If you work at a desk and you are looking for a useful accessory for your iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s — or a gift for someone else who uses one — and if you don't use a case with your iPhone, I'm a big fan of the iPhone 5s Dock made by Apple. Back in 2008, I reviewed the iPhone 3G Dock. In 2010 I reviewed the iPhone 4 Dock and the Apple Universal Dock. In September of 2013, Apple released its first dock with a Lightning connector, the iPhone 5s Dock. I bought it as soon as it came out and I've been using it for about two months. It works great with my iPhone 5s, and note that despite the name, it also works with the iPhone 5 since the two iPhones are the same size.
The dock itself is a simple device. You plug a Lightning cable into the back of it and either connect it to your computer or to a wall outlet. Then you place your iPhone in the dock and it charges (or syncs, if connected to a computer).
The reason that I am such a big fan of this dock (and the prior models) is that it is useful for attorneys and other folks who spend a lot of their time working at a desk. For the past year, I used my iPhone 5 without a dock, and when I was at my desk I would frequently set down the iPhone, then shuffle some papers, and then the next thing you know my iPhone was buried and hidden. Very frustrating.
But with the dock, I always have a central place to place my iPhone so I always know where it is. Better yet, the dock holds the iPhone in a nice upright position so it is easy to glance at the screen to look at alerts for new emails, see the time, etc. In a dock, your iPhone acts sort of like a small, second monitor. Best of all, as long as my iPhone is in the dock, it is charging. As a result, I will often pick up my iPhone and walk out of the office for a meeting, deposition or court and will see that I am starting with a 100% charge, so I can use my iPhone intensely for hours on end without worrying about the battery.
The back of the iPhone 5s Dock has a port for a Lightning cable and a line-out plug that you can use to hook up your iPhone to external speakers.
The bottom of the dock is rubber so that it stays in place on your desk.
I sync my iPhone with the Mac at my home, not with my work computer, so while I use my iPhone 5s Dock right next to my computer in my office, I don't connect it to my computer at all. Instead I just run a Lightning cord to an Apple power supply plugged in to a power strip on my floor. Unless you have a power outlet close to the surface of your desk, a long Lightning cable works well for this, such as the iBoltz XL that I reviewed earlier this year or the similar Lightning to USB Cable (2 m) sold by Apple.
Note that the iPhone 5s Dock is a perfect fit for the iPhone 5 or 5s — which means that it won't work at all if you use a case. Also, it means that whenever you upgrade to a new iPhone — such as whatever model Apple releases in the Fall of 2014 — chances are that this dock won't work with it. For this reason, I have quite a few Apple iPhone docks in my collection — although to be fair, I actually purchased the Universal Dock (the second one below) as an additional dock to connect my iPhone to my TV back in the days before we had an Apple TV to accomplish the same thing wirelessly.
I might not use this new dock for more than a year, but I know that I'll use it every single day, so I'll definitely get $29.00 of value out of it. If you don't use an iPhone case and you want a great spot to place your iPhone while you are working at your desk, I highly recommend the iPhone 5s Dock.