The Best Car Phone Mounts of 2020
The MPOW employs a cradle and pinch style design that was very secure in both mounting to the vent and holding the phone in place. While it is more complex to set up compared to most other models tested, we still found it reasonably intuitive. It is simple to operate with one hand and among the most secure of the mounts we tested. It tolerated us pulling out on it well.
The main downside to this model is that the bottom support has the potential to limit your cord interface. You should be able to look at your phone and the bottom brackets and assess whether a key port could be blocked.
The Maxboost Magnetic Air-vent gives you two vent mounts at an incredible price. It held its own in all metrics among products we tested with similar designs. Setup is quick and straightforward — just slip the mount onto the vent and you're good to go. The beautiful part of having multiple mounts included is it's easy to transition from car to car if you are part of a multi-car family. If you're not, you can slip the other mount into your carry-on and be ready when you get to a rental car.
The main downside with this mount (and all mounts of similar design) is that phones can spin upside down on the magnet or even fall off. This is largely dependent on how big your phone is and where you place the magnet. If the magnet is not centered on the case, there is a decent chance the phone will spin on bumpy terrain. At first, the mount also tends to detach from the vent when removing the phone. This issue can be largely resolved by sliding the phone from its mount rather than pulling straight out. Both of those drawbacks applied to every car vent phone mount with a similar design.
Don't want a vent mount? And don't mind the mount being semi-permanent? The Scosche MagicMount Pro Dash Mount is your choice. Yep, you have stick it to your dash with the included adhesive. Yep, you need to add a magnetic plate to your phone or case. But, if you don't mind these two things this mount is straightforward to use and the most secure of all the magnetic car phone mounts. The integrated cable management, while very simple, is a nice feature if you want it and can disappear if you don't want to use it. This model is also the most flexible when it comes to deciding where you want to mount it. The adhesive section is just 2.1" long and 1.2" wide, which means the footprint fairly small, and thus supplies many mounting options.
As with any semi-permanent mount, you can't easily move it around or swap it between cars. When you want to remove it, you will have to track down some new adhesive.
Although the setup is more complicated than with other vent mount options, the threaded pinching mechanism offers the most secure interface. That threaded pinching mechanism is also employed to lock in the swivel mount. While this makes it much harder to adjust, once you find a viewing angle you like, it is much more secure and stable to the touch. This phone installation may be a little more complicated than with other mounts, but with time it becomes second nature. The wings lock open and when you push the phone against the mount, the wings release to pinch the phone into place.
This mount's bulk makes it a bit of an eyesore when the phone is not mounted. But the same bulk adds some protection to prevent your phone from overheating on those cold days when the heater is blasting.
More than any other mount, this one allows you to put the phone exactly where you like it. The suction cup allows a lot of versatility in mounting options on your dashboard or windshield. However, be aware that suction cup mounts on your windshield are illegal in some states. This mount is one of the most stable mounts that we tested, keeping your phone steady throughout your drive.
Due to its adjustable nature, setup is a little more involved. The pinching mechanism on both IOttie models is complex. It works with a button on the inside of the mount; when the phone is pushed into the mount, that button is depressed and the wings pinch the phone. At first removal of the phone feels a little insecure, but with continued use, it becomes second nature. The dash mount did not work in some of the cars that we tried it in, especially cars with pebbled or sloped dashboards.
The setup of this mount is fairly easy and similar to the MPOW but slightly less intuitive. The mount has two different locking positions for different thicknesses. The mount is very stable to the touch and we didn't find it slipping off the vent during use. The cradle pinch design makes it easy to mount the phone with one hand. Taking the phone out can be a bit slow compared to some of the other offerings, but it feels more secure and less likely to drop the phone. The cradle design also reduces the likelihood of your phone overheating if the heater is on.
The bottom supports to the cradle are not adjustable, which will be an issue for phones with headphone jacks or off-center charging ports. While it could tighten on the vent, a small gripe we had during installation is that the adjustments are on either side of the center. This means that if you flip the switch the wrong direction you have to go all the way back across to achieve the desired tightness.
Build quality is high on this phone mount. Its full metal construction gives us considerable assurance that this phone mount will be with you for years to come — it is the only mount in our testing to feature these materials. It also has a spring-loaded mechanism that pinches the vent and increases its stability while still keeping the installation easy. It can swivel to accommodate different viewing angles.
Like most vent mount phone holders, this model is still susceptible to phone overheating. The metal construction makes the Penom a little heavy for some vents, which can make it prone to falling out of the vent.
The Kenu uses a spring-loaded clamp like the Penom to attach to a car vent. That makes it more stable and harder to accidentally remove while still being quick and easy to put on the vent. Once installed, the spring-loaded phone interface is easily operated with one hand and offers the ability to adjust the viewing angle with a swivel. In touch stability, it places in the middle of the pack.
