Mophie is well known for both the quality of its products and the hefty price tag attached to them, so we were interested when we heard that a handful of its employees had splintered off to start a new, eco-mindful power accessory company called Nimble. With consumer cost-cutting recyclable packaging and a focus on renewable materials, we were curious to see if Nimble could disrupt the battery and charger status quo — a highly competitive market. Unfortunately, Nimble's specs and prices just can't beat the competition.
We reviewed both Nimble's extensive collection of batteries and its wireless charging accessories — a much more interesting subject now that Google has bequeathed the Pixels with Qi. Unfortunately, for all of us, we found Nimble's batteries to carry a premium in price that wasn't supported by product performance. Although in most cases we were impressed with the style and general build quality, as well as the concept of reduced environmental impact, these batteries and wireless chargers are a tough sell on appearance alone.
Nimble offers batteries/portable chargers (a name I hate) in four sizes named by the number of extra days they provide the average phone. At $50-$100, they're also pretty steeply priced. With a mere 18W output over USB-C, Nimble's batteries don't compare too favorably to other major OEMs at the same price, or the multitudes of random Chinese brands on Amazon. While I dig the overall build quality and aesthetic, I don't think Nimble's batteries are worth it at the MSRP — though we do have an exclusive coupon ( DROID15 ) that gets you an extra 15% off at Nimble's site.
Design, hardware, what's in the box
All the Nimble batteries, from smallest to largest by capacity.
The product schtick for Nimble may be eco-mindful reuse of materials, but it doesn't seem to compromise the build quality of its products. The shell is made of aluminum and a metallic-flecked semi-transparent dark plastic with a soft-touch finish. Nimble is quick to point out the internal plastics are of plant-based origin, but no mention of recycled or natural materials is included when it comes to the TPE part of the body. That's too bad, as I'd have enjoyed seeing how a more eco-friendly shell might have looked, since all of the recycled plastic products I've used have a pleasing matte texture
Although fit between the parts wasn't exactly Apple-precise, it felt durable and high-quality, and I wouldn't be worried about it falling apart or getting too beaten up inside a bag — though you can pull the shell off if you try.
Maybe don't pull too hard (it snaps back on just fine though).
All of the batteries have their outputs and inputs aligned along a single edge — objectively the best battery design. I hate it when one is on a different side. Though port numbers and positions vary (see spec table), all have 2-3 USB Type-A ports paired with a single USB Type-C port for both charging and output, which maxes at 18W. A row of LEDs indicate remaining capacity, with the top one denoting output by type: green for standard, orange for USB-PD. A button at the top triggers the LEDs to show you the remaining capacity, with a slightly annoying slow-fill animation.
Nimble's other apparent trademark feature is a magnetic cable manager on the butt-end of each battery, but it isn't executed too well. The magnet included in it is pretty weak, and the strap to hold cables itself is far too large. The whole magnetic assembly fell off my batteries pretty much constantly. While it's a cool idea, the execution isn't quite there. Both a stronger magnet and a tighter strap would be needed for it to really work — as it stands, it's not worth keeping on your battery when you toss it in a bag: it'll just fall off.
Battery packaging is made of 100% "scrap paper," optimized for recycling. While I like the idea in the abstract and I enjoy that it ostensibly saves consumers money as well, the packaging isn't very durable. The batteries come in a molded cardboard clamshell, and they got a bit beaten up on their way to my door. On one of the larger batteries, stickers keeping the two halves closed had even ripped open. Nimble seems aware it's a bit of an issue, as the biggest battery comes in a more durable and stereotypical cardboard box. Regardless, none of the batteries were actually harmed in any way during transit.
All of the batteries, excluding the biggest, one came with the same stuff: a 1-inch USB-A to USB-C cable, a bag for recycling old electronics, and a small product manual.
The biggest battery (26,000mAh) comes with a dinky USB-C QC 3.0 18W charger and a longer (~3-inch) USB-A to USB-C cable. I find it a bit funny that the included charger is advertised as Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 when the repeated marketing focus on battery input/output is USB Power Delivery.
I also had some reliability issues with the USB Type-C port on the biggest battery. After a while, it stopped liking all of my USB Type-C cables, and I had to be careful not to jostle it while charging or it was prone to disconnect. The other batteries had no such issue, though.
Nimble's batteries include a 12-month warranty, which is the bare minimum for batteries, in my opinion. Many OEMs provide 12-18 month warranties with additional extensions after product registration, and for Nimble's premium pricing, I expected them to stand by their products for a longer period.
