The EMIE Power Blade Portable USB Charger – Thinness at a Cost

Posted by Michael Chen on

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Unlike its smaller, more boxy peers, the Power Blade is both larger and significantly thinner. At 21.3 cm long, 14 cm wide, and just 0.5 cm thick EMIE calls it “the world’s thinnest external power bank,” and while we can’t independently verify that claim, we can tell you that the Power Blade is shockingly thin. It features a tapered edge, but even at its thickest point it’s still a hair thinner than the iPhone 6.

The overall design immediately reminds one of a mini tablet; it’s almost exactly the size of the Galaxy Tab S 8.4. The outer layer is coated in a smooth, rubber-like texture that feels great in the hand, and its 10.5-ounce weight is just right to give it a durable feeling while maintaining its svelte and portable appearance.

The top (or side, depending on how you look at it) of the Power Blade is punctured by a series of holes, which may look odd but are actually intended to allow a user to snap the Power Blade directly into a binder or ringed daily planner. You couldn’t do this with most other portable USB battery chargers, even if they had the requisite holes. But the Power Blade’s ultra-thin design creates some interesting possibilities for use and portability.

When it comes to using the Power Blade, all of the action takes place on the left side of the device. Two 2.1A USB ports stand by to charge up to two devices simultaneously, and a micro-USB port is available to charge the Power Blade’s internal battery. A power button is also present, with a single press displaying the current battery level via four green lights and a press-and-hold turning the device on or off.

The Power Blade’s thin design presented some interesting challenges for the manufacturer, as it is thinner than the height of a standard USB port. To address this issue, the top of each of the Power Blade’s USB charging ports is hinged, allowing you to press in and open it up to the correct thickness required by your device’s USB cable.

Our first impression of this adjustable USB port wasn’t as positive as our impression of the build quality of the rest of the device. It feels a bit flimsy, and we would not be surprised if it was the first Power Blade component to fail. But we were pretty hard on the adjustable port during our testing, and it held up without any issues. The introduction of moving parts into a portable device like this is usually not a good idea, but overall the Power Blade’s adjustable USB ports seem to be a good compromise between usability and portability.

Thus far, everything about the Power Blade sounds great, but there’s one big downside: battery capacity. The EMIE Power Blade offers an 8,000mAh battery, a maximum value that will only decrease over time. Despite being much larger than some competing battery chargers in terms of length and width, the Power Blade’s unique thinness doesn’t allow for higher capacity batteries.

Under ideal conditions, the 8,000mAh battery in the Power Blade should be able to charge your typical smartphone 2-3 times, and your average full-sized tablet just about once. At a price of between $70 and $90, however, the Power Blade doesn’t offer a great value, especially compared to competitors which, while not as stylish or thin, offer 10,000-15,000mAh batteries for $25 to $30. For roughly the same price as the Power Blade, you could even pick up a competing charger that has a 25,600mAh battery, which could last you for weeks, depending on the device.

With competitors offering the same battery capacity for much less, or much more battery capacity at the same price, the Power Blade must rely on its ultra-thin form factor to make it a good buy. But, aside from snapping it into your binder, does a charger that is three times as tall and wide, but very thin, make for a more portable device than a competing charger that is much smaller overall, but an inch or two thick?

For us, the answer is no. The Power Blade’s 8000mAh battery will indeed get your iPhone or Kindle Fire through the day with an extra charge or two, but we’d much rather have the additional capacity of a thicker option at a much lower price.

If you need the thinnest device possible, however, or want to take advantage of the novel binder holes, then the Power Blade is the thinnest portable USB charger we’ve seen. With good build quality, good feel, and unique design, you’ll likely end up with the best looking USB charger on the block, even if it’s not the most useful.

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