Apple's history of iPhone docks is rather hit-or-miss, with the company's recent designs generally tailored tightly to the profiles of the iPhones they were designed for, preventing the use of cases on the iPhones and making the docks incompatible with later iPhone designs.
That changes with the new iPhone Lightning Dock, introduced yesterday a full eight months after the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The new dock forgoes a form-fitting iPhone-shaped depression in favor of a simple Lightning connector embedded in a small, slightly pliable nub to cushion the device as it rests on the connector.
iPhone 6 Plus with Apple Leather Case on iPhone Lightning Dock
The design has some advantages: it offers a clean and simple look and it'll fit any iOS device with a Lightning port, including many of those with cases. The lack of a recessed docking area also keeps the iPhone's Touch ID home button easily accessible while the device is docked.
There are definitely some downsides, however, with the most obvious being stability. With the Lightning connector being the sole means of support for the iPhone, the device does tend to rock side to side if bumped. And while the Lightning connector is very firmly embedded in the base of the dock and does not feel in danger of being damaged, users may have concerns over potential damage to their iPhone's Lightning port if the device should happen to be bumped strongly while mounted on the dock.
For those who aren't terribly concerned about the potential for accidental damage, the dock works well. It's easy to mount the iPhone on the dock, and removal is also simple and possible to do one-handed by pressing down on the base with the side of your hand as you lift the iPhone off the dock. General stability against tipping is solid, as the weighted dock base means it doesn't feel top-heavy with an iPhone mounted on it.
iPad Air 2 with Smart Case on iPhone Lightning Dock (not advised)
The dock is officially compatible with all iPhone and iPod touch models with Lightning connectors, but yes, it will work with iPads as well. It might not be a great idea, however, as the much larger iPads are considerably less stable on the dock and the potential for damage to the Lightning connector or port is significantly higher with the possibility of greater torque on that single point of contact.
The rear of the iPhone Lightning Dock contains a Lightning port to allow you to use a standard Lightning to USB cable to connect to a power adapter or directly to a computer, as well as a 3.5 mm audio out jack. The jack allows you to connect powered speakers or headphones to make it easy to play audio from the iPhone immediately upon docking the device. Headphone remote functions are also supported through the dock, allowing users to easily control playback and adjust volume.
As is typical for Apple's accessories, the iPhone Lightning Dock at $39 isn't cheap. Given the length of time it's been since the latest iPhones were launched, there are an array of cheaper dock options available and other docks at similar or higher price points are frequently more substantial and offer greater physical support for devices resting in them. But for those users who prefer to keep their desktop environments as Apple-branded as possible, the new iPhone Lightning Dock is a reasonable option that should hopefully remain compatible with new models well into the future.