Choetech 19w dual-port solar charger mini review

Spring is nearly upon us, and that means shedding one's bulky winter clothes, leaving the claustrophobic confines of one's winter domicile, and heading out into nature. If you're taking your gadgets with you, you'll need a way to charge them, of course, and a portable solar charger is one of the most popular ways to do this. Enter Choetech's dual-port 19W portable solar charger — it promises to keep your phone juiced up, but how does it fare during real-world use? Read our review to find out!

Choetech's new solar charger features a pair of USB ports, enabling it to charge two devices at the same time. Joining the two ports are three solar panels stitched into a simple fabric case that folds up when not in use. To use the charger, one merely opens the magnetic latch, exposing all three solar panels, and connects a device to one of the USB ports. The charger can be laid flat on a table or the ground in sunlight, attached to the exterior of a backpack while you're hiking, and hung from a hook on a sun-facing wall.

If you're on the go (or just worried about your gadgets being in the sun), there's a zipped mesh pocket on the rear in which you can nestle your items. The two charging ports are also located in this pocket, as well as a single elastic band to hold, for example, your phone. The pocket is large enough for two handheld gadgets — shown below are a BlackBerry Q10 and a T-Mobile mobile hotspot.

As far as actual design goes, the Choetech 19W solar charger is great — it feels and resembles a fabric folder when folded up, is very lightweight at about a pound in weight, can be nestled into most bags and backpacks without taking up much room. As well, the construction is water-resistant, and while you can't submerge it into a pool of water, it does seem to handle water splashes and sprinkles without issue. I forgot the charger on a table one day, it rained, and the charger is no worse for it.

Of course, design is only one aspect of the product. Most consumers are most concerned with whether the solar charger functions as intended, and the answer is yes, yes it does. When exposed to sunlight, a red charging LED indicator will illuminate on the dual-port charging module — if it is flashing, the charger isn't detecting a load and you need to make sure your gadget is plugged in. When solid red, the solar charger is charging.

To first test it, I hung the charger from a suction cup hook on a window, plugged my Galaxy S6 into it, and sat it on the desk next to me while working. As you'd expect, a direct connection to a gadget is not ideal, and isn't something I recommend unless you're in a bind — the charge would cut out if, for example, a cloud floated in front of the sun, causing the phone to stop charging briefly before starting again.

The solution, of course, is a portable power bank — that is, a portable battery with USB ports. Slip the power bank into the elastic band on the solar charger, connect the USB cable from the solar panels to the charging port on the battery, then connect a USB cable from the battery's USB charging port to your phone or gadget. If the sun is blocked momentarily and the charge cuts out, the phone will continue to charge steadily since it is connected to the battery.

Under that arrangement, the Choetech solar charger works great (it doesn't include a battery, so keep that in mind). During days of bright sunlight, the charger was able to substantially recharge a 10,000mAh battery, but only if I made sure to move it periodically so that it stayed in direct sunlight. In anything less than direct sunlight, the charge became far more unstable, and often disappeared entirely. As such, the 19w Choetech charger is a great option for environments where the sun is often bright and unobstructed, but is only marginally useful in an indirect lighting environment.