The second-generation AirPods and corresponding wireless charging case are still missing in action, but when they do finally launch, a certain Santa Barbara, CA-based company will be ready. Nomad, maker of mobile accessories for the iPhone, released its all-in-one Apple Watch + iPhone + AirPods charger a few months ago, obviously anticipating an update to Apple’s popular wireless earbuds.
The Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition is currently sold out, but a source close to the company informed me that it expects units to be back in stock soon. Watch our hands-on video walkthrough inside as we explore the ins and outs of Nomad’s three-coil wireless charger.
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- Integrated MFi-certified Apple Watch Charger
- Supports nightstand mode
- 3 Qi-certified coils at 7.5W wireless charging each
- Anodized aluminum top surface, with discrete Nomad logo
- Padded leather wireless charging surface
- Wirelessly charges iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods (with AirPods Qi-adapter)
- Ready for second-generation Qi-enabled AirPods charging case.
- Three LED charging indicators
- Ambient light sensor dims LEDs at night
- Three regional charger adapters
- Price $119.00
- Currently sold out, but stock expected back soon
The Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition ships with typical Nomad packaging, which means that it’s well-thought-out and designed. Appropriate measures are taken to ensure that the contents stay in place during shipment, which results in a pristine product upon unboxing.
Inside the box you’ll find the Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition, an AC adapter, and three regional charging plugs. Nomad includes an explainer for the three-coil charging system on the inside of the box, just in case you want more details on how it all works.
The charger itself is very well designed, comprised of anodized aluminum, leather for the charging surface, and a plastic back cover. The back of the device features two long non-slip strips to keep the charger from sliding around on your desk or night stand.
The Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition isn’t heavy, but it’s weighty enough to lend confidence about its build quality. All of the parts, from the anodized aluminum, to the leather charging surface, look and feel solid to the touch.
The AC adapter is a barrel-style adapter, and comes with three different regional plugs that can be easily swapped out. I wish Nomad opted for a USB-C-style plug instead of a barrel plug, which offers more flexibility as far as placement and mobility is concerned. That said, I imagine this charger will be more of a set-it-and-forget-it affair, not something that’s often moved from location to location.
The MFi Apple Watch charger is its own separate entity, and is designed to easily facilitate watchOS’ Nightstand mode when charging your Apple Watch. The build quality of the Apple Watch charger, like the rest of the device, feels solid.
Underneath the main leather charging surface, which feels great to the touch by the way, resides three separate 7.5-watt charging coils. The coils are positioned in such a manner that you can sit an iPhone long ways on the charging surface, or you can opt to rest your iPhone on the right side of the pad, perpendicular to the surface. Either way is fine, but orientation will largely depend on if you’re charging a set of AirPods at the same time.
Speaking of AirPods, Apple has still yet to ship the second-generation version of its popular wireless earbuds, but once it does, the corresponding wireless charging case should work natively with Nomad’s wireless charger. In the meantime, users can opt for a Qi-enabled adapter, which admittedly is a little clunky, but it works. Read our full review of the of the HyperJuice Wireless Charger adapter for AirPods for more details on what I mean by that.
On the front of Nomad’s charger you’ll find a set of three LEDs, one representing each charging coil. These will automatically illuminate when a device is charging on each respective coil. If you place a device on the rightmost side of the charger, the right LED will illuminate; middle of the charger, middle LED light; etc.
I put the Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition to the test, charging my iPhone XS Max, AirPods (with HyperJuice adapter) and Apple Watch simultaneously. Everything worked just as expected, with “fast” 7.5-watt charging for my iPhone, along with AirPods and Apple Watch charging at the same time.
A couple of things I really like about this charger:
- There’s an ambient light sensor on the back of the unit that will cause the LEDs to automatically dim when in a dark room. This helps to lesson the LED light pollution that’s so prevalent in electronic devices today.
- At the bottom of the Apple Watch charger area rests a rubber bumper. This prevents your Apple Watch from crashing into the anodized aluminum panel when placing it on the charger.
At $120, Nomad’s multi-faceted wireless charging solution isn’t cheap, but I don’t think it’s necessarily overpriced, especially with AirPower being rumored to be priced in the range of $150-$200.
The bottom line is that AirPower still hasn’t been released, and until it is, we won’t know exactly how well Nomad’s charger stacks up to Apple’s first-party solution. There’s still a few unanswered questions about AirPower with regard to features and iOS integration.
It’s important to note, however, that the Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition isn’t a 1:1 alternative to Apple’s still yet-to-be-released AirPower charger. For starters, AirPower will still presumably integrate directly with iOS software and communicate together to manage charging of all devices.
Secondly, AirPower will allow you to charge your Apple Watch right on the wireless charging surface area shared by your iPhone and unreleased AirPods wireless charging case. Nomad’s charger relies on the typical MFi Apple Watch charging puck, and won’t charge your Apple Watch on the leather charging surface.
And finally, as mentioned, Nomad’s solution relies on a typical barrel-style charging adapter instead of a more flexible USB-C connection. It’s not a terrible solution, but it means that it requires a standard outlet, as it can’t connect directly to USB power-sources.
Keep in mind that due to the placement of the Apple Watch charger, you’ll need to place your iPhone on the right side of the charging pad if you plan on charging AirPods at the same time. In this case, it’s not as flexible as the forthcoming AirPower charger when it comes to device placement on the pad.
Nomad also notes in its FAQ section that users should not charge their phones wirelessly with a steel plate or magnetic back, as this may cause rising temperatures and may damage your devices. This is likely something that Apple has been working on with AirPower to prevent problems of this nature.
Of course, actual use-case should be considered as well. Those who own an Apple Watch and iPhone, but don’t care about wireless AirPods might wonder if this charger is for them?
I think that even if you don’t care about charging AirPods wirelessly, the Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition should still be considered. It’s a great-looking device, works with the Apple Watch in Nightstand mode, and it allows you to charge your iPhone simultaneously in a very well-put-together package. And in the future, if you happen to want to charge your AirPods wirelessly, the option is already there for you thanks to the three coil setup.
As I noted earlier, the Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition is currently out of stock, but supplies should be re-upped in the near future, so keep a look out if interested.
What do you think about Nomad’s wireless charging solution? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.