People often use their phones as sat navs, but what's the best - and safest - way to secure them in the car? Our top five car phone holders will help you out
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Just about everyone has a mobile phone and many of us use that phone in the car as a sat nav device.
Indeed, navigation systems like Waze or Google Maps can be preferable to built-in systems, even in new cars. Yet there are few cars that have a dedicated phone cradle to hold the screen in a usefully visible position.
The only legal solution to keep you hands-free when driving and to keep the phone securely in view (but not blocking your view), is a car phone holder or cradle.
The trouble is, which car phone holder is the one for you, given there are thousands available to choose from? It's a confusing maze to navigate through.
So we’ve looked at what a great phone holder should be and produced a list of the five best we can find.
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Air vent, windshield or dashboard mounted phone holder?
There are three main ways of attaching the car phone holder to your car:
- Clipped to a vent
- A suction cup which sticks to a smooth surface – like your windscreen
- Dashboard mounted – these usually stick with a type of adhesive.
There are also two ways of keeping a phone in a holder - either with magnets, one of which is stuck to the phone, or with a mechanical grip.
Which one you choose depends on your phone, and your vehicle.
For example, if you have a larger phone, a magnet might not be strong enough to keep your phone attached to your air vent. It could also prevent wireless charging, and block apps like Apple Pay.
Suction cups and adhesive mounts have their downsides too. Sometimes they leave unsightly marks on your car’s windscreen or dashboard. And over time, the stickiness could degrade causing the car phone mount to fall.
Where’s the best place to put your phone in your car?
It’s confusing trying to work out where to put your phone if you’re using it as a sat nav.
Annex 6 of The Highway Code states:
“windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision”
If you’re not using your phone for navigation purposes, you should put it away somewhere it’s not going to distract you.
If you’re using it to navigate, you should place it somewhere that’s not going to block your view of the road. A good option could be on the windscreen to the right of the steering wheel.
If you use a car phone holder that attaches to the air vent, then this isn’t really a problem. But you should make sure you can view your navigation app easily with a glance.
It’s best not to place the car phone holder too high up. The cables could interfere with the car’s controls, and could potentially get tangled around the gear stick.
Remember though, it’s illegal to interact with your phone while your car's moving, even if you're using it for navigation.
You can get 6 penalty points and a £200 fine if you're caught doing this, which could increase the cost of your car insurance.
If you need to use your phone while you're driving, pull over in a safe place and turn off the ignition.
Car phone holder features to look out for
Our research shows the most important traits for a phone holder include:
- Being the right size for your model of phone
- Being sturdy so they don’t wobble and the phone doesn’t drop out
- Not blocking the charge port on the phone.
Best car phone holders for 2021
To help you decide, we’ve chosen a range of models from Amazon that have received over four stars when reviewed by consumers.
Beikell Adjustable Car Phone Holder
- 360-degree rotation
- Secures with a suction cup
- Space for charging cable.
The Beikell adjustable holder is the best of the suction cup and mechanical grip devices we’ve found.
Because you don’t have to fit magnets to your phone you can still use wireless payments and wireless charging. Also, you don’t spoil the sleek lines of your mobile device.
The Beikell holder is strong, sturdy and easily adjustable to make sure you can position you phone just where you want it. It works either way up too – stuck to the screen or stuck to the dashboard.
The mechanical grip is also designed to allow a charging cable to simply plug in too.
Syncwire Magnetic Car Phone Holder
- 360-degree rotation
- Attaches to your air vent so it doesn’t block your view
- Space for charging port.
- The magnetic strip might block functions like Apple Pay and wireless charging
Possibly the simplest system available is the Syncwire magnetic phone holder.
Simply stick the supplied magnet to the back of your phone and you can attach it to the holder either in portrait or landscape orientation.
Just remember that magnets tend to stop wireless charging from working and also often stop wireless payment systems such as Apple Pay. But if this isn’t a worry for you, the magnets are slim enough for a phone case to still go over the top.
FLOVEME car phone holder
- Attaches to the dashboard
- Elegant design.
- Sticky adhesive pad could cause marks on the dashboard
- Magnetic plate disrupts wireless charging and paying.
If you’re going to have your car for a while and want a more elegant solution, then the FLOVEME magnetic holder could be just the thing. Rather than blocking a vent or some of the screen, this device is stuck onto your dashboard with an adhesive pad.
What’s more, the pad is cleverly designed to fit curved and flat surfaces. The FLOVEME holder is also compact, elegant and adjustable so you can position your phone wherever you think is best.
UGREEEN Air Vent Car Phone Holder
- Automatically secures the phone in the holder using gravity
- Fits into your air vent
- Space for charging port
- No rotation function.
By far the most interesting feature on this car phone holder is the ‘gravity linkage system’.
Instead of having to manually adjust the holder to fit your phone, with this device you simply drop in your phone and it adjusts itself.
The snug fit minimises the chances of your phone jumping out of the cradle if you go over a speed bump or round a tight corner.
The soft silicon pads on the cradle and air vent clamps reduce scratches to your phone and air vent too.
The only downside of the UGREEN car phone holder is that you can’t rotate it.
VANMASS Car Phone Holder
- 360-degree rotation
- Easy to clamp and release
- Attaches to your air vents, windscreen or dashboard.
- Dashboard attachment comes with a sticky pad.
This car phone holder is certainly versatile. You can display it on your dashboard, air vent or windscreen.
The manufacturer also mentions you can use the display on your desk, which is handy if you use your phone a lot for work.
For the dashboard display, a plate sticks to your dashboard with an adhesive gel. The holder then sticks on to this firmly using a suction cup.
This might be a downside for some, as the sticky pad could leave marks on your dashboard. And you might not like the look of the suction plate when you’re not using your phone holder.
The VANMASS also comes with an extendable arm, so you can move it into the best position for you.