PSA: If you're willing to pay markup for the Mi Power Bank Pro, at least get the "better" one
Note: This article was first published on 26th March 2017 and re-published for its popularity.
I was at the IT Show recently, and as usual, there were lots of people buying power banks. And expectedly, Xiaomi power bank (unauthorized) resellers were out in full force. From my observations, the new-ish 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank Pro remains one of the more popular models, but there are a few things about it that not many people are aware of. I dished out a couple of tips to some people I met at the show, and I’m going to repeat them here.
1.) USB-C port is only for input
A lot of people are attracted to the Mi Power Bank Pro because of its USB-C port. However, know that this is an input port, not an output port. So you can’t use this port to charge your USB-C device, like your Google Pixel phone or Nintendo Switch.
If you’ve a USB-C device, you can still use this power bank. But you’ve to use its regular USB Type-A port and a USB A-to-C cable. While the power bank’s USB-A port supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge tech, it will not apply more than 5V for non-QC devices (e.g., USB Power Delivery devices). So if you don’t have a QC device, expect the power bank to only supply around 10W (or 12W for Apple devices).
If you’re so inclined to multi-task, the Mi Power Bank does support fast input and output charging at the same time.
2.) There are two versions of the Mi Power Bank Pro
Not many people know that there are two versions of the Mi Power Bank Pro: model number PLM01ZM and PLM03ZM.
PLM01ZM was the original model released in March 2016. PLM03ZM appeared later in the year in October, and was first offered in a bundle that also included a silicon case to protect the power bank. And recently, Xiaomi has started to sell this PLM03ZM as a standalone version.
The PLM01ZM and PLM03ZM are the same for the most part. However, the newer PLM03ZM’s fast charge controller also supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 (PLM01ZM only Quick Charge 2.0). So there will be some gains if you pair it with a QC3.0 charger (to charge the power bank) or use it to charge a QC3.0 device.
Now, the above isn’t so much an issue if you buy from Xiaomi China, because the company is now only selling the PLM03ZM. But many resellers here are still holding on to the PLM01ZM and selling it together with their newer PLM03ZM stock. And they call them by the same name (not wrong) and price them the same (typically marked up to S$40). If you’re willing to pay the markup - it costs 149 Yuan, or about S$30, in China - I suppose it’s good to know the differences and get the newer model, no?
3.) What about the Mi Power Bank 2 (PLM02ZM)?
For what it's worth, Xiaomi's current 10,000mAh power bank lineup has another 10,000mAh model (PLM02ZM), which is simply known as the Mi Power Bank 2. Available in a black or silver shell, it has the familiar micro-USB input port and USB Type-A output port. This is a Quick Charge 2.0-capable power bank, with maximum input and output power rated at 18W and 15W respectively. If you've a Quick Charge 2 device and has no need for USB-C, this non-Pro model is good enough.
That’s all from me for now in the land of power banks.
Updated at 3:30PM, 26th March: Tweaked USB Power Delivery statement in point 1 so that it's easier to understand.