Native Union’s DOCK Lightning ($50) is a minimalist aluminum-and-silicone dock designed to hold and charge a Lightning-based iPhone, with or without a case. Curiously, the product is known as DOCK Lightning on Native Union’s website, but as “DOCK for iPhone” on the box we received. Furthermore, the box lists DOCK as compatible with all Lightning-based iPhones and iPad minis, while the website claims DOCK can also work with full-sized Lightning iPads, as well. DOCK Lightning includes two clips, for accommodating an iPhone with or without a case. Users must supply their own Lightning cable, which isn’t out of the ordinary for many recent docks.
DOCK Lightning is primarily a weighty slate gray silicone base (12.6 ounces), with a small aluminum piece that’s inserted into the top of the base for support. The aluminum piece can “shave” the inside of the silicone base if not installed carefully, though that won’t really affect the look or performance of the dock. On the underside of the base is a plastic circle hiding two clips — one to be used with a cased iPhone, the other with an uncased iPhone. It’s a clever touch, and we always like to see docks that can accommodate cases. The Lightning cable is inserted into a clip and up through the hole in the base, and the remainder of the cable is routed out the back.
DOCK does indeed properly dock and charge a Lightning iPhone. The included clips work well. But some cases do require a little more extra space — Native Union notes that DOCK is designed to work with cases up to 3.5 mm thick. We found moving the clip up slightly sometimes fixed the issue, though some users may find this solution takes away from DOCK’s overall aesthetic appeal. Even the iPhone 6 Plus can dock in a case, which raises the iPad question.
Perhaps surprisingly, DOCK also does a pretty good job with docking and charging Lightning iPads, even when those iPads are in certain cases — as with the iPhone, some cases are easier to accommodate than others. iPad mini 3 docked without issue, and though iPad Air 2 docked fine as well, the overall size of the device might cause some to worry about overall support. (Heck, DOCK can even support an iPad Pro in a pinch if need be, though Native Union doesn’t list the large device as recommended for docking.) Touching a docked iPad may make the device teeter slightly — we wouldn’t buy this specifically to dock a full-sized Lightning iPad, but users of multiple Lightning devices should see it as a nice bonus.
For our money, Native Union is making some of the most attractive Apple accessories these days, and DOCK Lightning is no exception. Though the price may be a bit higher than some may want to pay for a dock, it’s in the same range as many competing options. We think both the nice materials and the ability to accommodate various iPhone cases makes the sharp, sturdy DOCK Lightning one of the best iOS charging dock options in recent years, earning our high recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: Native Union
Model: DOCK Lightning
Compatible: Lightning-based iPads, iPhones, iPod touches