7 best car phone holders for hands-free access

Keep your phone fully charged and safely secured with our top pick of carriers

Steve Hogarty
Saturday 15 May 2021 13:19
<p>You’ll find a new car companion in our round-up</p>

You’ll find a new car companion in our round-up

Whether you’re in a rental car, navigating your way to some remote cottage in the countryside for a much-needed staycation, or you’re a rideshare driver ferrying passengers all over town, your smartphone is the one driving companion you can’t leave home without.

Satellite navigation, traffic updates, fare management and hands-free calling are invaluable tools for today’s drivers, so it’s important to ensure that your phone is always somewhere in view and safely secured on your dashboard.

Car phone mounts come in three or four main designs. Most are mounted to the windscreen using a suction cup, or to the dashboard using an adhesive pad. For drivers who’d rather not leave a mark on the glass or obscure their view of the road, there are more compact car phone holders designed to clip to your car’s air vents, or slot into the CD player. Some use rubber grips to hold the phone in place, while others use powerful magnets, which attach to a metal plate slipped inside your phone’s case.

But not all car phone mounts are created equal. Cheap car phone holders are prone to drooping or popping off entirely, especially on rough roads or when riding over speed bumps.

We’ve tested eight of the best car phone holders, from mounts that wirelessly charge your device as you drive, to simple, low-cost attachments that ensure your phone stays put no matter how bumpy the conditions.

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We tested these holders in a rental car, using Google Maps and Apple Maps for navigation and Spotify for selecting playlists, as well as the Waze app to keep an eye on traffic updates and answering calls.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best car phone holders 2021

  • Best for iPhone – Belkin car vent mount pro with magsafe: £34.95, Apple.com
  • Best budget car phone holder – PNY expand car vent mount for smartphone: £5.99, Currys.co.uk
  • Best with a Mous case – Mous wireless charger car suction mount: £89.99, Mous.co
  • Best for dashboards – Eono car phone holder: £14.95, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for quick release – MPOW grip pro 2: £9.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best magnetic car phone holder – Yosh car phone mount holder: £6.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for wireless charging – Kenu airbase wireless: £37.99, Mobilefun.co.uk

Belkin car vent mount pro with magsafe

Best: For iPhone

Max phone width: Holds all sizes up to the iPhone 12 Pro Max 

Mount type: Air vent

While most magnetic car phone holders need you to attach a separate metal plate to the back of your phone, this Belkin car phone mount uses the iPhone 12’s existing MagSafe connection – a ring of magnetised metal built into the back of the phone – to securely snap your device into place without having to fiddle around with adjustable side grips.

The base of the mount clips into your car’s air vent, and can be oriented around an easily adjustable but very strong 360-degree ball joint to face in any direction in either portrait or landscape modes. Around the back of the mount there’s space to neatly wrap a power cable too, so you can avoid having unsightly wires flapping around by the gearstick. Smartly designed and with a neat aesthetic to match Apple’s, the Belkin is our pick of the best iPhone car mount.

PNY expand car vent mount for smartphone

Best: Under £10

Max phone width: 8.3cm

Mount type: Air vent

If you want to secure your phone to your dashboard for under a tenner – and without the phone ending up in the footwell – this PNY offering is a no-fuss car phone holder with a tight grip and an easy-to-aim, 360-degree design. The all-plastic build makes the holder lightweight and straightforward to attach, though with extended use this type of material is more prone to scuffing either itself, your phone or the slats of your vehicle’s car vent.

This car phone mount is compatible with phones up to 5.5in, so check your device’s size to ensure it will fit. For larger phones, PNY also sells a magnetic mount that works with a metal plate you attach to your phone.

Mous wireless charger car suction mount

Best: For Mous case users

Max phone width: No maximum width, but will hold any phone or tablet in a Mous case

Mount types available: Dashboard, windshield

High-end accessory designer Mous produces a range of premium phone cases and stands, engineered to protect your device without compromising on aesthetics. As well as making toughened and magnetised phone cases, the company has a line of related accessories, including its own wireless charging phone mounts for driving.

The wireless charger car suction mount works exclusively with the company’s own limitless phone case, employing a series of hidden magnets to align your phone with the driving mount’s charging coil. This means the mount is not compatible with phones using other cases, but if you’re already a Mous convert and you’re willing to pay a premium for a phone mount that doesn’t look like a medieval torture device, this wireless charging pad is a smart and stylish upgrade for your dashboard.

Eono car phone holder

Best: For dashboards

Max phone width: 11.2cm

Mount type: Dashboard or windscreen

Eono is one of Amazon’s in-house brands, focusing on low-cost, no-frills consumer products. As such, the Eono car phone holder doesn’t hold too many surprises. This universal mount is compatible with phones up to 7in and can be attached to the windscreen or dashboard with a suction cup, or to the air vent with a rubberised springy clip. A rotating ball joint at the end of an articulated arm allows for a wide range of viewing positions, as well as switching between landscape and portrait orientation.

Once everything is tightened up, the mount behaves itself. We found some wobbling on rough roads if the arm was fully extended, but if you prefer to position the phone nearer to the dashboard this isn’t a problem. The finish and materials feel cheap, but this budget car phone holder performs well where it matters.

