Compatible: All Lightning-Equipped iPads, iPhones, iPods
Nomad ChargeKey Lightning Cable
Along with Bluelounge's Kii, ChargeKey ($25) from Nomad is one of the smallest Lightning cables available on the market. This one is based on a similar concept — a cable built into a key-shaped design — although there are enough differences that the two won't be confused with one another.
The main selling point behind this unusual Lightning cable is its small size. Made of plastic and rubber components, it measures a little over 2.5”-long, with a key-like shape that’s just as thick as a USB plug. At one end you have that plug, and at the other, there’s an unlicensed Lightning connector. ChargeKey can be attached to your key ring thanks to the hard plastic loop above the Lightning plug, although there aren’t any caps, so the cable may be more susceptible to damage.
Between the two ends is a small segment of rubber, which is flexible and designed to be bent. ChargeKey’s website shows an iPhone hanging from the cable without causing any damage. In our testing, the cord worked just fine. Despite the fact that it’s not Apple-sanctioned, we didn’t see any sort of warnings pop up on the screen, and syncing and charging are both supported. If there are any concerns in terms of functionality, they mostly have to do with the size. Because it’s so short, you’ll really only be able to use ChargeKey practically with laptops and battery packs, but not desktop computers such as iMacs, or many wall chargers.
We can appreciate the appeal of a small, portable cable, and ChargeKey’s price is much more agreeable than Kii at $40. There are a few drawbacks though, including the lack of any caps or other ways to protect the plugs. The unofficial Lightning connector doesn’t seem to be a problem yet, but we feel obliged to provide the requisite warning that it may become an issue in the future, depending on Apple’s whims. All in all, ChargeKey earns a general recommendation. It offers the same functionality as Kii, and the price delta helps alleviate some of the missing features. Although it’s in a pre-order stage right now, expect to see it widely available in February of 2014.