My friend Ben managed to find a very cheap iPhone 4 dock on eBay which I will be reviewing today. The dock costs about RM24 ($8) only. We all have China to thank for lowering down prices of electronics. However, due to the availability of online shopping and cheap electronics, I think I tend to spend more. So I’m not sure if cheap electronics is a good thing.
The very first iPhone released by Apple came with a dock. The dock allows you to stand your iPhone upright on your desk for charging, syncing or audio-out. Later iPhones didn’t come with a dock and they had to be purchased separately. The same goes for the iPhone 4. Personally I find that the dock is a very useful accessory to have for an iPhone because you don’t want to leave the phone lying on its back while charging. The tendency of getting it scratched is very high. Also, the audio out feature is very useful if you want to play back music on your speakers.
I got a matte black dock. The photo on eBay shows a glossy black one. These are inconsistencies that we sometimes have to deal with when buying from China/HK.
When I first got this dock, the lack of tilt immediately caught my attention. And it was proven when I compared it side by side with my iPhone 2G and its dock:
As you can clearly see, the iPhone 2G’s dock provides more tilt than the iPhone 4′s dock. But under normal usage on my desk, this wasn’t as big of an issue as I thought it would be.
Another problem I found was that the dock covered a bit of the home button:
Again, this is just a design issue. I would have preferred it to look like the iPhone 2G dock, with a small cutout in front (see bottom of this post).
Like the iPhone 4 dock sold by Apple, this dock has connections for audio-out and to the USB sync cable. There is one peculiar thing about the USB sync cable connector though. It’s upside down.
Although the dock is specifically designed for the iPhone 4 (I’ve tried inserting other iPhones into it and it doesn’t fit), the following message still appears everytime you put your iPhone into the dock:
Despite this message, everything works well. I have no problems syncing with iTunes, charging it, or using the audio-out jack. I have not tried making calls with it on the dock but I don’t suspect that to be a problem since the signal strength is pretty good here.
The iPhone 2G and iPhone 4 dock compared side by side. The iPhone 4′s dock is slightly thinner.
Final verdict: Build quality is not as good as the original Apple iPhone 2G dock. The matte black surface attracts dust fast. The USB sync connector is a bit tight and the connector doesn’t sit flush. Functionally this dock works well. For $8 there’s really nothing much to complain about. Recommended if you really want a dock and don’t want to pay a high price for the original Apple one.
Tip: If you have the old iPhone 2G dock, don’t throw it away because it actually fits the iPhone 4:
iPhone 4 on an iPhone 2G dock. The front cutout frames the iPhone nicely.