Hands on: Belkin Charge Dock

Space-saving with space-age looks, Belkin’s Charge Dock is the ultimate in convenience

There are plenty of iPhone charging docks out there, and a growing number of Apple Watch stands, too, but stands that hold both devices are less common. Belkin recently introduced the Charge Dock to meet the needs of proud, new Apple Watch owners. Don’t be fooled by the unimaginative name – Belkin’s Charge Dock is a gorgeous, convenient, and well-made stand with integrated charging for both the iPhone and Watch.

Rather than go overboard with a crazy design, Belkin has gone for a cool minimalist look.

The dock’s small footprint is what really makes it stand out from all the others you’ll find out in the wild. The stand takes up less room than an iPhone 6S Plus laid face down on the table, but it will happily charge that phone and the wearable at the same time. The solid, cast metal base is sturdy enough that it doesn’t shift around, but not so heavy that it could double as a ship’s anchor, which is handy when you want to move it from one place to another.

Sprouting from the base is a single, chrome metal stalk, with a branch extending out to the side three-quarters of the way up. At the base of the stalk is a built-in Lightning connector, and on the end of the branch is an Apple Watch magnetic charging stand. There’s no messing around with feeding wires through the base, or fiddling about attaching the Apple charging dock to the circular chrome Watch dock — it’s already there.

Cases are no problem

Belkin knows that most people wrap their iPhones in cases, so it designed the dock to accommodate for the added bulk. The Lightning connector can be raised and lowered using a dial on the rear of the base to ensure that it connects with the iPhone, even if it’s in a case. It happily copes with an iPhone inside Apple’s own leather case, as well as several Spigen cases we tried. A more challenging test came with Speck’s MightyShell, which is a substantial case, but there was still room for another three or four millimeters of extension space from the connector for a bulkier case.

The Apple Watch charging plinth is mounted at an angle, and magnetically holds the Watch in place. While it’s possible to just pop the Watch onto the plinth to charge, it’s not very secure, especially if you tuck the strap underneath. The Watch spins around and looks silly if you don’t secure it. Belkin supplies a plastic accessory that clips on the back of the plinth, which solves the problem, allowing you to tighten the strap up around it. It probably should have been fixed in place as standard, but it does spoil the aesthetics when the Watch isn’t docked. With the strap done up, the Watch dock happily kept an Apple Watch Sport with either the standard band or the Hyper metal link bracelet fitted in place without issue.

The phone and watch are docked at a slight angle, so that the screens are visible from a desk. The angle also minimized reflections, at least in our test environment. Notifications are instantly viewable, and although it’s a bit awkward to use the Touch ID system and unlock a docked iPhone, it is possible; so you can tap out a quick reply without removing it. Unlocking the Watch using a passcode is easy, and the Watch stays in place provided you have the strap done up correctly. Completing the package is a main adaptor to plug into the rear of the Charge Dock’s base, which has a sensible 1.5-meter cable attached.

Cool design and convenience come at a price

Rather than go overboard with a crazy design, or use some bizarre piece of modern art as inspiration, Belkin has gone for a minimalist, cool style. It looks great on a busy desk, and perfectly at home next to a lamp on the bedside table. Getting the design right for a double stand isn’t easy, but the Charge Dock manages to be innocuous enough to blend in with your decor, while maintaining high-tech cool thanks to all the chrome and the floating Watch dock. We think it looks awesome.

Belkin Apple Watch iPhone Charger
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

However, all this comes at a price. Belkin sells the Charge Dock for $130 through its own website or in Apple retail stores. That’s not cheap, although a replacement charger for the Watch and the most basic Apple Dock for the phone will cost you nearly $70 as a pair. In terms of value, it’s actually rather good. Not everyone will see how a charging dock will fit into their lives, but if you own both an iPhone and an Apple Watch, Belkin’s dock makes a lot of sense, and it looks fantastic while performing its function.

Highs

  • Understated, cool design
  • Built-in iPhone and Watch chargers
  • Suitable for iPhones in cases
  • Small footprint

Lows

  • High price
  • Apple Watch strap has to be secure

Available at: Belkin

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