Living on the Road

Magnetic Phone Mount for Cars

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Easiest way to mount your phone on a car dashboard

I’ve leased three cars in the last three years. Each time, I declined to get the built-in car navigation option. That’s because the systems were expensive and the user interfaces were not as good as the free ones you can get on your smart phone (I use Waze, mostly).

If you’re going to use your phone for navigation, a phone mount is a must. Trying to use a navigation app when the phone is in a cup holder or on the passenger seat is inconvenient and dangerous. After trying 7 or 8 different kinds of mounts, the one I settled on is the Spigen Air Vent Magnetic Car Mount Phone Holder. It consists of two pieces. One piece fits into the car’s air vent. It has rubber pinchers that grip one of the vanes in the vent. This piece also has a flat circular surface with a strong neodymium magnet in it. The other piece is a very thin flat metallic plate with some double sided sticky tape on one side (it actually comes with two plates, a circle and a rectangle, and you can use either one). This plate attaches to the back of your phone (or the phone’s case, which is how I use it). It’s so thin that I forget it’s there.

When I get in my car, I just hold the phone against the magnetic surface and the phone snaps against it. It is much more convenient than other phone mounts that use spring-loaded clips. The magnetic grip is strong. I don’t have to worry that my phone (an iPhone 6 Plus) is going to fall off, even if I drive over a bump. To remove the phone, I have to twist or slide it off the magnet. If I pull the phone away, the part that’s attached to the air vent will stay attached to the phone.

The downside to this mount is dealing with hot air blowing out of the vent. If you have the heater on, you might have to close the vent’s flue to keep the phone from overheating. I live in Los Angeles, so I rarely use the heater. (If you live in Minnesota, think twice before getting this kind of mount.) But the mount is a plus when you drive on a hot day, because it will keep the phone cool. I’ve had my phone shut down to protect itself when I’ve used it in a windshield suction cup mount because the sun heated it past the safety point. At $8, it offers a lot of bang for the buck.

-- Mark Frauenfelder 01/11/16