Every model of Apple Watch comes with the same type of magnetic wireless charging cable. While this is an acceptable way to top up the battery, it isn’t the most ergonomic of options.
For a start, the Apple Watch can’t be sat on its side while charging with the included cable, meaning the watch’s nightstand mode can’t be activated. An inability to hold the Watch on its side also means charging with a strap that doesn’t split into two is especially clunky, forcing the Watch to sit awkwardly at an angle.
The cable is also quite short, meaning it might only just stretch from a wall outlet to the top of your desk or bedside table.
Plainly, there are better options for charging the Apple Watch. And, while a huge range of third-party options exist across a broad spectrum of prices, Apple also makes its own alternative, called the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock.
Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock: Hardware and design
Instead of just a cable and magnetic charger, this product doubles as a soft-touch platform to rest your Apple Watch on, preventing it from being damaged by your bedside table. This might sound trivial, but the stainless steel case of the more expensive Apple Watch variants can pick up hairline scratches very easily, so a protective pad to rest it on will be welcomed by many owners.
An included two-metre USB cable connects to the outer edge of the charging dock. We welcome how this cable is longer than the one bundled with the Apple Watch as standard, but the lack of a wall plug in the box is a disappointment.
This has been a trend from Apple since 2020 and means the iPhone also no longer comes with a plug in the box. The assumption is that Apple accessory buyers probably already have a plug at home, and while that is true for many millions of people, anyone new to the brand could well be disappointed by having to spend an additional £19/AU$29 for a 5W USB plug, or £29 for one with folding pins. On top of the £75/AU$129 for the Magnetic Charging Dock, you’re looking at £100/AU$160 for a charger.
Back to the dock itself, and the main feature here is how the wireless charger itself sits on a hinge. This allows it to lay flat or rotate upwards to hold the Watch on its side. This enabled nightstand mode, where the Watch acts as a bedside clock when charging at night. In this state, the watch shows the current time, day and date, as well as your next alarm and the battery charge level. The screen brightness is turned right down to not illuminate your bedroom through the night.
The charger itself has a premium chrome finish that will complement the stainless steel of more premium models of Apple Watch. The finish is polished rather than brushed, as the chrome of the Apple Watch Edition’s charger is.
The only real downside to the design is how Apple Watches with one-piece straps cannot be placed on the charger when in the folded flat position. You could always remove the strap and charge the Watch case on its own, or switch the charger into its upright position and embrace nightstand mode.
Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock: Performance
Just like Apple’s standard wall plug, the Magnetic Charging Dock tops up the Apple Watch battery with five watts of power. This isn’t particularly quick, falling well behind the 10 or even 15 watts wireless Qi chargers are capable of. But this is a charger intended for overnight use, so fast charging isn’t a priority.
In other words, despite the high price and premium design, this charger will refill your Apple Watch at the same speed as the cable that came in the box, or any other compatible charger.
Apple states that an empty Watch battery takes about one hour to reach 80-percent and 1.5 hours to reach 100-percent.
Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock: Verdict
There is no getting away from how expensive the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock is. When the Watch comes with a charging cable in the box, £75/AU$129 feels like a lot of money for only a small amount of added convenience.
That said, Apple has never shied away from charging healthy for its products, and buyers of a more expensive model of Watch might not blink at an extra £75/AU$129. For that, they get a stylish and convenient way to enable nightstand mode, and a means of charging their watch that holds it securely and prevents it from being scratched by their table or desk.