Nomad ChargeKey Review – A Key-Sized Lightning Cable

  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4 stars
  • 80%

  • Nomad ChargeKey
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: December 19, 2018
  • Cosmetic Appeal
    Editor: 90%
  • Design & Build Quality
    Editor: 70%
  • Features
    Editor: 70%
  • Function
    Editor: 80%
  • Value For The Price
    Editor: 70%

The ChargeKey is a mini lighting cable that attaches to a keyring and is always there when you need it.

Apple's smartphones and tablet offerings have taken the consumer world by storm and are responsible for sparking one of the largest mobile accessories markets to date. Due to this high demand, many consumers and startups have taken to the Internet with hopes to “crowd-fund” their own custom accessories for the popular devices. A result of one of these crowd-funding campaigns is the ChargeKey, a key-sized lighting cable that works with all iOS devices that utilize the newly designed lightning port for charging and syncing. Nomad (the company responsible for the ChargeKey) also offers a Micro-USB version for Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry users as well as a ChargeCard that fits in your wallet.

The ChargeKey was originally introduced on October 22nd, 2013 on the Indiegogo platform with the hopes of raising $50,000 in capital to carry out the manufacturing of the product. Within 100 hours of the campaign going live, ChargeKey had already reached their goal and on December 2nd, 2013 the campaign commenced with $172,274 in total funding. Now that the product has entered production, they are selling individual units for $25 a piece via their website although they are currently backordered until February 28th at the time of this review. Nomad (the company responsible for the ChargeKey) sent us a sample of their ChargeKey Lightning Cable so this review will be based solely on our hands on experience with the product.

After unboxing the ChargeKey, I was pleased to see the sizing was true to their claims and thus resembles a large key. According to our measurements, the cable is just over 2.25 inches long and is only 3mm thick. On the bottom, you'll find the male USB which features the slim yet robust design. Making your way up the flexible rubber cabling to the top of the ChargeKey, you'll notice the integrated keychain loop, Nomad & ChargeKey branding, and the lightning connector.

_H3A0013The build quality of the ChargeKey is excellent and it is truly built to whether the abuse that follows everyday use. Each end is made of a hard plastic material whereas the middle is a flexible rubber which allows it to bend or twist in your pocket without causing any damage. This type of flexibility is critical as my experience with metal USB flash drives that were designed to attach to a keyring have always ended up bending or breaking after just a few days of use.

As expected, the ChargeKey has successfully charged both my iPad Air and iPhone 5 while on the go and is simple to use. Advantages to the ChargeKey include both sync and charge capabilities (USB 2.0) as well as 3.1 Amp charging. During my testing, the ChargeKey has been convenient and carrying it around has not caused any negative impact on my daily routine.

While the majority of my ChargeKey experience was positive, there is a few small issues I ran into throughout my testing. First off, the product relies on USB power so charging on the go can be a bit more complicated than it looks as you'll need to find a spare USB outlet rather than a wall outlet. An easy solution to this would be carrying a USB to wall outlet adapter in your bag or pocket or simply opting to leaving a spare adapter in your car. For those of you who regularly carry around a laptop or mobile power bank then this shouldn't be an issue.

Since the size of the product is comparable to a key, you don't have much room to work with when actually charging the device. This small size works well when connected to the USB port of a laptop, but can be awkward with a USB to wall outlet adapter as your device hangs freely. This can be solved by using a power strip although it is unlikely that you'll find one while on the go.

Lastly, the end of the ChargeKey that harnesses the male lightning connection which is significantly bulkier when compared to a traditional Apple branded lightning cable. Due to this, it won't support use with some case options including the LifeProof’s frē series. Of course, you'll have the option to remove the case when your ready to charge your device though this may be bothersome to some users.


In the end, I found the ChargeKey to be clever product that offers a convenient way to carry a lightning cable while on the go. The design keeps it ultra-portable, but it does have a few slight drawbacks in a real-world situation. If you're someone who constantly deals with a dead battery and is looking for an aftermarket charging solution for your iOS device then the ChargeKey may be the right product for you. I would recommend this product to any prospective buyers as long as you are aware of its minor drawbacks.