If you drive a car or ride a bike, the chances are that you’ve seriously considered getting a smartphone mount at some point. A smartphone mount helps you keep your smartphone in a fixed spot with the screen facing you, so that you can use it to control music playback or for navigation via apps such as Google Maps.
Navigation is probably the single most useful driving related feature in smartphones and we strongly recommend getting a mount for this purpose. No one wants to risk an accident simply because the smartphone was placed in a spot that prevents you from looking at the road ahead. That’s why you need a mount for your phone. Here’s what you need to keep in mind before buying a smartphone mount.
The first thing you need to know when buying a smartphone mount for your car is where you want to place the mount.
Different types of car smartphone mounts
There are four types of smartphone mounts for cars most commonly available in the market:
Dashboard and windscreen mounts tend to leave marks that may be hard to clean, so keep that in mind before buying. We also feel that both of these tend to block a small part of the windscreen, thus obscuring your view of the road a little, which are two things you should keep in mind before buying one of these.
CD and air vent mounts don’t block your view at all and we prefer those for that reason. As long as your car has a CD player that sits flush with the dashboard, there should be no problem using a CD mount. Some cars have differently designed CD players that may make using this mount a little difficult. Of course, if you still use the CD player in your car, then CD mounts are not an option at all. The air vent mounts tend to block a part of the AC, but they don’t have any other obvious downsides.
We prefer the CD mount because we don’t use the CD player in our car anymore, and its placement ensures that our view of the road isn’t obstructed. However, your needs may vary, so pick a mount accordingly.
How the mount holds your smartphone
Once you’re sure which type of a mount you want, the next step is to see how the mount holds your smartphone. Some mounts use a magnet while others use a claw-like grip to physically hold your smartphone. Smartphone mounts with a magnet sometimes require you to stick a magnet to the back of your smartphone or to the case and there’s another type that requires you to place the magnet between the phone and the case. If you don’t mind attaching this magnet to your phone, then the advantage is that in most cases you won’t need to change the smartphone mount when you change your phone.
The magnet works just fine with most phones, unless it’s extremely large and housed in a particularly heavy case. The claw-grip mount physically holds your smartphone and there’s no “one-size-fits-all” model here. If your phone is very large or very small, you might have to buy a new mount. If you’re buying this type of a mount, be sure to check whether the claws have some cushioning in the form of a soft padding material. If not, then the hard plastic could scratch your phone.
Another thing to watch out for is whether the claws trigger the touchscreen on your smartphone, something owners of phones with an edge display (such as the Samsung Galaxy S8+) should worry about. However, if you’re particularly worried about the smartphone falling off, then this type of a mount will give you some peace of mind. That said, in our experience magnet-based mounts tend to be very secure even if they don’t have claws gripping your phone from all sides.
Once you’ve figured this out and narrowed down your choices, check whether the smartphone mount has a plastic stem connecting the mount to the part that grips your car. If yes, then this stem shouldn’t be very long. The longer the stem, the more your smartphone shakes when you’re driving and that means it’s harder to get all the information you need at a glance.
A smartphone mount for motorcycles is not an easy purchase at all. You’ll have to place the phone on your bike’s handlebar or stem, which means that there’s always the worry that an opportunistic thief could grab your phone and run. Note that if you can't mount it on the handlebar, lots of bike smartphone holders can be mounted on the stem, as you can see here. However, if you need your smartphone for navigation, then buying a mount is an absolute necessity.
Different types of motorcycle smartphone mounts
There are lots of different types of motorcycle mounts for smartphones but the four major ones we found are as follows.
If you don’t have a waterproof smartphone, you should get a transparent waterproof cover for the phone, which allows you to use the touchscreen even if the phone is inside the cover. The frame bag with a waterproof cover takes care of this so this may be the most useful during monsoons. Alternatively, you could get a waterproof phone case and use it with any of the other types of smartphone mounts.
The universal bracket works with the most amount of smartphones but it’s not the most secure mount. The mount with a case is good if you don’t use a case with your smartphone, but the downside is that it may become useless if you change your phone.
The ram mount is the most secure smartphone mount for motorcycles as its X-shaped grip keeps the phone locked in one place. If you’re buying this one, be sure to check if the grip touches any part of the screen. Particularly with bezel-free phones, there’s a chance that it may activate the touchscreen on its own. And of course, you need to buy a waterproof case to keep your phone safe.
We hope this guide helped you buy a smartphone mount for your car or motorcycle. If you have any more suggestions, let us know via the comments. For more tutorials, visit our How To section.