After Apple announced plans back in July to let accessory manufacturers produce Apple Watch docks that integrate its magnetic charging connector, today the first product to take advantage arrives with Belkin’s new Charge Dock for Apple Watch – which also includes an integrated lightning connector for simultaneously docking an iPhone. We’ve been testing the product ahead of its release…
Apple provides the Apple Watch’s magnetic charging connector component to accessory manufacturers through its Made for iPhone (MFi) licensing program, and Belkin is one of the first to take advantage with the launch of its new Charge Dock today. Accessory makers currently selling Apple Watch docks have to use exposed grooves, a recess, or other workarounds to allow users to snake their own Apple charging cable through the product.
We’ve reviewed a number of Apple Watch docks and pointed out the lack of integrated charging cables as the one major downside of the current crop of docks and stands. So I was interested to see what Belkin has accomplished with its first design using an integrated charger…
When it comes to build quality, the Belkin Charge Dock feels as good as it looks. Belkin didn’t cheap out on any of the materials including a solid metal base in Apple aluminum-like finish and a solid metal arm with a chrome finish. All that metal means that Charge Dock weighs around 1.4lbs.
You’ll also find rubber pads on the base surrounding the Lightning connector, on the chrome arm, and on the bottom of the dock to prevent the metal parts from scratching a docked iPhone and your desk.
The dock has a small dial on the back of the base that allows you to raise the integrated Lightning connector up and down (pictured below). This is something Belkin has done on past docks and allows users to adjust the height of the connector to accommodate just about any case.
Another unique feature of the dock is a small plastic attachment for the arm that holds the Apple Watch (pictured above). That offers some extra support by allowing heavier metal bands to sit nicely when docked and, for example, avoid the magnetic components on the Milanese loop band from attaching to the rest of the strap, but it’s easily removable and not necessary for other bands. The weight of the heavier bands can make it much easier for the watch to come disconnected from the magnetic charger with little force, but the added attachment (which Belkin includes in the box) helps with that significantly.
What to know before buying:
The dock does consider viewing angles for the Apple Watch when it’s docked, but it didn’t find a way to also incorporate Nightstand mode at the same time, which currently only works when the watch is in horizontal, landscape orientation.
Belkin provides a power supply, so you won’t have to provide any of your own cables like some of the unofficial docks on the market, but the 12V, 1.5A adapter is quite large (as usual) when compared to an iOS or Apple Watch charger. It comes with a 1.5 m/4.9 ft. cable.
And lastly, the chrome arm that the devices rest on is fixed and doesn’t swivel or move in any way.
Should you buy it?
There’s no denying that the price of $129 is on the high side for a dock that may become obsolete with your next iPhone or Apple Watch upgrade. But with the premium finishings, an Apple-worthy design, and the fact it’s the first product with an integrated Apple Watch charger, to me makes the Belkin Charge Dock one of the best Apple Watch docks yet, and certainly the best Watch/iPhone combo product.
The Belkin Charge Dock for iPhone and Apple Watch is available for $129 through Belkin and Apple.
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I say bad design because it does allow you to use the night stand feature of the watch.
Doesn’t work with Nightstand Mode, fail.
#3 withe Fail Felling! No Nightstand – None of my $$$
No nightstand mode, no money for me. Belkin makes some pretty horrible products that are all half thought out. I remember when I bought their charging station the Conserve Valet; man that was a piece of crap. The product manager actually called me and sent me a new one after my complaints, but it was still a failure. It turned off after 4 hours charging, so you’d wake up and your device would be at 85%.
All these hilarious DOA products that went to manufacturing before anyone heard about Nightstand mode.
I’d rather spend a fraction of that $129, wrap up a couple of cables and have Nightstand work. Belkin created a ridiculously expensive and likely soon-to-be obsolete product that removes a key Watch capability. It might look pretty but it simply wrong. NOT “one of the best Apple Watch docks yet”.
Have a look at Sigen’s products! They are very interesting at 1/8th the price!!!
129 is just ridiculous.. I will stay with Twelvesouth
Nightstand is a key, we can see that with all customer communication of our Enblue Premium One docks. Since our units are designed to be upgradable with an integrated charger we are talking to a lot of people in the industry to be able to buy the Apple magnetic charger modules as fast as possible. At least we got some samples of the same modules Belkin uses. Buying mass is still limited. Looks like Apple implemented a different strategy who will be allowed to buy first…Not really a great thing for our customers but what can you do…- Its also quite interesting why Belkin created such a massive large dock
At that price, the Enblue PREMIUM ONE W2 for $115 is a better bet, is more solid, configurable, and supports Nightstand mode.
If you’ve got an iPad, too, then at least you can take the step up to the W3.