Hands-on review: Chargeasap Flash Pro Plus power bank
Image credit: Chargeasap
Flash! Ah-ahhh! Saviour of the (gadget) universe?
Not all that long ago, the power requirements of any gadget we wanted to carry around with us could be easily addressed by a couple of AA batteries.
Now, having three, four or even five energy-guzzling USB-powered gadgets accompanying us on our daily travels is not uncommon: phone, tablet, laptop, watch, camera, games console and more. Aside from the rat's nest of cables this all requires, it's often a challenge to charge more than one device at a time.
If this is a quandary you've ever found yourself in, perhaps what you need is a mega power bank: one with multiple in/out sockets, capable of accommodating and powering up a bagful of gadgets at once.
The Flash Pro Plus – from the Sydney-based, and suitably named, Chargeasap – is one such device. Currently smashing its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign (achieving 3,000 per cent of its initial goal, pledged by over 1,800 backers, to the tune of approximately $333K) in advance of the official public release in December, the Flash Pro is available as two devices, each with a slightly different spec. The Flash Pro is aimed more at Android users, while the Flash Pro Plus is intended for Apple users.
The former operates as a 15W wireless fast-charging pad, while the latter incorporates 15W MagSafe compatibility as well as a 5W Apple Watch wireless pad. We were sent a pre-production model of the Chargeasap Flash Pro Plus, on which this review is based. Most functionality is the same for the two units, with the principle difference being the MagSafe compatibility for the latest Apple devices, such as the iPhone 12 and the Watch Series 6.
Both Flash Pro retail units when released (we have been reliably informed) will arrive much the same as our sample: without any cables. The explanation is that it is assumed – reasonably enough – that customers already have all the necessary charging cables for their devices. What they need is an energy source to plug them into. This is the desire which the Flash Pro (and Plus) ably fulfil.
The device – understandably, given all the ins and out and battery power on tap – is a chonky slab of reassuringly solid metal (aircraft grade aluminium, no less), approximately the size of a decent-length paperback book. Weighing around 580g, this is not a power bank you'll be slipping into your pocket: this is a power bank for the long haul, for those times when you know you're going to be away from a mains-outlet power source for a sustained period, or you're planning a few hours of intense heavy use of your devices, e.g. audio or video recording and editing, in a remote location.
The Flash Pro Plus hosts a mighty 25,000mAh battery – upgrading the capacity of its predecessor, the Flash 2, by an additional 20 per cent – and has added a third USB-C port to deliver an impressive 190W of combined power to charge up to six devices simultaneously. There is enough power in a fully charged Flash Pro Plus to recharge a 13-inch Macbook 1.3 times or an iPhone 12 Pro seven times.
Owners of a MagSafe Apple iPhone 12 (and presumably, looking ahead, the 13, 14, 15 etc), a Watch or AirPods don't even need cables: the two wireless charging pads will accommodate two such devices simultaneously, grabbing hold of them magnetically so you don't have to worry about them being incorrectly aligned or slipping off the device.
With all the connection options available, the Flash Pro Plus can in fact charge a 16-inch Macbook Pro, a 13-inch Macbook Pro and an iPhone 12 Pro, at full-speed, all at the same time via USB-C – and still have a couple of sockets spare for other devices.
The USB-A port on both the Pro and the Pro Plus also now has an increased 50W of power to support the proprietary fast-charging technology of other brands, including Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo. One of the USB-C ports supports 100W 'Power Delivery 3.0', while the additional USB-C ports reach 60W and 20W respectively. Each USB-C port also supports the maximum charging speed of 20W for the iPhone 12 Pro range.
Recharging the unit itself is done via USB-C power adapter. Chargeasap assumes that if you're interested in a power bank as beefy as this one, you most likely already have a USB-C laptop, so you can use the power adapter from that. If you don't have one, you'll have to source one yourself.
With that little wrinkle ironed out, the Flash Pro Plus itself will fast-charge up to around 80 per cent capacity in around 45 minutes, with a full recharge not taking too much longer (around 70 minutes). Pass-through charging is also possible, so the recharging of other devices can continue, even while recharging the unit itself.
A big part of the the Flash Pro Plus' impressive flexibility lies in the graphene batteries, designed by Panasonic and used in some electric vehicles, which Chargeasap has specified for this unit. These graphene batteries (five x 21700 Panasonic Lithium Polymer Graphene Composite Battery Cells, to be precise) support faster charging at lower, and thus safer, temperatures.
Chargeasap estimates that the batteries will still perform as if they were new even after five years of daily use, with an extended 2,000-use life cycle, up to four times longer than standard batteries. While we can't verify these claims, the company is sufficiently confident in its power banks to offer a two-year guarantee.
Aside from the comprehensive and generous provision for charging which the Flash Pro Plus offers, we also like the simple but effective 1.3in OLED screen on the front of the device. This visual feedback displays real-time charging volts and amps, so you can easily tell exactly how fast your various devices are charging on a socket by socket (and wireless pad) basis.
The display also reports on the activity of the dual NTC thermistors inside which monitor the operating temperature of the unit for peak efficiency and safety. A smart chip is also installed to ensure the optimum distribution of power to each port, enabling support for all the differing USB devices.
A power bank – however monumental – might not be something we would ordinarily get unduly excited about, but it is an incontrovertible fact that the daily devices in our modern lives constantly demand more power. With a single device, such as this Flash Power Plus, you can take pretty much every gadget you have and charge the lot, be that on your commute, at the office desk (if you're back there now), out and about when you go uptown for the day, again on the journey home, and then all weekend long in the park or at the beach, if the weather's nice or you've gone away on holiday (incidentally, the unit also comes with international certifications, making it safe for airline travel).
Other high-power, fast-charging, multi-device power banks are available – they're definitely becoming a thing now – as this particular niche gets more noticed. Chargeasap is honest enough to acknowledge its competitors – such as the Zendure Supertank Pro and Hyperjuice – in a comparison table on its Indiegogo page. There are plenty of broad similarities, naturally, as they're all competing in the same space, although overall it does appear to be the case that the Flash Pro Plus trumps its rivals in key areas, as well as on price.
On the subject of cost, there is also that simple economic argument for buying one super-charger, rather than collecting a bagful of individual chargers and cables, while also providing a supplementary benefit of bringing a certain zen simplicity to your techno life.
The Flash Pro Plus has been well-specified, thoughtfully designed and is competitively priced – especially if you get in on an early-bird deal. It feels solid and reliable and looks good, the Plus model sympathetically reflecting the core colours (e.g. mostly dark silver, sorry, 'Space Grey') of Apple's hardware ecosystem.
When time is money, you don't want to waste it worrying about flat batteries. For the simple peace of mind of never running out of charge again, on any device, as well as the greater freedom a fat box of battery juice like this affords you in your life, it could well be an investment that pays for itself after just a few cycles.
Indiegogo pledges for Flash Pro start at $139, a discount of 54 per cent from the RRP $299, and $149 for Flash Pro Plus, a discount of 54 per cent on the RRP $319.
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