Element Case Vapor Dock Au Gold Lightning Dock for iPhone Review


Gold may be a precious metal, but it's now also a desired color finish as far as high-end gadgets are concerned. And because many users are jumping on board, the color is fast and away becoming a standard hue when considering accessories for newly released devices. Most notably of course Apple's latest iPhone 5s, as well as a growing number of rivals from the Android side. Case manufacturers were obviously quick to follow this trend it seems with gold colored accessories designed to compliment the gold iPhone 5s. We have already taken a look at quite a few of these very accessories, including Element Case's Sector 5 Au aluminum hybrid case. Today we will be taking yet another one of Element Case's gold Au accessories for a spin - the Vapor Dock Au. Identical to its 30-pin sibling, the Vapor Dock Au is a Lightning connector charge and sync dock machined entirely out of a block of aluminum, and anodized in a svelte gold color. It looks mighty sharp, especially if you're looking to match your iPhone 5s with a golden friend. Catch the full review after the break!


You’d think gold would be a tacky color for an aluminum dock, but the Vapor Dock Au features this incredibly elegant shade of gold that’s a lot more like silky champagne. And it looks great, not to mention that it compliments the gold iPhone 5s better than anything we’ve seen yet.


Admittedly, there wasn't much we thought Element Case should have changed or improved since the inception of the Vapor Dock back when it was first designed to dock an iPhone 4s. The Lightning connector-going version is identical, albeit with a minor and obvious connector change designed to accommodate the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5. Or if you'd like, the iPod touch 5 as well.


Now it isn't true that you must be Goldmember to rock an all-gold setup like this. Think of it like wearing clothing that match instead of clashing with each other. Gold, or should I say champagne gold, is a magnificent shade when accented with anodized matte aluminum. It's not garish to the point of tastelessness and tackiness, yet subtle and elegant-like. Weather or not it's a bit more on the feminine side is arguable and of course a matter of personal taste and opinion. Then again it's hard to argue the fact when either a silver or gold iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s is in the picture. 


Like most Element Case products, the Vapor Dock Au is made in the US and comes beautifully presented inside this gift box-like packaging. The Vapor Dock Au will put a small dent in your wallet coming in at $100, making it one of the most expensive Lightning docks around. Albeit, there are even more expensive docks out there. And thanks to our good friends over at Tekcases.com, we were able to get our dirty paws on the new golden Vapor Dock Au. I've had the pleasure of using the more mundane silver and black Vapor Docks before the introduction of the Lightning connector, but there's something about the color and finish of gold that makes the Vapor Dock Au all the more spectacular when taken out of the box for the first time. While the Vapor Dock Au is the only model to feature this champagne gold colorway, Element Case does also offer the Vapor Dock in many different vibrant colors.


Hidden right underneath the dock are a few extras including a screw tool, two different sizes of back rest inserts (we'll get into their purpose later on) and straight forward, easy to understand instructions. 


The Vapor Dock Au is just as amazing as anything we've come to expect out of Element Case. Leave it to Element Case to put out one well designed dock that's machined out of solid aluminum. The Vapor Dock Au is easily the most attractive dock I've ever seen. If Apple ever made a dock out of aluminum, it'll have the same amount of awesome sauce in the list of perfect ingredients that make up a dock. Element Case knows its stuff and it shows here. No matter the angle, the Vapor Dock Au is extremely attractive. 

Talking about the exterior, the Vapor Dock Au has incredible smooth aluminum finished body that has been bead blasted for a matte texture. Pick it up and you'll immediately fall in love with its Flux finish that feels silky smooth to the touch and just looks amazing up close. It's up to par with what Apple does with its aluminum devices, maybe even more refined. It has it all, the right amount of heft, desk (or whichever place you see yourself putting it on) presence and size.


Looks alone can only make you happy to a certain extent. What really matters is how well the Vapor Dock Au actually performs as a dock more than anything. For what it is, the Vapor Dock Au works as expected. Dock your iPhone in it and poof, your iPhone will get its energy juice and sync with iTunes. Nothing here is unusual or different. The Vapor Dock Au isn't going to perform any different than say a dock made by Apple. What the Vapor Dock Au does better though is the fact that it can accommodate different types of protective cases.


