Native Union’s Dock+ charging stand review: High-end charging

If you’re looking for a gift this holiday season for someone who is mobile device-addicted, Native Union has something that’s a cut above the average accessory in their weighted charging Dock+ for iOS devices.

As advertised on their website, the Dock+ comes with Native Union’s own Belt Lightning cable and is compatible with a range of Apple devices, including iPhones, iPods and iPads. What you get is a charging cradle that is solidly designed and looks classier than the run-of-the-mill plastic docks you’ll find at most online and high street retail outlets. The catch is that that the dock comes at the sophisticated price of $84.99 CAD.

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The Dock+ is a minimalist combo consisting of a graphite-coloured rubber block, which serves as the weighted base, and a flat silver metal backplate that supports the device being charged. As the inclusion of the Lightning cable suggests, the dock doesn’t have a charging plug built-in. Instead, the base has a hole in the bottom that you feed the cable through. There is also a groove on the underside of the rubber that’s just the right size to allow the cable to run out inconspicuously behind the dock.

To hold the cable in place so the charging end protrudes above the base, Native Union has supplied a choice of three plastic guides that fit devices with or without cases. You need to apply some pressure to wedge the appropriate guide into the pre-cut slot in the dock’s rubber base. The tight fit, however, ensures that the guide and the Belt cable don’t wiggle. The backplate is also tightly held in place. As a result, the dock, as a whole, feels solid and secure and the weighted base makes it less likely to fall over.

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The website states that the Dock+ is not compatible with Apple’s own Lightning cable. That is probably because Native Union’s Belt cables are designed to be form-fitting. Still, the model that MobileSyrup was sent for review, which is packaged under the name Dock for iPhone and appears to be identical to the Dock+, has a note on the box that states it does work with Apple’s cable.

It’s possible that this is an earlier version of the dock that produced unsatisfactory results without a Belt cable. The inclusion of a Belt Lightning cable with the Dock+ is therefore a helpful upgrade, albeit one that might have bumped up the price. Dock for iPhone is also a misleading name because the sample that Native Union sent works equally well with the Micro USB Belt cable that was included among the review materials (and presumably the USB-C belt cable that the company also sells).

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Belt cables are also more impressive than their dollar store or OEM equivalents. Reinforced by nylon braiding that comes in a choice of four patterns, each cable is fitted with a leather strap that keeps it tidy when rolled up. If you want to use the dock with a Micro USB or USB-C Belt cable, however, you’ll have to buy these separately and they don’t come cheap either at $34.99 CA.

Given its price, the Dock+ is not stocking stuffer material (the Marble Edition is even more expensive at $189.99 CAD). Yet, the premium price reflects a design that makes a mundane accessory into something practical and outstanding. There are much cheaper docks out there but if you’re after something special, the Dock+ is a product that many enthusiasts of mobile electronics will appreciate.