Years have passed since iPhone speaker docks were in the spotlight. These days they’re barely even the equivalent of a Z-list celeb who might turn up on a reality TV show where contestants are forced to eat insects.
Not everyone likes to stream their music, though. And if that’s you, there are still several iPhone speaker units with wired Lightning dock ports to keep you happy.
Some are from big names like Bowers & Wilkins and Pure. Others are made by companies you may not have encountered before. But all are worth a look if you’re not ready to go “full wireless” just yet.
Note: we've ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.
- Need a new phone to go with your dock? Check out our iPhone 8 review and all the latest news on the iPhone 9
If you want a dock for your bedroom rather than one that needs to act as your main music player, the KitSound XDock 4 Plus is worth a look. It’ll sit happily on a small bedside table and charge your phone to stop you needing to find the Lightning cable that seems to disappear under your bed each evening.
The KitSound XDock 4 Plus has small 3W speakers so isn’t going to make the walls shake, but that’s not the point.
It has a big, clear clock display, acts as an alarm clock and doesn’t cost too much. There’s also Bluetooth for tunes while your iPhone is in your pocket. Bear in mind the radio side of this Lightning socket clock radio is limited, though, with just FM, no DAB.
Here’s one for the readers who live in the UK. The IWANTIT IBTLIA17 isn’t subtle or immensely refined, but it does get you a lot of speaker for not too much money.
Like the iPhone speaker docks of old, this is a large block of a unit with relatively big drivers. There are mid/treble drivers to each side and a dedicated subwoofer in the center with two bass ports. If you’re out for room-filling bass on a budget, the IBTLIA17 should be on your list.
There’s a remote control in the box, but the speaker also has direct control buttons on the top plate, by the Lighting dock. As you’d hope in a recent docking model, there’s also Bluetooth for wireless streaming from non-iPhone mobiles.
Pure has tried to make sure the Contour D1 suits every iPhone owner. It even comes with a 30-pin adaptor as well as a Lightning one, to fit in the dock tray. This lets you attach your ancient iPhone or iPod Classic, if your house hasn’t upgraded to modern-age iPhones.
The dock pushes back into the main speaker unit when not in use – when you're using the mini jack around the rear, or Bluetooth connectivity, for instance.
You can also wirelessly stream to the D1. But, like most Pure gear, radio is still a key draw. There’s DAB as well as “classic” FM. It's just a shame the display is a bit dim and uninspired.
Still, the dock packs a remote, it's a breeze to set up and ticks plenty of boxes, as well as sounding rich, crisp and clear, without lacking bass.
Add a little sunshine to your mornings with this brilliantly colored radio alarm dock. Its leatherette detailing surrounds a pair of classic retro cream white grilles, a clear OLED display and responsive function buttons, which include DAB, DAB+ and FM radio, dual alarms and snooze.
A closer look reveals a wooden inner chassis which does wonders for the audio reproduction and offers a wide, surprisingly expansive range – crisp and loud, without tinniness or boom.
Available in a wide range of colors all of which come with an auxiliary out to connect any other devices you have, the VQ looks ace on any bedside cabinet – whatever your wallpaper choice.
The Bowers & Wilkins Z2 is one of the last audio-fan iPhone docks you can still buy. But you’d better be quick as nowadays you’ll only find it “recertified” or “refurbished”. These aren’t being made anymore.
The rounded glass-reinforced compact enclosure of this space-agey dock offers plenty of bass, a decent soundstage and good dispersion around any medium-sized room.
Once you've linked your device, the Z2 performs admirably, with DSP that keeps distortion to an absolute minimum regardless of how high you crank up the volume.
Let’s finish off with something a little mad. The Jarre AeroBull HD is one of the most recent, and probably one of the last, dedicated Lightning speaker docks. It’s shaped like a sunglasses-wearing French Bulldog and, at 10kg and over half a meter tall, it’s larger and heavier than the real thing too.
The Lightning port sits on top of the little guy’s head, making sense of the AeroBull HD’s height. And by his backside you get a 3.5mm aux socket.
This isn’t a high-tech multi-room Wi-Fi speaker, it just uses Bluetooth and the dock. However, that’s not really the idea. This is as much lounge furniture as an iPhone dock, and it has the price to match.
The Jarre AeroBull HD has a 2.1 driver array, with small units in the dog’s glasses and a subwoofer to the rear. Don’t expect sound to match the high price if you’re an unapologetic audiophile, but at this point this is one of the best-sounding Lightning docks you can get. Even if it is a bloody dog.
- Want to keep your music to yourself? Then check out our guide to the best headphones