If you spend a lot of time working at a desk in an office, I strongly encourage you to invest in a dock for your iPhone. It gives you a specific location to place your iPhone while you are working at your desk so that you always know where it is and don't have to hunt for your iPhone under a stack of papers. It allows the iPhone to stand upright so you can easily see the screen to check the time or display a document or a photograph. Although the iPhone screen is small, it allows you to have a second monitor at your desk, so that for example you can use your entire computer screen to draft a brief while your iPhone screen shows you the latest e-mails. Plus, as long as the iPhone is in the dock it is charging, so whenever you pick up the iPhone to go someplace you know that you have a full charge.
I first purchased an Apple iPhone 3G Dock back in 2008 (and I reviewed it here) and that same dock worked with my iPhone 3GS. Because the iPhone 4 has a different shape I knew that I would need a new dock, and I did not hesitate to place my order right away. The Apple iPhone 4 Dock is $29.00, which seems somewhat overpriced for what it is. You don't even get a cable; just a tiny box that is barely large enough to hold the dock itself.
If you are like me, you have extra iPhone cables from your previous iPhone models so you won't have to go out and buy another one. To set up the dock at your desk, you can of course connect the USB end of the cable to your computer, but I actually don't do that at my office. I sync my iPhone with my Mac at home, not my PC at work, so I just need to get power to the dock. The iPhone cable is not long enough to reach to a power strip on the floor or an outlet on the wall, but you can purchase extender cables to solve that problem. I use this simple, $8 white 3 foot cable that I purchased on Amazon. Place the dock in a convenient location on your desk (I keep mine right next to my computer monitor) and you are good to go.
The back of the dock has ports where you can plug in an Apple Component or Composite AV Cable to send video from the iPhone to a TV or video projector, or you can connect an AV cable to play the music from the iPhone on a stereo. I have never used those ports so I cannot comment on how they work.
If you own a prior model of the dock, how does this one compare? The size is very similar, although not quite as deep. Because of the squared-off design of the iPhone 4, it fits in the dock more snugly than the iPhone 3G or 3GS fit in the older version of the dock. I've seen some people online claim that this means that you need two hands to take the iPhone 4 out of the base. That is wrong; they just don't know how to do it. Just place the side of your hand on the back of the base, grab your iPhone 4 with your thumb and index finger, and lift the iPhone out.
One downside of having docks custom made for the particular iPhone model is that you may need to get a new dock when the next iPhone comes out. The 3G and 3GS had the same shape, and who knows whether next year's model of the iPhone will have the same shape as the iPhone 4. If you want to future-proof the dock, an alternative is to get the $49 Apple Universal Dock. As the name implies, the Universal Dock will work with most any model of iPod or iPhone, you just have to use the correct size dock adapter in the Universal Dock. The Universal Dock is larger; here is the iPhone 4 Dock and the Universal Dock (with an iPhone 4 insert) side by side:
Unlike the iPhone-specific dock, the Universal Dock comes with a remote control (the same remote that comes with Mac computers). If you decide to hook up your dock to a TV or a stereo, I'm sure that having the remote makes it more convenient to play and pause, skip forward and backwards, etc. Again, I haven't tested that feature.
Currently, when you purchase the Universal Dock, it comes with dock adapter inserts that fit the iPod nano (4th and 5th generations), iPod touch (2nd generation), iPod classic (80GB and 120GB/160GB) and iPod with video (30GB) and iPhone 3G and 3GS. Thus, you'll need to also purchase an insert that fits the iPhone 4. I'm sure that in the future, the Universal Dock will include iPhone 4 adapters. For now, Apple separately sells a 3-pack for $9. Since I bought a Universal Dock many years ago to use with an iPod, I just had to spend $9 to make the Universal Dock compatible with my iPhone 4. I usually keep the Universal Dock in my bedroom so that I have a convenient place to place my iPhone 4 for it to charge overnight.
There are other companies that make docks for the iPhone, but I've always been happy with the Apple docks. They have a good weight to them so that your iPhone isn't going to fall over, plus they have a rubberized bottom to keep the dock in place.
For now, I believe that the only place to buy the iPhone 4 dock is through Apple, either a store or the website. Here are some direct links.
Click here for the iPhone 4 Dock ($29.00).
Click here for the Apple Universal Dock ($49.00).
Click here for the Apple iPhone 4 Universal Dock Connector 3-Pack ($9.00).
Click here for the white USB extender cable on Amazon ($8.07).