In the test: Nomad Base Station Pro - the Qi charging mat for three devices

Test: Nomad Base Station Pro

With the AirPower mat, Apple actually wanted to bring out the device, which Nomad ultimately developed: a Qi-Charging-compatible “charging mat” that can charge up to three devices at the same time - wirelessly, of course, and without having to pay special attention to the positioning of the devices.

At Apple, the project (according to rumors) had to be postponed for the time being because they couldn't control the heat development during charging.

After this news, there were some companies that jumped on the AirPower bandwagon, but from my point of view, Nomad - a good three years after Apple's exit - has produced the only serious alternative. The Nomad Base Station Pro claims that the three devices can actually be placed almost completely freely on the mat. But let's take a look at the whole thing later in the test.

The Nomad Base Station Pro is a charging mat that can be used to wirelessly charge up to three Qi-Charging-enabled devices (such as iPhones or AirPods).

The Nomad Base Station Pro is a charging mat that can be used to wirelessly charge up to three Qi-Charging-enabled devices (such as iPhones or AirPods).

 

The Base Station Pro easily charges up to three devices via Qi charging.

The Base Station Pro easily charges up to three devices via Qi charging. Simply put all iPhones, AirPods or anything else that can handle Qi charging on top and walk away. When you come back and have been away long enough, all the devices will be liked.

Transparency notice

As always with the product tests: I got the device from Nomad or their PR agency free of charge. However, this does not mean that you have any say in this article. So everything you read here is my honest opinion.

Nomad Base Station Pro specifications

The Nomad charging solution comes with a 30 watt USB-C power supply, but you can also use any other power supply that can deliver at least 30 watts and has a USB-C power delivery output that has an output voltage of up to 20 volts.

Before we really go into detail, I would like to briefly introduce the "specs" of the charger:

  • Product: Base Station Pro
  • Manufacturer: Nomad
  • Dimensions: 22 14 x x 1,2 cm
  • Weight: approx 650 grams
  • Charging technology: FreePower from aira
  • Charging standard: Qi charging
  • Number of coils: 18
  • Charging power per device: up to 7,5 watts
  • Standby consumption: approx. 1,1 watts (measured by yourself)
  • Power connection: USB-C
  • Scope of delivery: USB C power supply, 2 m USB-C cable, 3 different power plugs for the power supply, Base Station Pro
  • Price: about 215 Euro
  • Reference: e.g. Amazon, Grave accent or Cyberport
I measured the standby power consumption with a Voltcraft energy meter, but this has a threshold of 1,5 watts, above which it only works reliably. The consumption also fluctuated continuously between 0,9 and 1,3 watts, so I would take 1,1 watts as an average.

I measured the standby power consumption with a Voltcraft energy meter, but this has a threshold of 1,5 watts, above which it only works reliably. The consumption also fluctuated continuously between 0,9 and 1,3 watts, so I would take 1,1 watts as an average.

What actually is FreePower?

A short excursion into the predator's house: The “FreePower” charging technology that is in the Nomad Base Station Pro was not developed by Nomad itself, but by an inventor duo made up of J. Slatnick and E. Goodchild. You presented your idea on the TV show "Den of the Lions" and teamed up with Nomad.

The two inventors founded the company "Aira"And offer their wireless charging technology" FreePower "for companies that want to use it to create products.

The firmware update can be done in seconds using the right app.

The firmware update can be done in seconds using the right app.

Firmware update for the Nomad Base Station Pro

Before I actually used the Nomad charging mat, I had to update the firmware. To do this, download the appropriate software (available for PC and Mac) from the Nomad website. After starting the software, connect the Nomad Base Station Pro to the computer using a USB-C cable. The FreePower Updater recognizes the device and loads the current firmware in a few seconds.

Leather, aluminum and sophisticated technology - that's what you get for just under 200 euros - and what you can expect (photos: Sir Apfelot).

Leather, aluminum and sophisticated technology - that's what you get for just under 200 euros - and what you can expect (photos: Sir Apfelot).

Processing of the Nomad Base Station Pro

If you hold the Base Station Pro in your hand for the first time, you will be surprised by its considerable weight. The 650 grams are comfortable to hold and the metal cover is reminiscent of the robustness of Apple's MacBook Pro cases, which are milled from an aluminum block.

