Hands-On Review: The Best Car Phone Mounts for All Your Devices
Choose the most effective car mount and phone holder combination to get the best car phone mount.
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Today’s smartphones pack over 100,000 times more power than the computers that guided astronauts to the moon and back 50 years ago. But finding a half-decent car phone mount? Seems like an impossible moonshot.
While smaller and more compact, smartphone design hasn't veered too far away from the basic rectangle for the last 10 or 15 years. But automotive interior design changes and increasingly heavy phones mean one size of car phone mount does not fit all.
Read on for what we hope is at least a partial answer to the smartphone take on the space-age phrase: If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we make a car phone mount that works?
iOttie Easy One Touch Car Mount Phone Holder
• Easily adjustable
• Universal fit
• Base does not rotate
Andobil Phone Mount
• Sleek design
• Universal fit
Scosche MagicMount Magnetic Phone Holder
• Adhesive mount
• Very adjustable
About Our Testing
Car phone mounts are a duality with a singular purpose. One part mounts to the car; the other part holds the phone. Both must work together for success. We chose a baker’s dozen or so car phone holders and cradles with various mount/holder approaches to see which combination works best. We mounted all of them into our Mitsubishi Montero test vehicle, and hit the road.
Size and weight place increasingly heavy demands on car phone holders, so we broke out the scale and weighed our operational test phone options. The Samsung Galaxy T-Mobile Vibrant was the oldest and lightest of the bunch at 115 grams. Its 2019 Samsung Galaxy Note 9 successor scaled over twice as heavy — 278 grams with a screen protector and case. Our daily-driven Google Pixel 3A XL weighed 197 grams with a factory cloth case.
We also picked up a few dummy display versions of the near-latest flagship smartphones. These fakes were surprisingly accurate, with metal frames, glass backs, and ports and controls in the right places, just like their fully operational counterparts. The test dummies looked the part but fell short on weight. We used adhesive wheel balancing weights to hit the desired number, and even threw on a bit extra to account for cases and screen protectors.
Considering that one or two of these small, seven-gram wheel-balancing weights is usually enough to bring an entire motorcycle wheel and tire into balance, it's easy to see how larger and heavier modern phones influence car phone mounts' form and function. Official factory weights for our dummy display phones are 177g for the iPhone XS, 198g for the Samsung Galaxy S10+, and 226g for the iPhone 11 Pro. The average weight between six cases worked out to about 140g. Add a tempered glass screen protector and you’ve got a solid pound of phone.
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Best Car Phone Mount Reviews & Recommendations 2021
The Andobil Easy Clamp gives you a choice of suction cup or vent car mounts and was a close contender for our best overall pick. We mounted the washable and reusable suction cup directly onto the dash, and the package includes an adhesive mounting pad for rough surfaces. The hinged and telescoping arm adjusts up or down and extends out just over seven inches. If the suction cup doesn’t work out, the vent-type car mount features a beefy wingnut with a threaded brass insert that cinches the jaws onto the vanes with authority. The suction cup and arm setup delivered excellent stability over the road.
The suction cup and vent car mounts both have a ball end that accepts the 360-degree swivel phone holder. Squeezing the ratcheting side clamps secures the phone in the holder, and pressing a button releases tension for removal. Adjustable bottom feet help with side-button clearance. Adjusting the cradle for the right viewing angle was a cinch, and the padded jaws maintained a firm grip without fail.
The faux carbon-fiber finish left us wishing for a grippier material, but dual mounting options and stable operation make the Anobil Easy Clamp a secure and versatile choice.
The Scosche MagicMount combines an adhesive base car mount and quad magnet phone holder into a compact and practical product. The high-quality car phone mount came with a selection of adhesive-backed steel mounting plates, protective films, and clear instructions for a successful installation. The mount itself has a small footprint and works on vertical or horizontal surfaces. Powerful adhesive and the flexible plastic backing plate conform to curved shapes. The adhesive has a gorilla-strength bond, so make sure the mount is in the right spot before gluing it down.
The magnetic phone holder arm and ball fits into a cup on the car mount base. This setup is far easier to adjust and tighten down than others that put the ball joint cup and threaded ring on the phone holder’s back. The base-mounted configuration gives your fingers more clearance and leverage to tighten the threaded adjustment nut. The magnets held the heaviest phones firmly in place, and the mount has a built-in cable holder clip.
The 360-degree adjustability and a versatile, low-profile base make the Scosche MagicMount a quality choice.
With a flexible base adhesive car mount and magnet phone holder, the WizGear performed on par with similar setups. The mildly frustrating package contained two bases with adhesive mounting pads, two magnetic phone holders, four steel mounting plates, and some cleaning kits. Mounting the base was about the same as any other, but the ball joint arm is directional. Despite our best efforts, we glued on the base in the wrong direction for vertical adjustment and ran into viewing angle issues. Pro Tip: Test-fit the car mount and phone holder together before making the adhesive commitment.
The magnetic phone holders have a soft-touch plastic coating with a threaded ring collar on the back for adjustment. We mounted the steel plates directly to the back of the phones and cases of our heavyweight phones and the inside of the case on the middleweights. The magnet and steel plate setup worked well together and held tight over pothole laden roads. A built-in clip on the base helps keep cords out of the way.
The WizGear two-pack is a good choice in adhesive mount magnetic phone holders, but pay close attention to the directional mounts for best results.