The simple design does have some weaknesses. The biggest one we found is that on rougher roads the clamp tends to lose its grip on the phone — and suddenly you're in a potentially dangerous situation.
With its small size, the Scoshe MagicMount Pro VNT is easy to install. It's ideal for slipping into a pocket of your carry-on, then putting it on the vent of your rental car. It has a removable facade that you can change to between black and silver to better match the interior of your car.
Removing the phone with a twisting motion made for a clean release 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time the mount slipped out of the vent. Results will vary depending on the thickness of your vent, which is similar to the situation with all other non-clamping vent mount phone holders we tested.
Why You Should Trust Us
Lead tester, Chris McNamara, has tested over 1000 consumer products in the last decade. On a big year, Chris drives over 40,000 miles. Chris, along with Jason Peters, have been using car phone mounts for over a decade and have tested more than 30 different models. Each model in this test was used side by side with its competitors and evaluated through four different performance tests. We then used each model independently on long drives and road trips to assess durability and identify the quirks that could only be revealed through extended use.
Analysis and Test Results
We performed four different performance tests and evaluated each phone on four different metrics.
Stability scores how well the mount stays connected to the car. We found that the most stable mount was the Scosche MagicMount Pro Dash. It's adhesive back held strong to wherever we put it, and had the side benefit of being very versatile in its placement.
Just behind the Scosche was the IOttie Easy one-touch 4 Vent mount, the most stable of the vent mounts. The IOttie attaches to the vent, then clamps down with a threaded tightening mechanism. That threaded tightening mechanism is also employed to lock the swivel mount. Making on-the-fly adjustments is very difficult, but once you find the angle you like and lock it down, it won't be going anywhere.
On smooth roads, the Scosche MagicMount Pro VNT and Maxboost Magnetic were stable enough, but when the terrain got rough, they tended to fall off the quickest. That's because they slip into the vent with no additional clamping mechanism.
Ease of Installation
It seems like it should be simple enough to install a car phone mount. Across the board, the magnetic mounts took the longest to install the first time. First, you have to put the magnetic back on your phone or phone case. This took an average of two minutes to clean the phone for a stable connection, line up the placement just so, and then finally stick it on. Consequently reinstalling mounts that employ magnets is much faster than installing them the first time. All the magnetic mounts were fast to install if you exclude installing the magnetic back; nothing took more then a minute.
The quickest mount to install initially was the MPOW Air Vent Car Mount Pro, which took us just 18 seconds from when the mount was out of the box until it was installed and holding the phone. The vent locking mechanism was the most intuitive setup of the products we tested. Two seconds behind was the BEAM Car vent phone holder, which uses a very similar design to clamp the mount to the vent. It was slightly less intuitive than the MPOW, but only slightly. Among the designs that employed magnetic plates, the Maxboost Magnetic and the Scosche MagicMount Pro VNT were the quickest at 2 minutes 7 seconds and 2 minutes 9 seconds, respectively. But once that magnetic backing is attached to your phone, it's under 10 seconds to install them both.
Ease of use
This measures the day-to-day use of the mount, putting on and taking off your phone, and how the phone moves if you tap or swipe it while it's mounted. Here, the Scosche MagicMount Pro Dash B took the top spot again. The adhesive is strong enough that you don't need to fuss with your technique when taking the phone off — just pull it off in any direction. With the other magnetic mounts, you need to use a twist and pull motion to ensure the mount stays attached to the vent. With the Scosche, the phone is also stable to the touch.
We found the Kenu Airframe Pro intuitive to use with one hand. You push your phone against the spring-loaded side of the clamp to open it and slip your phone in for a good fit. Also, the vent-pinching mechanism adds security to the mount, making it easy to install and uninstall your phone. The Phenom Car Phone Mount also gets an honorable mention here. It is the only magnetic vent mount that uses a spring-loaded design to pinch the vent. That makes it less likely you will pull the whole mount off the vent when you go to grab your phone.
Here, we look at how likely your phone is to fall off during operation and how likely you are to drop your phone accidentally while putting it on or taking it off the mount. All the cradle style mounts were the most secure. Among them, the MPOW Air Vent Car Mount Pro edged out the BEAM Car vent phone holder and the IOttie Easy one-touch 4 vent mount for top honors.
The MPOW securely holds the phone while in operation. Also, when you take the phone out of the mount, the wings open slowly, which gives you ample time to grab the phone before it falls. The downside is it does take longer to remove your phone. If you want something that opens and closes faster and has the same security, look toward either model from IOttie.
It can seem overwhelming with over a thousand car phone mounts on the market. Hopefully, we helped you narrow it down to the best option for your needs. Once you decide whether you want a vent, dash, or windshield mount, it's then largely a question of how easy you want it to be to install and remove the mount, and how secure you want it to hold your phone.
— Chris McNamara and Jason Peters