Hands-on review: Nomad ChargeKey and ChargeCard

by Andy on July 2, 2014

NomadKey Lightning Keychain 480x270 Hands on review: Nomad ChargeKey and ChargeCard
I know what you’re thinking, that doesn’t look like a t-shirt or any other kind of clothing, and you’d be right. These are the ChargeKey and ChargeCard, innovative charging and data transfer solutions for iOS devices with a lightning cable (iPhone 5 onwards and some iPads, right?) and also micro USB. Having recently replaced my aging iPhone 4 with an iPhone 5 recently when I was given the chance by Nomad to check them out I thought it would be perfect, especially as I am excellent at losing cables.

The ChargeKey is a compact key-shaped cable that you can put on your keyring and never have those “I’ve forgotten my cable” moments again when you’re out and about, wanting to charge your phone or transfer some important data. It’s a good idea, usually I would dismiss something this small as only lasting a few months with me because I would lose it, but since it’s now on my keys that’s not going to happen, and I’m always prepared in case I get caught out at a friend’s house without charge, I can just plug it into a USB slot on their computer or their USB plug for another smartphone.

NomadKey Lightning MacBook 480x232 Hands on review: Nomad ChargeKey and ChargeCard
I’ve tested the key in every USB port on my PC, and a few different USB wall plugs (official Apple, Samsung, Kindle plugs) and none of them have brought up the dreaded ‘this accessory is not compatible’ warning that seems to be a common problem with other 3rd party charging cables (and some of the official ones too!). That’s hardly a surprise though as all of Nomad’s products are MFi certified by Apple so you can be confident that they will work. I wasn’t too confident leaving my phone dangling from the front to the USB input on the tower of my PC though, there was no danger of the phone crashing to the floor since it is a good fit, I just wasn’t comfortable with applying that kind of pressure to the USB input, the ChargeKey (with it being bent at 90 degrees), or the connection port on the iPhone. I’m sure that the setup wouldn’t have caused any damage, it just didn’t seem right not having my phone hanging in mid-air. That’s not really a situation that the key is designed for though, pop it into a laptop where it will lay flat, or use an Apple plug where the cable is pointing down and not stress anything, or a USB hub and you’re not going to have any of my overprotective worries.

81qKLeUeqAL. SL1500  480x384 Hands on review: Nomad ChargeKey and ChargeCard
The ChargeCard is similar, but different, instead of going on your keys this version of the card goes in your wallet. Again, it’s very useful and makes it a lot less likely you’ll be caught without a ‘cable’ (which this technically is, even if it doesn’t look like it), despite being credit card sized (though ticker) it feels solid and is rather ‘design-y’ rather than just being a utilitarian slab of plastic, which is a pretty admirable feat when you’re talking about something you use to charge your phone. Again, I had no problems in terms of functionality, it worked in every port I tested it on and that’s the best I could hope for. One thing I didn’t test was data transfer speeds because that seemed a little extreme for a clothing site to do, but I certainly couldn’t complain.

Previously, if you wanted either of these products you needed to have them sent from the US, and inevitably that meant paying over the odds because of import taxes and the dreaded ‘clearance fee’ levied by couriers that can often be more than the taxes. Nomad products can now be purchased directly from the UK via their Amazon store, and that’s fulfilled by Amazon so you’re also eligible for Prime delivery. It is a similar story for a few other countries around the world which is very convenient and does remove those niggling doubts from buying overseas. Both items are £20 each in either iOS lightning or micro USB format.

Nomad are currently also offering pre-order on newer versions of what will be called the NomadCard (which adds a longer USB connection), NomadKey (which looks the same), and the NomadClip which is an interesting carabiner-esque connector with a charging cable hidden within it. Those will be shipping in the Autumn but I think that the products as they are in their current incarnation are an excellent fit for their purpose and also a great help to people as forgetful as me!

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