Last Updated: March 2019 Added new images and more thoughts after 18 months of usage.
I’m travelling around for a while, and I’ve been on the hunt for a good way to give my 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro (Touch Bar edition) a bit of extra charge. There’s information scattered around the internet on what works and what doesn’t, and I wanted to collect it here so that you don’t have to do as much research as I did.
The short story: the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 with USB-C is the best way to charge a 2016 MacBook Pro using an external battery pack.
The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 with USB-C.
My Observations after Several Months of Use
I’ve used the Anker for about four months now while travelling around the US. It’s survived camping trips to Washington and Yellowstone, domestic and international flights (N.B. it has to go in your carry-on), buses, trains, hostels in Nashville and hikes in Austin. Here’s what I’ve found:
It takes a long time to refill the battery on the Anker brick. At least overnight if you use the regular MacBook charger. The Anker USB-C Rapid Charger improves the charge time here if you need it (which you do).
The battery pack is pretty heavy. Feels about as heavy as the 13-inch Pro itself, although denser.
I can fit the pack in a pants pocket if I have to, but the thing is big and solid (and well-built!)
The “user interface” on the thing sucks. If you want to charge something, press the button on the front to make the lights come on. Then plug in your device. If you want to charge the brick itself, plug it in and maybe press the button. (I haven’t figured this out yet, after four months.)
The circle lights on the front will fill up. Eventually. Again, this thing charges slowly.
It holds about a MacBook Pro’s worth of battery charge when full. This is at least six full iPhone 5 charges (I actually ended up needing to charge my phone way more often than my laptop when I was travelling, so this was super handy)
Overall, I highly recommend the Anker power brick. It’s reassuring to know you always have a power source when you need it. The Anker does the job it’s meant to, holds enough power, is well built, and has saved me more than a handful of times.
Here’s the other stuff I figured out
There are some caveats, but the Anker is the best way that I’ve discovered.
- If you’re using the laptop heavily while the Anker is plugged in, the laptop battery will still lose charge, but much more slowly than on battery alone
- If you’re using the laptop lightly while the Anker, the battery level will stay the same or charge slightly
- If the laptop’s sleeping, the battery will charge, but slower than the normal power adapter
- The 15-inch Pro is a different story because it has a) a larger screen, and b) different GPUs that draw more power. I expect that this means the 15-inch will lose charge under light usage while plugged in to the pack, but more slowly than without. I’d also expect that the laptop would charge while sleeping, although it will take longer
- My anecdotal data is back up by the specs. The 12-inch MacBook Adorable (which is referenced by the Anker page) has a 41.4-watt-hour battery with a 29W power adapter. The 13-inch Pro gives 49.2-watt-hours with a 61W adapter. The 15-inch Pro has a 76.0-watt-hour battery and a 87W adapter. The Anker PowerCore over USB-C gives 5V at 3A, i.e. 15W of output.
- The Anker detailed specs page mentions it’s not “fully compatible” but I expect that this is just because it charges more slowly than most people would expect
Useful pages I discovered while researching