The top or the surface on which the iPhones and AirPods are to be placed for charging is covered with leather (as a vegetarian, of course, I would have wished for something different here). This prevents the devices from being scratched when they are put on. The leather also appears extremely robust. I don't think that you can somehow damage the Base Station Pro through "normal" use.

The only critical point I was able to find is the USB-C cable that protrudes a little far and protrudes towards the back. But this can be quickly mitigated by using an angled cable, like this one from Ugreen used. This means that the charging mat can also be placed closer to a wall.

Overall, the Nomad Base Station Pro is both very robust and visually appealing. The aluminum housing and the leather surface are in - let's say - dark space gray. As a result, the Nomad charging solution should fit into a large number of hallways or living rooms without attracting negative attention.

On the underside there are two rubber strips that prevent the Base Station Pro from slipping - very helpful when you place iPhones on it for over 1000 euros.

On the underside there are two rubber strips that prevent the Base Station Pro from slipping - very helpful when you place iPhones on it for over 1000 euros.

How does charging work with the Base Station Pro?

When I receive devices for a test, then of course I try to use "borderline cases" to find out when they stop working. With the Nomad Base Station Pro, for example, I wanted to see when it no longer recognizes an iPhone if it protrudes over the edge.

Amazingly, this even worked in cases where the iPhone protruded significantly from the mat. So if you put it on the mat with reasonably common sense, it will be reliably recognized and charged.

It is important that the middle of the iPhone, in which the charging coil is located, is within the leather-covered area.

Exemplary detection of foreign bodies

Incidentally, the Nomad charging solution was pretty unimpressed by change, cutters, spray cans and other metal objects. She just ignored them and never reported a bug.

Even if I had change in the middle of the charging mat, I could still charge the AirPods and my iPhone to the right and left of it. It is likely that the coils that have detected impermissible metal parts are simply deactivated. Really well resolved.

The small LEDs on the charging mat are quite inconspicuous - not least probably to keep the device "bedroom suitable", because nobody wants to have bright LED displays there.

The small LEDs on the charging mat are quite inconspicuous - not least probably to keep the device "bedroom suitable", because nobody wants to have bright LED displays there.

Charge status display with three LEDs

You have to look very carefully to see the three tiny LEDs that inform you about the charging process. They glow white when a device has been recognized and is being charged and flash white when a device has been recognized but cannot be charged. This happened to me once with a Soundcore in-ear headphone or its charging box. All Apple devices were accepted without exception.

The three LEDs indicate the area in which a device is currently located and divides the charging pad into “left”, “middle” and “right”. If you place a device somewhere between two zones, either one or the other LED will light up, but the device will still be charged at normal speed because the corresponding coils under the device are simply activated.

The iPhone can easily protrude over the edges. As long as the center with the charging technology is still on the Nomad charging mat, the iPhone will be charged (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

The iPhone can easily protrude over the edges. As long as the center with the charging technology is still on the Nomad charging mat, the iPhone will be charged (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

Charge three devices at the same time? Works wonderfully!

The advertising claim that you can charge three devices at the same time with the Nomad Base Station Pro without having to position them exactly is one thing that I have checked carefully.

I have an iPhone 12 Pro Max, an iPhone XS, and two AirPods (normal and Pro) that I used for the test. In my attempts, all devices were recognized and charged after about one to two seconds.

With iPhones, you only have to put the smartphone so that no part protrudes far beyond the edge of the Nomad Base Station Pro, so that you can be sure that they are being charged. Even if you lay the iPhone sideways, charging works without any problems.

With the AirPods - and probably also with other headphones with Qi charging - you have to choose the placement so that at least one centimeter of leather can be seen around the charging box. Otherwise you can distribute the AirPods case freely on the charging mat and it will be accepted.

Here I put the AirPods Pro as far as possible to the edge and looked at the position in which they are still being charged. In the photo you can see the result.

Here I put the AirPods Pro as far as possible to the edge and looked at the position in which they are still being charged. In the photo you can see the result.

Charging three devices at the same time (two iPhones and the AirPods Pro) did not reduce the charging speed either. With three times 7,5 watts, there is also enough reserve. My measurements with Coconut Battery show that my iPhones mostly only use 3 to 4 watts for charging - regardless of which Qi-Charing Pad they are on.

