What is an Android Docking station?
Android docking station or also called Dock is a device that allows in one way or another to connect your Android Operating System powered device to it. Docking stations can range from small devices that only charge your phone in horizontal or vertical position to large electronics that have built in speakers, alarms, Bluetooth connections and even audio and video ports coming out of them.
A docking station in itself is such a broad phrase that includes a variety of devices but it is limited in this case to all smart devices that run Android Operating system. These Android Docking station can also be just a simple car mount that holds your device in place but from the other hand be a large scale speaker that has a Micro USB port where you can charge your smart device. Because there are so many possibilities you can check out our docking station Type article Here
Top android docking stations
When you are looking for an android docking station, you probably will go through a decent list of docking stations available for smartphones with many options, specs and features and will get lost in all those specifications. To help you out, we have created our TOP 5 ANDROID DOCKING STATION list, where we have gathered the most popular and best docking stations that you can purchase at the moment.
Built in speakers?
Alarm and clock function?
|Philips Fidelio AS140/37||4|
|SONR Labs Speaker dock||3.5|
Philips is certainly a big player in android docking station market. They are one of the first, who manufactured a docking station for android smartphones and also fidelio docks are one of the most popular currently available to purchase. All four of fidelio docks have very nice and sleek design that will certainly look good in your living room or bedroom. Fidelio series starts with smaller Philips AS111 alarm clock dock. Continuing with more powerful Philips AS140 alarm clock docking station. Next comes Philips AS351 portable docking station with AA battery option. At the top end, Philips offers AS851 android speaker dock with 30 watts output power.
To read more detailed reviews about Philips Fidelio series android docks, visit Philips manufacturer section of our page.
This android docking station is really popular among users. Sonr Labs android speaker offers nice looks and decent sound quality. This particular dock does not have bluetooth option and instead connects your device to dock with standard 3.5mm audio jack. It also has a remote control, and you can control your docking station from distance, while still be able to use any of your favourite music streaming services. This dock also is easy to use with audio connector, just put your device in the dock and connect it with audio cable, no messing with bluetooth, which in some other docking stations is unstable and can give you some problems. All in all, good looking, easy to use android speaker dock, with decent volume and sound quality.
When I am thinking about beautiful and shiny android docks, this is the first that pops in my head. This docking station is made by Samsung for Samsung galaxy smartphones, but will work also with different other android smartphones. It will work and look good with newest Samsung smartphones like S3, Note 2, S4 and others. This dock is made for smartphone charging and also displays clock. Best of all, it has got rubberized bottom and will hold still on your desk, also when you are using your phone, while it sits in the dock.
I have chosen this docking station because of its multi-charging option. In opposite to other docking stations that are made only for Apple or Android devices, this docking station is capable to charge both android and apple device at the same time. The surface of dock, where you can put your device is big enough, to put an android tablet or ipad, when its charging, or two smartphones at the same time. This docking station also has got a clock in front of the panel, and built in speakers. You can connect your android phone with AUX jack and listen to radio or your favourite tracks. There are some built in buttons on the dock that controls the docking stations radio and clock, and a cable spool inside the dock, so you can charge your android or Apple device more further from the docking station.
Sinjimoru Sync dock is really simple android dock that is made to hold your phone in place, while it is charging. This smartphone stand has really good design, it looks elegant and innovative and at the same time it is simple to use. You can adjust viewing angle, when charging your phone, with 360 degree micro USB plug. Your phone will sit still in this android smartphone stand and you will be able to watch movies, while your device is charging. You can use this stand with many android phones with case, only more thicker ones will not fit in the dock. All in all, this is beautiful, small android charging dock, that will look good with practically every android smartphone.
If you would like to read more detailed reviews about any of these android docking stations, please visit review section of our website.
What differs Android docking station from regular music speakers?
