Although basic wireless chargers are becoming almost indistinguishable from one another in all but physical design, Belkin has unveiled something a bit different in the form of its Special Edition Wireless Charging Dock for iPhone + Apple Watch, a solution we surprisingly haven’t seen before. While docks and stands that charge an iPhone and Apple Watch together have been common for a while, almost all of them rely on a wird Lightning connection for the iPhone, and many also require you to supply your own Apple Watch charger. While it comes in with a pretty hefty price tag, Belkin’s new dock gives you everything you need to provide wireless charging for both an iPhone and an Apple Watch all in one package.
Although the Special Edition Wireless Charging Dock is made from plastic, Belkin has managed to give it a fairly nice looking design nonetheless, with glossy surfaces, smooth angles, and the “Belkin” name stylishly adorning the front corner. We think it has a slick modern look that should fit in with most contemporary decor. A standard AC power adapter is also included, which uses a mini DC barrel connector to plug into the back of the dock, specifically designed so the connector is hidden flush with the base of the dock, another nice design touch.
Two upright pads provide obvious places to charge an iPhone and an Apple Watch, and unlike many Apple Watch docks we’ve seen, the inductive Apple Watch charger comes built-in. Setting it up is simplicity itself — just plug it in, and place your iPhone and your Apple Watch in the appropriate spaces for charging. There’s also a USB-A port on the back so you can plug in a third device like an iPad or battery pack should you need to do so, although the USB-A port only supplies five watts of power, so it’s really only well-suited for overnight charging, but we think that’s fair considering that this is clearly a nightstand solution.
The Apple Watch sits in classic nightstand mode orientation, and the dock works with all generations of Apple Watch models. Although watchOS 5 now supports an upright nightstand mode, we’ve come to appreciate the sideways placement as it puts the digital crown and side button on top for conveniently responding to alarms. It’s worth noting here that both the Apple Watch and iPhone charging docks are in fixed positions, so you won’t be able to adjust their height or orientation. The Apple Watch sits almost completely vertically, rather than at the slight angle that many other docks put it at.
While the inability to move the iPhone charging pad might raise concerns about iPhone compatibility, keep in mind that there are really only three physical iPhone sizes that support wireless charging; despite the larger screen sizes, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max still have more or less the same physical dimensions as the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone XR is the new size, coming in between those two, so the dock will support every wirelessly charging capable iPhone model that’s currently available — in portrait orientation. Your mileage may vary if you’re looking to use it to charge other Qi-compatible smartphones, but we can’t see how that’s a concern on a dock that’s so very clearly designed for iPhone and Apple Watch users. Along similar lines, we can’t be too concerned about the 7.5 watt power output, as that’s more than enough for all current iPhone models, and even if Apple increases the charging speed of future iPhone models, 7.5 watts is still going to be just fine for overnight charging.
We really liked everything about Belkin’s Special Edition Wireless Charging Dock for iPhone + Apple Watch with the exception of one thing — the price. $160 is definitely on the expensive side just to gain wireless charging. By contrast, Satechi’s Type-C Dual Charging Station for iPhone and Apple Watch comes in at only $65, and although you’ll need to supply your own Lightning cable and Apple Watch charger for that one, you can simply opt to use the cables that came with your devices. Further, even Belkin’s own PowerHouse Charge Dock sells for $99, and includes a built-in Apple Watch charger and Lightning-based iPhone charging, although in our opinion it doesn’t look nearly as nice. In short, while Belkin’s new dock isn’t the most inexpensive way to go, it’s definitely an elegant and functional solution, so if you’re willing to spend the money, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
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