Of course there is a limit to which thicker than usual cases will not fit. Aluminum cases and bumpers like the Solace, Sector 5, Ronin, Draco and so on will fit in just fine. We found that a lot of widely used semi-slim to rugged cases like the Magpul Field Case, Bump Case, Apple's iPhone 5s leather case and even the Spigen Tough Armor cases fit into the Vapor Dock Au perfectly thanks to its protruding Lightning connector design - which is very similar to Twelve South's HiRise Lightning docking stand for iPhone, iPod and iPad mini. Cases that are unusually constructed or are bulky such as the Griffin Survivor, bulky Otterbox and all LifeProof cases and so on will not fit in as well. If you like your iPhone naked, that's fine as well. The Vapor Dock Au will work perfectly well with the iPhone 5s, 5c or 5 whether it's skinned back to front or fitted with a glass screen protector.


When you're docked inside the Vapor Dock Au, tiny holes allow you to use your speakerphone without having to remove your iPhone while also enhancing the speaker audio. While I found that to be true, it isn't all too noticeable and you end up gaining more treble in the audio as a result and less of a full-bodied audio.


Besides being able to fit all iPhone models with a Lightning connector, the Vapor Dock Au will also fit just about every Lightning-equipped iPod including the iPod touch 5 with or without a slim case.


Depending on whether you'll be using a naked or cased iDevice with the Vapor Dock Au, you'll need to choose between two different sized black back inserts that help keep the back of your device have better back support and fitting.


But you're still paying a hefty price for it, then you'd expect some slippery undocking action right? I was too, until I realized the painful truth. The question everyone's been asking is whether this would finally be the dock that'll let them pick up the iPhone without having to worry about the entire dock being pulled along with it. Well, the answer is no. Sadly, the Vapor Dock Au isn't the savior of iPhone and iPod docks. It's hefty yes, but just like the now obsolete 30-pin connector, Apple has made one secure connection with its Lightning connector which simply creates too much friction requiring a lot of force to be pulled apart. And because the Vapor Dock Au uses none other than a genuine Apple made Lightning connector sync and charge USB cable, the connection being made with the iPhone is just too strong to warrant a clean, one handed ejaculation. Ok that sounded bad. But you get the point. If you know of a dock that offers seamless one handed undocking goodness, let us know in the comments because we've yet to see one. Built-in docks obviously don't count.


As you can tell, the Vapor Dock Au pretty much has no padding or anti-scratch protection around the docking area. With that being said, you shouldn't worry about your device or aluminum case getting damaged or scratched from docking and undocking.


Sadly, the Vapor Dock and Vapor Dock Au no longer come included with a charging cable so you'll have to use and supply your own Apple Lightning connector. Though to be fair Element Case did reduce the price by $20 since it stopped included a built-in cable with its Vapor Docks.


Thankfully installing your cable connector into the Vapor Dock Au is very simple and quick. The included screw tool will allow you to remove the two screws at the bottom of the metal Lightning connector collet assembly which are what securely hold the connector in place. The two rubber feet work great to keep the Vapor Dock Au from sliding around and scratching your surface.


Some docks feature a line-out output around the back, and while the Vapor Dock Au has nothing of the sort, it compensates with a Ultrasuede covered storage platform and a clever cable management system designed into the bottom of the dock. Put your speedwrench tool on it for safe keeping or other little important things. My most favorite feature of all though is the Vapor Dock's cable management system. Pick the right amount of cable length necessary to keep a tidy desk and the Vapor Dock close to where you want it, and tuck away any excess cable inside the bottom while routing the cable thru the cable slot. Easy, quick and very effective. If you don't plan on charging your device, you can completely hide the built-in cable inside the cable management bottom.


The bottom line is if you're fortunate enough to have extra spending money laying around waiting to be spent on something awesome and you're looking to get yourself a high quality charging dock that will compliment your gold iPhone 5s – look no further than the Vapor Dock Au. Yes it's expensive for what it is and does, but nothing comes close to how well designed and constructed this dock is. That being said, it isn't as versatile as the HiRise dock which is less expensive and can also accomodate an iPad mini unlike the Vapor Dock. Albeit, the HiRise does take up more desk space.

For what it's worth, the Vapor Dock Au puts a checkmark next to every criteria we expect out of a dock for the iPhone 5s, 5c, and iPhone 5. Although we would have liked to see a more unique, one step forward docking solution that didn't require you do hold down the dock in order to remove the device from it, even though that's far fetched; at a more reasonable price.