Review: Just Mobile AluBolt
Just Mobile's first entry into the still-sparse category of Lightning docks is AluBolt ($50), which officially offers compatibility with Lightning-equipped iPhones and iPad minis that aren't inside cases. The design language is very familiar to the company's earlier stands and accessories, especially the Mac-focused AluDisc. Silver aluminum is combined with black plastic and rubber, forming an elegant yet somewhat bare solution.
The dock is four inches in diameter, a perfect circle of aluminum atop a layer of plastic, with rubber underneath to prevent slipping. Towards the front is the Made for iPhone-certified Lightning plug, found in the center of a 2.25” long, spring-loaded base. Behind it, there’s a curved piece of plastic for support, which comes about halfway up the back of an iPhone, and has the ability to accommodate iPod nanos and touches as well despite the absence of official compatibility promises. Finally, a 38” long USB cord sticks out from the back, suitable for syncing and charging.
Outside of cases, Lightning iPhones and the iPad mini fit properly, without putting up any resistance. But unless you’re using a slider-style case or a cheap shell, protectors are totally out of the question. It’s clear this is an issue that concerns Just Mobile, as it introduced docks at the 2014 International CES that get around this issue by requiring user-provided Lightning cables. Our other qualm is the lack of weight to the dock. Because it has no heft, devices won’t lift right off. Instead, the dock rises up with them unless you hold it down as you’re pulling on the device.
As a beautiful accent to a desk, AluBolt is a success. It looks great on its own, and is a clean way of showing off any iPad mini or Lightning iPhone without distraction. All that’s missing is case compatibility. While the issue may be out of Just Mobile’s hands if it wants to put out Apple-sanctioned accessories, it’s a problem for the nearly 4 out of 5 iPhone users who do use cases. That’s why the dock earns a limited recommendation. The price is justifiable for the design and features, but it’s not the right solution for a majority of users.