We tested all four batteries in our usual fashion, measuring watt-hours (over [email protected] 5V/2.4A), max input, and max output across port types:
There is one major inconsistency I'd like to note, and that is the USB-A ports that aren't labeled as "Fast Charge." Although every battery had a similar output on fast charging ports, the performance of the other USB-A port varied greatly, not just across batteries but between different ports on the unit itself. Some of the ports could spit up to 2.4 A, while others were unable to exceed 1A.
Not all of the non-fast charge USB-A ports perform the same.
The batteries charge at a pretty constant 9V off of USB-PD, if they can get it, dropping amperage with time. None of my phones ever seemed to be able to negotiate anything over 5V on USB-C, but my MacBook Pro was able to hit 12V.
The QC 3.0 charger included with the largest battery hit a maximum of 8.8V and 1.9A. It also didn't seem to negotiate using USB-PD according to my tester, though that could also be user error (I recently got a new device specifically for testing PD compatibility, and I'm still acclimating to it).
Should you buy one?
Probably not. Nimble charges way too much for these batteries considering their maximum output. 18W of power over USB-C is pretty basic — it isn't even enough to charge a laptop while it's actively being used — and almost every battery from the last ~5 years with 2.4A output comes close to that. For less money, you can get batteries from other OEMs with USB-PD that hit 30W. For just a bit more you can get something like RAVPower's 27,000mAh battery, which has a similar ~15W USB Type-C output and a 70W AC outlet (plus it was actually cheaper than Nimble's biggest battery when we had a coupon for it).
If these Nimble batteries could hit 30W or 45W over USB-C, I'd consider them to be more reasonably priced, but across all four battery sizes, there are cheaper options with the same or better specs. Our exclusive 15% discount via coupon DROID15 makes it a bit of a better deal, but unless the design really appeals to you, other choices consistently beat these batteries in a comparison of pure specifications — and all at lower prices.
With the savings ostensibly being presented from the use of recycled materials and environmentally friendly, minimalist packaging, Nimble's prices feel disingenuous. While I enjoyed the build quality, overall aesthetic, and use of premium materials like aluminum and non-gross TPE (too many companies use gross soft-touch black rubber), Nimble's pricing is nonetheless unrealistic. The additional features built-in also fall flat: the magnetic cable management is pointless considering how weak the magnet is and how loose the flap to secure cables is, and the super slow LED indicator animations were frustrating every time I had to check battery levels.
Nimble would need to bump its output levels or drop prices to get my unreserved recommendation.
Interested parties can purchase the batteries directly from Nimble, or via Amazon.
- "3-Day Charge"/10,000mAh - $49.95
- "5-Day Charge"/13,000mAh - $59.95
- "8-Day Charge" 20,000mAh - $69.95
- "10-Day Charge" 26,000mAh - $99.95
Nimble technically offers four wireless charging products: Wireless Pad, Wireless Dual Pad, Wireless Stand, and Wireless Travel Kit. However, there are really only three charging pads; the Travel Kit simply contains the Wireless Pad and a larger dual-port wall plug that, when put together with the pad, forms a sort of box that the charging cable can be nestled in. Of this quartet, there aren't any that I would particularly recommend unless you really dig the aesthetic.
Design, hardware, what's in the box
As we've seen from the batteries, Nimble places a strong emphasis on their product design. The same is true for its wireless chargers; everything is wrapped in fabric that the company says is "made from organic hemp and recycled plastic bottles, and constructed with plant-based bioplastics derived from corn, sugarcane, and other naturally occurring starchy fibers." The grip pads on the bottom are made of soft-touch TPE, and they, too, are pretty special. TPE supposedly requires little energy to produce, and Nimble infuses mica crystals in each pad to create a 1-of-1 speckle design for each unit. The brand, specs, and regulatory markings are engraved in the bottom.
The Wireless Pad.
The eco-friendliness continues with the packaging, which is the same 100% scrap paper cardboard that the batteries arrive in. I personally didn't have any issues with the boxes arriving damaged, though they're not the most premium-feeling. Truthfully, I felt like I was opening egg cartons, but hey, you can't complain about saving the world.
I'm a fan of what Nimble's done with the materials. The fabric offers a nice texture, and the TPE below keeps the pad from moving around. The rounded corners make for a nice, seamless appearance. Everything feels solid and well put-together, which is often not the case for charging products — most of the wireless charging pads I've used are made from glossy black plastic. That looks alright when new, but it scratches and scuffs rather easily. I don't see that happening with fabric. Unfortunately, the wall plug is glossy plastic, but you're not going to see much of that anyway. At least it has Nimble's elephant logo on it.
The Wireless Dual Pad.
