With the laws against mobile use in the car ramping up and now the introduction of cameras to look inside our cars, I had yet another look at phone holders. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck and haven’t found one that works well. They either bounce around, or the attachment design doesn’t fit my car’s dash, etc. I would like Choice to do a test and review, but failing that, does anyone have any recommendations - have you got a holder that works for you, complies with the regulations re height and line-of-sight, etc? Thanks
I share your interest but there are some realities to finding ‘the best’ since the differences of working well to very ordinary to not at all are dependent on many things.
- the shape and size and weight of each mobile phone
- the shape, size, surface, and strength of each vehicle’s dash/windscreen and layout including A/C vents that might be suitable to host a mounted device
- the increasing inclusion of hands-free bluetooth in newer vehicles, and some work well with some phones yet are pretty ordinary with others, s.l.o.w.l.y making add-ons redundant.
- cheap bluetooth hands free devices for answering and sometimes making calls
Some of those points ignore the increasing use of phones for GPS service but again, new technology is s.l.o.w.l.y integrating phone GPS with in-car displays to rival or in theory surpass old school built-in GPS.
It would be an epic process to select what to test and what to test it with. But while evolution is s.l.o.w.l.y happening, what to buy?
It is a good question for the majority not having the latest in-car tech.
If anyone does, please include the holder, vehicle make and model, and phone model.
I agree with @thebbg 's comments, and I would like to add from my experience.
Windscreen suction mounts - I have tried quite a few and find them problematic. The ones that initially stay on the windscreen don’t seem to last long in the SE Qld heat. They stop adhering and start falling off until the suction cup no longer holds because the plastic sucker has flattened out. (We have had the same problems with sun shade suckers too.) I would think that it would be the same anywhere in Aust that has long hot spells. Windscreen mounts also limit the use of sun blinds people use inside their windscreens.
Air vent mounts - These are OK, but it depends on your air vents. If the air vent is of the smaller variety, it can become completely obstructed by the mount and phone so no air flows through. Our Ford Transit’s only vent that was near the drive was small, so didn’t get much air flow from the ventilation/air con system. The clip attachment had to be as close as possible the bottom of the vent, otherwise the weight of the phone in the cradle tipped the vent downwards, making the screen difficult to see. The other consideration is where the vent is located. If you use your phone to navigate, make sure it is somewhere close to your normal line of sight out the windscreen.
"Sticky mat" mounts - I have used these, but don’t trust that the phone will adhere in the case of abnormal or rough movements. The last thing you want is your phone flying through the air, or even falling down into the foot well under the driver’s feet. I would never put one of these on the dashboard as the phone could become a missile in an accident and cause injury.
Double sided sticky attachment on the dashboard - The problem is getting them to hold, even after a very thorough cleaning. Dashboards have a variety of surfaces, and in the Transit the surface was quite textured, reducing the contact surface space. The provided sticky stuff which initially adhered, rapidly deteriorated in the SE Qld sun. I tried the black goop tape designed for vehicles, but that too seemed to stop working, probably from the movement of the mount in the vehicle.
There was also a complete absence of a flat surface on the top of the dash in my line of sight. All the dash surfaces had at least one curve. Unfortunately, all the attachments came with a rigid surface, so this reduced the contact area, and meant that the mount could move, even if a little, at the point of attachment.
Magnetic mounts - I haven’t used these because I always keep my phone in a side opening case to protect it. In the vehicle, I fold the front cover back so I can see the display. So the inside front of the cover becomes the back surface which would require a metal disc adhered to it. Obviously, this would then scratch the display when closed. If you don’t use a flip case this is not an issue. But the attachment to the dash may be.
More generally, my suggestion is go to the cheap shop and buy a cheap mount and try it. In my opinion the expensive mounts are of a similar quality. If you live in a similar climate to me, don’t expect the holder to last longer than six months to a year.
Thanks for the request @Loghl, I’ll be sure to pass on this suggestion to our product testers.
I think I’ve tried all kinds. Suction mounts wave about like a saturday night drunk. Sticky mats melt when the internal temp of the car gets too high. The only mount I even consider since the advent of GPS is an air vent mount… when I use my phone’s GPS (I refuse to take calls while driving, its just not worth the risk of having a prang when distracted) the phone heats up way too much. Yes, theres some blockage of the vent, but I’d rather keep my phone cool and let the other vents do the work. The mount I had is similar to this Moki from Kogan and I paired it with a Belkin Tunebase charger so I could listen to my music/audiobooks whilst in transit (it was a bluetooth model, my car doesnt have a USB/iphone enabled stereo system)
Another option to a car phone mount is using a bluetooth phone ear kit connected to the phone. This has advantages as the phone can be placed anywhere near by (such as glovebox, handbag etc) and is less likely to distract the driver or result in the phone being accidentally placed in the field of vision thus causing additional traffic infringements.
So - many people have had the same experience as me … and thanks to @meltam for your comprehensive entry. I guess I’ll have to continue propping it behind the cup holder and hoping it doesn’t fall off. Hmm, haven’t tried BluTack yet …
BTW, I have bluetooth for phone calls (though I don’t use it, too distracting, they can leave a message), but for GPS I have gone thorough the stick-on-dash, stick-in-vent, stick-on-magnet, flip-up mirror display stuck on dash, and probably more that I don’t recall … all in the bin.
While this is true using bluetooth connectivity, be aware that any solid surface, putting the phone in the glovebox for expample, will reduce the mobile phone’s signal strength. This may not be a problem in areas with a strong signal, but in poor signal areas it can have a noticible on connectivity.