When we are thinking about buying a new music station with speakers, we first think about regular sound station. But now, when android smartphones have become so popular you probably need to look for something, where you can connect your phone and listen to your favourite soundtracks from your music streaming application. Today, practically all of my music is in my phone, and i am sure, that this is the case with many people who uses smartphones each day.
Here are some of the ways, you can connect your phone to your home sound system.
First option – AUX connection
So, when the day comes and you are looking for something more powerful than your android phone speakers, first thing that you will think about is sound system, where you can connect you phone with AUX cable. This, rather oldschool variant is surely convenient and will do the job of streaming sound from your phone to sound station speakers very well, but, there is one BUT. The main problem that android and other smartphones are facing today is the low battery life. And if we want to play music from our small phone through sound systems large speakers, there is no chance that our phones battery will last longer than an hour or so. The one choice could be to connect your phone to charger, and then you will not have to worry about battery life. But at the end, there needs to be two electric charging sockets for phone charger and sound system, and also another wire connecting your phone with sound system. So many wires, just to connect your phone to your home sound system? Sounds impractical to me.
Second option – Bluetooth connection
The next possibility would be to connect your android phone to your home sound system through Bluetooth, if your home system have one. For this to work, your sound system should have working bluetooth connector that accepts sound streaming from phone to music station, so you can connect both devices. If your sound system supports such an option, Great. But here comes some problems. Again you will have to charge your smartphone somewhere, you cannot connect it to your sound system and it will charge. Second thing is that people tend to lose their smartphone even at home. Wouldn’t it be nice, if you could place your phone in a sound system, while phone streams music to it. And another thing is that, when you want to watch movies on your smartphone and sound is just not so good through phones speakers, it would be cool to place your phone in a stand and adjust its angle, so you can watch your movies easily and enjoy great sound quality, and your phone will charge at the same time. Home sound systems will not offer your such features. The last thing is that home music systems usually are large and placed in one room, you cannot carry it with you anywhere you go. So we have come to a conclusion that home music system with a bluetooth connection is good way to connect your android device to stream music, but there should be another, better way, made specially for smartphones, to meet all our needs. And Yes indeed, there is such a device, and its called – docking station.
Third option – Docking station
There is no doubt that docking station is the best way you can connect your smartphone to music station, for streaming and listening to music on higher quality speakers, charging your phone, and providing a place for your smartphone to stand still, while watch a movie or do something else on your phone. Docking stations can offer all these features for you in one, compact device. With the variety of android and iphone docking stations available at the market, you can choose the best device that suits all your needs and demands. You can get a smaller and portable docking station, if you go on a trip, or maybe camping somewhere outside and want a small speaker dock to listen to music that works on batteries. You can have an alarm dock that have a built in digital clock and alarm clock function and can be used in bedroom. Or you can buy a larger android speaker dock, with powerful speakers and subwoofer, and enjoy music at the best quality.
Docking stations also provide different kind of connection options. Almost all docks provides ability to charge your android device with micro USB connector. Some docking stations even allow to charge your android and apple device at the same time. For sound streaming you have classic 3.5mm AUX connector. Many docking station allows to stream music from android device to dock station through Bluetooth connection. There are a lot of options and features that android docking station provides, so you just have to consider the best one for your needs.
Android smartphone applications for docking stations
Android Docking station apps
Android apps for docking stations are used, to provide different options and features, when your android device is connected to docking station through Bluetooth. Primary option that almost any docking station app provides is, when your phone is in the range, where bluetooth connection can reach from your phone to dock, it automatically connects both devices and you can start listening to music immediately. There are several other options that these docking station apps provides, usually to be able to set alarm clock, control audio playback settings and your music streaming application. Docking station apps are usually made for specific manufacturer devices like Samsung wireless audio dock made for Samsung Galaxy series smartphones, but they probably will work with any android device with bluetooth connection and required android operating system. Others, like Philips DockStudio are made to work with Fidelio docking stations. Here are some android docking station applications that can be found on Google Play store.
