The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Poweradd Apollo 2 Review

Poweradd Apollo2
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $100 List
Pros:  Durable, powerful, integrated battery, easy to use, small/compact, discrete
Cons:  A little heavy for the size (but it includes a battery), slow charging
Manufacturer:   Poweradd
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 15, 2014
  • Share this article:
82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Output Power - 30% 8
  • Ease of use - 15% 9
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Portability - 20% 9

The Skinny

The Appolo 2 Was Discontinued in 2015

The Poweradd Apollo 2 was the most pleasant surprise in our review. It is the size of a smartphone, and it will recharge your smartphone three to four times before needing to be recharged in the sun. Its solar panel is small but high quality--however, it still takes about 50 hours to recharge in sunlight. While this sounds like a long time, we found it to be attainable, given that you have a large reserve of three to four smartphone charges and up to two tablet charges before draining the battery. As such, it gets our Top Pick award for a small, battery-included solar panel.

The best strategy with this charger, we found, was to charge our devices with it at night, and set it out all day in the sun, when possible. In this way, for a camp of about two people, we found we could get a week or more of charges for our smartphones and tablets--the battery would hold enough reserve charges that it replenished plenty fast, and we never ran out.

An even bigger surprise was watching how quickly the Apollo 2 charged our smartphones, only to be more stunned by the speed at which it charged our iPads. With two USB ports, one at 2.1 and the other 1.7 amps, this solar charger is fast, powerful, and efficient--and it all fits easily in your pocket.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Hands-On Review


The Poweradd Apollo 2 is a sleek, sexy, powerful solar charger that slips neatly into a pocket. We were both surprised and pleased by this device.

Performance Comparison


The Apollo 2 soaking up daylight and storing charge in its internal battery for a stormy day when it is needed. Here it basks in the sun by some drying boot liners with Mt. Foraker in the background.
The Apollo 2 soaking up daylight and storing charge in its internal battery for a stormy day when it is needed. Here it basks in the sun by some drying boot liners with Mt. Foraker in the background.

Output Power


The Poweradd Apollo 2 was one of the more powerful chargers we tested, especially for its size. It charged our smartphones and tablets with ease, and nearly as fast as if they were plugged into the wall at home. There are two USB outlets, one that provides a maximum of 1.3 amps of current, and the other 2.1 amps. The latter is designed to be used with more energy hungry tablets. It will also charge a smart phone, but older smart phones will cap the incoming energy, so the extra amperage is not needed. Newer smart phones, like the iPhone 6, however, will use the higher amperage outlet. Overall, the Apollo 2 packs a punch.

Ease of Use


This solar charger worked reliably and easily, with minimal glitching--a bonus in the world of solar. The only oddity our testers observed was that the blinking lights, designed to indicate whether or not the device is charging and how much battery life is left, really just blinked randomly (and excessively).

This device is best viewed as an external battery with the possibility of recharging in the sun, if you're in a place with a lot of sunlight, because of the small size of its solar panel. This makes it best suited to shorter trips, in general.
Checking out the pocket-sized Poweradd Apollo 2. While it wasn't always easy to angle the panel perfectly to the sun  it was certainly always easy to at least lay it out in the sun. As such  this panel got the most sun-time of all the panels and chargers we tested. Pretty good trade off  in the end!
Checking out the pocket-sized Poweradd Apollo 2. While it wasn't always easy to angle the panel perfectly to the sun, it was certainly always easy to at least lay it out in the sun. As such, this panel got the most sun-time of all the panels and chargers we tested. Pretty good trade off, in the end!

However, our testers did have luck with it on shorter expeditions--charging e-readers, phones, and tablets. If you are in a relatively sunny locale where you can leave the Apollo 2 out to soak up the rays for many hours (the summertime months of the Alaska Range and Antarctica, where sunlight is ubiquitous, were some places we loved using the Apollo 2), you will love this solar charger. The problem, you might have guessed, is that the solar panel on the Apollo 2 is just so small! It takes 50 hours of sunlight (or 12 hours by wall socket) to charge up fully (this was quoted to us in an email from the company). That's a lot of time sitting in the sun at the right angle. And that requires a lot of reliable sunlight. But given that the battery, when full, gives roughly 3-4 smartphone charges, we found we were able to find at least almost enough sunlight hours to recharge before the battery died. In the field, we had a lot of trouble fully draining the battery.

