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. 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.
We've also been considerate to pick out car phone mounts that support the swathe of larger devices that have become commonplace. Whereas once a phone mount that supported phones up to 5.5-inches was plenty, the iPhone 14 and Samsung Galaxy S22 both have screen sizes of 6.1-inches, so they require a larger mount.
The best car phone holders you can buy
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As affordable, secure and versatile car phone mounts go, we reckon this one from Cygnett is up there with the best. It attaches to your car's air vent and has an extra set of support legs to make sure your phone really does stay upright when in the cradle.
Said phone cradle can support phones up to 89mm/3.5-inches wide – the iPhone 14 is 71.5mm wide, just fyi – and can rotate every which way, seamlessly transitioning from portrait to landscape. It also has vertical tilt adjustment so you can really get the perfect position in your car's cabin.
We have personally found that the mount can be a little tricky to remove from the vent, but this is because it attaches super securely. If you know you don't need to move the phone mount anytime soon, it's one that will happily stay in place.
If your car doesn’t have CarPlay and you want a safe and convenient way to use your iPhone for navigation, the Belkin Magnetic Wireless Car Charger is a great option that gets a lot right. It's small, discrete and takes up very little space on your dashboard, and offers an incredibly convenient way to charge your iPhone and use it for navigation. The vent mount is a near-universal standard among most vehicles, and the included USB-C to USB-A cable, plus a 12V adapter, gives two options for plugging it in right out of the box.
We were pleased with how securely the mount held our iPhone – you will need an iPhone 12 or later that supports the MagSafe connection – and the screw lock ensures the adjustable joint stays firmly in place too. Owners of smaller cars might have limited options when it comes to positioning their iPhones, especially if they want it in portrait, as it can block access to infotainment or climate controls. But for everyone else, this mount is a great way to conveniently charge an iPhone while driving.
Read our full Belkin BoostCharge MagSafe Wireless Car Charger review
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 also get a 360 degree ball adjustment, which allows you to find the perfect position and orientation of the phone's screen. And it will hold any smartphone up to 6 inches. Overall, users found this to be a simple yet effective car phone mount.
In our opinion this magnetic mount offers one of the simplest yet most secure methods of mounting your phone in your car. The rear of the mount has a strong sticky adhesive side that you can stick onto any part of your car's interior trim, or a window if you prefer. You then need to either stick another magnet (supplied) onto the back of your phone or phone case, or you can slide a magnetic plate in between the back panel of your phone and a case, to stick onto the mount.
We've used this mount ourselves and have found the magnetic bond between mount and panel to be incredibly strong, and it holds our phone in place perfectly. It also allows you to mount your phone incredibly quickly. Just get in the car, stick your phone to the mount and you're done. The Cygnett MagMount Plus also has a swivel joint, so you can adjust your phone to best suit your field of vision.
If sticking a car phone mount on 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 a 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.
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.
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 too 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 an integrated navigation system, then a phone holder is essential. It will keep your phone safe and secure, in a location that isn’t distracting, so you can 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.