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Apple iPhone Lightning Dock Review: Simple Design With Broad Compatibility, but Some Stability Concerns

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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple's history of iPhone docks is rather hit-or-miss, with the company's recent designs generally tailored tightly to the profiles of the iPhones they were designed for, preventing the use of cases on the iPhones and making the docks incompatible with later iPhone designs.

That changes with the new iPhone Lightning Dock, introduced yesterday a full eight months after the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The new dock forgoes a form-fitting iPhone-shaped depression in favor of a simple Lightning connector embedded in a small, slightly pliable nub to cushion the device as it rests on the connector.

iPhone 6 Plus with Apple Leather Case on iPhone Lightning Dock

The design has some advantages: it offers a clean and simple look and it'll fit any iOS device with a Lightning port, including many of those with cases. The lack of a recessed docking area also keeps the iPhone's Touch ID home button easily accessible while the device is docked.

There are definitely some downsides, however, with the most obvious being stability. With the Lightning connector being the sole means of support for the iPhone, the device does tend to rock side to side if bumped. And while the Lightning connector is very firmly embedded in the base of the dock and does not feel in danger of being damaged, users may have concerns over potential damage to their iPhone's Lightning port if the device should happen to be bumped strongly while mounted on the dock.


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Article Link: Apple iPhone Lightning Dock Review: Simple Design With Broad Compatibility, but Some Stability Concerns
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
I wouldn't touch this with a 10-foot pole if I was someone who EVER touches the iPhone while charging. Which I am. (And I know there are others who can still use this: for charging while asleep, say. But why not just charge flat, then?)

If someone nudges you or your foot slips while tapping an icon (or swiping Notification Center) near the top--or you just misjudge the feather-light tap you intend--you could apply MASSIVE force to your iPhone's Lightning port. And how about your half-asleep flailing arm in the morning when the alarm goes off? (Worse: imagine using it with an iPad/Mini, which some are bound to do: it's a an available charger, after all.) Plus, the audio-out encourages use of the device while docked.

Normally I'd say Apple's engineers aren't going to miss something obvious and fail to plan/test for it--so I half expected the connector on this to be very loosely flexible, for instance. But if it's too stiff--and it seems to be--I have to side with physics on this one. (And if it IS very bendy, that would make it harder to use the phone.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lever

Luckily third-party docks (some with adjustable back support) are still to be had.
 
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Mike Oxard

macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2009
804
456
Does anyone else have problems with lightning cables? My family seem to get through one a month!
 
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uwbadger

macrumors member
May 20, 2009
69
21
The audio line-out port is an improvement. What I want is a simple lightning cable with line-out and charging; in order to use an external amplifier, I have to run lightning -> 30-pin -> Fiio line-out cable -> amplifier, and I can't charge the phone at the same time.

ETA: looks like the previous lightning dock had a line-out port too. Why not in a single cable?
 
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nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
Does anyone else have problems with lightning cables? My family seem to get through one a month!

Many (not all) of my old 30-pin cables would die on me after about 2 years, and show fraying long before that. So far (a bit over 2 years) I've never had a Lightning cable fail, nor seen any sign of wear. (I do have a Griffin one that's finnicky, but not getting worse.) My family members seem to have had the same experience: 30-pin bad, Lightning good!

Depends on handling, of course. Anything cord can be damaged depending how you treat it.
 
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OC40

macrumors 6502
Sep 20, 2013
349
197
Chicago, IL
Does anyone else have problems with lightning cables? My family seem to get through one a month!

We have eight cables (two offices, two cars, two sides of the bed and two in the kitchen/living room). Zero issues. All are the apple cables except the one in my car (apple certified though).

Edit: Have owned most of them for two years and they look brand new.
 
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iConnected

macrumors 6502a
Feb 17, 2011
663
411
The full article states: "General stability against tipping is solid, as the weighted dock base means it doesn't feel top-heavy with an iPhone mounted on it".

If true, I may buy this. But I'll let someone else check that first, please.
 
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thebeans

macrumors 6502
Feb 9, 2009
384
475
Does anyone else have problems with lightning cables? My family seem to get through one a month!

We have a 1 1/2 year old iPad mini, an iPhone 6 since it came out and and another iPhone 6 which is using the original cable from my iPhone 5. We have never had to replace a cable and the new ones that came with my 5s and 6 are just spares now.
 
