Review: Nomad wireless travel stand is our favorite portable charger, but it could do more
Nomad's wireless travel charger for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X bucks the trend of many popular chargers, opting for a rounded-rectangular design that transforms from a charging pad, to a vertical charging stand — and we've been using it for a while.
Nomad has made a name for itself with a line of rugged accessories perfect for any traveler. Many are crafted using leather from Chicago's own Horween tannery. We'd say their new wireless travel charger fits right in, but there are a few things that we'd like to see in an updated version.
Nomad has a design-forward way of thinking. All their products have a distinct look that will never be confused with any other.
We see that here with their wireless charger. Instead of the round puck or plastic-laden charging stand, they opted for a modular rectangular design that works lying down or standing up.
To transform into a vertical stand, a rubber-accented aluminum brace can be removed from the underside and inserted through the charger to act as a pedestal for the phone, and a prop for the charger to lean against.
I love being able to go back and forth between horizontal and vertical. At home, I like having a horizontal pad on my desk, however, I prefer a vertical stand by my bedside. On my desk, I am a bit higher up so my iPhone X is able to still unlock with Face ID. In bed, I'm on an equal plane with the charger, so it needs to be propped up to be able to unlock with my face.
The Horween leather has a nice slate gray color, though at first glance you can barely tell it is leather — it just blends in too well. It does mar a bit over time like any good leather will. I actually prefer the weathered and worn look after using it for a few weeks rather than right out of the box.
For power, Nomad uses a proprietary power brick that connects using a small barrel connector, and we don't care for it very much. We'd much have preferred a USB-C charger instead. If something ever happened to the cable or power adapter, it becomes a lot harder to replace, especially when on a trip.
The cable also lacks any sort of management capability. Nomad's other excellent cables all have wonderful silicone cable wraps. This would have been a welcome addition, especially when traveling.
Charging speed and coil placement
In general, Qi-based wireless charging works through two coils that are placed near one another, with one in the phone, and one in the charging platform. Some charging stands, like the ones from Anker we reviewed, use multiple charging coils to ensure compatibility with a wide array of devices. Nomad is specifically targeting the iPhone's with this charger, so they opted for a single-coil design.
One of the trade-offs of that is the placement of the iPhone has to be relatively precise. There are two negative side effects of this.
First, when propped up into a stand, the iPhone has to be vertical. Those who like to put their phones horizontal to watch a video while charging, or use a horizontal alarm clock app are out of luck.
Secondly, when using as a horizontal charging mat, the phone has to be offset just slightly to be in the same position it would be in had it been propped up in the stand.
Nomad makes this need for precision when placing the phone down clear with a sticker right when you open the charger, but it is another small frustration.
As far as what really matters, this wireless charger is capable of charging an iPhone at up to 7.5W, the maximum for any wireless iPhone.
What we'd like to see
As good as the Nomad charger is, it got us thinking about what we would like to see.
First among those things is a USB port. This charger is great, but what do you do with your Apple Watch? It still requires its own charger and power adapter. It would be ideal to simply connect a short Apple Watch charging cable to the underside of the wireless charger and only have one power adapter to bring along.
That coupled with better cable management and better coil placement, this would be our ideal charger.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Nomad earns 4 out of 5 stars for their wireless charger. The charger itself is outstanding, with fast speeds and stunning design. However, the coil placement, power cable choice, and cable management all result in a slightly flawed package.
We will gladly use the Nomad charger at home and on the go, but can't help wonder of what could come in a second iteration.