If you’re using your smartphone for GPS directions but leaving it in your lap or cupholder, it’s time to get a phone holder for your car. These mounts allow you to position a smartphone within line of sight—and keep it out of your hands, thus avoiding a ticket in some states.
The best phone holder isn’t the same for everyone, however. Car manufacturers not only use different types of vents, but they mix up the positions of both CD players and vents too. States also have different laws for what can be attached to a windshield (and where).
Accordingly, our list of the best phone mounts doesn’t single out just one or two picks. Instead, we’re sharing the most convenient and reliable models as a group after putting them to the test in a variety of cars.
Updated 11/22/19 to include the Dopobo Dashboard Cradle, which mounts your phone in a unique way over your instrument panel, and costs less than $10.
Note: For this set of evaluations, we’ve focused on vent and CD slot mounts, as windshield mounts are illegal in many states.
Best phone mounts and holders for cars
Dopobo Adjustable Dashboard Cell Phone Cradle
The effectiveness of Dopobo’s phone mount varies by car, since it’s the shape of your dash that will determine how effectively it grips. Essentially, a metallic hook grabs the lip betwen your instrument well and the top of the dash. A second grip holds your phone (up to 6.5 inches, according to the manufacturer) like a pair of alligator’s jaws. If positioned correctly, your phone becomes a type of HUD, making it very easy to navigate.
That metallic hook is springy, however, and the non-slip pad on its inside may not be enough to keep the whole contraption from springing forward. Mine had just enough grip to hold on, though some double-sided tape may help, too.) So far, the quite-firm grip of the jaws hasn’t harmed either a Pixel 3 XL or a OnePlus 6T.
I love how it positions my phone, though a tiny bit of it is obscured by my steering wheel. You may notice something similar depending on how you’ve adjusted your wheel, or just the interior of your car. But at just over $7, it’s worth experimenting. —Mark Hachman
The iOttie iTap 2 Wireless is a clever combination of phone mount and wireless charger.
In addition to the vent-style mount that we reviewed, it’s also available as a mount that uses the CD slot in your car’s stereo or as a dash mount. All three are priced at $55 and are capable of wirelessly charging your Qi-enabled smartphone.
The included magnet in the iTap 2 Wireless was strong enough to hold an iPhone XS Max in place without fear of it falling while driving.
In our tests, its wireless charging performance ranked average to above average, for iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy S9, respectively, compared to other wireless chargers we’ve tested.
iOttie iTap 2 Magnetic Air Vent Mount
Tested in a car with horizontal vents.
Like its competition, iOttie’s iTap 2 Magnetic Air Vent Mount slides easily onto horizontal and vertical slats—but then it one-ups them with a clamp that squeezes on the rubber clip for a secure hold. Pulling your phone off this magnetic air vent mount never causes it to budge.
That clamp fixes the major problem with most air vent phone mounts, and this iTap 2 mount’s other features are equally well-designed: It rotates 360 degrees to accommodate custom phone orientations, allows for some airflow behind the phone, and is compact and unobtrusive.
You also get a firm lock when placing a phone on the iTap 2’s magnetic surface, whether you use either of the two metal plates included or any random one that you’re already using. The grip does weaken a little if you have a case between the plate and the phone, but my phone in its thick wallet case still stayed put while going over moderately bumpy roads.
With an MSRP of $30, other cheaper mounts may look more tempting, but this iOttie model easily trounced my former favorite, a Koomus air vent mount that has to be wedged against my car’s dash to keep it in place. At its street price of $25, the iOttie iTap 2 Magnetic Air Vent Mount is worth the extra cash—especially since it travels well, too. —Alaina Yee
BE Universal Smartphone Car Air Vent Mount
Tested on a car with vertical vents.
The BE Universal Smartphone Car Air Vent Mount is the rare phone holder that works well with vertical-slat vents. It locks onto your car with a small clip that is tightened by first turning and then pressing down--and it hangs on very tightly. In over nine months of use, I haven't had to readjust it once.
It also grips to phones firmly, no matter how you rotate the 360-degree ball joint. Supported sizes are phones ranging between 1.9 to 3.7 inches in width, which covers all current iPhones and most Android models.
Overall construction is solid as well. BE Universal uses a rigid, dense plastic, lined with soft foam pads that cushion and protect your phone from scratches.
This mount's only downsides are an incompatability with round vents, and its larger size. If those aren't issues, this inexpensive phone holder is a great option. –Dan Masaoka
iOttie Easy One Touch 4 Air Vent Mount
Tested in a car with horizontal vents.
iOttie’s Easy One Touch 4 Air Vent Mount ($24.95 MSRP; $19.95 on Amazon) is a solid pick, both in price and functionality. This mount has two parts, but it’s very easy to assemble: Just snap the vent clamp into the back of the phone mount, and attach it to your air vent using the spring-loaded clamp. The mount keeps your phone in place thanks to two arms that hug it tightly, using a “lock and release” system.
