Review: Twelve South HiRise for iPhone
We've commented at length on the current state of Lightning dock- and case-compatibility: Apple mandates that Lightning docks use plug housings that are physically incompatible with most iPod, iPhone, and iPad cases. With this week's release of HiRise for iPhone ($35), Twelve South has become the first company to develop a docking solution that works across Apple's pocket and tablet devices alike, regardless of whether they're bare or inside protective cases. Mainly advertised for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini, HiRise is is also compatible with the fifth-generation iPod touch, and seventh-generation iPod nano. It's quite possibly Twelve South's best accessory yet.
Like earlier versions of HiRise, this iPhone model is made mostly of silver brushed metal. It’s larger in every dimension than Apple’s docks, such as the old iPhone 4 Dock, but it also has a nicer, more industrial look and feel. Unlike many docks, HiRise arrives in several pieces that must be assembled, a several-minute, one-time process you undertake with the included Hex tool. Start with the angled base, which looks a lot like the foot of an iMac, then deal with a base cap, two supports—one that actually holds your device, and another that serves as an adjustable back brace—four screws, and three alternative Lightning cable clips. What’s not included is a Lightning cable: you have to provide one yourself, and it has to be one of Apple’s.
Relying on Apple’s cable with support clips is the trick that allows HiRise to be compatible with a range of cases. Clip 0 puts the top of the Lightning plug housing flush with the support, which is ideal for Apple devices that aren’t in cases, or are in cases with open bottoms, such as shells and Twelve South’s own BookBook and SurfacePad. Next is Clip 2, which elevates the plug a bit, allowing support for the superb CandyShell family from Speck, along with Griffin’s Defender Series Case. The only case Twelve South specifically lists as not being compatible with HiRise is LifeProof’s Frē, which is regrettable but not entirely surprising.
While Belkin’s Charge + Sync Dock with Audio Port also supports cases, we found that the Lightning plug wasn’t secure, and would wiggle around over time. There’s no issue like that with HiRise. Because of the support clips Twelve South includes, the plug simply can’t move. When you pull your iPhone off, everything else stays in place. Add to that the great design, nice height, and unobstructed speaker and microphone, and Twelve South has Belkin beat in most regards here. Although the rubber bottom of HiRise isn’t as grippy as it could be, your iPhone or iPad won’t slide around your desk when being poked, although the tablet will shake just a bit because of how narrow the base is.
It’s not a surprise that Twelve South has once again created a beautiful Apple accessory—that’s the company’s forte—and HiRise is our favorite of the Lightning-based docks we’ve seen so far. We were impressed by the wide range of device and case compatibility, as well as the industrial design. While the $35 price tag is a little high when you consider the added expense of a $19 Apple Lightning to USB Cable, if you’re willing to dedicate the one that’s packed-in with your device, there’s no extra cost. HiRise seems more reasonable when you consider that the look and feel of the metal stand are similar to what Apple was using in its own retail stores for displaying devices. As an elegant and affordable accessory that works with a multitude of recent devices, HiRise is worthy of our high recommendation.