- Editor's Rating
- Compact size
- Travels well
- Hard to use phone while charging
- Priced higher than other third party chargers
Quick TakeThe Chargekey is a great option for those who often find themselves with a dead phone and without a charger; it's compact and convenient to carry on a keychain.
The ChargeKey from Nomad is designed to fit on a keychain, giving users a Lightning cable charger wherever they go. It’s a great companion for travelers and is convenient when paired with a portable external battery pack.
Build and Design
The ChargeKey, as the name implies, is built around the same size as the average house key, allowing it to easily blend in with a user’s keychain. It features an exposed USB plug on one end, and a Lightning compatible charger on the other. It measures 2.6 x .2 x .9 inches and weighs just .013 pounds, so it isn’t going to weigh down a user’s pocket. The design is fitting for anyone who regularly finds themselves out and about with a dead battery, and without an iPhone 5 or 5S compatible charger.
It’s made out of flexible plastic, which is good since it doesn’t offer much distance between a computer or battery pack and a user’s iPhone. Users can bend and twist the charger as needed, and it won’t cause it any damage.
The only concern BH had is that the design might put pressure on the internal charging port for the iPhone, since the short distance and design of the cable can sometimes force the iOS device to sit at an awkward angle if the USB port is higher up.
Even still, the only real issue BH could find with the ChargeKey’s size is that it’s so short that it makes it difficult to use the phone while it’s charging. But that’s an obvious caveat when buying any short charger.
The Lightning port should fit in most iPhone cases, but those with heavy duty cases likes ones from Lifeproof might have issues, judging by some common customer complaints.
BH was curious about how the charger would hold up over the long run, considering the USB and Lightning cables are exposed. Testers would have liked to see a cover to protect either end, since it seems the charger could take a beating while bouncing around in a pocket or a purse. However, Nomad vows that the charger is purposefully designed to withstand everyday use, including bouncing around in a pocket full of keys.
In terms of weather proofing, Nomad states that it is “quite weather resistant,” but advises against “dipping [the charger] in a cup of water.” BH found this claim held up, pulling out the charger while poolside and even in the rain without consequence.
Although marketed as a charger, the ChargeKey can also manage full data transfers to a user’s computer, just like a standard iPhone cable. This is an important feature, since not every charging cable includes sync capabilities over USB.
It works great when paired with a portable battery charger, and testers brought it along on a trip to see how it performed. BH was able to easily keep an iPhone 5 charged while waiting at the airport, without the annoyance of having to search for an outlet. For those who like to travel light, the ChargeKey is a great companion when paired with a portable battery pack.
The charger is very flexible; in one instance, BH plugged it into a car charger that had a USB port, which required manipulating the charger to keep the iPhone 5 from dangling down towards the floor. The charger bent and stretched without any problems. There was a slight kink in the charger once removed from the port, but it flattened back out in no time.
Nomad says that the ChargeKey will charge just as fast as the proprietary lightning cable for iOS, but that the speed really depends solely on the voltage of the power source. This also held up in testing, and BH did not notice that it charged any faster or slower than the standard lightning charger that ships with iOS devices.
The ChargeKey comes at a good time, considering users that have upgraded to a Lightning compatible device now have a handful of defunct 30-pin chargers. Users looking to invest in a charger for the office, school, or while travelling will appreciate the ChargeKey’s compact size. The keychain design means that it’s pretty hard to lose, a huge plus considering it’d be easy to misplace on its own.
Even still, the ChargeKey’s small size is limiting in certain situations. It’s not easy to use the phone while it’s plugged in to a USB source on such a short leash. But it is a great option to throw in a clutch, purse, or a keychain, one that’ll give iPhone users the peace of mind that they can charge their device whenever they can find a power source.
At $29, the ChargeKey is priced around the same point as Apple’s own chargers, but it’s more expensive than most third-party equivalents. For example, the Amazon Basics three foot charger is priced just under $14, but it definitely won’t fit on a keychain. Overall, if users are interested in getting a backup charger that they can conveniently keep on their person without thinking much about it, the ChargeKey definitely fits the bill.