Cellphones are integral to our daily lives; we use them for work, for fun, and, of course, for communication. They’ve even infiltrated our vehicles, where they provide music, maps, and hands-free messaging. Since holding a phone in your hand is far too distracting when driving, when you must use yours for navigation or selecting the right music, a phone mount is the tool you need.
Another solution is phone mirroring, and almost every new car today has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, which can broadcast information from your phone onto a screen in the car, either via a USB cable or, in some cases, wirelessly. But if your car doesn’t have it, or you want to display an app that isn’t part of the limited number that work with these features, a phone mount is still a great option.
The idea of a phone mount is simple: display necessary information while minimizing distraction. To combat the distraction factor, phone mounts have been engineered to hold your phone close to your line of sight to the road. Three main types of phone mounts have emerged: cupholder, vent, and window/dash. All perform the same basic function, but in different locations that cater to your vehicle.
In general, mounts range in price from $20 to $70. The pricing seems to correlate more with the number of features than the quality of the mount. Surprisingly, one of our favorites was among the cheapest.
Right off the bat, cupholder mounts are practically useless unless you have raised cupholders up by your radio and HVAC controls. They’re great for truckers, cargo vans, and some pickups, where they can provide a nearly ideal position for your phone—with a drawback being one less spot for that gas-station slushy.
—great for vehicles with raised cupholders
—ideal phone positioning and adjustability
—only usable in certain vehicles
—takes up a cupholder place
Vent mounts blend some attractive perks to create a cheap and useful place to secure your phone. They come in all kinds of variations, including magnets and clamp types, and they might include wireless charging. The line of sight is excellent, but you will lose out on some air-conditioned airflow.
—great line of sight
—works with just about every kind of vehicle
—clamping, which varies greatly among designs, is sometimes inadequate
—blocks airflow from the vent it’s mounted to
If you’re looking for the best line of sight to your phone, a window/dash mount is hard to beat. In either location, you can adjust your eyes between the phone and the road in the shortest distance. This comes in handy during tricky city driving, where taking your eyes off the road can cause you to miss a turn. However, the excellent line of sight to your phone comes with diminished road visibility, and any blockage increases risk.
—fantastic line of sight
—flexibility to mount on windshield or dashboard
—impedes road visibility
—can leave a residue ring on windshield
—dash mounting requires a sticky mounting plate
When testing these mounts, we used five parameters: mounting strength, phone grip strength, grip adjustability, magnet strength (if applicable), and charging operation (if applicable). These parameters were tested under aggressive driving on curves and simple hand tests to simulate jarring driving.
We used the base iPhone 13 and, when testing with a case, an OtterBox Commuter. During testing of magnet strength and charging operation, we tested each applicable mount with both case-on and case-off tests and noted the results.
For the magnet test in particular, none of the mounts had magnets powerful enough to hold the phone through the case. To combat this, a stick-on magnet is included with most magnetic mounts—but this adds an accessory to your case, which some folks don’t necessarily want. In short, to fully enjoy the strength of a magnetic phone mount, removal of the case or installation of the sticky magnet is required.
Our Picks for the Best Car Phone Mounts
To test all of these phone mounts, we took a trip behind the wheel of a Genesis G70 3.3T Sport Prestige. The four-door sports sedan proved to be adaptable on the journey, which included roads through cities and mountains. Hearing the twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6’s bellow bouncing off buildings provided just as much enjoyment as carving up the Blue Ridge Parkway. The front seats were comfortable for long stints, and the side bolsters stiffened in Sport and Sport+ modes for more spirited driving. The back seat’s lack of legroom, however, makes the G70 a poor choice for a people mover. For the driver, Brembo brakes, two turbos, and a raucous exhaust will enhance an off-the-beaten-path road trip.
To test the phone mounts, we took a road trip from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Norfolk, Virginia, with various stops along the way. We went through Pittsburgh, where we enjoyed a nice view of the Steel City, then stopped at the Flight 93 National Memorial in the hills of central Pennsylvania. Onward we darted down back roads through the foothills of Appalachia, skirting the Potomac, until we reached the I-95 corridor and Norfolk.
Returning to Michigan, we took a different path. We traversed westward through Virginia until we reached the northern gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here, the Genesis was at home—relishing the curves and giving voice to its throaty exhaust. A few mounts didn’t survive the g-loading here. At Buena Vista, we left the parkway and danced around the mountains of West Virginia to Charleston, blaring John Denver the whole way. Throughout the state’s rural countryside, the Genesis stuck out like a sore thumb. A quick skip up to Columbus returned us to flat terrain, and we stayed on the highway for the rest of the trip back to Grand Rapids.
The Best of the Rest
How to Choose the Best Car Phone Mount for You
Choosing the right phone mount for you and your vehicle really comes down to where you want to see the display. If you have high cupholders, that style might be the easiest route. If you want to see your phone raised toward the road without mounting it on the dashboard or windshield, a vent mount is a great choice. And if you want the best line of sight to your phone, albeit with a slight knock against overall visibility, a window/dash mount would work for you.
Whatever your personal preference, remember that safety is the theme here. Our phones should be on display only for necessary things—not for scrolling Facebook or catching up on your streaming shows. So go out there, fire up your favorite maps app, throw your phone on your new mount, and enjoy your next drive!
What type of car mount is best?
This totally depends on what you’re looking for. There are mounts with magnets, clamping arms, wireless charging, and even Alexa integration. Our advice is to think about the features you’d most prefer and search for a phone mount with them in mind.
Where is the best place to put a phone holder in your car?
Depends on the car. Cupholder mounts are super easy to use, but you need a vehicle with cupholders near the windshield. Vent mounts are great, but the phone blocks airflow from the vent it’s mounted to. And window/dash mounts are an optimum choice for line of sight with the road, but they can decrease your visibility through the windshield or leave a sticky ring on your dashboard.
Do magnetic car mounts damage phones?
No. Modern chip technology is made with nonmagnetic materials, so your phone is totally safe.
Are car vent mounts safe?
Car vent mounts are safe, but phones are a distraction no matter where they are. However, you can minimize risk by positioning your vent mount near your view of the road.