I’ve been testing Belkin’s new Auto-Tracking Stand Pro — and it’s one of my favorite gadgets of the year

Belkin Auto Tracking Stand Pro
(Image credit: Future)

If there's one thing about me, I love a gadget that follows me around. 

The Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro is a battery-powered, 360-degree rotating and tilting Phone mount that unlocks a lesser-known iOS feature. That feature is called DockKit, a developer SDK Apple released as part of iOS 17. DockKit-compatible accessories are able to connect directly to the iPhone's cameras, both front and back, and track your head movements without the need for third-party apps. 

In general, this kind of product can seem a bit niche to content creators, but there’s actually more ways you can use the Auto-Tracking Stand Pro, such as for FaceTime calls or having your iPhone be your camera for meetings at your desk. 

Having tried the Auto-Tracking Stand Pro in all these use cases, I'm happy to report it works as advertised. After completing a one-time pairing process, mounting my phone to the stand via MagSafe and opening my camera app, my phone was ready to follow me around. I danced from side to side, crouched down and stood on my tippie toes — the device adjusted my phone to find my face no matter how I moved.

As a content creator, I see a lot of benefits to something like the Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro. That said, I'm not sure everyone needs to go out and spend $179 for a high-tech iPhone stand. See my reasons for whether you should buy or skip the Auto-Tracking Stand Pro below:

Reasons to buy

No clunky third-party app required

The first reason I think you should buy the Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro is the fact that you don’t need to download any additional apps or software to get it work. You just have to bring your phone to it to initiate pairing and once you give the stand permission to connect to your phone via the DockKit framework, and you’re in business a few minutes later. When your iPhone is connected once, it'll pair to the stand automatically going forward.

Now, I’ve tried other face-tracking stands before. But they all make you record in third-party apps then download it to your camera roll, which can be a big hold up depending on what kind of content you’re filming. They also don't offer any benefit for video calls, which I found to be a big perk of using the Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro.

Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro: $179.99 @ Belkin

Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro: $179.99 @ Belkin
The Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro is available now for $179.99 at Belkin.com.

Rechargable battery

Another reason you should buy the Belkin Auto Tracking Stand Pro is because it has a rechargeable battery, meaning you can take it with you when you travel or go out to record content without worrying about tethering it to a charging cord. I used it for hours at a time with no issue.

The device can run on battery power for up to five hours before needing to be recharged, which should be more than enough for whatever you have planned. And if you’re just leaving it at your desk, you can keep it hooked up to the charger. When it's plugged in, it'll juice up your iPhone over 15W wireless charging, too.

Perks for Apple Watch users

A final reason I’d recommend the Belkin Auto Tracking Stand Pro is that there are some added perks for Apple Watch users. As you might know, there’s a camera remote app on Apple Watch that lets you control the camera, well, remotely. 

If you have your phone on this stand, you can easily switch between using the rear or selfie camera and it’ll adjust to find your face automatically. If you have an Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2, you can also use the double tap feature to conveniently control the camera. 

Reasons to skip

Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Not the most affordable charging stand

I think you can skip the Auto Tracking Stand Pro if you’re just looking for an average MagSafe charging stand. While it’s true that this will charge your phone over 15W, which is the max wireless charging speed for an iPhone, it needs to be plugged into a power outlet for that to work. 

It’s convenient enough if I'm leaving the stand stationary, but there are far more affordable, plain 'ole MagSafe charging stands. This doesn’t charge your phone if it’s running on battery power, which is kind of a bummer. I think if it did double as a portable charger, it’d be a different story.

Compatibility limitations

People who have an iPhone 11 or earlier, or basically anything that’s not an iPhone 12 or newer, will want to avoid the Auto Tracking Stand Pro as well. It’s only compatible with a MagSafe-equipped iPhone, and while I could argue that most users who would even be considering this are probably up to date with their phones, it’s still a setback. 

Bulky for travel

Finally, if you’re someone who likes to travel light, I don’t know that the Auto Tracking Stand Pro is right for you. I’ve seen creators who travel heavy with equipment, but if you just like to record on your iPhone, there are more compact phone tripods. I could see tossing this in my car, but if I were packing for a flight, this feels kind of bulky. I wouldn’t say this is a huge con, but it really depends on what you’re looking for from a phone tripod.

Buy or skip?

As someone who does a lot of content creation, I have no shortage of tripods, and I usually look for ones that have some kind of integrated light as part of the setup. That said, I love how the Belkin Auto Tracking Stand Pro supports dynamic content shot directly in the iPhone’s native camera app. I could even see myself using it for conducting meetings or FaceTiming while I’m moving around more than just recording video.

If you’re just looking for a charging stand, this isn’t the thing to get. And be sure to check your phone’s compatibility first. Otherwise, this is a neat iPhone accessory and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more gadgets using DockKit very soon.

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Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.