- Philips DockStudio - This android application is made for Philips Fidelio series docking stations, which are one of the most popular android docking stations, so I included this app in this article. As we have reviewed, fidelio docks are really good and provides decent sound quality, looks well and have many functions. Philips DockStudio app, on the other hand, is terrible. It has many problems, crashes for many users and I uninstalled this application after short time, because it had some alarm issues and I had to reinstall it to be able to play music through Fidelio docking station. Me and many others from google play store do not recommend this application for Philips docking station.
- Samsung Wireless Audio Dock application - This application is made for Samsung Galaxy smartphones and Galaxy Player. For Galaxy Tab series there is another application with the same name. You can use this application with different Samsung audio products and samsung docking stations. Supports all android operating systems from Gingerbread and up. The app automatically connects your phone to docking station with bluetooth. It provides some basic features like auto launch, some weather settings, brightness and so on. But you actually can live without this application and will be able to use samsung docking station with any bluetooth compatible device without any problems. It is nice little application, and you can test it out by yourself and see, if you like any of the few features it provides.
- Dock Clock (Night Clock) application - This is really cool application if you use your docking station in bedroom at nights. I really enjoyed this application with my android device, while it was sitting in docking station. It basically makes your smartphone better for use at night. It customizes different settings like sound volume, dims screen brightness, makes your ringer softer, changes text colors, shows large clock on the home screen of your phone, adds different features to alarm clock and many other features. In other words, it makes your phone a great alarm clock at night, while it is connected to a docking station or charger. There is also Dock Clock Plus application that offers some additional features for little money. I ensure you to check out at least the free application and you will enjoy it, if you use an android docking station at your bedroom.
- Car Dock Home v3 - Last android dock application I tested was Car Dock Home v3. This application is made for car docks and is really handy if you use your android smartphone a lot in a car while driving. You can add any apps or widgets you like on the home screen, make different home screens for different usage. Buttons that are placed on home screen are large and easy accessible. It also provides many automatic settings, when your smartphone enters car mode, like disabling unnecessary settings like WiFi and turns on GPS, Bluetooth and turns volume to max. I recommend this car dock application for everyone that uses smartphone in a car, and it will improve and help you to use your phone more easier and safer while driving.
Music streaming apps for android smartphones
You can use many popular music streaming application on your android smartphone and play music on your docking station through bluetooth. Many times, this will be the best option you can have, if you want to listen to your favourite tracks on your android docking station. Here I have listed some of the most popular music streaming services,radio apps and music players that me and many other people are using and recommend to you:
You can read detailed reviews about these android application on Google Play store, by clicking on the name from the list provided above.
AUX vs Micro USB vs Bluetooth connections
Android docking stations that have a built in speaker usually have two options how you can play your music through the phone but sometimes can also have a third option.These two main options are the bluetooth connection and a 3.5 mm audio connector. Both of them can play music from your phone or other portable device but both have their advantages and disadvantages.
This first option allows you to link your device and the docking station so that the remote device can play music wirelessly without the need to plug another jack into that device. This means that you can just connect to the dock and play music within the bluetooth range that is from 10 to 30 meters. This also means that you can play music while your phone is in your pocket or while it is docked into the stand and charging. Because of this flexibility you don’t have to stop your music playback if you want to pick up the device from the dock and also you can use it for hands free calls. But if you really want to enjoy a hands free music playback then you definitely need a docking station that comes with a dedicated application that allows you to start playing music as soon as the phone is in docks range. This ability is amazing and without it the bluetooth connection doesn’t seem that good but when you can start playing music as soon as you enter the room you just want to smile and think you have chosen wisely to get a dock with this feature.
But from the other side bluetooth is a wireless connection and it is not that strong to facilitate high quality audio transmission that would allow you to listen good quality music. Because of this drawback you will get decreased quality in your audio files but usually dock speakers are small and even with the physical connection won’t give you as good of a quality like home cinema or high end audio player would allow. The music quality is not that great but you can increase it if you install that dedicated application that I mentioned that somehow tinkers with the connection or decoding and gives you clearer sound!
