I have been through a couple of bed-side iPhone docks, and they all have their drawbacks. I can now happily report I’ve found the ultimate in iPhone docks! The Element Case Vapor Dock is a premium charging and syncing iPhone/iPod dock that’s beautifully crafted out of aircraft-grade machined aluminum.
Element Case was the first company to release an aluminum iPhone 4 bumper, and it made shockwaves in the techiverse. It makes sense that they have expanded into the dock market because they surely know the frustration of having to remove an iPhone case to dock your phone. This was one of the reasons I’ve been through various bed-side iPhone docks. Not all iPhone cases are easily removable, and it’s the worst when your iPhone won’t fit in a dock. The Element Case Vapor Dock has a large opening to dock your iPhone, it accommodates most iPhone cases. The large opening is only half the reason it does a better job at accommodating various cases. Element Case cleverly designed a way to prop a regular Apple iOS cable firmly upright inside of the opening. Since your phone is docking into a regular iPhone cable, it pretty much guarantees universal compatibility with iPhone cases, hooray!
The design of the Element Case Vapor Dock is simple, clean, and extremely elegant. It’s crafted out of precision machined aircraft-grade aluminum. It has a satin-like finish that’s ultra-smooth and soft to the touch. Vapor Dock has some very solid heft to it, which makes it like a paper weight. While pictures may not do it justice, when you feel the Vapor Dock in-hand, you get a real sense of its extreme quality. On the underside, there are non-slip pads and a cable management pocket. On the front of the dock is machined holes that look as if they’re just part of the stylish design. They’re actually very functional tuned air chambers to amplify sound from iPhone’s speakers. Element Case calls them “audio-enhancement ports.” Behind the dock opening is a plush ultra-suede insert. Aside from adding to Vapor Dock’s attractive design, I have no idea what the function of the ultra-suede insert is. For holding jewelry, paper clips, medicine? No clue….but it does look nice.
So why is the Element Case Vapor Dock better than other iPhone docks? The aesthetically modish design and extreme attention to detail are nice, but the competitive advantage comes down to two reasons. Firstly, it does a superior job of accommodating various iPhones and iPods with and without cases. This is attributed to the large/deep opening and incorporating the real Apple iOS charging/syncing cable. It also includes two different sized back rest spacers, one for a cased iPhones and the other for naked iPhones. The back rest spacer isn’t required, but nice to have if you’re always cased or never cased. The other reason Vapor Dock excels above the rest is its raw heft. The Vapor Dock is built tough; once it’s placed on a nightstand it doesn’t slide around or topple over. It keeps iPhone safe. In the middle of the night, my pillows sometimes go rogue. That’s when I wake up to find my iPhone either on the floor or flat on it’s face….but not with Vapor Dock!
The Vapor Dock uses an actual Apple iOS USB cable; it’s white and standard length. Element Case includes a hex screwdriver and instructions should you have to (or want to) replace the cable. This is comforting because a broken cable doesn’t mean a useless dock. Since the dock uses a USB cable, it also makes a good docking companion for an office or work station. Unfortunately, there’s no wall adapter included.
The Element Case Vapor Dock is definitely the nicest iPhone dock we’ve reviewed, both in design and usability. It’s neat how the dock works as a natural amplifier for iPhone’s speaker. It even works great for making phone calls (and facetime calls!). While it can accommodate most iPhone cases, there is a maximum thickness it can fit. The especially bulky cases will not fit. This includes most (but not all) of Speck’s CandyShell Cases. Speck’s CandyShell Grip case is pretty much as thick as the Vapor Dock will fit. With all that said, The Element Case Vapor Dock is currently available in black and silver. At $119.99, it’s most definitely a premium accessory. It can be purchased at Amazon.com or directly from Element Case.com (you may be able to get 10% off for signing up for their newsletter).
The Good: Well Crafted, Accommodates iPhones/iPods With Cases, Built-In Cable Management, Cable is Swappable, Doesn’t Slide or Tip Over, Speaker and Mic Holes
The Bad: Pricey, No Included Wall Adapter, Won’t Fit Very Thick Cases