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Most of us would have gotten used to that cute little Apple charger that's included with Apple devices. What if you can charge up to four times faster with virtually no increase in bulk? NOMAD makes this bold claim with its series of power adapters. This review takes a look at the big boy chargers that comes in a small package.

Details

  • Price $18.95 for the 20W, $29.95 for the 30W, and $69.95 for the 65W
  • Power Output 20W USB-C (9V 2.22A), 100-240V 50/60 Hz input (0.5A)
  • Weight 0.09 lbs / 41.2g
  • Dimensions (excluding the pin) 1.29 x 1.29 x 1.25 inches / 3.3 x 3.3 x 3.2 cm (W x H x D)

Overview

I've been using the RAVPOWER 61W Charger for the past few years and it has done well in charging everything I need it to while on the road. Whether it's my 13-inch MacBook Pro, my iPhone, AirPods Pro, or mobile chargers, I've contented with the one charger.

The RAVPOWER 61W Power Adapter side-by-side with the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter.
The RAVPOWER 61W Power Adapter, side-by-side with the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter.

In the times I need to charge multiple devices at once, I just connect those devices to my laptop and charge through its ports. However, there were definitely times when I thought that maybe, just maybe having one more charger isn't that bad. After all, the power output is limited if I charge through my laptop and the 13-Inch MacBook Pro comes with only two ports.

With the Maxoak K2, Apple Airpods with NOMAD Active Rugged Case, NOMAD Powerpack, NOMAD Base Station Mini, NOMAD 20W Power Adapter, and Satechi 100W USB-C Charger.

With the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter being just marginally larger than Apple's charger, I knew it was time that I explored the two-charger setup. I've been using an array of NOMAD products for a few years now, so I know that style and quality aren't going to be an issue. What it's going to come down to is how it fits into my digital nomad arsenal.

Style

The color of the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter is the antithesis of Apple's all-white charger. The charger is a dark slate with the face of the USB-C port being black. If you look closely, you'll be able to see grainy texture which gives it a subtle stone-washed look.

On one side, the black NOMAD logo contrasts beautifully against the textured background.

The NOMAD logo contrast subtly against the textured background.
The NOMAD logo contrasts subtly against the textured background.

The side that goes into the power outlet is flushed seamlessly with the sides. It slopes towards the edges eradicating unnecessary right angles, making it a pleasure to hold. There are compliance markings on this face but I could tell they were put there reluctantly—the color of the markings is subtle and font size barely legible.

Pin-side of the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter.

A certain balance to the entire design can be felt, something that I am not even Apple could achieve.

While NOMAD touts it as marginally larger than Apple's 5W adapter, I find this to be a bit of an overstatement. It is at least 20% larger than the Apple 5W Power Adapter. But given the increased power output, this is still by far quite the achievement.

The NOMAD 20W Power Adapter side-by-side with the Apple 5W Power Adapter.
Side-by-side with the Apple 5W Power Adapter.

Nothing much else can be said about such a simple design. It possesses all the design prowess I've come to expect from NOMAD. It is, without a doubt, the best-looking charger of the category you will find.

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Seriously. Leave a comment if you find one that looks better. I would love to do a comparison.

Technology

Most of you considering this is probably looking to upgrade from the classic power adapter that is included with your Apple device. Or, if you are getting an iPhone 12 or above, Apple no longer includes the power adapter with your phone. You are forced to get one separately if you are a first-time Apple customer.

Either way, it is important to know the differences between adapter types as charging your phone will likely be part of your daily routine.

The power adapter that Apple used to include with their phones is the Apple 5W USB Power Adapter. This power adapter costs $19 in Apple's store.

It is going to be approximately four times slower than NOMAD's 20W Power Adapter. This “four times” figure is probably derived from the wattage difference; 5W vs 20W.

Apple also sells a 20W Power Adapter at the same price, but the size is what sets the NOMAD one apart.

The NOMAD 20W Power Adapter with the Satechi 10-Inch USB-C to Lightning Cable.
The NOMAD 20W Power Adapter with the Satechi 10-Inch USB-C to Lightning Cable.

So, how fast does the NOMAD adapter actually charge in real-world scenarios when compared with the classic 5W power adapter?

I charged my iPhone XS Max for 30 minutes with each adapter to find out. Since the NOMAD adapter requires a USB-C to Lightning cable, I used this one from Satechi. For the Apple 5W Power Adapter, I used the USB-A to Lightning cable that comes with my device.

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For the NOMAD adapter, I started with a 45% battery and after 30 minutes, it charged to 80%. Apple boasts their fast charging with the Apple 20W Power Adapter can recharge the iPhone up to 50% battery in 30 minutes. The NOMAD 20W Power Adapter exceeded that by 5%.

With the Apple 5W Power Adapter, I ran the battery back down with some furious Genshin Impact and Clash Royale and started with the same 45%. After 30 minutes, the battery level made it to 60%. Of course, there isn't fast charging with the USB-A to Lightning cable. The results are not surprising but interesting nonetheless.

The amount of charge depends on your device, battery health, running apps, and a variety of factors, so it is not to be compared to your actual needs. However, what can be referenced is the amount of charge between the two power adapters.

While NOMAD touts that their adapter can charge up to 4.5 times, it was about 2.3 times in practice in my test. Once again, the mileage may vary.

