Nomad PowerPack Review: A High-Quality Battery Pack With Tile Location Tracking

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Nomad has been a well-known third-party Apple accessory manufacturer for a few years, creating leather cases for iPhones and iPads, Apple Watch bands, and battery packs that integrate directly into charging cables. The company's newest product is the $99.95 Nomad Advanced Trackable PowerPack, a 9,000 mAh mobile battery that is built with Nomad's usual "ultra-rugged construction," with an added bonus of Tile integration so users don't have to worry about misplacing the PowerPack.

Design

The PowerPack is created out of a durable, polycarbonate frame that Nomad says is inspired by the manufacturing processes found in industry-leading, drop-resistant iPhone cases. Living up to the company's adventure-focused mission statement, the PowerPack has an added layer of thermoplastic polyurethane, which gives the PowerPack its ultra-rugged, grippy feel.

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The quality of Nomad's PowerPack is the accessory's first noticeable advantage: the raised texture that houses most of the pack is satisfying to grip, and the smooth section in the center -- with the Nomad logo -- provides a natural groove to place a thumb when handling the PowerPack. The downside of the texture is that it is definitely a dust and debris magnet, as can be seen in the pictures I took for the review, which represent the cleanest state I could get it in.

For ports, the device comes with two fast-charging 3.0A USB-C ports (one to charge the PowerPack, one to charge a separate device), and one 2.4A USB-A port that supports all of the standard-issue USB charge cables that come with most smartphones and tablets. In the box, customers will get a USB-C to USB-A cable to recharge the PowerPack, but they will have to provide their own smartphone charging cables.

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In between the three ports is an LED indicator that uses three dots to display battery levels of the PowerPack's 9,000 mAh battery, with a button underneath to bring the LEDs to life, and on the very right of the pack's front is a button to sync with the Tile app. The opposite side of the PowerPack is coated with a glossy black surface, and its underside has the usual model number readouts and device information.

Performance

The battery performance of Nomad's PowerPack proved to be reliable over the weekend as I tested it out. Starting at around an average of 21 percent battery life on my iPhone 6s Plus, the PowerPack topped off the iPhone to the mid-90 percent range three full times. The PowerPack finally died mid-way through the fourth charge (my iPhone climbing from 20 percent to 45 percent), meaning that Nomad's promise of 3.5 charges is pretty much exact.

The 2.4 amps of the USB-A port means that the iPhone also charges a bit faster than Apple's current 1A iPhone charger. It's more along the lines of charging an iPhone with an iPad's wall charger, which are up to 2.4A with the newest generation of Apple's tablets.

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Nomad's advertising is for the iPhone 7, but the slight difference in battery capacities should mean that the PowerPack performs comparatively for iPhone 7 owners as it did for me. For comparison's sake, the iPhone 6s Plus has a 2,750 mAh battery, while the iPhone 7 Plus has a 2,900 mAh battery. For the 4.7-inch models, the iPhone 6s has a 1,715 mAh battery and the iPhone 7 has a 1,960 mAh battery. Suffice it to say that any owners of the smaller-screen iPhones will have plenty of opportunities for recharging their devices to capacity, while iPhone 7 Plus users should eke out exactly 3 full charges from Nomad's PowerPack.

My only real complaint with the PowerPack's design is that it's sometimes cumbersome to judge the battery level when multiple cables are sticking out of the pack. At one point I had both a USB and USB-C cable plugged into the PowerPack, and having to angle everything to tap the battery level button became quite finicky. Although the innards of the PowerPack's design most likely excuse every port and button being located on one panel, having at least the LED on the opposite side of the case would have made the PowerPack more user-friendly.

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In regards to USB-C charging, the only relevant device I own is an early-2015 MacBook, which isn't exactly in the target group of products compatible with the PowerPack's 9,000 mAh battery capacity. Nomad says that with the growing adoption of USB-C, the PowerPack will work "well into the future," but many Android smartphones out now could use the port, including Google's Pixel Phone. There's also the option of purchasing a USB-C to Lightning cable, which Apple sells, to turn the PowerPack into a dual-charging iPhone system.

