Whether you want to listen to music, set an alarm, or simply charge your iPhone or iPod, we’ve rounded up the best Apple Lightning-connector docking stations based on quality and durability:
- The Best No-Frills iPhone/iPad Dock: Twelve South HiRise Deluxe ($55)
- The Best Apple iPhone/iPad Dock with Speakers: Bose SoundDock Series III ($250)
- The Best iPhone/iPad Dock Clock Radio: iHome iDL46 Lightning Dock Clock Radio ($90)
The Best No-Frills iPhone/iPad Dock: Twelve South HiRise Deluxe
Pros: Elegant design, doesn’t block microphone or speakers, adjusts to fit most cases
Cons: Not compatible with Apple 2-meter Lightning cable
Twelve South’s HiRise Deluxe streamlined pedestal docking station complements the elegant simplicity of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The metal stand, although not heavy, is sturdy and stable. It’s available in three finishes – gold, black, and silver – to match your devices. In addition to charging, the pedestal elevates your device for hands-free use, which is perfect for those who want to Skype, FaceTime, or simply prop up the device to more easily read a recipe. The design also doesn’t block the device’s microphone or speaker, allowing for un-muffled calls and clear audio.
Perhaps one of HiRise Deluxe’s best features is its machined-finish rear-support dial, which moves the rear-support beam back and forth, allowing users to create the perfect fit for each device from iPhones and iPads to Apple TV remotes and other Lightning-compatible products, such as SteelSeries’ Nimbus gaming controller. The adjustable rear support beam also allows for the docking station to be used with most device cases.
The HiRise Deluxe is available from Amazon for about $55.
The Best iPad/iPhone Docks with a Speaker: Bose SoundDock Series III
Pros: Excellent sound quality, AUX input for non-iOS devices
Cons: No Bluetooth
With high-quality products like the SoundDock Series III, it’s no wonder that Bose won PC Magazine’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Award for speaker docks for the third year in a row. In addition to charging an iPhone or iPod, the SoundDock Series III packs superior sound in a small, streamlined package. The relatively small unit (approximately 7 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and 6.5 inches deep) doesn’t take up too much space, and can easily fit on a table, countertop, or shelf. However, similar to other Bose products, the SoundDock Series III uses a proprietary acoustic design and digital signal processing to produce clear, loud, and rich sound despite its small footprint.
The SoundDock Series III also comes with a remote, allowing the user to turn the system on and off, adjust the volume, and navigate playlists from anywhere in the room. Although the system was designed for the Lightning iPhone and iPod models, it offers an auxiliary input in the back to connect to other non-iOS mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
The SoundDock Series III is available from Amazon for about $250.
The Best iPhone/iPad Dock with a Clock Radio: iHome iDL46 Lightning Dock Clock Radio
Pros: Sturdy, easy user interface, good sound, can charge two devices at once
Cons: Display too bright at night, bulky
Although the need for a bedside clock radio has waned over the past few years in favor of simply using a smartphone, many people still prefer the classic look and functionality of a bedside clock docking station. In that regard, the iHome iDL46 docking station does it all, including charging up to two Lightning devices at the same time, an FM radio with six preset stations, and an alarm clock with programmable snooze and nap times, gradual wake and sleep features, and dual weekday/weekend alarm settings.
In addition, the device is equipped with a backup battery, ensuring the clock and alarm will continue to function in a power outage. However, at over 9 inches long and 6 inches deep, many users may feel that this unit is somewhat bulky for a bedside table. Additionally, it was noted in other reviews that the display was too bright at night, even on the lowest setting.
The iHome iDL46 is available from Amazon for about $90.