Looking for a small and unobtrusive bedside charging dock for your Apple Watch? Then we think you might really like what Elevation Lab has got to offer. This is NightStand, the smallest charging dock you can get your hands on to re-energize your Apple Watch at night. With its horizontal charging angle, the NightStand docks your Apple Watch on its side and takes advantage of the Nightstand mode found in watchOS 2 that automatically turns your Apple Watch into an expensive digital alarm clock whenever it's being charged on its side. And unlike many other Apple Watch docking stands, the NightStand locks to your desk or bedside table using a reusable sticky NanoPad base and can also be mounted on virtually any vertical surface such as the front of your iMac. Catch the full review after the break!
The NightStand comes nicely packaged and includes a quick starter guide along with an optional adhesive pad should you want to mount your dock vertically. This is the same 3M adhesive used with GoPro cameras so it's insanely strong but also not temporary or reusable. Removing it required heating and can sometimes ruin the surface it was attached to.
Conversely, the adhesive bottom on the NightStand (called NanoPad) can be reused as many times as you'd like and can be cleaned with water to restore its stickiness, which is basically a technology that uses nano air suction to stick onto flat surfaces. Just peel off the clear protective film for the first time and stick the NightStand to your desk or wherever it is you want to place your dock. As long as you've got a relatively smooth, flat surface the NightStand's NanoPad bottom will stay firmly secured in position for a very long time. You can quite easily pull it off too, and since there's no glue or strong adhesive, no residue will be left whatsoever.
Like pretty much all currently available docks for the Apple Watch, you are going to have to use your existing magnetic charger with the NightStand. Elevation Lab made it super simple to install though. All you need to do is pop in the USB end of the magnetic charging cable through the front side of the NightStand, push the magnetic charging puck snugly into its place and push the rest of the cable into the cable channel for a neat rear cable exit.
The magnetic charging puck will sit flush into the NightStand's rubbery surface. And as you can see, the NightStand is way smaller than Spigen's Apple Watch Stand S330 and sits much lower to the ground while also providing a steeper viewing angle that is meant to be used in a landscape orientation as opposed to the vertical docking of the S330.
Spigen has come out with a very similar dock most likely inspired by the NightStand called the Apple Watch Night Stand S350, which is also designed to dock an Apple Watch on its side and features a small and compact form factor. It's also less expensive at $20 (and only $12 via Amazon as of this review). And although it manages to improve on some of the NightStand's caveats using a supportive bottom lip, it does fail to offer a clean cable routing and doesn't feature a sticky base for added stability. That being said, having this lip at the bottom may restrict the use of other bulky third party protective cases whereas with the NightStand's more streamlined shape there is nothing to get in the way of docking your Apple Watch no matter how big of a case you might have.
Elevation Lab's NightStand isn't the cheapest third party Apple Watch accessory at $29, and for that money you're not really get much in the way of premium build quality. That's not to say that it's a cheaply made piece of useless trash. It's made out of a really nice (and surprisingly good-smelling), high-grade silicone rubber material and finished very nicely much like Elevation Lab's Anchor mount for headphones. The smooth caring matte texture is pleasant, looks great and of course will not harm your Apple Watch in any way.
This is a well made accessory considering it's only made out of a single seamless piece of somewhat rigid silicone; and we didn't expect anything less. With that being said, we did find that the black colored NightStand tended to show fingerprints and dust much easier than the rest. And being that this is a rubbery material, lint and dust will attract to the surface of the dock. A quick rinse under water will easily clean it right up. The NightStand is currently available in red, black, and blue. So no, you won't exactly be able to color match it to your Sport band for example.
It features a clean and discreet cable management, one-handed undocking and a special adhesive bottom that optionally let's you mount it anywhere you'd like to magnetically charge and dock your precious Apple Watch in a gravity defying vertical orientation. The Night Stand is the only Apple Watch dock we've seen that is capable of adhering to the side of your desk, wall or bed frame. It's available in black, red and blue.
The viewing angle might seem nearly upright at first glance, but there's some backward tilt to the dock and I can honestly say that the display of the Apple Watch can be conveniently seen from far away as well as from really close up. The landscape orientation obviously makes good use of the Apple Watch's Nightstand mode, which displays the timedate, charging status and any alarm you set using a big typeface. This isn't to say that you must dock your Apple Watch next to your bed, it's merely a great feature that is only available whenever you're charging your Apple Watch on its side. Many docks will get the job done, but if you prefer using Nightstand mode and its own custom bold watch face which is only available to this specific mode, a dock like the NightStand is the obvious choice.
The NightStand will work with any Apple Watch and band combination, except for the metal Link bracelet for some reason. And that most likely has got to do with the NightStand's design in that it doesn't actually offer any support for the Apple Watch and instead leaves it all to the magnetic charging puck to hold the watch in place. Spigen's seemingly inspired Night Stand S350 charging dock does support the bottom of the watch using a lip that cradles it when docked on its side. This also allows you press down on the Digital Crown or side button without dislodging the Apple Watch off its magnetic charger with one hand.
Thanks to the NightStand's NanoPad covered bottom, it firmly stays attached to the surface you've set it on and enables you to flawlessly dock and undock your Apple Watch with one hand. The dock will never move out of position or want to lift up despite the somewhat strong magnetic attraction between the Apple Watch and the magnetic charging piece.
Be sure to keep your band tightly secured so that it rests on top of the back base of the dock while also making it easier to stabilize the alignment of the Apple Watch when docking on the first try. Otherwise the Apple Watch will tend to rock sideways more often then not. Granted you can simply center it yourself if you really care about a perfectly aligned viewing angle.
You can even mount the NightStand vertically onto smooth flat surfaces such as the aluminum portion of an iMac or onto the side of some desks without having to use the optional and much stronger 3M adhesive.
Rougher surfaces such as wood or even a wall will require you to use the included 3M pad for a more secure hold. Using the NightStand in this type of orientation will actually let you use any Apple Watch band including the metal Link bracelet, but will not activate the Apple Watch's Nightstand function.
The issue that stands out the most when using the NightStand is that it wasn't designed with a base or lip to support the Apple Watch as it hangs seemingly in mid air with only the magnetic charger to secure it in place. The Apple Watch does tend to rock sideways just a tiny bit as a result. You can dock it and have it perfectly centered horizontally, but touch it lightly and it will rotate sideways by a few millimeters. This doesn't interfere with the charging process mind you nor is this a significant drawback, but it's still a minor caveat nevertheless. You can also dock your Apple Watch with your Sport, Leather Loop, Classic/Modern Buckle band completely unfastened for a hassle-free quick charging.
The lack of a bottom lip also prevents users from being able to press down on buttons when using the Apple Watch's alarm clock feature in Nightstand mode. Then again you can simply use a pinching gesture to press either the Digital Crown or side button to silence or snooze an alarm without causing your Apple Watch to move or slide off of its magnetic charger whilst docked on the Elevation Lab NightStand.
It's not the perfect charging dock for the Apple Watch, but it's good enough. As far as we see it, it's currently the most minimalist Apple Watch dock you can get. The NightStand is ridiculously small and has a space-saving footprint which is important to many, offers solid one-handed usability, it's well made, and features a versatile mounting capability with tidy cable management. That being said, we do think it's slightly overpriced. And if you've got a Link bracelet and you're anal about a perfect horizontal alignment, this isn't the dock for you as the NightStand will not work with Apple's Link bracelet nor will it always automatically keep your Apple Watch perfectly straight when docked.