A smaller, but admittedly useful feature is called AmbientIQ and it reads the light levels of wherever the user is currently located, and adjusts the battery LEDs appropriately. This way battery life can be confirmed in bright sunlight or, to Nomad's point, remain at low levels in a dimly lit room while the PowerPack is charging at night (the LEDs remain on constantly while the pack charges, but otherwise turn on at user discretion while out and about). As someone who has come to figure out crafty ways to block out the electronic lights of everything from my router to my television's HDMI splitter, the PowerPack's included AmbientIQ solution was useful and welcome.

Tile

For those who haven't heard of Tile, the company's line of small, Bluetooth-enabled tracking devices lets users easily find misplaced keys, backpacks, laptops, tablets, and more. Tile sells the Tile Mate as the main keychain accessory and Tile Slim for wallets and laptop cases, and now the Nomad PowerPack comes with Tile's integrated iPhone-connected tracking technology. Because of its integration into Nomad's rechargeable pack, users also won't have to worry about Tile's "reTile" program, which offers discounts on the trackers when they lose battery after about a year.

I had never used Tile before testing the PowerPack, and I've come to enjoy the Bluetooth-tracking system, although there are some hurdles to its setup. Out of the box, the PowerPack refused to sync with the iOS Tile app, which I eventually remedied by juicing up the PowerPack from its low battery shipping state. Even with a full charge, it still took a few tries, but my iPhone eventually recognized the PowerPack and began tracking it.

nomad-powerpack-9
The Tile app works by presenting each Tile in a list, which can be expanded with a map view showing all of the last known locations of the trackers. Users can "ring" each Tile when they get near it -- sort of like how Apple Watch can blast a connected iPhone when it's lost -- and also use a circular grid that fills up when they're hot on the Tile's trail, and loses segments as they get colder.

I'm not one to continually misplace my electronics, but in the week I've been using the PowerPack and Tile I've come to enjoy the backup safety net that the latter company offers with its partnership with Nomad. The circular tracking feature is neat and largely accurate, and the loud ringtones (five are available to choose from) are clear and distinct. If I were to ever misplace the PowerPack, I'm confident Tile would help greatly in recovering it, battery levels of the PowerPack permitting.

Bottom Line

The biggest drawback of the PowerPack is its $99.95 price tag, which is likely raised due to the integration with Tile. Around that battery capacity range, there are a few low-cost alternatives by companies like Anker, which sells a 10,000 mAh battery pack for $49.99 (although it's discounted to as low as around $20 now). Users willing to spend $100 can also get much more capacity from Mophie, a popular battery pack and smartphone case manufacturer, which sells the Powerstation XXL at the same price as the PowerPack for double the capacity at 20,000 mAh.

If you're not someone who consistently finds themselves losing electronics, then Tile's services, while noble and mostly functional, can feel superfluous. Those users should probably look elsewhere for a more bang-for-your-buck battery pack option. However, if Bluetooth tracking is a legitimately enticing addition to a mobile battery in your eyes, the Nomad PowerPack is a dependable solution, and could end up being a lifesaver for some.

Pros
- Charges 5.5-inch iPhone ~3X, 4.7-inch iPhone ~5X
- Durable, grippy construction
- AmbientIQ
- Tile will be useful for some

Cons
- On the other hand, Tile will be pointless for others
- High price for middle-tier capacity
- Slightly cluttered port side

Where to Buy

The Nomad PowerPack can be purchased from hellonomad.com for $99.95, with current orders estimated to begin shipping after Christmas on December 30.

