Belkin’s new Auto-Tracking Stand Pro is designed for Apple users, coming to market as the first such device to support Apple DockKit for a wholly native experience. We got to try it out ahead of its launch.
There isn’t anything complicated about Belkin’s new tracking device, which is certainly by design. It’s as elegant of an experience as you can get from a non-Apple product.
This isn’t Belkin’s first tracking stand. Many may have forgotten the accessory maker’s first attempt back in 2021 when it launched its Magnetic Phone Mount with Face Tracking that relied on an accompanying app.
Design and build
It has a chunky, rounded base that hides the motor and a black MagSafe puck that hovers in the air by a few inches. It powers up over USB-C and has a five-hour internal battery.
The magnetic puck on top is MagSafe certified and when connected to power, will charge your phone at up to 15W.
The dock can rotate 360 degrees to keep you within the frame from any angle and has 90 degrees of tilt movement to capture you moving up or down as well.
Finally, there is a 1/4-inch thread on the bottom to connect it to the top of a tripod for optimal placement.
Using Apple DockKit
There are a lot of face-tracking docks on the market, but what makes this special is its use of Apple DockKit. This is a new framework that was announced at WWDC 2023.
When supported, there are no other apps, downloads, or extra stuff needed to support face tracking. It just works.
To set up the dock, you bring your phone forward and tap it on the base. It pairs via NFC and goes through a setup process similar to configuring a HomePod or set of AirPods.
It does everything in the background and once paired, you place your phone on the MagSafe puck. The dock will then give you a polite bow, letting you know it is ready to go.
When you open the Camera app, it will detect your face and do everything it can to keep you in frame. As you move left or right, it will rotate to follow you.
It works using the front or rear-facing camera and in portrait or landscape orientation. As you switch the camera, the dock will automatically adjust for it.
This doesn’t just work in the stock Camera app either. Any app that uses Apple’s native camera experience will be able to use Belkin’s stand.
We’ve tested it in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, TikTok, and FaceTime among others. It’s so seamless.
Another benefit here is that the dock will be upgradable over time. Since it relies on DockKit, as Apple upgrades the framework, the dock will only get better.
For example, DockKit currently supports 10 faces. As the iPhone supports more, the Belkin dock will support more too.
Many had asked us how fast the device was too. In our testing, it was very fast.
Sometimes it struggled since there were a lot of faces around the show floor but for the most part, it clocked your face and locked onto you.
You could nearly run to the other side and it would whip around to find you. Like some robotic game of hide and seek.
One of Belkin’s team also shared that he had his kid whiz by on a scooter and it had no issue keeping up with him.
Compared to Belkin’s first attempt
Belkin’s other face-tracking dock carries a much lower price tag. More than a hundred dollars less in face.
There are a ton of changes though that account for that massive discrepancy. We think they’re worth it, but there’s no arguing the new tracker is pricey.
The original model lacked a USB-C port, let alone the cable and power adapter that are also included. Instead, it ran on 3 AA batteries that weren’t even included in the box.
There was also no tilt support. It could be manually adjusted up and down but beyond that, it was not able to mechanically tilt on its own.
That first version was only magnetic. It wouldn’t charge your phone, it just held it in place. The new model has 15W of wireless power.
Finally, there was the reliance on an app. It had to integrate directly with your social accounts like FaceBook or TikTok while the new one needs no app and works everywhere the camera works.
We loved testing the stand and expect many content creators to flock to it as the easiest and most reliable way to be tracked while filming.
It would be great if Belkin also made a travel case for it, but as of now, just be careful if you take it on the go.
The new Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro with DockKit is launching very soon with a price tag of $179. You can sign up to be notified on its website.