The Easy One Touch 4 fits phones between 2.3- and 3.5-inches wide—I tested it out using an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X with and without cases, and it fit the bill for all three of Apple’s current models. It’ll work just fine for Android phones within that size range, too.
This iOttie mount held up well during my testing. The hinge continued to keep my iPhone held upright without sagging, and the mount stayed firmly clasped to the air vent without falling off due to my phone’s weight. Plus, it rotates 360-degrees to help you find the perfect viewing angle, be it in landscape or portrait orientation. -Leah Yamshon
Koomus CD-Air CD Slot Smartphone Car Mount
Tested in a Honda Accord (1999)
Installation of Koomus's grip-style, CD-slot mounted phone holder is simple, with just one lever that locks the whole unit in place. This method still results in a sturdy hold, though--while Koomus includes three rubber spacers to increase the clamping force, we didn't need it. The mount itself can be positioned in a variety of ways: Its arm tilts up and down, and you can insert it with the mount pointed up or facing down.
The grip-style clamp has surprisingly light tension, allowing you to mount a phone with just one hand. It accommodates larger phones, even with bulkier rugged cases. I successfully put a Nexus 6P and a Pixel 2 XL in the clamp, though the Pixel 2 XL in an Otterbox case was the most difficult of the combinations I tried.
One potential issue with this Koomus model is its size. It's quite large, so depending on the placement of your CD player, it'll block access to controls. The arm that holds the phone in place also uses a simple friction ball joint with no ability to increase tension down the road once it’s worn in. While we had no issues with it new, we can foresee it drooping eventually. -Gordon Mah Ung
Kenu Airframe+ Smartphone and Phablet Car Mount, Black
Tested on a car with horizontal vents.
Car mounts that just clip onto the slats in your air-conditioning vent are incredibly convenient. They don’t block your view or muck up your dashboard with adhesive, and they work with cars lacking a CD player. And in those blazing summer months, the A/C blowing right onto the back of your phone will help keep it from overheating.
Kenu makes one of the best grip-style vent clips. It’s minimalist in design but durable, with a spring-loaded side clip big enough to fit the even large phones like Plus-model iPhones and Galaxy Notes. (If you own a phone under 5-inches, you'll want to buy the smaller version of this mount.) The vent clip has grips for thick or thin vent slats, so it’ll work in most cars. And since it can rotate, you can use it with angled AC vents or turn your phone to landscape orientation.
At an MSRP of $25, it’s not one of the cheapest vent mounts on the market. But the durability and careful design are worth a few extra bucks. –Jason Cross
Spigen Kuel A200 Car Phone Mount Magnetic Air Vent Holder
Tested in a car with round vents.
You're unlikely to find a more simple, unobtrusive, and inexpensive option than this $8 phone holder.
Slits on the magnetic mount’s short, rubberized stem allow it to slip onto your car’s air vent. To attach your phone to the mount, you'll need to apply one of the two included metal plates to your phone directly or slip the plate into your phone’s case.
The magnet combination is rated to hold today’s largest phones, such as the Galaxy Note 8 or iPhone X, and in my experience with a Pixel XL, the device remained secure while making the screen visible as I drove.
The downsides are that it blocks a vent and/or absorbs any hot or cold air your vent is emitting. Still, it’s an exceedingly simple solution for making your phone accessible while you drive. –Katherine Stevenson
Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Vent Mount for Smartphones
Tested in a car with horizontal vents.
The Square Jellyfish Jelly-Grip Car Vent Mount is a mouthful, but it’s an excellent smartphone vent mount for your car. This phone holder uses an adjustable, solid metal hook that extends to slide through a vent (from 3/8” to 1” deep) and over its horizontal louvers. Square Jellyfish says that the mount can be used with vertical louvers, too, though we didn’t test that. If you have round louvers, it won’t work.
The spring-loaded side grips grab phones up to six inches wide tightly—almost too tightly. Actually mounting the phone required placing it face down on a seat and grabbing it with the grips, then placing the whole contraption within the vent. You can also slide the phone out to remove it, but be careful of any side-mounted buttons.
The tradeoff? An absolutely secured phone that isn’t going anywhere. And since the grips swivel on a ball mount, you can still position your phone for easy viewing. As a final bonus, the manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty: Send Square Jellyfish a picture of the problem, and the company will ship a replacement, free of charge. –Mark Hachman
All of our smartphone car mount reviews
Curious about the other options? Below is a list of all the smartphone car mounts we’ve reviewed. Just click on the product name to read our hands-on observations. We’ve got more lined up for evaluation, so be sure to come back to see what else we’ve tested.