For years, Apple made an official dock to accompany a wealth of their products in the iPod and iPhone line. With the replacement of the 30-pin dock connector in the iPhone 5 with Lightning, many – myself included – would have hoped, perhaps expected a new dock from Apple to go with it. That never happened, and so we must look towards the third-party manufacturers, like Belkin. I recently picked up one of their Charge and Sync Docks, and it's a pretty nice little accessory to have sat on my desk. It's good, but by no means perfect. Let's take a look.
The dock itself isn't bad looker, and though it may be constructed primarily of plastic, it has that same sort of metallic finish to it as a MacBook. As such, it doesn't look at all out of place alongside your other Apple equipment on your desk. The inside is constructed of black rubber, with an in-built Lightning connector nestled in the middle. This is the main difference from the first generation of docks from Belkin, in that before you supplied the Lightning cable.
The connector has a little flex to it, which I really like, because rarely do I ever lineup my iPhone perfectly straight. That little bit of give feels reassuring, and also allows you to dock while the phone is inside even a pretty thick case. The bottom of the dock has a rubber pad across the full length and width, so you don't need to worry too much about knocking it and it sliding all over. It handled my glass desk just fine.
All good then? Well, there is one criticism. The first iteration of the Charge and Sync Dock while needing your own Lightning cable, also had an audio connector so you could route your music out of the dock via the output on the back. This newer version doesn't have this, which is a shame, as I'd have like the opportunity to hook it up to some external speakers. It's a give with one hand, take away with the other kind of scenario.
If all you want is a simple charge and sync station for your iPhone, then the Belkin is a great choice. It looks great on desk next to your Apple equipment, equally so on your nightstand. It's a little disappointing that in gaining a built in Lightning cable, you lose the audio output, and while I'm very much liking this dock, audio output would be the icing on the cake. If that's more important than a built in Lightning cable, you can pick one of those Belkin docks up from the iMore Store for $37.95.