Best portable sucker windshield phone holding thing
May 13, 2014 6:15 AM   Subscribe

I travel a fair amount for work and have discovered that most car-based GPS are crap compared to Google Maps and Waze. So I end up using my cell phone frequently for navigation. I'm looking for the best portable way to attach a phone holder to a rental car. Characteristics I'm looking for: * It needs to be something (like a sucker) that doesn't require installation to a car I don't own. * Should be portable and light - fold up or otherwise easily packable * Should fit Galazy phone, ideally fit multiple phones (I'm due for an upgrade and might change carriers.
posted by canine epigram to Technology (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My go-to toss-in-my-bag solution lately has been the Kenu Airframe. $25 and tiny as hell.

I used to carry a suction cup mount but found it rather bulky, that it wore down over time, and that some cars' dashes/windshields made it occasionally rather distant, so this works much better IMO.
posted by agentmunroe at 6:50 AM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know about "best" as I'm only familiar with two, but I will say I bought one with a longer adjustable gooseneck and my husband bought one with a very short post and mine falls out of the window more often. It vibrates a good bit, even though the neck section is really stiff. In the end, our phones are positioned in roughly the same place but mine is maybe 2" closer to my face, which isn't actually helpful as my eyes are getting old and I need the phone further away.

Most available options have a squeezy universal holder, which is fine but many of them are opened with pressure, and they're really tight by design, and are a little hard to get the phone in and out of and trying to slide in and out mashes the side buttons. If you can find one with a clip that has a lever or snap or mechanism I think that would be preferable.

They're pretty much all light and portable and aren't that big to start with. Not getting one with a long mostly useless gooseneck would be preferable as it makes the whole thing larger and more unwieldy.

If I was going to buy a replacement for mine right now, I'd probably get one of the iOttie holders as they seem to address most of my complaints.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:50 AM on May 13, 2014

The Wirecutter loves the X-Grip. The list the Kenu Airframe that agentmunroe has as an "also great" recommendation.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2014

I love the iOttie for my GS3. Mr. Getawaysticks has one for his GS4. The suction on it rarely, rarely fails - like 2x a year it falls off. Here in the Texas heat, that's saying something.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:56 AM on May 13, 2014

I have never used it myself, but there's this thing. Here's a bit on a morning news show where they test it out, and it seems to work great. (I've watched all of their Does It Work series and rarely are they as impressed with a little doodad as they are with that one.) It's super portable, isn't specific to a particular brand/style of phone, and for 10 bucks might be worth trying out.
posted by phunniemee at 7:05 AM on May 13, 2014

I love my iOttie also and am amazed by how well it sticks (it hasn't fallen off after quite a bit of use with my hulkingly large Note 2 + otterbox case). I tried several other brands at varying price points and found my phone bouncing onto the floor shortly into the first or second drive. Not a single drop with the iOttie.

That said, it's also stuck in one place to my car and hasn't been moved. I'm not sure how well it would stand up to moving it regularly despite the advertised "rinse and dry to refresh" advertising.

If anyone can attest to the effectiveness of the rinse-and-dry thing, I would 100% recommend their holders. Really stable, really good grip, reasonable price.
posted by VioletU at 7:06 AM on May 13, 2014

I had an iOttie mount before. The sticky suction cup works really well, but it does wear down after moving it around between various cars (the rinsing thing works to a point, but only to a point), and it attracts dust and lint like nobody's business. Additionally, at this point the suction cup is permanently in the suction-on shape, so the lever does nothing. It lasted me a about a year and a half and I quite liked it (almost bought another one), I just don't think it'll hold up to frequent mountings and unmountings.

On the actual suction-cup side of things, I just picked this iMagnet suction cup mount for a new car and really like it so far. It comes with a super-thin metal disc that you just slip inbetween your case and your phone (or underneath your phone's rear cover if it's removable) - after that, you just put it on the mount and it stays put. It works way better than it seems it should. The suction cup is super-sticky, which is nice, similar to the iOttie mount (but maybe more so).

I do like suction cup mounts for more permanent installations, I just don't ever plan on taking them off the car :)
posted by agentmunroe at 7:13 AM on May 13, 2014

Ram Mounts.

They are amazing. I have a 7" tablet I use for topo maps while offroading in my Tacoma, and the Ram mount never loses its grip. This is important to me - things flying around the cab while I am bouncing up a canyon in Moab are bad mojo.

The x-grip holder has been with me through the last 3 phones and travels with me in every rental car.

I can't speak highly enough of them.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:47 AM on May 13, 2014

You might consider the cd-slot mounted things instead of a sucker, depending on where you want the device on your eyeline. Too many vehicles now have windshields that are too far away for my viewing, personally. The other plus is they're smaller than something on a gooseneck.

I got one that has a clamp but there's a few choices out there. This meritline one uses a magnet.

I'm sure at some point cd players will stop being standard equipment but at the moment it seems to be the standard for anything with a radio.
posted by phearlez at 7:53 AM on May 13, 2014

After years of using various suction-cups and beanbags, I now have this (or a similar model) and I love it. It plugs into the 12v power outlet and hold your phone at the end of generously long flexible gooseneck. (Mine is longer than it appears in that photo). It has 2 USB ports, plus you still have access to a round 12v outlet. The gooseneck is stiff enough to be secure, but bends in half for storage in my center console.

My car (Kia Forte Koup) has the 12v outlets under the dashboard, in front of the gear shift and the change tray, but this device holds my phone or GPS plenty high for me to see it while driving, just under the level of the radio display. It can accommodate phones and GPS units of many sizes.
posted by The Deej at 9:06 AM on May 13, 2014

Best answer: Seconding the Kenu Airframe. It's smaller than anything else I'm aware of on the market, will hold just about any smartphone, and is more secure than suction cups.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 9:40 AM on May 13, 2014

I have a Barnacle and I love it. It's $5 and just a double-headed suction cup that's angled properly for use on glass, desks, etc. I keep mine in my car cupholder and use it to stick my phone to the odometer pane when I use it as GPS - works like a dream.
posted by AthenaPolias at 7:19 PM on May 13, 2014

Response by poster: I've ordered an Airframe and will give it a test-run this week on the road and report back.
posted by canine epigram at 9:19 AM on May 15, 2014

After much cursing about previous mounting choices I've made, I found the Steelie by Nite Ize. This is a good sturdy unit which can be used interchangeably with the tabletop pedestal they manufacture. It's magnetic ball socket design holds my Note3 without any jitter or movement in a truck with shocks that could stand replacing.
posted by schade at 9:55 PM on May 15, 2014

Response by poster: My wife has commandeered the Airframe and it fits the bill! Thanks hive mind!
posted by canine epigram at 12:24 PM on August 10, 2014

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