Works With: All Lightning iDevices
For the longest time, there were no Lightning docks available for iPhones or iPads, and it looks like Apple will never make one. I have some thoughts on why that might be, but we’ll get to that in a bit. For now, we’re going to take a quick look at the seemingly crappy dock I picked up from Amazon last month. It’s called the “White Wave Lightning Dock Docking Charge Station for Apple iPad Mini/ iPad 4G/ iPhone 5/ iPod Touch 5G/ iPod Nano 7G,” which should give you some idea of the kind of SEO-mad company behind it.
What it is
The “wave” part of the name comes from the shape, which looks like a pulse of sound as shown on an oscilloscope when viewed from the side (the dock, not the oscilloscope). This gives the whole thing stability (I have used it with an iPhone and an iPad mini and it’s steady) and makes it look kind of cool.
The dock is for nothing but syncing and charging, and it connects to Mac or power brick via microUSB. It ships with a cable in the box, and this cable (or any of the million others you have tangled under your bed) slots into a hole at the rear of the left side. The Lightning prong sticks out of the front center and sits in the middle of a moving, tilting section which prevents strain on the connection when an iDevice is plugged in.
The dock is steady and – once you have broken it in – it is fairly easy to engage the prong into the Lightning hole. You can’t just slide the device down onto it as you would with a 30-pin dock because this dock is made for any thickness of device and therefore doesn’t line up with them all.
But this also means that the dock works with iPhones and iPads in cases as well as naked.
The moving prong is a little disconcerting at first, but you soon get used to lining things up before pushing down. I’m not too worried about the lighting connector – if Apple’s in-store docks, which fully support the weight of the iPhones they hold, can survive, then so can all my gear.
The Wave will sync and charge any iDevice, just like a regular Lightning cable
The Wave also works as a proper synching dock. Plug it’s cable into the USB port on something like the Libratone Zipp speaker and it’ll work as if it were one of Apple’s own Lightning cables, passing through sound and power. The microUSB hole, too, is sturdy.
The build quality is ok, but there are some cheap-feeling parts. For one, the foam under the base is shoddily fitted. Then again, it grips even a marble tabletop and doesn’t scratch delicate surfaces.
There’s also a bunch of writing on the top rear surface, which looks terrible. It should have been a sticker instead.
Finally, we come to the biggest problem, which might actually be a problem with Lightning in general: The fit it too tight. Once clipped in, you’ll need to take two hands to separate the iDevice from the dock. In fact, if I need to quickly use the device mid-charge I’ve found it easier to unplug the USB cable and pick up the iPhone and dock together.
You’ll need to both hands to separate the iDevice from the dock
I have a feeling that this is why Apple hasn’t made a dock. The ones in-store are fixed to the tables, so it’s no problem. But a freestanding dock would need to weight around ten pounds (I haven’t tested that) to stay on the table when you try to remove the iPhone within.
The Wave costs $22, and for this price its close to Apple’s old Universal dock, which also worked with a remote. Then again, it’s one of the most minimal and cool-looking docks I have seen, and now the prong has seen some use and become a little smoother to enter and exit my iDevices’ orifices, I’m close to trusting it. I certainly don’t love it, but as a nightstand dock it’s fine, and as a desktop dock it’s actually pretty great, as it’s steep lean-back makes it easy to use the device as it charges.
Product Name:: Wave Lightning Dock
The Good:Cheap, sturdy, turns all your microUSB cables into Lightning cables.
The Bad:Cheap, plasticky. Weird shape makes it impractical for travel.
The VerdictWorth the money. Would be great in a 5-pack for $50.
Buy from: Amazon