Portable Powerbank Power Bank USB 1x 18650 Battery Charger Case Box for Mobile Phone MP3 (WHL #1)

Hey there!
It’s been a while and I was busy buying some gear…and getting some mail ;) Now I have a decent camera ready (for almost 4 hours at the time of writing! :D ) and this is gonna be the first shot on Wan Hung Lo products. My light box is not ready yet, it still lacks light – box is complete ;) , so you’ll notice my lighting and camera setup still needs some improvement. Well, that’ll come with time.

So, I had five single-cell powerbanks ready that I bought from AliExpress. Cost per unit with free shipping was 1,01€ (bulk I guess), current price is 1,05€ single or 0,98€ for bulk orders of 5+ units. It’s available in six colors: Frog green, pink, yellow, white, baby blue and black, I asked the seller to ship five green units and he did.

Features as advertised:

Brand new and high quality
Smaller, lighter, portable
Fashion style, simple and fashionable design with colorful shell
Strong compatibility for ipod, iphone, ipad, mobile, MP3, MP4, gameboy, PDA, GPS, etc
Input: DC 5V
Output: DC 5V,1000mA(Max)
Battery: Suitable for 1x 18650 3.7V Li-ion battery(not included)
Size: 9.7cm x 2.5cm x 2.2cm – 3.82inch x 0.98inch x 0.86inch

Original image:


Like with all qualitty Wan Hung Lo brand goods, these are bold claims, yet the devices obviously surpass these high expectations easily.

Well, nope. :lol:

They are brand new, I expected that. High quality…let’s talk about this later. It is in fact quite light, measuring 14 grams for the outer shell, 4g for the lid and 4g for the electronic parts, totalling 22 grams – my 18650 test cell is actually double that. Sizes given in the description are correct. By the way, the paper shown in the images has 1″ squares – I’d like to get 10mm or 5mm squares in the future (any idea where to get A3 paper or larger?). The housing does NOT fit protected cells – there’s room for that in principle, but the (+) pole would need some modifications. I haven’t tried that. Compatibility is of course dependent on the cable you’re using, so nil points for that list item. The green shell looks quite nice to me, but the white lid does spoil this a bit. It gets scratched easily, even by attacking it with your finger nails. This kills the nice matte finish in a matter of seconds. Anyways, the lid is where i started testing, see the galleries for chronological order.

It is quite hard to remove the lid in the first place. I have two other power bank designs for comparison, and those allow easy access to the batteries, making it even possible to exchange them on a regular basis in case you do not trust the charging electronics. This power bank however is a little evil with 6 plastic hooks. You have to use a guitar pick, spatula or other pry tools to release them, start at end with no USB ports on it. I actually killed my good old pick after opening all five units (and one of them twice), but that thing was already quite worn out. I have some new prying tools already shipping, so this power bank might be a nice victim for testing…

Anyways, construction-wise this thing is very simplistic. It has some U-shaped (+) pole on the PCB, and another spring loaded (-) contact that is connected by the rest of the spring metal throughout the device. Both contacts are hand-soldered to the PCB, while the rest looks reflowed. The hand solder flux residue has not been removed, look at the huge blob at the (-) terminal. Solder quality is okay, one of the caps is slightly tilted, two component footprints are not populated. Silk screen is nice, board material quality is decent. On the back, there is only a cap, a resistor and two status LEDs. They do shine through the case – I think that is a very good idea, I do not like the overly bright LEDs that you look directly into. The glowing case effect is very pleasant, see the last pictures with very little lighting and no flashlight on the camera. Blue is for discharging (starts blinking below 3.4V which is good), Red is for charging. Well, my test unit didn’t charge the 4.14V battery, but it lit up red. I guess it will do that during “proper” charging as well. I didn’t trust it enough to charge an empty one…

The chip used is a MP3401 (thanks for not scratching it off…) with date code 1529A2. I haven’t found a data sheet for it, but there is a MP34xx series from Monolithic Power Systems (MPS) that does have some 14 family members of boost converters. But maybe this one just claims to be part of this family, MPS does not list a MP3401 device. And maybe they would be ashamed of the performance, assuming the given values are not way above actual IC specs…

Whats the actual performance of this thing? To measure that, I hooked it up to my small bench supply, a good old Statron 3207 that has undergone some heavy modification on its knobs. Still, it is only a 1 amp supply, so even at perfect efficiency, I am limited to 4.2V @ 1.0A in -> 5.0V @ 0,84A out.

First test: Output voltage vs. input voltage. I ramped down from 4.2V in 0.2V steps, monitoring the output voltage with no load attached. As you can see, it sits nicely at 5.01v to 5.06V, and you can even see the charge pump adding some electrons every now and then, as it oscillates between these two voltages in a regular manner. You can spot it with your multimeter, no need to turn on the oscilloscope. So that’s fine. It also turns off or doesn’t start up below 3.3V to 3.4V, which protects your battery from over-discharge. If it’s on, it’s on and delivers the five volts – no power down circuitry, which I think is great (as I had problems with that on a device before), but obviously that draws more power than devices that do have a sleep mode.

If I add some 0.5A load from my homebrew electronic load, this changes dramatically. 0.5 amps is actually the limit – draw more and you’ll drop below 4.75V which is the lower limit of the USB spec. The voltage also drops slightly with lesser voltage input. So let’s call 0.5A the theoretical limit for this device until it gets out of spec.

