Review: Just Mobile Xtand for iPhone + iPhone 3G
The "stand" is a dying breed of accessory. As distinguished from a "dock," which mounts an iPod or iPhone while containing electronics that enable it to output audio or video, a stand is designed merely to hold the device above the surface of a table -- functionality that some users won't care about, especially given that stands can cost as much or more than docks. Only a handful of companies still make stands these days, and there haven't been many great-looking ones over the past few years. Just Mobile's Xtand for iPhone (
$50 $40) is an exception. Updated August 18, 2008: Just Mobile has released an updated version of the Xtand, which we discuss further at the bottom of this review, originally published on June 16, 2008. Our ratings differ between the two versions as noted above.
Designed to match the bodies of Apple’s Cinema Displays and metal iMacs, Xtand is sold in two main pieces: an iPhone cradle that holds the first-generation iPhone with rubberized corners and a molded aluminum frame, plus a curved stand that looks like Apple’s monitor stands, down to the hole in the center for cable management. You connect the two pieces with a rubber washer and screw-based tightening system that lets you adjust the iPhone’s height and rotation, with slight tweaks to its angle as well. Rubber pads on the stand keep it in place, and unscuffed, on a flat surface.
There’s very little to complain about in Xtand’s execution. Just Mobile’s design, while clearly heavily influenced by Apple’s, offers iPhone users the opportunity to completely match the look of Apple’s desktop machines with what can look like a miniature monitor for video or widescreen album browsing, shifting effortlessly to a vertical mode appropriate to most of the iPhone’s other features. The rubber corners hold the iPhone properly while providing access to all of the ports and controls, including the speakerphone and Dock Connector, headphone port and volume buttons. In other words, your iPhone is as useful inside Xtand as it is in your hand, but more conveniently mounted for viewing and other tabletop use. Xtand was clearly engineered with considerable thought and precision; everything just works.
The only issue we experienced during testing of Xtand was one that we couldn’t reproduce a second time. Once, when the iPhone was placed in the cradle, we noticed that the battery was discharging at a surprising rate—something that can happen when the cellular antenna is struggling to make or maintain a connection with a local phone tower. As the X-shaped cradle exposes most of the iPhone’s plastic antenna chamber, but does obscure its corners slightly, it appears that the metal may under some conditions present an issue—however, after days of continued attempts to let the problem reoccur, it didn’t. We wondered whether the iPhone’s back had come in contact temporarily with the unpadded center point of the X-shaped cradle, but couldn’t be certain. Our feeling is that future Xtand could be designed to further cut the use of metal around an iPhone’s antennas, precluding wireless interference.
In all honesty, we wouldn’t want to see Xtand change too much—Just Mobile’s design is a winner on looks and convenience, and definitely something we’d use on our own desks. The $50 price tag isn’t going to be right for all users, as it’s steep for an iPhone holder with no data, audio, or video functionality, especially given that the device it supports has already been discontinued, but we strongly preferred its looks and functionality to Thought Out’s earlier PED3. We’ll be hoping for an even more affordable version to emerge for the iPhone 3G, and potentially for the iPod touch as well.
Updated August 18, 2008: Xtand for iPhone + iPhone 3G
Following our review and the subsequent release of the iPhone 3G, Just Mobile released an updated version of the Xtand designed to accommodate both the original iPhone and its sequel. Compatibility is accomplished through removable rubber feet that match the different curves of the two devices; everything else about the package remains the same.
Except for the price. Now selling for $40, the Xtand for iPhone + iPhone 3G is a better value than its predecessor, and in our view merits a higher rating as a consequence. Our previously noted caveat regarding the potential for interference and other issues remains; however, when used with the newer plastic-bodied iPhone 3G model, you can expect less of a chance of unusual battery discharge or wireless interference. We saw at most a marginal single-bar decrease in iPhone 3G signal strength when using Xtand, but location appeared to be more of a factor than interference from the stand itself. Unless you’re in a signal-starved environment, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Xtand as a convenient and attractive mounting solution for the iPhone 3G.