Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)

Aside from making them smaller, boosting their capacities, or adding more ports, there’s not much room to innovate when it comes to backup batteries. But Avido’s new WiBa power bank manages to squeeze wireless charging into a portable power source that’s so convenient, it now goes everywhere my smartphone does.

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If you’re a heavy smartphone user who lives on Facebook, posts endlessly to Instagram, and can’t seem to break a Candy Crush addiction, you probably also spend a lot of time stressing over your battery life. Memorizing the location of every available power outlet in your office and along your daily commute is one solution, but an easier option is to just keep a backup battery on hand.

They’re available in countless shapes, sizes, and capacities, but their functionality is basically all the same: you tether your smartphone to the power bank’s USB port, and your stresses about your phone dying disappear. Their portability makes them infinitely more convenient than finding a power outlet, but there’s still that cord you have to wrangle—and remember to bring.

If you’ve upgraded to a smartphone that supports wireless charging, you might already be familiar with the convenience and freedom of simply dropping your smartphone on a charging pad when it needs a top up, and then easily snatching it back when you’ve got a message to check. Plugging and unplugging a physical cable feels so 2014. The WiBa takes that freedom one step further, untethering the wireless charging pad as well so that convenience can follow you anywhere.

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The power bank charges on the pad using a series of metal pins instead of wireless power transfer.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)

There are two parts to the WiBa charging system: a portable power bank and a charging pad. They can each wirelessly charge devices that support that functionality (I tested the system with the iPhone 8) but when the WiBa battery is stacked on the pad for charging, it actually relies on a set of physical pins to transfer power. Presumably this is to keep the battery on the thinner side, as having the wireless charging hardware on both sides of it would have added some unwanted bulk and weight. But those metal pins on the charging pad don’t prevent you from placing a smartphone on there; they’re spring-loaded and simply retract under the weight of your device.

The power bank also offers a standard USB port for powering devices that don’t support wireless charging. And it can be topped off using a USB-C cable.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)

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You can also charge the WiBa power bank using a USB-C cable should you find it’s low on juice and you’re no where near its wireless charging pad, while a standard USB port makes the power bank’s 5,000 mAh battery available to virtually any device that can be charged over USB.

Just sidle your smartphone up to the WiBa battery, and it will start charging. Easy-peasy.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)

It’s not a wireless charging-only solution, but I can’t see myself using the WiBa for anything other than that. I work from home, and tend to move from room to room depending on what I’m doing, and being able to easily carry a wireless charging solution wherever I go is just brilliant. My smartphone is also my primary office phone, and even just a couple of quick calls can take a toll on its battery. Knowing that it’s perpetually being charged back up every time I plop it down on this battery far outweighs the downsides of the WiBa power bank for me.

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When the WiBa battery is sitting on the charging pad, that power light never goes off.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)

So what don’t I like about the WiBa? For starters, the power bank’s status and charging LEDs remain perpetually lit while it’s sitting on the charging pad, which I keep near my bed. I’ve long outgrown the need for a nightlight, which means I’ll probably be reaching for the electrical tape at some point to deal with those incessant LEDs. The power bank also isn’t the most compact 5,000 mAh portable charger you can get, but its flat, smartphone-shaped design is still easy to carry around.

Four LEDs illuminate to indicate the WiBa battery’s remaining power reserve.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)

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Wireless charging requires a fairly precise alignment of the induction coils hidden inside each device, so wirelessly charging your smartphone on the WiBa power bank while on-the-go just isn’t going to happen—unless you carefully hold both of them in your hand the entire time. (Nope.) There’s also the issue of charging speed. The tethered WiBa charging pad manages to muster 10-watts of output, which is comparable to the 12-watt wall wart that comes with the iPad Pro, but the WiBa battery is limited to just 5-watts. That’s not the end of the world, Apple’s tiny iPhone chargers have the same wattage, but it means that when sitting on the WiBa power bank, your phone isn’t going to charge as quickly as it could.

The WiBa’s white, matte finish is lovely, but I worry it will quickly get dirty.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)

The WiBa power bank might not be the perfect portable charging solution for everyone—but it’s the perfect one for me. Its best feature is simply convenience, making it easier to ensure my phone is always topped off throughout the day, while eliminating another cable from the rat’s nest on my desk. The benefits of its wireless functionality far outweigh the compromises imposed by the inclusion of the wireless charging coil. I’m not sure I’d ever buy a power bank without wireless charging capabilities ever again.

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README

  • At $99 the WiBa system isn’t cheap; you can get a wireless charger plus a tethered backup battery for much less.
  • You can charge your phone and the power bank at the same time when all are stacked on the charging pad.
  • 5,000 mAh is enough power to revive a smartphone, but not to fully charge most tablets.
  • LED charging and status lights never turn off while the power bank is sitting on its charging pad, which is a problem at night.
  • The power bank won’t wirelessly charge your smartphone as quickly as some corded chargers are able to.

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