Side note: Below 3.4V the blue LED flashes, indicating low battery voltage. I couldn’t test that under load conditions, as consumption went above one amp. But that’s also interesting for estimating the efficiency: 3.6V at 1.0A (partially pulsed load! baaaad!) is 3.6W in, 4.75V at 0.5A is 2.4W out – geez, 67% efficiency. At 4.2V, that’s no better – 4.2V*0.88A = 3.7W in, 4.81V*0.5A = 2.4W out – again, 65%. Not impressive unless you also want a hand warmer.

I popped in a real 18650 battery, one of my better ones, fully charged. It lasts for more than 15 minutes at 5A load (3V cutoff), so this battery will likely do anything the powerbank wants. During testing, it never went below 3.9V, but of course this is not a constant voltage supply as before. I turned the knobs slightly towards one amp, testing two of the devices. Results are shown below – round about the 0.5A mark, the voltage drops below specs. None of my five devices were able to deliver the 1000mA advertised. They did however get quite hot, too hot to touch permanently. Yet, if you consider 1/3 of the power is converted to heat, that is more than one watt to dissipate with a small SO package (the inductor didn’t get warm, not driving the tiny thing into saturation). You can also see the spread between devices, but I’m too lazy to do this with all of my units over the full range.

Last thing to note: I killed one of the devices by hooking it up to 5V supply voltage. Well, that’s no good for a cheapo qualitty step-up converter, but I thought the chip might survive it. This actually happened without load – I did the same to all others with some load on, and they made it. But I will not repeat without load, just in case :roll:

So, what’s my verdict? I think it’s an excellent Wan Hung Lo product!
It is:
* Dirt cheap
* Hard to open without marks
* Delivering just 50% of advertised power (or going out of spec)
* Badly inefficient
* Using only the bare minimum of components, no safety rubbish

Things to improve:
* Case is actually sturdy
* Plastic doesn’t smell
* Status LEDs aren’t annoying, no sound effects
* Magic smoke escaped only one out of five times
* Doesn’t allow for over-discharge

For lower power projects (0.3A / 1.5W, seldom use) at home, this product should do the trick. Stay away if you need juice on the go, this thing wastes one third of the power you carry around.

So far, so good. Next product has already arrived, and it has a competitor from a German retail store!

8 Responses to Portable Powerbank Power Bank USB 1x 18650 Battery Charger Case Box for Mobile Phone MP3 (WHL #1)

  1. Romain Rinie says:

    Thanks for the complete review, do you have any experience with some cheap but energy efficient 18650 powerbank? (To power a device with 200ųA – sleeping – to 300mA power consumption when active)

    • Bzzz says:

      Well I have a larger powerbank ready for review, but that isn’t really cheap at afair 8 bucks a piece (takes up to 6x 18650). I’ve used it for some lighting application in the hallway and I haven’t recharged it for half a year while being powered by 4×18650. So sleep power consumption can’t be that bad, and it is also configurable from 5 to 12V in five or six steps. But otherwise…sorry, no experience with other powerbanks.

  2. Nute says:

    I have just burned out one of these myself, this comes from connecting the input to a 5V micro usb charger, but not having the batteries connected to the battery output terminal (i wanted to test the ouput charge voltage under no-load conditions). These ic’s are NOT rugged and life proof. When it did work i managed to draw 1180mA from it using a custom made cable, but not worth the effort. I wanted to upgrade the batteries to 6 Samsung 18650 2600mA cells in a custom enclosure. I guess i will now go with the tried-and-trusted TP4056 / XL6009 combo, and stay clear away of these elcheapo knockoffs

  3. Mariwan says:

    I got another variant from bangood. None of them get charged .. The don’t charge continously my phone either. The microUSB was so dirty and bad soldered that I needed to wash and resolder the pins.
    Data pins of the microusb is not mounted to the board, which raise the possibility of micro-usb damage during the usage. Only two pins are soldered.
    The Plus pole was soldered only in one side and the soldering was not perfect.
    Adjacently, I put the battery in reverse polarity, the chip burned directly and the magic smoke came out .. no protection.
    I say, it is BAD .. BAD BAD DONTY BUY!!

  4. Sally Jelfs says:

    So, you took a complete unit, removed the battery, then complained that it blew up when tested? Hardly as-designed usage.
    The comment on Banggood may be valid, although I’ve not had any problems with their products.
    The data lines are not part of the spec on the charging side: it expects to just get +5V/0V. Almost all PSUs only short the data lines. They are not important here, On the power output side, the data lines are usually shorted together to make the device being charged happy.
    Finally, do you make a habit of connecting batteries in reverse polarity and expect to get away with it? Especially as there’s no need to design in protection when sold as a complete, pre-assembled unit!

    • Bzzz says:

      I second the point about reverse polarity protection. Sure, it may be possible to put such circuit in, but it costs a few extra cents and that’s simply not an option at that price point. The el cheapo method with an in-series diode in forward direction costs a lot of voltage and therefore power during operation, and a reversed diode in parallel will also blow up in your face and might even make your lithium cell do unspeakable things. So it has to be more sophisticated and that’s simply not possible in that market segment.
      That aside, people handling 18650 cells should be capable of knowing (or testing) battery polarity and not using them the wrong way around. If they still do, they should know that bad things can happen.

  5. Surya says:

    Can I connect multiple battery in this circuit of rechargeable batteries…Nd Wer will I get this circuit

    • Bzzz says:

      You can put multiple batteries in parallel, but there’s no room for it inside the case. It’s not designed to run multiple cells in series, however, as that increases input voltage to the circuit. In both cases: If you need a longer runtime and/or higher output power, buy a larger power bank that takes multiple batteries by default.

      Have a look at aliexpress.com or your local ebay site.

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