Between navigation, podcasts, music, door-dashing and the like, smartphones are an indispensable asset to drivers. They’re also a potentially dangerous one: Any time you glance down at the screen, you’re increasing your odds of “LOOK OUT FOR THAT TELEPHONE POLE!” What you need is a mount that helps keep the phone at eye level, the better to keep your eyes pointed in the direction of the road.
The better to stay on the right side of the law, too: A growing number of states have enacted more rigorous distracted-driving laws, which restrict what you can do with your phone while driving. A mount can help you be more compliant with them, as it should keep you from actually picking up the phone while behind the wheel.
These things come in all shapes and sizes. Some suction onto your windshield, some clamp onto or in front of your dashboard. Some are magnetic, some charge your phone — you get the idea. Read on to discover the absolute best phone mounts for every kind of car (and driver).
Who I am and how I tested these mounts
I’ve been driving since 1984 and professionally reviewing tech products since 1990, so you might say I have a wee bit of experience here. I’ve also championed having a phone mount for as long as I can remember — it’s one of those things I won’t shut up about, like pickleball and using a password manager — because it’s incredibly unsafe to fumble with your phone while driving. It would be bad enough if you got in a wreck, but even worse if you got in one with me.
I tested these mounts in a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica and a 2019 Kia Sportage, eyeballing how easy they were to install, how securely they stayed in place while driving and how easily they allowed my phone to mount and, er, dismount. It’s hard to say how well any of them will work in every vehicle, though, so look for user reviews that mention your make and model.
I use an iPhone 13, so the product list includes several MagSafe-compatible options. But just about any phone can work with a magnetic mount, provided said mount comes with a metal plate or ring that installs inside your phone case. (Most do.) Just note that taking this approach might interfere with wireless charging, assuming your phone supports that option.
Style: Vent | Magnetic: Yes | Charging capabilities: No
PROS: Strong magnets; phone can be positioned to not block vent; includes metal rings for use with non-iPhones
CONS: On the expensive side for a simple vent mount; not compatible with round vents
Lisen’s MagSafe-compatible arm attaches to a short, sturdy vent-gripper; it can rotate to position your phone above, below or to the side of the actual vent, the better to keep hot air from blowing on it during winter months. You can also orient your phone in portrait or landscape position, whatever suits you best. And if you don’t own an iPhone, you can use the included peel-and-stick rings to make just about any phone compatible.
Unlike many vent mounts, this one doesn’t rely on a “pince grip” that can shake loose over time. Instead, the attachment arm hooks around the back of one of the vent louvers. While it took me a few tries to work it in properly, once it was in place, the base seemed rock-solid. Hasn’t moved since. While I don’t love the retail price of this mount, which seems a bit high, I definitely like the mount itself — especially when it’s on sale.
Style: Cupholder | Magnetic: No | Charging capabilities: No
PROS: Doesn’t block vents or dash; compatible with nearly all cupholders
CONS: May take focus away from the road; mount’s cupholder is smaller than the one it replaces
If you don’t want a mount that blocks your air vent or exposes your phone to dashboard heat, there’s a third option: your cupholder. This caddy fits just about any size (thanks to its expandable base) and holds your phone atop a telescoping arm. Whether or not this is preferable depends on where your cupholders are located. In my Kia, the positioning works reasonably well; in the van, less so because the screen ends up a little too close.
In both cases, I found the center-console-area positioning less than ideal because it takes your gaze away from the road. But there’s a potential upside: I actually like this a little better for the passenger than for the driver, as it affords good positioning if the former wants to watch a video.
Style: Dash | Magnetic: No | Charging capabilities: No
PROS: Inexpensive; sturdy nonslip base; works even with oversize phone cases
CONS: Holds phone only in landscape orientation; not great for heavily curved dashboards
Don’t want your phone blocking an air vent? This big, sturdy, anti-slip pad puts a clamshell holder atop your dashboard, keeping your phone securely in place without the need for sticky tape (though a square is included here in case your dashboard isn’t sufficiently flat). I do wish the clamshell had room for an upright phone, as iPhones (and some Android phones) don’t support a landscape view for the Home screen. Alas, this is a sideways-only mounting system. That’s fine for certain applications (navigation, etc.), but not ideal for actually interacting with your phone.
Style: Dash or windshield | Magnetic: No | Charging capabilities: No
PROS: Inexpensive; strong suction; solid hold
CONS: Not deep enough for thick cases; limited left/right movement
I’ve never liked windshield mounts until I tried iOttie’s One Touch 6, which holds the phone rock-steady — unlike the wobbly gooseneck mounts of yesteryear. You can also use a peel-and-stick pad to suction it to the top of your dashboard; either way, a telescoping arm brings the mount forward an extra few inches as needed, which is nice for cars with deep dashes or windshields. (Worth noting: iOttie also makes versions of this for use with CD slots, air vents and even vehicle screens that stick up out of the dash.)
The mount has height-adjustable feet and clamping side-arms that spring together when you push the phone into the center. (Hence: “one touch.”) Then you squeeze two side levers to release it. Although this arrangement allows just about any size phone to fit, the mount is a bit shallow; it won’t work with an Otterbox or similarly thick case.
I also found that although the arm itself can pivot up and down, it doesn’t go side to side — and there’s little left/right play in the ball joint that holds the actual mount. These are hardly dealbreakers, just areas for improvement. As it stands, this is an excellent mount that I like a lot.
Mount style: Air vent or dashboard | Mount mechanism: MagSafe | Built-in charging: Yes
PROS: Easy to install; excellent instruction guide; strong magnets
CONS: Blocks air vent; doesn’t work with round or crisscross vents; requires separate adapter for fast charging
iPhone users who want a simple, affordable, powered MagSafe mount should take a look at ESR’s option, which can clip to a vent or mount atop a flat dashboard surface. I like the vent option because there’s a little support arm underneath that adds stability, but the downside is you’ll have to close that vent to keep hot air from blasting the backside of your phone.
As for power, you just plug the included cable into one of your car’s USB ports. That’s the most convenient option, but if you want the 18-watt fast charging the HaloLock is capable of, you’ll need an optional power-port adapter (like this one).
Gary Rose is a lifestyle connoisseur who celebrates the art of living well. She explores topics ranging from travel and fashion to home decor and culinary delights. Gary’s passion for aesthetics extends to her hobbies, which include photography and interior design.
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