The Coolpow magnetic car phone mount two-pack set itself apart from the rest as the only one of our test products made of metal. Both mounts came in one box and an assortment of adhesive pads, steel mounting plates, and protective film. Clear instructions made installation easy. The compact size and smaller base footprint demand more attention during installation than other adhesive mounts. We ran into an adhesion failure that may have been due to age. Adding an extra adhesive foam pad solved the problem.
The machined aluminum alloy mount and magnet housing had a black anodized finish, and the steel ball joint allowed for 360-degree unidirectional adjustment. Alloy construction gave the Coolpow mounts a premium feel, and the steel ball joint offered just the right amount of resistance during adjustment and held fast while driving. Powerful magnets underneath a soft silicone pad grabbed onto the steel plate and held onto the heaviest and largest phones without slipping over rough terrain.
Low profile compact size and all-metal construction make the Coolpow a solid choice, but make sure your dash has a smooth, flat mounting surface for best results.
The iOttie Easy One Touch is hard to beat in this segment. It's built well, it's washable, and it does exactly what you need it to. However, the Andobil Easy Clamp was awarded Best Close Contender for a reason. We want your take is, though. Make sure to let us know what you think the best phone mount for cars is!
What to Consider When Buying Phone Mounts
Not sure what to make of our selection? Neither were we off the hop. While they seem simple, there are a lot of factors to read into while you shop. This buying guide is here to give you some insight into our decision-making process so that you can filter through the many options in front of you!
Types of Car Phone Mounts
Car phone mounts and cradles are available in a wide range of car mount and phone holder combinations, so we split each part into separate categories with different types and features.
Suction cup mounts work like an action camera or shower hook versions and are often made with an extra tacky soft gel material to help the cup adhere to irregular surfaces like textured dashboards. Suction cups are easy to reposition without damaging the mounting surface.
Adhesive mounts use two-sided foam pads coated with 3M VHB or similar high strength glue to keep the car mount locked firmly in place. A smaller footprint means adhesives work where suction cups won’t, but the VHB adhesives can be impossible to remove without damaging surfaces.
Vent mounts use a spring-loaded or threaded tension clamp that mounts onto the vanes. Vent mounts are easy to reposition but can be unstable since vents move by design. Blocked airflow can be a problem, and extended periods of excessive heat can damage smartphones.
Clamp-type mounts use a clothespin-style spring tension or threaded clamp to secure the car phone mount in place without adhesives or sticky suction cups. Clamps are the easiest of all to reposition but can leave indentations on soft-touch or padded surfaces.
Phone Holder Types
Clamp-style phone holders use a gear ratcheting or spring-loaded clamp that grabs hold of the phone’s edges. Some feature adjustable legs that cradle the bottom of the phone for added stability. Clamp holders are simple and effective, but the arms can block ports or controls.
These compact phone holders use potent magnets that grab onto a steel plate adhered to the phone body or case. Mounting the steel plate closest to the magnets results in the best grip, but adhesives can be tough to remove, and the steel plates can interfere with wireless charging.
These phone holders use the weight of the phone and hinged arms that secure the phone in place. Simply drop the phone into the holder and go. Gravity holders and cradles work best with a secure and stable car mount as bouncing upward motion loosens gravity’s grip.
Phone Mount Pricing
There are some winners for under $10, but don’t expect anything heavy-duty or high payload. Keep an eye on quality to avoid duds. Stepping up with a few extra bucks to the $10-$25 range means better quality and higher payloads along with a wide range of car mount and phone holder combinations. Spending more than $25 can mean super duty, professional-grade, or a status branded car phone mount with some gold-plated gem-encrusted bling.
Car Phone Mount Tips and Tricks
- Measure twice, glue once. The 3M VHB and similar high-strength adhesives can be difficult or impossible to remove without surface damage and gummy residue. Test fit for clearance and viewing angle before gluing down anything. Use protective base films.
- Clip- or clamp-style car mounts can leave permanent indentations in padded or soft-touch dashboard materials. Extended periods of direct sunlight and excessive heat can accelerate the process. Remove tension clip car mounts when not in use.
- Magnet mounts work best when the adhesive steel plate makes direct contact with the magnets. Unless you’re rocking the limited edition Cast Iron iPhone XXL, fix the steel plate to the back of the phone or case for superior grip. Use protective films to prevent damage.
You've got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q: How can I tell if a car phone mount will fit my phone?
A: By phone make and model or measurements. Some car phone mount companies list compatible phone models, but actual measurements are a better guide. Use the factory specifications for your phone or measure diagonally from the top and bottom of your screen.
Q: Can I use a car phone mount if I have a bulky case?
A: Sometimes. Cases add bulk and weight to the phone, so consider the phone mount type and case-friendly features. Some gravity phone holders work better without a case, and thick cases can reduce magnet holders’ effectiveness.
Q: Can magnets damage my phone or battery?
A: No. The car phone holder magnets themselves do not cause damage to the phone or battery. Phones use solid-state storage and memory unaffected by magnets. Phone damage can occur when removing the powerful adhesives on the steel plate, but the magnets are safe — unless they’re too weak to hold your phone.
Q: Does the magnetic phone holder metal plate affect wireless charging?
A: It can. If you want a magnetic phone holder and use wireless charging, be aware that the steel magnetic mounting plate can interfere with the power transfer. Mounting the steel plate to the case and removing the phone for wireless charging is an option for magnetic car phone holders.
Q: Can heat damage my vent-mounted phone?
A: Absolutely. Especially over time, excessive heat can reduce the performance and longevity of any phone. Some phones have a built-in thermal overload shutdown feature, but that won’t help if the phone gets blasted with heat from an external source. Consider a different type of car phone mount if running the heater is a necessity.
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