I’ll start my Nomad ChargeKey & ChargeCard review with a quick, short story of an experience I had recently, to put into context why I wish I’d had one of these Nomad ChargeKey or ChargeCard USB phone-charging adapters sooner.
I was out for the day with some friends and I ended up staying overnight, we had some bacon for breakfast, it was all good. Except for one small problem. My poor iPhone 5S had long since gone to sleep and was unable to wake up again. As this was an unplanned stopover, I had no Lightning port charger with me. The latest Apple devices they had in their home only had the old-style 30-pin connectors. Despite having lots of available USB ports on an assortment of laptops, computers and even TVs, I couldn’t use any of them!
Now, this hadn’t been an emergency situation, just a minor inconvenience while making my way home. But it did make me consider how best to avoid this happening in future. Now I think I have it sorted!
Enter Nomad, a company with a traveller’s spirit that has come up with two products to solve this issue of mobile device charging. They offered to send over a ChargeKey and ChargeCard over for review, so here’s what I thought…
Both these products started out as crowdfunded projects. The ChargeCard on Kickstarter, then the ChargeKey on IndieGoGo. More great examples of the Internet helping to bring useful products to market!
The ChargeKey and ChargeCard products are well-designed and compact USB phone-charging adapters. Even better, they that don’t end up being extra items to remember to take with you. This is because most people already carry around keys on a keyring or cards in a wallet or purse. I for one never leave the house without my keys and wallet, regardless of where I’m going or what I’m doing.
You often end up carrying around bulky, sometimes delicate USB phone charging cables or mains adapters. But instead, you have the convenience, utility and peace of mind that your mobile device can be re-charged. And given how common USB connections are now, chances are you’ll be near one wherever you are.
These are particularly useful if you’ve got one of the newer Apple products with a Lightning Connector. Because the chances of other people having one to borrow is still a bit hit and miss.
How To Use
When you want to use either product, you plug one end into a suitable USB port (I’ve yet to encounter one that they didn’t work with) and the other end into your device. The only issue I’ve found is the positioning of your device while charging due to how small the ChargeKey/Card products are. But they are quite flexible, (while still having a solid build quality), so that isn’t too much of a problem.
While connected, you get the full charging and data transfer capabilities as with a standard USB cable. Which means it makes for a handy way of moving over your photos to your laptop for backup, for instance, while travelling / away on holiday.
These sound like useful products, but will they fall to pieces over time? The ChargeKey has survived perfectly fine on my keyring which includes three keys and a Leatherman multi-tool. It’s dealt with the daily usage of my keyring so far with no signs of any scratches or damage. I’ll come back with an update to see how well it holds up, but so far I’m pleased with it.
UPDATE: I’ve now had my ChargeKey on my keyring for over 4 years now and it’s held it up very well in terms of durability – it hasn’t fallen apart despite all the daily usage my keys get. It still works flawlessly every time I use it!
I do like the minimalist-style design of both products as I’m someone always trying to save space wherever possible these days. Some people may question why the connectors do not have covers over them. While I can understand that concern, I think that complicating the design may have added to the cost. It may also have just been something that often got lost anyway — how many times have you seen USB memory sticks with missing lids or covers?
If you really have concerns about durability, you might be better off going for the ChargeCard. It sits in the safety of my wallet until needed, so no risk of any damage there.
Nomad has now officially launched their products here in the UK and they’re available at Amazon UK priced at around £20. So you can now order a Nomad ChargeKey or ChargeCard with no fear of extra delivery and customs charges pushing up the cost.
Overall, I really like both of these USB phone-charging adapters and have already recommended them to friends and family.
Simon Barker is the founder and editor of Zath and has over 25 years worth of experience of using computers and technology in general. He can normally be found researching or testing the latest in technology products.
He has provided IT consultancy services to both home and small business users for over 15 years, building PCs, fixing hardware/software problems and providing comprehensive training.
Simon always likes to get the best out of the technology he is using, by both making informed decisions of what products to purchase and also optimising how it is then used to get the most benefits possible.
If you’d like to follow and/or contact him on Twitter, please feel free to do so – @SimonBarker.