The only drawback is that you will need to provide your own storage for your charging cables, and you may want to put the Apollo 2 in a case or zippered pouch of some sort to prevent scratching to the panel. It is easy to toss into the top of your backpack like your cell phone, but keep in mind that you don't have a protective screen cover like you probably do on your cell phone.

With the ability to charge a device directly through a USB or store charge in an internal battery  this handy solar charger kept two testers reading eBooks and playing Angry Birds on their smartphones for fifteen days while camped on the Kahiltna glacier.
With the ability to charge a device directly through a USB or store charge in an internal battery, this handy solar charger kept two testers reading eBooks and playing Angry Birds on their smartphones for fifteen days while camped on the Kahiltna glacier.

Weight


At first, our reviewers were reluctant to praise this device. It is dense and heavy for its size. The battery is not ultra-efficient. The solar panel is small. Everything about this device is a compromise. And yet it seemed to be the one we grabbed most often for our various outings.

It is easy to use, and will charge your devices when the sun has gone missing for days on end--so long as you make an effort to keep it charged up. The ability to charge it up at home and thus start every adventure with the capacity to charge your device three to four times also meant you could forget about it for a while (or weather some stormy days) without stress. So it might feel like a small brick, but you will likely find it to be compact and useful enough to tip the scale in its favor.

Portability


This charger is among the smaller solar chargers in our review. It is roughly the size of a smart phone, and weighs just a little more. This charger found its way into our backpacks, day packs, cars, and suitcases very often because it was an easy after-thought: it doesn't take up much room.

The pocket-sized Poweradd Apollo 2 is so easy to tote around  and small enough to be discrete  that we found we could always lay it out  no matter where we were or what kind of social situation we were in. This meant it spent a lot more time in the sun than the more cumbersome folding panels. This ease of use made up for the longer charging time and difficulty achieving the perfect sun tilt angle.
The pocket-sized Poweradd Apollo 2 is so easy to tote around, and small enough to be discrete, that we found we could always lay it out, no matter where we were or what kind of social situation we were in. This meant it spent a lot more time in the sun than the more cumbersome folding panels. This ease of use made up for the longer charging time and difficulty achieving the perfect sun tilt angle.

Remember that you will need to provide your own case or pouch if you want to keep dirt, grit, and water from finding their way into the electrical components and your charging cords.

Versatility


The Apollo 2 gets relatively high marks for versatility. It is small, powerful, will recharge if given enough time, and packs enough of a punch to charge a tablet in decent time. This charger was a pleasant surprise.

Best Applications


This charger is best suited to shorter trips and areas where sunlight is plentiful. The ability to charge up the battery at home gives you several charges in the field before it needs to be fully recharged. In an area where sunlight is a given, this means there will be plenty of sunlight hours to recharge the battery before it ever runs out.

The Powered Apollo 2: the perfect basecamp accessory. Since it has an included battery  the Apollo 2 can either charge a device directly or store up charge for later. Here is soaks up bright Alaskan sun at the Kahiltna basecamp.
The Powered Apollo 2: the perfect basecamp accessory. Since it has an included battery, the Apollo 2 can either charge a device directly or store up charge for later. Here is soaks up bright Alaskan sun at the Kahiltna basecamp.

Value


With a low price per watt, this is a very reasonable solar charger. The solar capacity is not tremendous with such a small panel, but the addition of a reasonably efficient integrated battery makes it highly useable.

Conclusion


This is a charger for the on-the-go individual who doesn't want to fiddle with gadgets. It is rugged, durable, small, and sleek. It will fit in a purse, backpack, or even a pocket. It is relatively unassuming and stylish, so if your smart phone is getting old and it won't hold a charge, this is a handy every day charger. Or, if you head out every weekend and use your smart phone as a GPS, this will give you the confidence that you won't run out of juice. And then there is the longer duration application: if you'll be out and about in a sunny wonderland and you have just a couple devices to charge (not a full expedition base camp), it'll be totally sufficient.

Our reviewers were not initially super psyched on this charger, but over our testing period it became increasingly apparent that this was a device that just works. Small, simple, reliable. Nothing flashy (except those randomly blinking lights), just function.


Lyra Pierotti