Usage

For those who are used to Apple's included power adapters, this one from NOMAD isn't too different, faster charging aside.

While my RAVPOWER 61W Power Adapter works great, one big issue is how it intrudes into the space of the outlet next to it rendering it useless. The NOMAD 20W Power Adapter is compact enough not to do so. This is something I can appreciate since there are some ryokans in Japan that offer a limited number of power outlets.

It's also much more compact than the Apple 20W Power Adapter. This allows me to easily insert into any of the pockets in my Aer Cable Kit.

While I prefer power adapters with foldable pins, I understand that this will increase the size of the adapter. It is compact enough as it is.

From a design perspective, I love how to pin side slopes towards the edges. It adds a unique design element while reducing weight. However, what it also does is reduces the support against the wall socket. Some wall sockets in Japan are pretty weak in securing the plug in place.

Especially with a shorter cable like the Satech 10-Inch USB-C to Lightning Cable, the weight will pull down on the power adapter and the sloped edges actually reduce the amount of support against the wall. This causes the power adapter to ajar slightly from the wall socket, increasing the chance of it coming off altogether.

The convex shape on the pin-side causes the pin to come ajar with a heavier cable or device.

For those considering using this adapter to charge your laptop, I regret to inform you that it will not work. Not even charging it slowly. I tried charging my 13-inch MacBook Pro and nada. The battery indicator doesn't even turn into a charging mode.

NOMAD 20W Power Adapter vs NOMAD 30W Power Adapter (Update Dec 2021)

NOMAD recently released the 30W version of this charger.

It looks exactly the same as the 20W version but offers 10 extra watts of power for $11 more. With this extra 10W of power, I'm glad to report that I was able to charge my 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro without issues.

However, changeability depends on the applications and processes you are running, which in turn determine the amount of power you need. If you are running anything beyond time-killing activities like web browsing or watching Netflix, chances are that investing in a laptop charger like the Satechi Wall Charger might be the more sustainable way forward.

That said, I am perfectly comfortable using the 30W Power Adapter as a backup laptop charger.

NOMAD 65W Power Adapter

In April 2022, NOMAD released the 65W 2-Port Charger. The 65W charger unlocks the use of laptops for digital nomads.

When both ports are used, the 65W is divided; 45W on top and 20W on the bottom.

The top port is blue on the inside for easy recognition. Your laptops should be plugged into the top one and your phone on the bottom. If anyone is removed, the remaining port-in-use gets the full 65W of power.

The prongs, when closed, stick out slightly and has the potential to scratch other electronics around it.

Like the other two single-port chargers, the 65W version delivers the consistent sleek NOMAD experience. If you don't already have either the 20W or 30W ones, the 65W one is the way to go.

NOMAD 65W Power Adapter vs Satechi 66W 3-Port Charger

The Satechi 66W 3-Port Charger has been my go-to charger for the past year and it is worth doing a comparison. At a glance:

NOMAD 65W Power AdapterSatechi 66W 3-Port ChargerDifference
Price$69.95$54.99The NOMAD adapter costs more by $14.96.
Weight4.06 oz (115 g)4.1 oz (116.2 g)Both are practically the same weight.
Dimensions
(prongs closed)
2.17 x 2.07 x 1.33 inches
55 x 52.5 x 33.8 mm
2.8 x 1.5 x 1.2 inches
71.1 x 38.1 x 30.5 mm
Both have almost the same size, just different shapes; The NOMAD adapter is square, while the Satechi charger is a rectangle.
Speed65W
45W/20W
65W
30W/30W or 45W/20W
30W/18W/18W
The NOMAD adapter is less flexible in speed distribution.
Number of Ports23The NOMAD adapter has one less port.

On paper, the Satechi 66W 3-Port Charger is the winner.

The NOMAD 65W Power Adapter does look a little sleeker and “unibody”, compared to the Satechi 66W 3-Port Charger with its glossy plastic-looking trim. The prongs of the Satechi 66W 3-Port Charger, when closed, do not stick out like the NOMAD 65W Power Adapter.

Despite the clear differences in specs, I find myself strangely drawn to the NOMAD 65W Power Adapter. I will be using it for the next couple of months and reevaluate how I feel about it.

Conclusion

If you already have a USB-C power adapter for your laptop, the chances are that you don't need another adapter just for your iPhone.

If you got the iPhone 12 and need a charger, then the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter is definitely a better option than the equivalent from Apple. At virtually the same price and much smaller package, there isn't much deliberation to be had.

If you have an extra $11 to spare, which I assume you do if you are looking into NOMAD products, then getting the 30W version over the 20W one is a no-brainer.

Additional Images

The NOMAD 20W Power Adapter with the Satechi 10-Inch USB-C to Lightning Cable.
The NOMAD 20W Power Adapter with the Satechi 10-Inch USB-C to Lightning Cable.
Port-side of the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter.
Port-side of the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter.
The NOMAD 20W Power Adapter with the Satechi 10-Inch USB-C to Lightning Cable.
The RAVPOWER 61W Power Adapter, side-by-side with the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter.
The RAVPOWER 61W Power Adapter, side-by-side with the NOMAD 20W Power Adapter.
Small tables are a common occurrence during travel.
NOMAD 65W Power Adapter in the wild. I go Starbucks a lot, but sometimes I go to local chain, Komeya.

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Tagged apple charger digital nomad nomad power adapter review tech