargers. It has one USB outlet, charges via mini-USB, and comes with a high-quality, braided gray nylon USB-to-mini-USB cord.
There are four LED lights to let you know how much power is left. You simply hit a button to turn it on. Small and light, this little charger is well worth the money and will keep your phone going with hours of power.