Smartphone mounted in car phone holder

The Best Car Phone Holders of 2021

By Austin Meadows Vehicle TechNo Comments

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These days, most of us use our phones to navigate while driving. While often convenient and necessary, this can also be distracting, particularly if you’re looking down at the phone on your lap or in your cup holder. For the safety of both yourself and other road users, it’s better to use a car phone holder. 

Staying safe on the road is no joke. Here in the United States, automobile accidents are a leading cause of death, according to the CDC. Non-fatal accidents take their toll as well, with over 4 million Americans injured in car accidents every year. It’s little different in other countries.

Car phone holders are inexpensive, easy to set up, and can drastically improve the safety of using GPS apps in the car. There are a few different types of these mounts: some attach to your windshield or dash, others clip onto air vents, while still others are designed to sit in your vehicle’s cup holders. 

When choosing a car phone holder, the biggest consideration is the type/style. Generally, phone holders that mount on either the dashboard or the windshield are the most popular. Keep in mind, however, that not all states allow windshield mounts: be sure to check their legality in your area.

Air vent car phone mounts are easy to install and move between vehicles, but do tend to block some airflow and aren’t always as stable on bumpy roads. Cup holder mounts are less common, and generally aren’t as safe, since you still need to look down quite a ways to check Google Maps or Waze! 

If you’re on the hunt for a good car phone holder, this guide is for you. There are hundreds of options on the market, so we’ve taken the time to find out what’s really worth buying, and what isn’t. From simple magnetic options to fancy windshield mounts, these are the best car phone holders of 2021.

Best Car Phone Holder: Kenu Airframe Pro
  • Mounting position: Vent
  • Max phone size: 3.6-inch phone width
  • Adjustable viewing angle?: Yes (360 degrees)

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Runner-Up, Best Car Vent Phone Holder: AINOPE Car Phone Holder Mount
  • Mounting position: Vent
  • Max phone size: 7-inch screen
  • Adjustable viewing angle?: No

Best Car Cup Phone Holder: TOPGO Cup Holder Phone Mount
  • Mounting position: Cup holder
  • Max phone size: 3.5-inch phone width
  • Adjustable viewing angle?: Yes (360 degrees)

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Best Magnetic Car Phone Holder: Penom Magnetic Car Phone Mount
  • Mounting position: Vent
  • Max phone size: no specific limit
  • Adjustable viewing angle?: Yes (360 degrees)

Best Car Dashboard Phone Holder: iOttie Easy One Touch 4
  • Mounting position: Dash or windshield
  • Max phone size: 3.5-inch phone width
  • Adjustable viewing angle?: Yes (225 degrees)

Best Wireless Charging Car Phone Holder: Mankiw Wireless Car Charger
  • Mounting position: Dash or windshield
  • Max phone size: 6.5-inch screen
  • Adjustable viewing angle?: Yes (360 degrees)

Best Car Phone Holder: Kenu Airframe Pro

Kenu Airframe Pro | Android Vent Car Phone Mount & iPhone Car Holder for iPhone 11 Pro Max/11Pro/11 iPhone Xs Max/Xs/XR/X, iPhone 8 Plus/8, iPhone 7 Plus/7, Car Accessory, Samsung Phone Stand | Black

The Kenu Airframe Pro is a simple, versatile, and affordable phone holder, with a few extra features that lift it above the pack of similar vent-mounted alternatives.

The company makes a couple of different versions, but the Airframe Pro is the one to get. It typically costs a few dollars more, but can handle larger phones and cases (up to 3.6″ wide) and has a 360-degree rotating ball joint that gives more flexibility both about how you mount it and your phone’s orientation while driving.

The holder attaches firmly to horizontal or vertical vents, with a stronger grip than many of its competitors thanks to the push-button mechanism that opens and closes the pinchers at the back. Other vent-mounted models often tend to fall out on bumpy roads or during sharp turns, but you’ve really got to be putting a lot of effort in to get the Airframe Pro to do the same.

The spring-loaded arm keeps your phone firmly in place while driving, but doesn’t require enormous amounts of pressure to release at the end of the trip. Most people should be able to do it with one hand, without pulling the entire mount out of the vent at the same time.

In a pinch, you can also stick a credit card or similar into the pinchers at the back of the mount to turn it into a phone stand. It doesn’t replace a dedicated stand, but if you’re on a plane or in a hotel room, it’ll do the job just fine.

Overall, we tend to prefer vent mounts like this over windscreen or dash versions. They’re particularly good for travel, since they’re smaller, lighter, and easier to mount and move between vehicles than other models.

