ChargeKey is the latest offering from the people who brought us the ChargeCard, and is a cable that fits on a key ring you can carry around with you at all times in the event you need to charge your device and have access to a USB power supply.

ChargeKey Lightning Connector

Let me point out at the beginning that this is only a cable and not a portable charger. After the last Charge review I wrote, some people didn’t read the piece and ordered something they thought did something else. Also, I played with the iPhone Lightning cable version, but it is also made for microUSB/Android.

The ChargeKey is 2.5mm thick, can flex if need be, and is durable enough to survive among your keys in your pocket. As a portable cable that can sync or charge your phone, it does the job. It’s a bit short, but those are the breaks when you’re carrying around a device on a keyring.

Chargekey side-to-front

ChargeKey’s somewhat limited appeal

Much like the ChargeCard, I believe the appeal is severely limited here. The ChargeKey allows you to tether your phone to a USB port for charging, which means you’re probably located in a place that has enough technology that there is probably a spare microUSB cable at least.

It also tethers your phone to a computer, and in the event of a meeting or some such you’re leaving your device tethered to someone’s USB port for a charge.

During a charge, you’ve got a cable that’s too short to use to make a phone call without putting your head on the desk and wondering how you got into this situation in the first place.

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However, …

ChargeKey’s appeal

The ChargeKey is always with you, and in situations such as being stuck in an airport you can at least charge your phone enough from a USB charging station to make a phone call to get a ride out of the place. During my travels recently, I watched as people delayed for hours lost their ability to call anyone as their carry-on baggage containing their chargers and cables had been unexpectedly checked due to too many people taking carry on luggage.

So there are at least some situations where this comes in very handy.

ChargeKey’s advertising

ChargeKey’s site lists as one of the appeals of this, if you’re at a bar you can charge your device off of the USB of a flat screen TV in the bar. All I can imagine here is ladders or chairs stacked on top of each other to reach the TV and drunken failure. Your bar may vary.

The website also boasts that you can charge your phone at the cash register of a cafe. I’m going to probably say if I see a phone-shaped device connected to a cash register via a wonky cable, I might just pass on using a credit card there, but that’s just me.

The airport is mentioned as well, and that you simply just do not have to worry about having a cable when you’re in an emergency. There are some points I do consider probably valid.

But at what cost?

The ChargeKey is $25. That’s a cable that costs over $8 an inch. As my friends in the Northwest would say, that’s pretty spendy.

Alternatives

Let’s assume you’re not wanting the bulk of a portable charger, and you always want it to be with you on a key chain. At this point, you could perhaps take a 30 cent microUSB or a $4.70 three-pack of Lightning USB connectors and tie them in such a way that they fit on your key chain. This would be bulkier, but allow more mobility when you’re actually tethered.

Or you could go with the Charge-Key Emergency Charger for Android (there’s probably an iEquivalent out there), which is not to be confused with the ChargeKey. It’s a key-shaped portable charging cable that you plug a nine-volt battery into and it provides untethered power. It’s a bit thicker, however.

Concerns

The lack of a cover for the USB side of the ChargeKey concerns me, as I think the connectors will eventually get damaged. I wish there was a cover included with it, but this might not be a real concern.

Overall

This is not a product I’d purchase at the current price point; however, I think it’s a product that could be incredibly useful to someone with overwhelming FOMO or the business executive who cannot be without power for any reason whatsoever. I do think it’s a good idea, but am am a bit certain on the execution and I don’t like the price.

The ChargeKey for Micro USB and Apple Lightning Connector is available from Nomad’s website. Currently new orders are shipping in the middle of February.