Review: Nomad ChargeKey and ChargeCard

If you're like a lot of people, you occasionally find yourself out-and-about and in a minor state of panic because your phone's battery is nearly dead, and you don't have a charging cable with you.

Even when I know I will be out all day and using my phone a lot, I don't want to carry a charging cable since -- let's face it -- they aren't really ideal "grab-n-go" items. There's a plethora of easy-to-carry battery packs that can give your phone a decent charge, but cables are, generally speaking, a pain in the neck to carry around with you -- or are fragile enough that they fail when they are most needed. For me, the most convenient charge cable to carry had been a retractable, but they never seemed to last, breaking after a certain number of uses.

Enter Nomad's ChargeCard and ChargeKey for iPhone/iPad (Lightning models only) and Micro USB; two innovative solutions to the tangled mess of portable charging cables.

ChargeKey and ChargeCard Image

Two things that most people have with them constantly are their keys and a wallet; so the idea behind the ChargeCard and ChargeKey are certainly sound. I carried both around for months and never once gave either of them a second thought; they simply didn't get in the way of using either my wallet or keys, but they were always there when they were needed. In fact, the only thing you need to worry about is where you'll find/borrow a spare USB port to plug into, assuming you aren't carrying around one of the aforementioned portable battery solutions.


In practice, I found that the ChargeCard was somewhat awkward to use. The USB side must be pushed through the middle of the card - where it is clipped into place - and I never fully got over the feeling that I was about to break it when trying to pop it out. Worse, it then must be bent over in a "U" shape to plug into the USB port that you intend to use, which made for an awkward arrangement of the USB port (on a laptop, for example), the card, and the phone.

The ChargeKey is certainly easier to use - just plug in on each side - and lays flat, making the whole arragement a bit neater than the ChargeCard. However, I soon realized that unless I wanted to remove the ChargeKey from my keyring each time I used it, I would have to leave my keys with my phone - which made me uneasy in public locations. It's one thing to risk your phone, and another to risk the things that allow you to get to (and into) your home.


All of this would be a moot point if a few months of use would result in a broken (device? unit? cable? thing?). However, both have proven to be very rugged, holding up well despite frequent use and life's little abuses.

The ChargeKey has survived innumberable trips jostled around with my keys (and more than one trip to the concrete when I've dropped them), and still literally looks and works like it did on day one.

The ChargeCard, conversely, has been rather more protected inside my wallet; but, of course, has been sat on for months and has been bent over in that "U" configuration quite a bit during use. I was betting that it would eventually break along that that bent part of the cable, but it, too, still looks and works fine.


The Nomad ChargeCard and ChargeKey are two highly portable and sturdy replacements for a traditional charge cable, and are recommended.

ChargeCard and ChargeKey, Micro USB or Lightning, $29.00 [HelloNomad]