MPOW grip pro 2

Best: For quick release

Max phone width: 10cm

Mount type: Dashboard or windscreen

Designed to attach to a dashboard, this holder uses a trio of silicon-padded arms to firmly cradle your phone without scratching it, and can be easily adjusted around a 360-degree ball joint to keep it pointed towards your face in either landscape or portrait orientations. The suction cup uses a lightly adhesive gel pad to secure the base to textured surfaces, but you’ll need a relatively flat spot on your dashboard to get the best results.

The suction cup can be used without the gel pad to attach to windscreens, and both the suction cup and the grip feature a one-button unlock to quickly retrieve your phone when you’re hopping out of the car.

Yosh car phone mount holder

Best: Magnetic phone holder

Max phone width: No maximum width, but will hold most phones and small tablets

Mount type: Air vent

A discreet car phone holder, the Yosh looks like a cufflink and attaches to your car’s air vents. The simple and unobtrusive design means it’s limited to vents with horizontal slats – its grippy nubbin can’t grasp on to circular vents and gets a little wobbly on vertical ones, but once snapped into place it feels rock solid. The low profile and high-end materials make the Yosh an ideal choice for drivers who don’t want to spoil the view of their dashboard or windscreen with bulkier plastic accessories.

You need to stick a small metal plate to the back of your phone for the it to work, but the mount’s quadra-nickel magnet is powerful enough to work through thin phone cases. You can use the same metal plate to easily attach a dedicated GPS device to this mount.

Kenu airbase wireless

Best: For wireless charging

Max phone width: 11cm

Mount type: Dashboard or windscreen

This wireless holder uses a pair of stainless steel spring-loaded grips to gently but firmly secure your device in place. Soft elastomer padding prevents scratching, while the included adhesive pad allows you to position the mount either on your dashboard or at eye-level on the windscreen. A car vent version of Kenu’s wireless car phone holder is also available at the same price.

The Qi-compatible wireless charger keeps your phone’s juice topped up no matter how long the journey, and uses a series of vents to stop your phone overheating – a problem we found with some other wireless car chargers. We appreciate how the mount’s own charger, which plugs into the cigarette lighter, has a second USB port so your passenger can keep scrolling through Instagram while you drive.

Car phone holders FAQs

How to choose the best car phone holder for you

Deciding which car phone holder is right for you depends on whether you want to make it a permanent addition to your dashboard, or you just need to temporarily prop up your phone in a rental car. If you’re not attaching it to your own vehicle you should avoid wireless charging mounts, air vent mounts and anything else too fiddly, as these phone holders might not be compatible with every car you encounter. Instead choose something sturdy and simple, and more likely to leave a mark on the car’s interior than on your phone.

Are vent phone holders safe?

Yes. Phone holders that attach to your car’s air vents are safe, but as every model of car is different you can’t be sure your air vent will be strong enough to hold the weight of a phone until you try. Horizontal slats work best, while circular vents are more difficult to attach a phone holder to. You also shouldn’t use the hot air setting while your phone is attached to the vent, as it will cause your phone to overheat and shut down. On the other hand, cooler air from the vent on hot days can actually help keep your phone from overheating.

Where do you put a phone holder in your car?

The best place to secure a phone holder in your car is near the edge of the driver’s side of the windscreen, so that it mostly obscures the windscreen pillar rather than the road ahead of you. This keeps the phone safely out of the way, but still within your field of view for following directions and taking calls.

Centrally mounted phone holders, whether on the dashboard or under the rear view mirror, block your view of the road and can create potentially dangerous situations. Car phone holders that attach to your air vent are ideal for occasional GPS users as they won’t obscure your view, are easier to attach and remove, and require fewer adjustments when driving.

Features to look for

Rubberised grip: Make sure the spring-loaded arms holding your phone in place have soft, rubberised grips to prevent scuffing your device. Very cheap car phone holders are entirely plastic, which makes them more prone to slip against the glass or metal edge of a phone.

Wireless charging: Wireless charger phone holders aren’t technically wireless. They need to be plugged into your car’s charging port to provide wireless power to your phone. Of course, your phone will also need to be capable of wireless charging. The leading wireless charging standard is Qi (pronounced “chee”), and most wireless charger phone holders are Qi-compatible.

Cable management: If you often charge your phone while you drive, look out for car phone holders with clips to help manage loose cables. These hold your power cords in place after you’ve removed the phone to leave the car, or can be used to wrap up any slack in the wire for a neater dashboard.

Magnetic attachment: Magnetic car phone holders are surprisingly rugged, but usually require you to stick a coin-sized metal disc to the back of your phone. They won’t work through thicker phone cases or PopSocket-style grips. The iPhone 12 can attach to MagSafe compatible phone holders without the addition of a metal disc.

The verdict: Car phone holders

For a premium mount, the Belkin car vent mount pro’s clever use of MagSafe makes it the best car phone holder for iPhone users. Our favourite budget option is the MPOW grip pro 2, which balances build quality and function in a cheap but hard-wearing package.

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