The Wireless Pad, Wireless Dual Pad, and Wireless Stand each have one USB-C input, as well as a small indicator light that shows when something is charging. All three support 10W fast wireless charging for phones like Samsung's flagships from the Galaxy S6 onwards, as well as 7.5W charging for iPhones from the 8/X onwards. Other phones will default to 5W. The Wireless Pad and Wireless Stand also each have one 5V/1A USB-A output, but that's something that I don't imagine many people using given how underpowered it is. Perhaps it could be good for charging your smartwatch or Bluetooth earbuds, but not much else. It should also be noted that the Wireless Dual Pad can have a maximum of 10W across both pads. So if you've got two phones that support fast wireless charging on there, they're both going to be stuck at 5W.
The Wireless Travel Kit.
The two charging pads are pretty self-explanatory, but the Wireless Travel Kit and Wireless Stand probably require some description. The Travel Kit is composed of the Wireless Pad and a large, ~1-inch tall wall brick. Inside the brick — which holds onto the pad magnetically — there is a retractable plug, two USB-A ports with a combined output of up to 5V/3A (one of which is QC3.0), and a cubby to fit a charging cable in. The idea is that you can bring your wireless charger with you when you're on the go. I suppose it's an alright idea if you feel the need to use a wireless charger even when you're on vacation or a business trip, but I doubt many people do.
Not the most secure.
At this point, I should probably mention that the wall charger portion of the Wireless Travel Kit arrived defective. It wasn't able to to draw power from any of the outlets I tried for longer than a second, so I substituted one of the very similar QC3.0 bricks included with the other Nimble wireless chargers for testing. Nimble has informed us that an updated version of the Travel Kit will be introduced in the next few weeks, which is why it's currently sold out.
The Wireless Stand.
The Wireless Stand is something I flat out cannot recommend. It's nothing to do with the charging functionality, as that's identical to the Wireless Pad's, it's just poorly thought out. Nimble decided to make the stand portions (the base and the kickstand) retractable in order for it to function as both a base and a stand. It's a good idea in theory, and one that Samsung has already done, but it's just not executed well here. The base, or whatever you call the part that the bottom of the phone sits on, is comically small. The kickstand also seems quite weak. My test device was a Galaxy S7, a small phone by today's standards, and it was about to teeter right off. I can't imagine how a Pixel 3 XL or an iPhone XS Max would stay on there with any stability.
Like the batteries, each wireless charging device, save for the Wireless Travel Kit, came with a Quick Charge 3.0 USB-A wall brick (5V/2.5A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A), a high-quality 1-meter USB-A to USB-C charging cable in grey, a little plastic pouch for recycling old tech, and a small instruction booklet. The Travel Kit didn't come with the QC3.0 brick, as the kit already includes a dual-port QC3.0 wall charger designed to fit with the wireless charging pad. All four offerings are backed by 12-month warranties.
Since we're dealing with wireless chargers here, this is going to be less technical than for the batteries. Our test device was a Galaxy S7, which is equipped with Samsung's 10W fast wireless charging tech. For reference, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL also support a maximum of 10W via wireless.
Using a power meter, we clocked the maximum inputs at around 8.9V/1.1A, or ~10W, for all three Nimble wireless charger models. That means the ratings are right on the money. It's worth noting that the Wireless Dual Pad can only handle a maximum of 10W on both coils, meaning that the maximum speed with two phones on it is 5W each.
We also used Ampere to verify how the Nimble chargers compared with a Samsung wireless fast charging stand. The maximum input that the app showed was 840mA for the Nimble models, which was about on par with what the Samsung charger showed.
Should you buy one?
Probably not. Just as we saw with the batteries, Nimble is charging higher-than-average prices given the specs its products are offering. I'm a big fan of the fabric exterior and TPE bases, as well as the environmentally-conscious angle of most of the products. However, few will find these design aspects unique enough to warrant the higher pricing.
The Wireless Pad, at $39.99, is nearly twice as expensive as competitors on Amazon. The $49.99 Wireless Dual Pad isn't as bad, but this $38 dual wireless charging pad not only supports an 18W input (9W on both coils with two phones charging), but also has an additional USB-A output on the charger. The $49.99 Wireless Stand can't be recommended for the same monetary reasons, and that's not to mention how easily it can be knocked over with a phone on it. Lastly, the Wireless Travel Kit doesn't make much sense to me as a product, and at $59.99, it's not well priced either.
As mentioned previously, Nimble is offering AP readers an exclusive 15% discount with code DROID15. That makes the prices slightly more palatable. If the fabric/TPE construction really speaks to you — and I can't blame you if it does — feel free to go for either the Wireless Pad or Wireless Dual Pad. Even with the coupon, I don't think the Wireless Stand is worth it. The same goes for the Wireless Travel Kit, but that's kind of a moot point given that it's not currently for sale.
If you're interested in purchasing any of these chargers, links to Nimble's site and Amazon are below.