How to Choose the Right Cell-Phone Mount

Jon Linkov

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Consumer Reports evaluated 15 cell-phone mounts, including models that attach to air vents or to the windshield, to find the best regardless of the vehicle.

Our car experts used each mount in their daily driving for weeks and logged their impressions for this report. 

We found that there are pros and cons to each type, and how each fits to your vehicle and to your phone are real purchase considerations. But even with individual considerations, the staff narrowed the group down to a few favorite models, all of them with suction cup mounts.

We also found that being able to charge the phone via the mount can be a welcome convenience. Having a well-placed mount can help balance function and distraction.  

“One thing to keep in mind is that phones should be used to enhance the driving experience through navigation or media apps, and not be a source of distraction,” says Kelly Funkhouser, program manager for vehicle usability and automation at Consumer Reports. 

Despite the proliferation of infotainment systems in cars, there are many drivers who still want to use their cell phone as the primary source for navigation and in-car entertainment. And there are strong reasons to do so:

No matter the reason, connected drivers need to keep the phone secure, charged, and in their line of sight.

Many newer cars and SUVs have Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay integration. This software mimics the connected phone and puts common music, mapping, messages, and phone apps directly on the infotainment screen. But a cell phone with a large screen can effectively mimic this feature, giving drivers of older cars much of the same functionality. However, drivers shouldn’t be tempted to use the social media apps on their phone while driving.

Types of Phone Mounts

While we evaluated six different styles of mounts, three types of holder are the main types on the market: Windshield mounts, suction cup dashboard mounts, and air vent mounts. The other mount styles—cup holder, 12-volt outlet, and permanently fixed to the dashboard—aren’t nearly as common.

The three main styles use two different methods to secure the phone. The first is by affixing a small metal tab to the back of the phone, which lets the phone be held in place by a magnet on the mount. The second way uses a clamp that secures the phone from the sides, from the top and bottom, or from both.

What We Found
Each style has its pros and cons, although some are far easier and more convenient to use than others. Below are the mounts we tested and our top pick.

Suction Cup Windshield Mount

What we bought: MPow 033, Vansky 3-in-1 Cell Phone Holder, Auto Style Wireless Charging Cell Mount, iOttie Easy Touch Qi Mount, Vanmass Cell Phone Mount

Findings:

Staff pick: MPow 033
 

Suction Cup Dash Mount

What we bought: MPow C108/096, Vansky 3-in-1 Cell Phone Holder, iOttie Easy Touch Qi Mount, Vanmass Cell Phone Mount

Findings:

Staff pick: MPow C108/096

Vent Mount

What we bought: MPow Vent Mount, Kenu Airframe+, Wiz Gear Vent Mount Magnet, Beam Electronics Cell Mount, Auto Style Wireless Charging Cell Mount, Vansky 3-in-1 Cell Phone Holder, Vanmass Cell Phone Mount

Findings:

Staff picks: MPow Vent Mount, Beam Electronics Cell Mount

Cup Holder Mount

What we bought: WeatherTech Cupfone

Findings:

12-Volt Power Outlet Mount

What we bought: Informa Qi Cell Mount

Findings:

Permanent Dash Mount

What we bought: MPow C108/096, Bestrix Universal Dash Mount Holder, Woocon Silicone Car Holder, Clamshell Cellphone Holder

Findings:

Staff pick: Woocon Silicone Car Holder


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  • An older car can be effectively “upgraded” with a well-placed smartphone that’s used for navigation and digital music.
  • Using a phone can be more convenient than an infotainment system for navigation because it will display the latest maps, along with real-time traffic information and current points of interest. Plus, it’s often easier to search for something on the phone, then get directions (especially when using a digital assistant, such as Siri).
  • Travelers may prefer to use their familiar phone, rather than a built-in system in a rental car, especially when navigation can be an added cost.
  • Universally easy to secure, with plenty of adjustments.
  • Positions the phone close to the driver, making it easy to see and reach the screen.
  • Can block the view out of the windshield.
  • Vibration from the vehicle can make it difficult to read the phone.
  • Qi charging is a plus.
  • These are easy to secure on most surfaces.
  • In most cases, they can be positioned close to the driver, so it’s easy to see and reach the screen.
  • However, these mounts are often bulky, and in some vehicles it can be hard to find a good location for it.
  • They can block the view out of the windshield, depending on the mount and where it’s placed.
  • These types are all easy to secure.
  • Their location on the air vents makes them very convenient for the driver to read and reach.
  • Some drivers found them annoying to use because they can block the airflow from the vent they are secured to.
  • These don’t work well with vents that are tall and narrow (vertically oriented) or oddly shaped.
  • Some also have a power cord that connects to the 12V outlet, which allows Qi charging on phones that allow it.
  • These are very secure, because the mount is deep and fits directly into the cup holder.
  • All are convenient to reach because cup holders are all located close to the driver.
  • If the cup holders are in a good location, these can be easy to install and use.
  • These mounts take the driver’s eyes away from the road and cause distractions.
  • But cup holders that sit under the center console or are awkwardly located may pose a challenge.
  • Phones mounted this way are often difficult to read because they are mounted low, below the dash.
  • These put the phone in close proximity to the driver when the 12V outlet is on the center console or dashboard.
  • They are easy to mount, reach, and read if the location is easily accessible.
  • This style of mount often forces the driver to take his or her eyes off the road to use the phone.
  • The 12V outlet does not secure these types of mounts very well.
  • Vibration from vehicle can make it difficult to read the screen.
  • The main benefit to this type is that the mount is very secure.
  • They are easy to mount but require a flat dashboard; many newer cars have curved dashboards.
  • These mounts often require a far reach for the driver to use the phone and make the screen difficult to read.
  • Some mounted horizontally, which not every user liked.
  • This type often blocked vision out the windshield.
  • These are secured with a sticky, gummy material, which can leave a residue when the mount is removed.
  • Some also have a power cord that connects to the 12V outlet, which allows Qi charging on phones that allow it.

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