AUX 3.5 mm audio jack connection
Our well known AUX cable is capable of playing music in high quality and it is used in all headphones and microphones so you are well familiar with its capabilities. Because of this well adapted standard form factor for music playback Android docking stations has also included this option in most speaker equipped devices. This wide spread usage means these docks can be connected to a wide range of devices starting from mobile phones and computes and ending with mp3 players and large music stations. This Cable capability allows you to use these docks as speakers and so it gives them more functionality as not every device that can play music has that Bluetooth connection!
But thinking from the smartphone user side AUX 3.5 mm physical connection is just another wire you need to plug in your device when you want to dock it in place. Usually you plug your smartphone in the charging dock and leave it but with this connection you need to take that jack and plug it in your phone. This simple but reluctant action could be daunting task to do each time so think about that before you get your next docking station. Some Android phones have the 3.mm audio and Micro USB connection ports on opposite sides and to plug that chord you need to stretch that wire so this can be another issue for smaller docking stations. This extra connection also makes the detaching process a little longer and when an urgent business call comes in those extra seconds can cost you a buck or two!
These two previous music playback options are in almost all speaker-docks but the ability to stream music through the micro USB ports is not so common and is usually found in only specialized docks. This third option is a real game changer for docking station because with this you don’t need to plug in another physical jack or tinker with that bluetooth connection to start playing music. If you have chosen a docking station that allows you to synchronize the dock and your device with only that Micro USB connection then you can be sure you will love this dock. Imagine those people that have to plug in that audio jack or each time tinker with their phone to connect that docking station and smartphone but you can just put your phone in the charging position and get an instant music playback!
So choose wisely what docking mechanism you get and think about which of these three options is most acceptable to you.
Top Dock Manufacturers
Samsung is An international company that is based in South Korea. This worlds most valuable technology company for the past three years is the main innovator and technology producer. Samsung Corporation creates everything from TV’s to smartphones and they have been doing this from 1988 when the Samsung Electronic Division was born. With that kind of legacy and some of the top smartphones in the world Samsung is also a big Android docking station manufacturers. Their docking stations range from large Subwoofer ones to small charging station and they almost always differ with their amazing design , build quality and usability.
Koninklijke Philips N.V. or just Phillips is well known for their wide range of products starting from smaller items like earphone and android accessories to music centers, tv, appliances and many more but it also includes lights and healthcare products so they are a really large company! Philips has it roots at the year 1891 so it is more than 120 years old and with that kind of heritage you would expect top quality products and prices. Philips was created by Gerard Philips and at its beginning they made just light bulbs and slowly grew that company to have a 30 billion market capitalization in 2013. Fidelio is Philips series of sound devices that include speakers , earphones and also docking stations for Android devices. These docks are well built and their prices are amazing but when you know that a company that is more than 120 years old is behind them you won’t think twice to get them!
SONR Labs is a small company that was created in 2011 by just two guys that had a mission to create a home audio system that is easy to use and so that you would have that hassle free life with your music playing like in those good old days. Their first and only product is an Android docking station that provides a wide range of connectivity and an amazing design. These two business partners are trying to change the home music playback scheme and I hope they manage to build a lot more products just like their first. Because this is a really technology driven company they offer an API that plugs directly in their Application and that you can modify and extend so technology savvy users will be able to modify and improve SONR Labs products.
Radio Corporation of America or RCA was a company that was created in 1919 and was in business till 1986 when it got liquidated. The RCA brand name lives on in Sony Music Entertainment and is used for products that are related to the RCA original production. Because of this high value trademark RCA products need to have high quality and great functionality or else people will start to doubt the original brand. Sony Music Entertainment and other brands that use this trademark know this and always introduce only top quality products and Android docking stations are no exception. RCA produces more than 12 different docking stations that allow you to dock your iPod or Android smart device and they range from alarm clocks to powerful speaker ones.
