I have strong opinions about iPhone docks, and the new Twelve South HiRise 3 is not a favorite of mine. As neat as it may look, it makes a few design choices I disagree with. Plus it goes against the ethos of the HiRise stands that came before it.
Before we get in too deep and emotions run high, let’s take a step back to start with the basics of the HiRise 3. The new charging stand for MagSafe compatible iPhones adds an Apple Watch charger to the top and a wireless charger underneath meant for AirPods or any other Qi-compatible device.
The device seems reasonable enough at first—those are the things you want charging on a desk or nightstand. I’m not even mad that it doesn’t come with a wall charger in the box or that the front MagSafe charger only goes to a maximum speed of 10 watts. (This is compared with 15 watts with official MagSafe or 20 plus watts when wired to a high-speed charger). But once I started using the HiRise 3, it felt like it was trying to differentiate itself only to be different, not because its design choices were better.
The first HiRise stand for iPhone was ingenious—and the second version was an iteration of that design. It was adjustable, so it worked just as well if you used a thick case or if you left your phone unprotected. I think I’m most disappointed in the apparent lack of ingenuity with the HiRise 3. It feels bland and a little lazy, like it could be any other iPhone dock you could find on Amazon from a company that will be gone in eight months.
- Charges multiple devices at once
- Apple Watch charger works with any style of band
- Only charges iPhone at 10 watts maximum speed
- Obstructs Apple Watch Nightstand Mode
- iPhone 13 Pro in a case might not work as well
Buy at Twelve South.
HiRise 3 Pros
As negative as I might seem out of the gate about the HiRise 3 charging dock, it’s not all bad. Overall, it is a fine product. I do like that it can charge multiple devices at once. Over time I’m less convinced that people need the third, super slow charging pad for AirPods, but it doesn’t hurt anything that it’s there.
Starting with the positives, I do like how the Apple Watch charger on the top can accommodate all kinds of watchbands. Apple’s Solo Loop band, for example, is a single piece of material that can be hard to use on watch chargers that lay flat. This one is lifted high enough that it allows all band types to hang freely. Don’t worry about the watch falling, however; there’s a magnetic pull inside the concave divot where it sits to get power.
The front charging spot is a large target area. This location uses magnets to hold MagSafe-equipped iPhones in place. That also means this charging dock will only really work for iPhones 12, 13 and whatever the 2022 model is called—presuming the next one still includes MagSafe.
Another positive? Twelve South advertises that the HiRise 3 has a small footprint compared with other 3-in-1 chargers. It’s less wide than Belkin’s 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Pad with MagSafe, for example. So if you need its narrow dimensions (3.4 inches), then it’s a win. (At the same time, the HiRise 3, at 6.5 inches, is pretty tall should you require it to fit under a monitor or shelf.)
HiRise 3 Cons
A lot of my criticism with the HiRise 3 lies in the details. For example, I don’t like that the Apple Watch gets hidden from view—lying flat and tucked behind a phone. When the Apple Watch is charging, it can display the time in Nightstand Mode, which enables it to replace a dedicated clock on a bedside table. That feature is pretty much negated by the HiRise 3’s top, horizontal charging placement.
That’s a tiny issue. A bigger one is that attempting to charge the iPhone 13 Pro in a case almost doesn’t work. The bump on the back of that phone from the camera system is large enough and close enough to the MagSafe area to prevent it from lying flat. There’s a gap between the phone and the HiRise 3. That gap isn’t big enough to prevent the phone from charging, but it does make it less secure.
This specific area is where it feels like Twelve South phoned the design in. Instead of using a protruding, circular, official MagSafe component like Belkin and Nomad do, Twelve South opted for an experience that’s worse for iPhone 13 Pro owners. Schematic Leaks from case manufacturers and information from analysts also suggest the camera bump on the 2022 iPhone Pro could be even bigger. The HiRise 3 might not even work for some new iPhones.
The camera bump on the iPhone 13 Pro keeps the phone from being able to rotate from vertical to horizontal, like it can on Belkin’s 2-in-1 Wireless Charger Stand. The bump precludes the phone’s charging at all on the flat, bottom wireless charger, too. I couldn’t get my phone to charge on that bottom charger, but I could get my wife’s regular iPhone 13 to draw power in that spot.
There’s also no magnet in the bottom wireless charger to help align AirPods with MagSafe cases. Plus, despite having a Twelve South logo to indicate the bottom’s charging spot, it can be hard to locate at times.
Should You Buy the Twelve South HiRise 3?
To quote the cliché parent, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” The original HiRise was adjustable and able to accommodate how people used their phones, in a case or not. This new dock forgets its legacy and barely works with certain iPhone models. Plus I think the HiRise 3 is a little boring and generic looking.
Unless you have an iPhone 13 Pro, there’s nothing wrong with the HiRise 3. If it fits your specific desk needs, I’d say, enjoy. For everyone else, I would look elsewhere. There are more beautiful and functional docks out there.
Buy at Twelve South for $99.99.
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