Mounts for your iPhone in the car can be grouped into three types. Dash mounts, screen mounts and air vent mounts. The later is likely to be the cheapest, most easy to apply and simple to use. However, with so many air vent mounts types out there to choose from, what should you be looking for?
My preferred in car mount solution has to be air vent mounted. I’m not a fan of sticking things onto my dash or leaving round circle marks on my windscreen from a screen mount. If you don’t mind blocking an air vent (or two) with your iPhone, an air vent mount is as easy and clean-looking as it gets.
There are a few types of air vent mounts though. You have ones that slide their mounting ‘teeth’ over the air vent blades, hugging onto them for dear life, whilst also hugging onto your iPhone. In my experience, these tend to move about a lot whilst in motion and require continuous adjustment.
There are air vent mounts for vertical and horizontal vent blades. Usually these are fit for a particular vehicle and are less universal. Should you also upgrade your vehicle, where the vents are pointing the other direction, you’ll soon find yourself buying a different mount too.
Finally there are the more rarer air vent mounts, that screw onto your air vent blades for that more, secure, approach. These are my favourite type of air vent mounts, they are much more stable and require less adjustment. They can be very rare to find though. So when I saw this $2.38 (£1.80) Car Air Vent Phone Mount from GearBest.com, I had to check it out.
Out of the box this phone mount is fully assembled, ready to be clipped on to your car air vent blades. Thanks to it’s clamping arm, this mount isn’t limited to air vent blades, they could also be attached to any other beam or thing piece of interior, as long as it’s fairly flat and wide enough for the clamping arm to get a firm grip onto it.
On the front end you’ll find a standard spring expanding clip, found on most other mounts these days. The kind where you push your iPhone into the expanding arm to widen the ‘arms’ around your device until it can fit into place with both ‘arms’ hugging the left and right sides. It’s simple and does its job very well. Behind this is a rotary ball, to allow you to angle your iPhone at any angle and rotation you desire. A screwable case around the ball-joint tightens to fix the angle down tightly.
Over on the attachment end of the mount are two flat plates that, once positioned over a vent blade, can be closed up by rotating a screw clockwise in the middle of the mount. Once tightened, the mount isn’t going anywhere, however after applying some side force – the kind of force you need to do to insert your iPhone – I soon had the mount tilting left or right with pressure. This wasn’t great. Neither was it fulfilling the mounts ‘Ultra stable clip design’ written features on the box. There was something missing here. I soon remembered the Mountek AIRSNAP air vent mount I reviewed.
I still prefer to this day the Mountek AIRSNAP air vent mount, with its lower supporting arm (shown below). The arm made an air vent of this type much more stable, which is the total opposite of this Phone Mount. You see, I thought clamping would be enough to hold your iPhone in place, at least over any of the other vent types I mentioned earlier in this review. Sadly, on fixing this mount for the first time I instantly discovered this wasn’t the case. The device entry side of the mount requires a decent amount of pressure that will always move the mount sideways, requiring extra adjustment after your device is attached. On closer inspection I realised it is because the jaws of the clamp only really touch at the very tip of the clamp, and not over the whole surface area of the jaws.
The Air Vent Mount compared to the Mountek AIRSNAP (with supporting arm)
This means the experience will vary per vehicle, based on how thick, and also how strong, your vent blades are, because without such a supporting arm (as seen on the Mountek AIRSNAP) once your iPhone is attached, the extra weight of the device will simply pull the vent blades down until your iPhone touches as surface – likely the dashboard. This Phone Mount simply can’t hold your iPhone up without a supporting arm – it’s a terrible oversight, that should have been caught in testing.
It feels like this Phone Mount would work better as a vertical air vent mount over a horizontal one, which is a waste in my case. Vertically mounted would still have movement, but probably less profound. Sadly, without a vertical bladed air vent I couldn’t test this.
So in conclusion, I can not recommend this mount to anyone with a horizontal bladed vent. You may have better luck with a vertical bladed vent, but I was unable to try this. Unless you’re attaching the clamp onto something that is around 3-5mm thick, and doesn’t also move, I can see this vent being more of a hassle than actually useful. It shows that a vent of this type really needs a supporting arm to strengthen its stance on the object it attaches to. Hopefully it’s makers read this and consider adding this on the product in the future.