Comparison of loading times

Basically, it is a bit difficult to use the charging times as a guide when charging wirelessly. The reasons for this:

  1. Wireless charging is always slower than cable charging - and Apple's MagSafe is no exception. So if you want it fast, you should grab the cable.
  2. The charging process between 0 and 100% is sometimes faster and sometimes slower due to the battery-saving charging strategy. A warming of the iPhone also slows down the charging speed, like me shown here in my MagSafe test.

So: Qi-Charging is not for speed fanatics. These should be more like a USB PD power supply this one from anchor or this one from Aukey and a corresponding charging cable (USB-C to Lightning) to grab.

 

But to give you some practical values ​​anyway, I have my iPhone 12 Pro Max and my iPhone XS one with the Nomad Base Station Pro and one with one affordable Anker Qi charging stand loaded. You can see the results here:

Charge for 20 minutes with the Nomad Base Station Pro

  • iPhone XS from 5% to 16% → an increase of 11%
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max from 55% to 61% → an increase of 5%

I suppose the iPhone XS charged so fast because it was almost empty. In my comparison measurement with the above-mentioned Anker charging stand, I finally got the expected 5 percent increase in the battery level.

Charge for 20 minutes with the Anker Qi-Charging charging stand

  • iPhone XS from 16% to 21% → an increase of 5%
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max from 68% to 74% → an increase of 6%

You can see that the Nomad Power Station Pro has no speed advantage or disadvantage compared to other Qi-Charing solutions - leaving out the Apple MagSafe adapter.

If you only look at the charging time, the Nomad Base Station Pro is no better than an inexpensive Qi charging stand. In terms of comfort, appearance and workmanship, however, it is far better.

If you only look at the charging time, the Nomad Base Station Pro is no better than an inexpensive Qi charging stand. In terms of comfort, appearance and workmanship, however, it is far better.

Charging the Apple Watch - unfortunately not possible

The Nomad Base Station Pro works with the Qi charging standard. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, charges with Apple's own charging protocol, so that the Base Station Pro unfortunately cannot charge an Apple Watch with the built-in coil array. I hope that Apple may move away from their proprietary charging connection for future watch models and also use Qi charging for their smartwatch.

Until then, however, you will have to use special charging cables to charge the Apple Watch. There is for the Base Station Pro though a holder for the Apple Watchthat you can get for free, but this is just a holder for a charging puck, which you then attach to the holder. For this you need another power supply and the whole thing becomes ugly again.

The great thing about the Nomad Base Station Pro is that you have done without tangled cables and ugly holders. If you put such an Apple Watch Mount on it, it contradicts - from my point of view - the concept of the Nomad charging station.

Preliminary result: You cannot charge the Apple Watch with the Base Station Pro.

I am glad that more and more manufacturers are equipping their devices with USB-C sockets. In this case it is partly because of the higher voltage that can be made available for the Nomad charger via USB Power Delivery (photos: Sir Apfelot).

I am glad that more and more manufacturers are equipping their devices with USB-C sockets. In this case it is partly because of the higher voltage that can be made available for the Nomad charger via USB Power Delivery (photos: Sir Apfelot).

My conclusion on the Nomad Base Station Pro

The Nomad charging station is clearly aimed at the convenience of users. As expected, it is not faster or slower than other Qi chargers, but it has the clear advantage that you don't have to have three charging stands or charging pucks on the table to charge three devices at the same time.

The goal of being able to place the devices relatively freely on the charging mat was implemented successfully and in practice also worked without dropouts.

If you consider the price of around 215 euros, you have to consider whether the comfort and the elegant look are worth it. I would have liked a complete solution with Apple Watch charging options, but here Apple would have to take the first step and change its charging path.

The Nomad charging mat looks so good that I no longer need AirPower. : D

The Nomad charging mat looks so good that I no longer need AirPower. : D

Otherwise, the Nomad Base Station Pro is the prettiest and most practical Qi charging device I've seen so far. If you like to charge wirelessly and can afford it, you should grab it.

You can find the Nomad Bade Pro - among others - at these retailers: Amazon, Grave accent or Cyberport.

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