Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar review: The iPhone 7 dongle

Apple / Hardware Reviews / Reviews / Tech
RockStar

Apple killed their headphone jack so someone had to come up with an audio and charging solution!

Apple has killed the headphone jack and if history is any indicator, other smartphone makers will be following suit. Of course, we know Motorola removed the headphone jack from the Moto Z first, but with a new USB Type-C standard for audio, other OEM’s may also be considering it sooner rather than later. With the loss of the headphone jack on iPhone, you also lost the ability to charge and listen to music on headphones at the same time. Not everyone actually charges and listens to music at the same time, but that doesn’t mean there are a lot of people that do. The Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar brings back that ability in a solidly built package. Read on for the full Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar review.

Design

The design of the Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar would make you think it’s an Apple product just by looking at it. But there are two distinct tells that indicate that this dongle is not an Apple made accessory. First there’s the Belkin branding on the body and the Belkin logos on the tip but more importantly is the build quality. For as great as Apple builds their phones and computers, their accessories like cables, chargers, and earbuds aren’t very well designed. The Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar looks exactly what you would expect an Apple accessory to look like — except the cable and housings are much better than what Apple produces. It’s very sturdy and the materials feel very premium and it doesn’t feel like this will break in two weeks. It definitely has a very nice design and very good quality.

Ease of Use

Simply plug this baby into your Lightning port then you have two Lightning ports to use, one for Lightning headphones and the other for your Lightning charging cable. Either port can be used for headphones or charging, but unfortunately you cannot use both ports for two sets of headphones or use two chargers. While I don’t think I’d ever use two chargers to charge my iPhone I do think being able to use both Lightning ports for headphone use simultaneously would have been great. Basically this is a level one ease of use, there’s really nothing to it, Belkin even includes a handy diagram of what you can and can’t plug in. It is odd having the dongle hanging off the end of your phone with two cables sticking out and if you’re using a 3.5mm headset, you’ll have to use Apple’s 3.5mm to Lighting adapter on top of it.

Performance

The Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar works just like your Lightning port on your iPhone. It charges at the same rate and delivers audio to your headphones. I haven’t noticed any improvement in sound quality using the Lightning port over a 3.5mm headphone jack though. The dongle does what it’s supposed to do and does it well.

Price/Value

The Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar is a bit pricey at $39.95USD but we expected this as it is MFi certified which always adds $10 to the price of any Apple accessory. You’ll have to decide if this is worth it to you in the long run. It will be avaialble for purchase starting on October 10th.

Wrap Up

It does what it’s supposed to do and it’s certified by Apple so those are the pros. It’s pricey and while not super bulky, it still looks silly hanging off your phone with extra wires hanging off of it.

Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar
4.4 Out of 5
Nailed It
Allows you to use two Lightning connectors in one so you can use headphones and charge at the same time.
Needs Work
Pricey, since it is MFi certified, the Apple tax is in full effect. Dongles and wires hanging off your phone.
Bottom Line
This is a well made and sturdy dongle that allows you to use headphones and charge, if you can get by the price (and silly looks) it works really well.
Design4.25
Ease of Use4.50
Performance5.00
Price/Value4.00
*We were sent a sample of the Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar for the purposes of this review.
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