With every iPhone generation I have found myself buying many in-car docks and cradles over the years. I started off with the premium Brodit Pro Clip mounts, with a variety of their bespoke active and passive holders, however I soon released that because I was changing my car every few years, and my phone nearly every year, I had to buy yet another mount. It was time for a change, and it was time for something more universal – so I started to buy vent mounts.
Over the past few years, I’ve went from cheap and cheerful vent mounts bought from eBay, to making my own ‘hybrid mount’ made from parts of my old ones, glued and screwed together for the ‘ultimate’ vent mount – sadly this soon became unreliable, and it too joined the rest of the rejects.
Before fitting a more permanent dock in my Audi TT, I came across a very simple design on Amazon from Kenu – their Airframe Portable Car Mount. It was a really simple idea that lasted for a while with my iPhone 5, but I found having to pry open the expanding arm to fit my phone always loosened the mount (including the vent blades themselves!), so quite often I found myself always repositioning the mount back into the vent every time I attached my iPhone, which didn’t make it a great experience.
After an upgrade to the iPhone 6 – a slightly heavier and bigger phone – I started to struggle even more with the Kenu mount, and with the installation of the Alpine iLX-700 CarPlay headunit and reinstating my Spec-Dock ashtray dock, I didn’t find a need for it any more and it too joined the pile of tried and tested in-car mounts for the iPhone, which has spanned many iPhone generations.
So what next…? Well, whilst browsing the internet recently, I came across an Indiegogo project setup by the people at Mountek, a California-based development and manufacturing company, who’s committed to meeting drivers’ technology needs whilst they’re on the road.
Unknown to me, Mountek has developed a number of in-car CD/DVD slot mounts already – the world’s first in fact. But it is one of their new solutions that caught my attention – the AIRSNAP Air Vent mount. Retailing at £23 in the UK ($26 US), could this mount be another vent mount to join my mountainous pile of rejects, or is this going to be a keeper? Let’s find out.
Out of the box, the AIRSNAP contains just a few parts. The main work-horse of the mount is all prebuilt for you – a magnetic plate that is attached to a ball joint, which is attached to a clamping crocodile clip – there’s no assembly needed here. Just a few separate items come bundled with the clip mount: there are two black and white magnetic plates to stick on your device or insert inside your device’s case, and there are two stabiliser components, one for horizontal vents and one for vertical – it is great to see both vent types catered for here.
To look at them, both stabilisers look incredibly odd, but when attaching them to the clip and vent, they soon make perfect sense. They make you think, why hasn’t anyone else done this? Why? Because it really helps with a vent mount’s overall stability and how it performance with every day use.
Applying the clip to the vent is really straight forward: First, you open the middle ‘clamping’ screw out towards the mounting plate – this will allow you to open the crocodile clip fully and allow you to get full purchase inside and around the vehicle’s individual vent bars. Once clipped on, you then screw the middle screw back towards the clip, which prevents the clip from opening back up and thus maintain its strong grip on the vents. At this point the AIRSNAP mount could be used as it is, but it has a habit of moving sideways on horizontal vents, or up and down on vehicle mounts – this is where the stabilisers come in. With these stabilisers attached, the whole clip becomes surprisingly solid – the best I’ve seen on a vent mount.
So how do you attached your phone? Well, with magnets of course! But not your everyday magnets. There are four small ‘earth’ magnets contained inside the mounting plate, which is attached to the rotational ball hinge of the clip, these magnets are covered by a thin layer of rubber plastic to help protect any ‘naked’ devices (without a case on) from being scratched.
If your device has a metal backing, you might not even need to use the supplied metal plates; but for me, with an official Apple leather case, all I needed to do was to simply sandwich one of the bundled plates in-between my iPhone 6 and the leather case. With a layer of leather and rubber plastic between the two magnets, the connection is impressively strong. I don’t think driving down the most potholed roads will dislodge my iPhone 6 from this mount, and it feels just great jumping in the car and throwing the phone up onto the mount and seeing it ‘snap’ into place – No prying open of mount arms, or using two hands to fit the phone in place – simply place it on and it just snaps.
This is a great product, however my only gripe with the AIRSNAP is it can ‘jiggle’ a little bit on very bumpy roads – due to its arm being fairly long in length. If it sat closer to the vent it may not wobble as much, but this isn’t an issue most of the time, when roads are smooth, and not in the dire state that they are here in the UK, thanks to our local council’s budget cuts. But I digress, I can’t see the clip getting any smaller to reduce this issue, because you wouldn’t be able to access the tightening screw to attached the mount and stabiliser, plus the current length allows the vent’s air flow to continue to function as intended. Don’t let this small niggle put you off though; the whole thing really is an all-in-one solution that is so simple, it just works!
One other issue that is worth pointing out, is using this mount near any magnetic strip cards, like credit cards. There are many smartphone cases out there with credit cards slots in; so should you use this mount with a case like this, be warned, you could run the risk of wiping out the functionality of any magnetic strip cards in the case. For me, I keep my magnetic strip cards separate to my phone, so I will not run into this issue, but it is worth pointing out for people that do.
So if you’re still battling with your current mount and you’re looking for a solid, simple and stable solution for your smartphone, whilst connected to your CarPlay enabled headunit, make sure you checkout the Mountek AIRSNAP Air Vent Car Mount. It is well worth its tiny price tag and it should last you a long time. It is also very universal; where it also works with small tablets and other devices with the supplied metal plates stuck onto them. You can even share the mount with the other half by sharing the spare magnetic plate that comes bundled with it – just don’t fight over who can throw their phone onto it!