After over a year with the iPhone 5, iPad 4, and iPad mini, you would think that good docks for these devices would be on every street corner from here to the zoo. Sadly that’s not the case, and my search continues for not just good docks but docks that are actually worth buying and using daily. That’s why I’m happy with TwelveSouth, a company known for excellent Apple-specific peripherals that not only match Apple’s look, but feel and functionality. The company released the HiRise, a MacBook peripheral that holds the laptop in place and at a proper angle for desk-users who want access to the display but still interface with an external keyboard and mouse/trackpad.
The new HiRise, for the iPhone 5/5s/5c and iPad mini, isn’t quite the same, but it makes for a great dock.
The HiRise for iPhone 5/iPad mini (HiRise from here on out, not to be confused with the laptop version) is a raised phone/tablet dock that looks like it could’ve come out of one of Apple’s Chinese factories. The aluminum-built dock is straight-foward when assembled: place the iOS device in, use it at a nice angle and elevated off the table, with almost any case that you may own.
It’s actually constructing the HiRise that’s a surprising challenge. TwelveSouth ships the HiRise completely unbuilt; it has four screws, a stand, and two slabs of aluminum that jetty out from the stand in a user-customizable position. Don’t worry, you won’t need a toolkit to build this setup. Even at the incredibly low price of $35, the HiRise ships with everything you need, including an Allen wrench to fit it all together.
Unfortunately the instructions…leave much to the imagination. It’s very easy to make mistakes while constructing the HiRise, but after 10 minutes I’d completed it after making every possible error. So if you like building, consider this a bonus. If that sounds like something you’ll hate doing…
There are two things that are user adjustable that make a huge impace on how the HiRise will work for you. The first is the Lightning connector height, made to fit next to any iPhone/iPad mini case. I’m switching between cases all the time but prefer thinner ones so that the iPhone doesn’t feel like its iFat, so I set the height to zero. The other options are two and five, for mid-sized and large cases. While TwelveSouth says that not all cases will work with the HiRise, I haven’t found one that doesn’t.
The second customization is for the back slab, which is in place to hold an iPad mini steady. This is adjustable so that users don’t stress the Lightning connector too much (and I recommend you use Apple’s cable, not any cheap knock-offs; I broke a $2 Lightning cable in two minutes with the HiRise). The iPad mini stays put very well in multiple tested cases, though I couldn’t help but feel on edge that I’d snap the expensive $30 Lightning cable in this manner.
After several weeks of use the HiRise is now my most used and one of my favorite iPhone docks. I don’t typically use it for the iPad mini, which is really meant to be viewed horizontally on a desk and vertically in the hand, though it certainly works very well with the tablet. With the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s I adore using the HiRise, even over the SETA Smartphone Stand, my previous favorite. The reason: the HiRise fulfills all three of the basic dock requirements: it’s stable, it holds the iPhone at a good angle, and it charges it too.
Aside from a tedious building process, the only problem with the HiRise is the cable connection. Because the Lightning cable has to be housed inside the aluminum dock, it goes through the base and out the back. But the bottom of the base, where the cable goes through, is “sealed” by a very cheap piece of plastic that with the slightest tug of the cable will rip that plastic off. If you ever move the HiRise, this will happen to you. I’d have paid another $5 for something more stable.
The HiRise for iPhone 5/iPad mini is the best dock for the iPhone. It hits every mark that matters and does so while looking good. It isn’t perfect, and I’m actually surprised by the lack of finesse generally seen in TwelveSouth products. Even without perfection, the HiRise kills the competition.
Bottom Line: You can’t go wrong with the HiRise for iPhone 5/iPad mini. It’s the best iPhone 5 dock on the market.