From a purely functional standpoint, Apple device docks stopped being interesting years ago: a series of quiet electronic changes effectively killed their video-out and later audio-out capabilities, while Lightning connector-specific mandates created case compatibility problems, turning the once-thriving dock category into something a lot less exciting. Today’s docks are generally nothing more than stands — plastic and metal holders for standard Lightning to USB cables, leaving developers with the task of making them look as cool as possible. Twelve South accomplished that feat with the original HiRise for iPhone, and now it’s back with an improved successor called HiRise Deluxe for iPhone + iPad ($60).
As its name suggests, HiRise Deluxe isn’t so much HiRise 2.0 as a premium and generally better alternative to the original model. There are functionally zero surprises here: HiRise Deluxe is still a fancy Lightning to USB cable holder, and the shape is so nearly identical to the original version that you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart. A tapered base gently declines from a rear 0.3” to a front 0.125” in thickness, while growing in width from around 2.25” to 3.9”. Two support bars hold an iPhone or iPad on a recline, one sitting under the device to hold a cable, and the other providing back support. Rubber padding on the bottom keeps HiRise Deluxe from slipping around.
Virtually every one of these details is unchanged from HiRise to HiRise Deluxe. Look really carefully at the two of them and you’ll find that HiRise Deluxe is just a hint — a millimeter or two — less deep and thick than HiRise. But you may also note that Deluxe’s support bars are each a few millimeters wider than before, providing a little extra support that may be handy for use with the iPad Air, which wasn’t officially recommended for use with the original HiRise.
Additionally, Twelve South is now offering Deluxe in silver, black, and gold color options. Our black unit looked great with black-fronted iPhones and iPads, but the base notably felt more plasticky than metallic, perhaps due to paint. The metal rear support bar is now easily adjusted on the top with a large thumbscrew rather than hidden hex screws underneath, and the cable-holding bar isn’t designed to be moved; consequently, HiRise’s included hex wrench has been eliminated from the package.
What Twelve South has primarily focused upon this time is the cable management system — and the cables. HiRise forced you to supply your own Apple Lightning cable, but HiRise Deluxe comes with one Lightning cable and one micro-USB cable, both color-matched to the dock’s plastic accents. The Lightning cable is there for unassisted Apple devices, while the other lets HiRise Deluxe charge and sync devices inside Mophie and other micro-USB-charging battery packs. To guarantee that the cable-holding bar works properly with your choice of a bare or encased device, Twelve South once again includes three inserts that position the Lightning or micro-USB plug at your preferred height, eliminating the need for manual adjustment.
HiRise Deluxe’s tweaks may be small, but they do improve the user experience. We found the new version much easier to assemble and fine-tune than its predecessor, as well as more capable of properly accommodating different case thicknesses and types. The only issue is whether Deluxe merits a $25 premium over the original version, and although that’s a little more than the raw value of the new parts, we’d say that Twelve South has done enough with this version to justify the asking price. While the original HiRise is a great option if you’re willing to self-supply a cable and are satisfied with the color choices, HiRise Deluxe’s pack-ins, easier set-up, and added gold color also have their appeal. HiRise Deluxe may be best for users who are thinking of using the dock with different devices or cases in the future, as it’s easier to tweak after initial assembly. Go with the version that best fits your personal needs and budget; they’re both worthy of our high recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: Twelve South
Model: HiRise Deluxe
Compatible: iPhone 5/5s/5c, iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPad mini 1/2/3