For some users, the elegance, security and convenience of an Apple Watch charging stand is essential. And soon, these stands will be even more useful when watchOS 2.0 introduces the "Wake me up" feature. Reviewed here are two such charging stands that are especially useful for travel.
I've learned a lot about these Apple Watch charging stands since reviewing the Twelve South HiRise on May 26. In my experience, so far, that product sets the standard for stationary charger stands. However, by its design, it's not exceptionally well suited for travel.
L: iCLever Apple Watch Charging Stand. R: Just Mobile TimeStand.
Charging Into Mobility
There are several requirements for a mobile charging stand for the Apple Watch. It should be heavy enough that it can't be easily knocked over, perhaps causing the Apple Watch to end up skittering across a hard floor. It should be compact and not likely damaged in a carry bag. Finally, if one has only one Apple Watch magnetic charger, the charger and cable should be easy to remove if another more permanent stand is used at home.
There are two such charging stands that I've recently received for review.
Compare and Contrast
1. Weight. The iClever stand weighs 122 grams (4.3 oz.) and has a rectangular base. I consider it too light to prevent a tip over. The TimeStand comes at a hefty 252 grams (8.9 oz.), has a circular base and feels better to avoid tipping. But it won't add a lot of weight to luggage, weighing only a little more than a 6.1 oz. iPhone 6 Plus.
2. Portability. A charging stand shouldn't have any extended parts that could break off in heavily handled luggage or backpacks. Both of these products are solid chunks of aluminum that won't bend or break. Each is just about 10 cm (4 inches tall).
3. Gutter Control. Both of these stands have a gutter that runs down the side and exits low. The problem with this kind of arrangement is that the charging cable can seldom be coerced into laying flat in the gutter. It tends to pop out in an unsightly way. Also the sharp turn the cable makes when coming off the top face and down the side is worrisome in terms of the longevity of the cable.
L: iClever, R: TimeStand
4. Gutter Exit. The TimeStand makes the mistake of going all the way to the bottom and then making two abrupt right angles in the base. Not only is this bad for the cable, but it tends to make the TimeStand wobble if the cable isn't pushed in hard and often. The iClever stand has the cable coming out low on the side, a better arrangement. The Twelve South HiRise suffers not from this design problem, but then it isn't very portable.
This is likely the reason why few if any of the developer's glamor shots show much of the cable in place-as I've done above.
5. Charger Disk Removal. Both of these charger stands require one to press the magnetic charger disk down, with a friction fit, into a circular depression. It's in there firmly. That's fine if left there, but when it comes time to remove it, one has to grasp the charger cable at the point where it enters the recessed disk. Tugging upwards with some force makes one fear for the wear and tear on point where the cable attaches to the charging disk. This is a bad design.
I quickly found that the right way to remove the charger disk is to insert a flat blade jeweler's screwdriver under the cord and disk and lever it upwards. That evens out the forces.
In contrast, the HiRise allows one to simply push the charger disk out from behind. Brilliant.
6. Miscellaneous. Both the iClever and Just Mobile stand have a textured, anti-skid base that will protect a nightstand from scratching. Both allow any model of the Apple Watch and its wrist band to rest on the slanted face at a pleasant 45 degree angle.
Both these Apple Watch charging stands are reasonably good for travel. They're fairly hefty, the Just Mobile more pleasantly so, and both suffer from some design problems with gutter control and charger disk removal. My qualified preference is the TimeStand from Just Mobile.
What I'd like to see is one of these stands with a circular aperture on the back, big enough for a finger to push the charger disk out plus some kind of positive, good looking control and cover over the charging cable as it snakes downwards and exits the side. The bottom line is that both earn the TMO rating called "It's Okay. Get if You Need it."
I can imagine that the best is yet to come.