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mdelvecchio

macrumors 68040
Sep 3, 2010
3,117
1,056
two great things about this dock:

1) DAC and audio out jack

2) a plug-in lightning port. there are times on my other docks where ive wanted to charge something outside of the dock but could not. this fixes that.

for $39 it's much cheaper than my $89 ElevationLab dock (the famous kickstarter one), which pretty much sucks for an iphone 6 due to the dock's absurd size, and doesnt allow me to use headphones or unplug its cable.

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This doesn't look like it was Designed by Apple.

nonsense. it looks almost the same as their other lightning dock for the iphone 5:

http://9to5mac.com/2013/09/10/apple-gets-back-in-the-iphone-dock-game-with-5c-and-5s-docks/

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(Worse: imagine using it with an iPad/Mini, which some are bound to do: it's a an available charger, after all.)

we dont have to imagine -- there are photos of that in the review.

also, you can unplug the lightning from the rear of the dock and plug it into your ipad if you wish.

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The full article states: "General stability against tipping is solid, as the weighted dock base means it doesn't feel top-heavy with an iPhone mounted on it".

If true, I may buy this. But I'll let someone else check that first, please.

thats what the review is for.
 
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WildCowboy

Administrator/Editor
Staff member
Jan 20, 2005
17,509
1,495
The full article states: "General stability against tipping is solid, as the weighted dock base means it doesn't feel top-heavy with an iPhone mounted on it".

If true, I may buy this. But I'll let someone else check that first, please.

If you bump it around, the dock will definitely move a bit, but it doesn't really feel like it wants to fall over unless you give it a decent whack. The direction most prone to tipping is forward, which you'd expect since the iPhone sits at the front of the dock. But the phone leans backward a bit, so you need to give it a decent push for it to fall over.

It's by no means immune to falling over, and it's less stable than something like an Elevation Dock that's really big and hefty. But for most people I think this one should be stable enough unless you're frequently flinging stuff around your desk.
 
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Icaras

macrumors 603
Mar 18, 2008
6,178
2,784
Picked up two last night at my local Apple Store and they look beautiful on our bedside tables. I really missed having the dock from Apple and I absolutely love the new uber minimal look. Having no recessed area gives it an even cleaner look which I'm enjoying a lot. I thought there would be stability issues, but it feels very stable to me.

And I'm just finally happy to see Apple allow people using their designed cases to use with docks. This has been an issue since Apple released the bumper case for the iPhone 4, and continued with the leather case for the iPhone 5/5s. So now I've got my Apple silicone case on using the dock. Couldn't be happier :)

Now if Apple could please release two more docks for the iPad Air and Apple Watch next....
 
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iConnected

macrumors 6502a
Feb 17, 2011
663
411
thats what the review is for.

Thanks - but you know like in The Newsroom, where they wouldn't air a news report until they had two solid sources? I thought that was a pretty good principle.

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If you bump it around, the dock will definitely move a bit, but it doesn't really feel like it wants to fall over unless you give it a decent whack. The direction most prone to tipping is forward, which you'd expect since the iPhone sits at the front of the dock. But the phone leans backward a bit, so you need to give it a decent push for it to fall over.

It's by no means immune to falling over, and it's less stable than something like an Elevation Dock that's really big and hefty. But for most people I think this one should be stable enough unless you're frequently flinging stuff around your desk.

Excellent detail and reassurance - thank you very much indeed for elaborating :)
 
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orbital~debris

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
1,017
1,357
UK, Europe
Thanks - but you know like in The Newsroom, where they wouldn't air a news report until they had two solid sources? I thought that was a pretty good principle.

Love your use of The Newsroom to make this point (but oh how I wish it hadn't been cancelled)!
 
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kdarling

macrumors P6
Does anyone else have problems with lightning cables? My family seem to get through one a month!

Yes, we do also. I blame my tween daughter for yanking the cords, although that's not a problem with other types we have.

--

As for the dock, the new Apple one came too late for my family. After reading terrible reviews of the older Apple dock, and of other replacement ones, I found these from China. They came within ten days, and we love them for the price (compared to the $40 Apple wants for theirs!):

iphone-dock.png

http://www.ebay.com/itm/251866732521

This dock is especially nice since you don't have to give up a cable, as it already has one built-in.

Works fine with a case, too.

A little awkward with TouchID, but usable because of the slight cutout.
 
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l00pback

macrumors regular
May 28, 2010
134
131
Why not in a single cable?

Then people would be complaining that they had to buy yet ANOTHER (over-priced) cable. This way, people can use the lightening cable that came with their phone, and any 1/8" audio cable they a) already have, or b) can get real cheap from RadioShack (if they still have a store near by).
 
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