Innovative Lifestyle Unquestionable Value is a New York based US company that provides products dedicated to other devices or as we call them accesories. iLuv was created in 2006 so it is quite a new company but with their innovative design and quality products they have become the leading electronic accessory producer that also include Android and other device docking stations. This company creates and markets at least 10 docking stations that are designed for a variety of devices including almost all Android smartphones and tablet computers. This company has a mantra about design and usability so their products are always well designed to feel natural and to have the most ergonomic sub-technology placement. What else is a good thing to know about this company’s docking stations is that they have a great design and they feel modern and HIP so they can infiltrate almost any environment and feel in place!
iHome is a sub-division of a company called SDI technologies that was created in 2005 to provide iPod accessories. SDI technologies is a huge corporation that creates and markets consumer electronics from the early 1956 so they know what they are doing. A subdivision of a company as old as this the iHome brand had to create a great product and they managed to pull of that with flying colors. They first Introduced just one iPod Speaker system but now they make countless docks for Apple and other manufacturers but what interests us is that they also make some Android docking stations. Their docks have received awards and best product badges because they are well built , have great functionalities and they are not that expensive and can be found in more than 70 countries in almost any bigger than average electronic distributor.
Docking station buying Guide!
When you want to purchase a Docking station for your Android device you have to take into consideration many different aspects and technologies that you need or can use. First of all you need to fully check your smartphone capabilities and what it can do before you can even think about buying a dock for it. Here are some of the aspect to take in mind as you are searching for your perfect docking station:
You most probably know the manufacturer of your phone but do you know any specialized docks for it? In most cases high end smartphones and tablet computers have a specially for them designed docking stations. If this is the case and you have a High end Samsung or Motorola device then good for you but if you have a low end smartphone then be sure to check if your Model number is included in any docks connecting device list.
The size of your smart Android device also matters and if you have a small phone then probably you won’t have any problems but with thick cases or huge screens you could have some compatibility issues. This being said there are many multi device dock that still can’t accommodate the largest high end screen smartphones and tablets, so you should know the exact dimensions of your device and compare them to allowed device sizes for all docks.
Not every Android device has the Micro USB port at the bottom and there are various placements so be sure to examine where that port is and imagine if you can properly fit your device in your desired dock. The most problematic are the ones that have that port at one end of any side as then the whole weight of the phone sometime rests only on that connector and can easily damage it.
AUX or Bluetooth connection
This is another feature set to check and be sure your phone has the proper music playback connection before buying your next dock.
And when you have properly inspected and understood your device you can try to find the perfect dock for it! Here I will mention some dock Aspects that you need to consider before the final decision:
When you get a multifunctional dock you should check what is the mechanism like and if it can facilitate those dimensions that you measured. But be sure to measure with any additional protectors or covers as they usually add thickness and also increase the total size.
Built in Speakers
When you are looking at the feature set check if that dock has a built in speaker as that can become handy for louder music playback or if you want to watch movies on larger devices. A built in speaker will also have better sound quality and can be used as a great alarm clock.
Built in Alarm
Some docks has a built in clock with an alarm capabilities that can be used with or without your smartphone but some just say they have this feature but only gives you an extended version from your phone’s alarm clock. So be careful with these two things and think what is better for your needs!
Some docking stations have dedicated applications that allow you to seamlessly dock and also use some docking screens where you can watch social updates or set a clock / weather slideshow so search for them in that function list!
Always check what are the connection option for your desired dock as almost none of them have all those three audio docking types. Some docks also offer a music out connection port that allows you to further plug that dock into larger speakers and can be a handy option!
The final thing you need to check is what comes with your desired dock as sometimes you don’t get any jacks or plugs that are needed for docking and you need to buy them separately. This is a rare case but I have seen some docking stations that come without Micro USB connectors and without specialized chords to connect other non Android devices.
After examining your device and checking all the docking station function you need - you can check out that top docking station list where we provide our top picks!