Tags: review, Nomad

Top Rated Comments

now i see it Avatar
54 months ago
9000 mAh for $100. That's all I needed to know.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BorgCube Avatar
54 months ago

Huge Anker fanboy post incoming…lol…

HAH ! This post made my day! I too am a HUGE Anker fan. Yes, I have the 21 watt solar panels (had the 15 watt ones for over a year) - Takes 2 days to charge my 26,800 mAh and less than a day for the rest (using a 6ft anker cable to keep the battery in the shade). Yes, I won an Anker Ingress 16,000 mAh brick, a lipstick charger, and various other items from them. :) I have a free 5000 mAh lipstick charger coming in the mail too for the https://rewards2016.anker.com/

We LOVE the PowerLine+ cables - use them every day. Both my wife and I have the LC90 flashlight and the Anker Lumos LED desk lamp next to our sides of the bed. We had to have an Anker 3.8a car charger too :). Wife loves her Bluetooth speakers from them too.

I've got the 60 watt 6 port charger next to my desk to charge my bricks when I'm too lazy to use the solar panels. We have several other Anker chargers throughout the house.

We are bonkers for Anker for sure. Love their customer service. Really happy to see we're not the only Anker fans out there. :)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
earthTOmitchel Avatar
54 months ago

Huge Anker fanboy post incoming…lol…

I just bought their high-end 21W solar panel a couple weeks ago! It is very nice, but I haven't gotten to test it much. I only have the one battery (10,400 mAh when I bought it—at some point they upped the capacity but kept it as the same model and/or product page on Amazon). But I'll get my second as they're shipping me a free small cylinder purse-sized one that will be here any day and my wife can use it. Should be good to charge her iPhone SE twice. I love signing up for the giveaways on their site because you actually have a decent shot of winning since they usually give away like 100 things at once.

Speaking of free, I also got a really nice 900 lumens metal, water resistant, adjustable beam flashlight from them for free recently due to some trouble I had with another order. The only thing I've had trouble with is some of their car mounts. The CD one doesn't fit very well and falls out. They sent me a free vent clip one but that lightly scratched my car because it had a small defect in the rubber grip part that covers the metal clamp. Ended up settling with the suction cup mount which is pretty good but just a little shakier than I'd like. But they've more than made up for that debacle. They have me hooked.

Another product I love is their high-end braided nylon PowerLine+ Lightning and micro USB cables. The space gray ones match the interior of my new car really well and so I just leave them plugged into their dual-port USB car adapter that charges at full speed. They feel so premium and tough and come with a nice little carrying case and still cost $5 less than Apple's lightning cable, and sometimes $8-10 less when they're on sale. Several years ago their USB 3.0 hub was the first hub I ever used that didn't give me trouble. I went through several brands before finding this one and it's what got me using Anker in the first place.

Lastly, I also really like their multi-port USB chargers. I had a five port white one that I used heavily for two years in the center console of our couch to charge our devices. I'm talking everything from fitbits to Apple Watch to iPads and iPhones and cameras. Would take it on trips and not have to bring a bunch of chargers. Well not long after we moved into our new house this summer the thing dies. I think I updated my review on Amazon or something because even though I used it a lot, I expected it to last longer than two years, so I knocked off a star. Well their customer service contacted me and sent me a new one even though it had been two years! I had already bought a black six port so now I have a spare that I keep in our suitcase so I don't have to unplug it from behind the couch and remember it when traveling. Nice.

Have you seen their new ROAV "dashtop computer" device? Looks like they're moving into a more advanced space. It's pretty expensive though, so I haven't preordered, and it looks like the price is a special preorder price that will go way up later down the road. I just don't know if I really have a need for it. I'd also like to try out their bluetooth headphones someday, but I'm hesitant because they're such a good price that I can't imagine they sound great. But considering how their other products have surprised me, who knows?

Wow that solar panel charger looks really neat.. seems like reviews on Amazon are in favor of it. I mentioned Anker in the review precisely because of their quality to cost ratio, which is pretty much off the charts. I'm apprehensive to buy cheap-o stuff on Amazon, but Anker has risen into an actually dependable name IMO.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
54 months ago

Wow that solar panel charger looks really neat.. seems like reviews on Amazon are in favor of it. I mentioned Anker in the review precisely because of their quality to cost ratio, which is pretty much off the charts. I'm apprehensive to buy cheap-o stuff on Amazon, but Anker has risen into an actually dependable name IMO.