The location of the air vents in most vehicles also makes it easier to run a charging cable to the phone without having it draped over the dashboard, and they don’t run the risk of adhesive or suction cups wearing out over time, a common problem with other mounts.

We’ve used Kenu mounts for years without issue, thanks to a build quality that’s noticeably better than the no-name budget versions. If you do have a problem, though, the company offers an impressive lifetime warranty.

The only real downside of the Airframe Pro, and an issue that’s common to most vent-mounted holders, is that it can struggle to firmly attach to recessed air vents. A slight recess is probably fine, but more than that may result in a less-secure hold.

Pros
  • Quick and easy mounting
  • Strong grip
  • 360-degree rotation
  • Phones can be removed with one hand
  • Doubles as a travel stand
Cons
  • May not work in recessed air vents
Buy on Amazon

Runner-Up, Best Car Vent Phone Holder: AINOPE Car Phone Holder Mount

AINOPE Car Phone Holder Mount, 2021 Upgraded Gravity Phone Holder for Car Vent with Upgraded Hook Clip Auto Lock Hands Free Air Vent Cell Phone Car Mount Compatible with 4-7 inch Smartphone

The AINOPE Car Phone Holder Mount is an air vent phone mount that clips on to horizontal air vents on your car’s dash. Like the Kenu model above, this type of holder is easy to install and works in most vehicles, but you’re more limited in terms of where your phone can be displayed.

This particular mount is unusual, in that it has support on the base as well as the side. Simply slide your phone into place, and its weight pushes the lower mount component down while the sides clamp on automatically.

When not in use, it’s a very compact mount, at about half the height of a credit card. This means that unlike many other vent-mounted models, it won’t substantially block airflow from your air vents. Of course, when your phone is mounted, airflow will be restricted a bit. 

The clips adjust to the size of most phones, with the holder designed to be used with phone sizes up to 6.7″ and thicknesses up to 14mm. This means that even larger phones, and somewhat thicker cases, should still work with this mount.

While we prefer the Kenu Airframe Pro overall, the AINOPE is typically cheaper, handles slightly larger devices, and is a strong alternative option if our top pick isn’t available.

There are two downsides, however. One is that the mount’s design can block the auxiliary ports on some phones, making it difficult to play music if you have an older vehicle without Bluetooth audio.

The other is common to virtually all vent mounts, in that your phone may get hot when you have the heater on as it’s directly in front of the air vent. Most cars have the option to close specific air vents, however. 

Pros
  • Clamps automatically adjust to the size of your phone
  • Compact design doesn’t block the full air vent
  • Fits phones with a screen size of up to 6.7” and up to 14mm thick
  • Budget-friendly
Cons
  • Blocks access to the auxiliary port on some phones
  • Phone can get hot when heater is on
Buy on Amazon

Best Car Cup Phone Holder: TOPGO Cup Holder Phone Mount

[Upgraded] TOPGO Phone Holder Car Cup Mount,Cup Holder Phone Holder for Car,Universal Adjustable Gooseneck Cup Holder Cradle Car Mount for Cell Phone iPhone,Samsung,LG (Black)

The TOPGO Cup Holder Phone Mount simply sits in your existing cup holder. It features a gooseneck mount for your phone, which you can rotate through 360 degrees. There’s no real installation required: you simply press the mount into your cup holder, and adjust the clamps to create a tight fit.

It’s designed to work with cup holders with a diameter of up to four inches. This will fit most standard size cup holders, which are typically 3 to 3.8 inches in diameter. 

The gooseneck arm extends up to eight inches, but because the mount sits in the cup holder, you will still need to look down somewhat to see your phone. As such, this isn’t the safest design when it comes to keeping your eyes on the road. On the other hand, some people prefer to have their phone a bit out of sight so that it doesn’t distract them. 

The other downside of this holder is that it may not fit phones with battery cases, or thick cases like OtterBoxes. The maximum thickness is listed at 0.51″ (13mm).

Pros
  • Adjustable cup attachment to fit in most cup holders
  • Gooseneck mount lets you customize viewing angle
  • 360-degree phone rotation
  • Easy to use with no installation required
Cons
  • Will not fit larger cases like OtterBoxes, or battery cases
  • Not the best viewing angle for safety
Buy on Amazon

Best Magnetic Car Phone Holder: Penom Magnetic Car Phone Mount

Penom Magnetic Car Phone Mount, Cell Phone Holder for Car, Universal Magnetic Phone Car Mount for Most Smart Phone

The Penom Magnetic Car Phone Mount is a simple, inexpensive option. It is also an air vent mount, but instead of a clamp design, it uses a strong magnet to secure the phone in place.