In fringe areas I have even noticed that lifting the mobile phone up above the height of the dashboard improved reception. (Not while driving of course.)
I put my phone in the cup holder with the top (where the antenna is located) upward.
That’s my personal approach in my car, as I never need to see the screen.
For testing at CHOICE ( eg car navigation apps ), I use of a couple of different suction-cup holders, one sticky pad type, and the other is a clamp type. I’m not overly keen on either, but they were the best I could find at the time:
GRIPGO Universal Car Phone Mount, imported by Global Shop Direct. ( sticky pad )
EXOGEAR ( clamp )
If we were to do a test, what types would you like to see us buy ? There are hundreds out there. Would you prefer we do popular ‘brand name’ ones, cheapies available online, or a combination of the two ?
We’re all ears !
I bought a variety of sticky pads out of China, so no brand names. All seem to be OK, but wouldn’t trust any of the various types to hold the phone in hard braking.
I have also bought clamps, both locally from places like Supercheap, and from China. There is no appreciable difference. They all were OK initially, but the sun kills them fairly quickly here in SE Qld.
Thanks for your input Tamás ! I’ll be sure to include an oven component in our test method, similar to what we do with dash cameras and car GPS. We’ll look at doing an extended test to replicate long-term exposure within a hot vehicle.
One of our EXOGEAR clamps broke, and I’m guessing it may have been due to it having been stored in the car for months on end.
Both of our cars have the ability to connect our phones to the car so that we use hands free. Our 2010 Prado had the buttons on the steering wheel making it easy to answer and end, or even use. Our 200 Series has Bluetooth connectivity. Our second car enables us the plug in our phones via a cable, or Bluetooth. This one frequently gives a message for us, “I’m driving at the moment.” We can also press a button on the GPS screen and answer if we want to. Check if you have such systems on your vehicle.
In 2015 I bought phone mounts for my Jeep Cherokee from HOLDMYPHONE or http://www.kudausa.com/. I needed a mount for phone, UHF radio and GPS Tracker which they supplied, I found magnetic holders are no good with larger screen phones, flip cases and rough roads in Central QLD. The mounts have worked very well for over 4 yrs for me accept for wearing out the universal phone holder bracket, I don’t buy big name/expensive phones so can’t get exact fitting holder.The new idea of laying on console with inbuilt charger won’t work where I drive due to weaker signal strengths,having phone up near windscreen works best for me.I am able to mount so top of phone is below bonnet line,I don’t know what is legal but have seen GPS and phones stuck to windscreen straight in front of steering wheel !!
This is a good point as one often sees phones, GPS or dashcam mounted incorrectly. In Queensland (which will be similar to other states), the requirements are outlined here…
In summary…If your mobile phone is in a mounting bracket on the windscreen, it must not obscure your view of the road.
For many people and in many vehicles, this severely restricts the location where one can install a mount as it is likely that in many positions, it will be in one’s line of sight. My previous employer for company vehicles, installed phone mounts so that the top of the phone was below the highest point on the dashboard. The reason for this is drivers of different heights and their seat positions could affect the location of the phone mount. Having the top of the phone below the highest point on the dashboard ensured that all drivers, without any doubt, met the Qld safety requirements. The mounts they also generally installed were not windscreen ones, but the type that mounted (screwed) onto the vertical dash panel (usually between the steering wheel and driver side door/side rear view mirror.
We have several Belkin car vent mounts - they work really well for us with iPhones and Samsung Galaxies of various sizes. Driving a VW Golf and Toyota Aurion. The slant of the Aurion’s dash means it doesn’t work as well as on the Golf, but very stable; doesn’t ever fall off.
I know it’s not a mount but newer cars have built in Bluetooth and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
With this in your car the LED screen becomes your communication centre. Phone calls, Maps and Music can be easily done by voice commands.
My car in a 2014 Kia Cerato so I expect many cars of that year of later have this.
That is a precise engineering standard.
I can only assume a dedicated gendarme protecting us from ourselves and enforcing the rules could take a position that a GPS or phone, affixed to the low right corner of the windscreen as most (many?) seem to be is a violation even though in a real and practical sense it is not blocking the road in any meaningful sense; while a more ‘friendly’ gendarme might not give it a mind.
It seems like such standards for transgression are either over the top or lend themselves to discretionary enforcement, but yes, it is what it is.
Can be, but not always ‘easily’ depending on one’s accent
Yes, and can be used at the discretion of the enforcement officer to whether there is a belief that the line of sight is obscured.
In reality, any phone which penetrates a level above the highest point of a dashboard could be deemed as having the potential to obscure any view to the road. One could change a seat position and the mounted phone then comes into one’s the view. Also, a flashing, illuminated device which may not be in direct line of sight to the road may also be deemed to obscure one’s view of the road…as it is a major distraction and its luminescence may reduce forward visibility when driving, especially at night.
This is possibly why my previous employer took their stance (possibly with advice from their approved installer), on the fitment of such mounts.
NSW Government also has a guide which can be found here.
We tend to use a more reliable form of A.I. mount to aid navigation. No problem with the accent, although like all things A.I. miscommunication still occurs.
Driver to partner seated on passenger seat and holding phone in navigation mode, “ wasn’t that the turn off we were supposed to take?” We are still working on improving the A.I. although there is some difference of view as to who is the A and who is the I.
We don’t always have the benefit of a passenger. I wonder how many drivers though would prefer to do it all themselves, despite the disadvantages of needing to keep looking at the screen?
After all if the screen is in view, don’t you also see all notifications, including messaging incoming? Or more if you adept at voice control. Perhaps mounts and visually directed guidance should be banned, leaving voice direction the only accepted option?