Yeah they really have risen to the top and I don't really consider them an off brand anymore. They're a name brand for sure and if they keep this up I only see them having more success in the coming years. I was actually looking up the company history recently and it seems like they were started by some people working at Google who left to found a company. The main guy is Steven Yang, a guy in his 30s who was a senior engineer at Google. He went back to his homeland in China and started Anker. Pretty neat little story. It's too bad they're not headquartered over here as I'd love to work on a team like that brainstorming ideas for new products and overseeing design for things like packaging and the website.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Drumjim85 Avatar
54 months ago
And for reference, a 10,000 mAh battery should cost between $10-$20. Like this one ('http://a.co/31KDThs') from Amazon.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
54 months ago

My wife has this very same battery (the 13000 mAh one). We got it for $12 on Amazon awhile ago. She uses it all the time. I am a bit of a battery OCD guy myself and I have a 26,800 ($49), 20000 ($39), 16000 (Free), 5000 ($19), 3200 ($9) mAh batteries - all Anker batteries. I love this company and use their batteries all the time (and their solar panels to charge the batteries when I'm not lazy).

$100 for 9000 mAh ?! LOL?

Huge Anker fanboy post incoming…lol…

I just bought their high-end 21W solar panel a couple weeks ago! It is very nice, but I haven't gotten to test it much. I only have the one battery (10,400 mAh when I bought it—at some point they upped the capacity but kept it as the same model and/or product page on Amazon). But I'll get my second as they're shipping me a free small cylinder purse-sized one that will be here any day and my wife can use it. Should be good to charge her iPhone SE twice. I love signing up for the giveaways on their site because you actually have a decent shot of winning since they usually give away like 100 things at once.

Speaking of free, I also got a really nice 900 lumens metal, water resistant, adjustable beam flashlight from them for free recently due to some trouble I had with another order. The only thing I've had trouble with is some of their car mounts. The CD one doesn't fit very well and falls out. They sent me a free vent clip one but that lightly scratched my car because it had a small defect in the rubber grip part that covers the metal clamp. Ended up settling with the suction cup mount which is pretty good but just a little shakier than I'd like. But they've more than made up for that debacle. They have me hooked.

Another product I love is their high-end braided nylon PowerLine+ Lightning and micro USB cables. The space gray ones match the interior of my new car really well and so I just leave them plugged into their dual-port USB car adapter that charges at full speed. They feel so premium and tough and come with a nice little carrying case and still cost $5 less than Apple's lightning cable, and sometimes $8-10 less when they're on sale. Several years ago their USB 3.0 hub was the first hub I ever used that didn't give me trouble. I went through several brands before finding this one and it's what got me using Anker in the first place.

Lastly, I also really like their multi-port USB chargers. I had a five port white one that I used heavily for two years in the center console of our couch to charge our devices. I'm talking everything from fitbits to Apple Watch to iPads and iPhones and cameras. Would take it on trips and not have to bring a bunch of chargers. Well not long after we moved into our new house this summer the thing dies. I think I updated my review on Amazon or something because even though I used it a lot, I expected it to last longer than two years, so I knocked off a star. Well their customer service contacted me and sent me a new one even though it had been two years! I had already bought a black six port so now I have a spare that I keep in our suitcase so I don't have to unplug it from behind the couch and remember it when traveling. Nice.

Have you seen their new ROAV "dashtop computer" device? Looks like they're moving into a more advanced space. It's pretty expensive though, so I haven't preordered, and it looks like the price is a special preorder price that will go way up later down the road. I just don't know if I really have a need for it. I'd also like to try out their bluetooth headphones someday, but I'm hesitant because they're such a good price that I can't imagine they sound great. But considering how their other products have surprised me, who knows?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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