Smartphones today are so much more than just a telecom device. Now you have your map, music player and more tied up in the one device. To make the best use of this, particularly for long solo drives, you'll be wanting to make the most out of your phone in your car.
But with Australian phone laws being as strict as they are it's important your phone is mounted correctly with proper fastening to your dashboard, rather than being kept in the well of your car. Or worse, in your hand.
Enter the humble car phone mount.
A car phone mount is designed to hold your device in the optimum position for safe viewing of the screen while driving. They often attach onto your air conditioning vent, or have a rubber suction pad for attaching to the windscreen.
A clip-on mount will be easy to take on and off and blends in with your dashboard quite well whereas a suction pad might annoy those who don’t like getting marks on their windscreen, or who don’t like the idea of leaving a mount visible when their car is unattended.
When purchasing a car phone holder, despite the allure of your local dollar shop, or a similar online variant, it's well worth looking above and beyond the cheapest options. Bottom tier car phone mounts are more often than not flimsy and insecure. Dropping your phone more than a handful of times will put a hefty dent in the length of life for your phone. You may also find some cheap universal phone holders don’t quite fit the shape and size of your phone, which can make it tricky to set up to begin with.
We’ve picked out some of the best car phone holders which make using your phone in the car safe and legal. Some are compatible with charging cables, or can charge phones themselves to keep your power topped up on the go. Alternatively, some allow you to change the orientation of your phone depending on your preference. We've done our best to pick out phone mounts which are compatible with all smartphones, and made sure that they aren’t all that expensive, either.
Do I need a car phone mount?
A lot of people think they can get away with wedging their phone in a cup holder or leaving it on the seat next to them when using GPS or music functions, but this could land you in trouble with the police.
In Australia, the laws are pretty clear when it comes to using a mobile phone while driving. For example, NSW road rules state an unrestricted licence holder is permitted to use their phone to make a call or play music only if it is secured in a cradle fixed to the vehicle or can be operated without touching any part of the phone (e.g. voice activated controls). This is a solid piece of info that far to many people are unaware of. A phone can be used as a sat nav, but only if secured in a cradle fixed to the vehicle and again, only if it isn't touched at all while driving.
So whether you need a phone holder or not depends on your car. If the vehicle has Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, your best option is to connect your phone using that system, then shut it away in the glovebox or wherever the car’s USB port or wireless charger is.
If your car doesn’t have those systems and you don’t want to use it’s own navigation, then a phone holder is an essential. It will keep your phone held securely, in a location that isn’t distracting, and you can then use it for navigation. With voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, you can interact with the phone – playing music, making calls and asking for directions – by speaking and, crucially, without touching it.
The best car phone holders you can buy
There’s a reason cab drivers tend to use vent mounts rather than the sucky ones that stick to the windscreen: they put the phone in a position where it’s easy to see without obstructing your view and they’re much less likely to come loose when you’re cornering and send your phone crashing into the footwell.
Belkin is well renowned for its accessories and the Belkin Car Vent Mount is our pick for the best car phone holder right now. It simply slips onto one of your heater vents (remember to turn the airflow to that vent off if your car heating is running) and then holds your phone securely in its rubberised grips.
The vent mount rotates 180 degrees so you can use your phone in portrait or landscape mode and there’s cable holder on the back to help keep the charging cable neatly connected. Speaking of cables, this mount doesn’t come with one, so if you haven’t got a spare one lying about you’ll need to buy one separately. Belkin says the mount will hold phones that are up to 5.5" and that it will accommodate most cases up to 3mm thick.
How about a mount which holds your phone and charges it? This sleek option from Kenu is just the ticket, with 10W Qi wireless charging built in, saving you from having to mess around with unsightly cables. It's a really neat option, that will leave your car's cabin looking tidier.
It clamps onto an air vent (a window mount is also available) and can be adjusted with a swivel joint. A dual QuickCharge 3.0 adapter is also included in the box, so you'll be able to charge a second device as well.
This extra-long car phone mount is perfect for getting your phone in the prime position for viewing without obstructing your view of the road. The doubled-up suction pad means it sticks to the windscreen with ease, however its length means it does tend to wobble a little on uneven surfaces.
You’ll also get 360 degree ball adjustment which will allow you to find the perfect position and orientation of your screen, holding any smartphone up to 6 inches. Overall, users found this to be a simple yet effective car phone mount.
If you don’t want something too fiddly and cumbersome, then this simple magnetic air vent mount is the ideal choice. Users love how sturdy the clip to the vent is, and how you can simply place your phone in any position you like on the mount.
This little device may not look like much, but it can even hold your tablet and is said to stay put even when driving on uneven terrain. You do have to stick a magnetic sticker to the back of your phone in order for it to work, which can be a little unsightly if you have a pretty cover or coloured case. However, for a cheap yet reliable car phone mount, you can expect good things from this one.
If sticking a car phone mount of your windscreen is a little bit of a stretch, then this sticky pad is a great option for attaching your phone to your dashboard. Buyers found this car phone mount to be very adjustable, allowing you to position your phone either horizontally or vertically, and found it to be surprisingly sturdy even for larger handsets.
Some had trouble initially sticking this mount to their dashboard, but found a little bit of water helps it grip nicely. Overall customers recommend this product as sturdy and customisable mount for all smartphone devices.
Here we have another great magnetic car phone mount, but this time you can hide the magnetic disc underneath your phone’s case discreetly so it won’t ruin the aesthetics of your phone.
Owners found this small mount to hold even larger phones very well, but some had trouble with the sticky pad staying put on their dashboard. However, those with a standard smartphone can expect this mount to provide a great deal of flexibility with minimal effort.
This magnetic phone holder by Syncwire features a tough aluminium design and can be tilted and rotated to help you find the perfect position for your phone. The mount clips to most dashboard air vents and comes with a pair of magnetic plates (one circular and one square) for sticking to the back of your phone.
This type of magnetic mount is designed to work with any phone, but the metal plate can cause the phone's wireless charging feature to stop working. To get around this you can stick the plate to the back of a phone case, then remove that while charging wirelessly.
Another magnetic option, this time from Olixar. The gel-style suction cup can be stuck to the windscreen or dashboard, depending on which you prefer. It then uses a string magnet to hold your phone in place – and, as ever, you need to stick the included magnetic plate to the back of your phone or phone case.
If you're willing to spend a little more, the auto sense from iOttie will add some futuristic flare to your motor. The holder automatically opens when you position your phone in front of it, then closes once the device is sitting in the dock. It means you don't have to fiddle around adjusting the holder to fit your phone - and let's face it, it's pretty cool.
As it's a wireless charger, you'll need to connect it to a power source in your car, so make sure you've got one that works first. The standard fitting works for most CD slots or air vents, but there's also a cup holder option if your car has one in a suitable place to safely view the phone and the road at the same time.