The mount can rotate 360 degrees, allowing for both vertical and horizontal display of your phone. Because there are no clamps, this mount should work with just about any size phone. 

Like the AINOPE mount discussed above, the Penom clips onto horizontal air vents. It’s quite compact, and won’t substantially disrupt airflow from the vent. The powerful magnet securely holds most phones in place.

While the magnet is strong and secure, some users have noted that the air vent clip itself doesn’t have the most stable design. For heavier phones or bumpy roads, this could present a problem, but smaller phones and city streets shouldn’t cause any concerns. 

Pros
  • 360-degree rotation
  • Holds just about any phone
  • Sleek, simple design
  • Strong magnet prevents shaking
Cons
  • Magnet is strong, but vent clip itself may struggle with heavier phones
Buy on Amazon

Best Car Dashboard Phone Holder: iOttie Easy One Touch 4

iOttie Easy One Touch 4 Dash & Windshield Universal Car Mount Phone Holder Desk Stand for iPhone, Samsung, Moto, Huawei, Nokia, LG, Smartphones, Black

The iOttie Easy One Touch 4 mount is a unique option. It can be mounted to the dashboard or the windshield, with a telescopic arm that extends 4-6.5 inches and pivots on a 225 degree arc to adjust the viewing angle of your phone.

The telescopic arm design is more secure and less shaky than the thinner gooseneck mounts, but this style is less adjustable side-to-side than a comparable gooseneck-style mount like the Mpow. 

The result of this mechanical design is a very secure fit and minimal shaking. It’s designed for any phone with a width between 2.3″ and 3.5″, which covers most phones. Most mount manufacturers use screen size, but iOttie uses phone width instead. 

This holder has a suction-cup style mount, but also requires the use of a semi-permanent dashboard pad. You first attach the pad to the dashboard, and then attach the mount to the pad. This ensures a more stable attachment, but is also a downside if you plan to move the mount between vehicles, as the dashboard pad can leave sticky residue if you try to remove it. 

The suction cup mount doesn’t always hold up very well to hot weather, either, and the adhesive may melt on very warm summer days. If you live in a warm climate, you may wish to choose a different option. 

Pros
  • Easy one-touch lock and release
  • Mounts to dashboard or windshield
  • Telescopic arm provides a stable mount
  • Compatible with most phones
Cons
  • Suction cup can “melt” in high heat
  • Dash mount requires semi-permanent sticker attachment
Buy on Amazon

Best Wireless Charging Car Phone Holder: Mankiw Wireless Car Charger

MANKIW Wireless Car Charger Automatic Clamping 10W Qi Fast Charging Car Charger Mount Compatible with iPhone 12/12pro/12 pro max/11/11pro/11pro MAX/Xs MAX/XS/XR/X/8/8p Samsung S10/S10+/S9/S9+/S8/S8+

The Mankiw Wireless Car Charger is both a phone holder and a Qi wireless phone charger. It mounts to your car’s dashboard, and the height- and angle-adjustable arm can be moved around to suit your preferred viewing position. 

The wireless charging abilities of this holder are impressive, supporting up to 10W Qi fast charging and able to charge through relatively thick cases of up to 4mm thick. The phone holder features are basic, but functional. It’s a good choice if you want wireless charging for your phone, but if you just need a basic phone holder, there are cheaper options. 

A cord runs from the mount down to your vehicle’s cigarette lighter power source, or to a compatible QC 2.0/3.0 car charger. Note that normal car USB ports and most car phone chargers won’t supply enough power for 7.5 or 10W charging. If you’d like faster wireless charging, you’ll likely want to purchase this adapter or a similar version that supports QC 3.0 output as well. 

Other than that need for a separate power adapter, the only real downside of this device is that the suction cup mount can be a little shaky with heavier phones. For anyone with small to mid-size phones that support wireless charging, however, it’s an excellent choice.

Pros
  • Charges your phone with up to 10W wireless Qi charging
  • Can charge even through thick cases
  • Automatic clamp opening and one-touch release
Cons
  • Suction cup can struggle under the weight of heavy phones
  • Doesn’t come with cigarette lighter power adapter (sold separately)
Buy on Amazon

Main image via Shutterstock, product images via Amazon

About the Author
Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows

Austin is a digital nomad with a passion for exploring alternative lifestyles and testing the latest technological innovations. Rarely under the same roof for long, when he's not sampling wine and cheese in Bulgaria or downloading the latest travel app, you can find him running, gaming, or cooking up something delicious.

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