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Choosing a Cell Phone Car Mount: How to Select the Best Safety Accessory

Last updated: May 25, 2021
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Cell phone car mount on dashboard

Your phone is an essential tool as a rideshare driver. Not only does it allow you to pick up rides and navigate to your destination, but it also lets you contact Uber or Lyft support in case you have any questions. It’s no wonder that having a working smartphone is one of the key requirements for both Uber and Lyft drivers.

Car fresheners keep riders happy and OBD-II scanners can help you diagnose any issues, but when it comes to safety, cell phone car mounts are the biggest must-haves for drivers in the gig economy. Now that you’ve gotten the best cell phone plan for Uber and Lyft drivers, the only thing left is finding the best way to mount your phone in your car.

It’s about time you take your phone out of your cup holder and place it in front of your eyes — without blocking your view of the road, of course.

In this guide, we’re going to help you answer that question. We’ll go through the main types of car phone holders on the market, as well as recommend our favorite picks for each type.

Jump to:

Why Do I Need a Cell Phone Car Mount?

Cell phone car mount with map on phone

Phone car mounts are essential to keep rideshare drivers safe on the road. By providing hands-free GPS navigation and allowing drivers to keep both hands on the wheel, cell phone car mounts reduce the likelihood of accidents that can harm you and your passengers. After all, when you’re driving during peak hours every day, it’s best to take all the precautions possible.

Keeping your mobile phone mounted also keeps your eyes on the road. Even a second of attention away from the road can quickly lead to a crash, so anything you can do to prevent yourself from looking down at your navigation is worth the cost — especially if you’re using two phones for better earnings. Even if you’re using a Tesla for navigation, which has a massive screen for directions, you’ll still need to accept requests and keep yourself from getting distracted.

Plus, phone mounts are increasingly required across the United States. Hands-free laws in states like California and Texas are preventing texting while driving by requiring these cell phone accessories. Additional safety regulations for rideshare drivers are constantly being passed. If you’re proactive, you’ll be safer and won’t have to pause on earning to order a mount in the future.

Types of Phone Mounts

There are several different types of phone mounts that you should be aware of so you can make the best choice for your situation.

They are:

  • Short-arm bracket mounts
  • Long-arm bracket mounts
  • Short-arm magnetic mounts
  • Long-arm magnetic mounts
  • Mounts that attach to the dashboard or windshield
  • Mounts that attach to an air vent
  • Cup holder mounts

There really is no good or bad here.  There is a mount for every car type and every personality.  Personally, I much prefer magnetic mounts.  Whether they have long or short arms though depends on where I want to put them in my car.

If I’m going to put a mount on the windshield, to my left, I don’t need a long-arm mount because the phone will be close enough to see and easily operate with a short-arm mount.  However, if I’m going to put it to my right – in the center of the windshield, then I probably would need a long-arm mount.

I don’t like the mounts that attach to an air vent because in the car I tried it on once, the only vent I could put it on was a vent I needed to get air conditioning from, on a very hot day.  And the phone really did block the air from blowing on me.  So, I nixed vent mounts after that.  If a vent mount gets you all sweaty – it’s probably not worth it!

But, that’s just me.  You might have a car where you can put it on a vent that doesn’t affect your airflow.  Or you may not prefer as much airflow as I do, so a vent mount might work fine for you.  So you can never say never with these things.  The type of phone mount you’ll prefer will depend almost entirely on how your car is designed.

Because of all the variables and personal preferences that go into phone mounts, we’re not even going to attempt to tell you what the best mount is.  There really is no “best” mount.  There is only the best mount for you. 

The two main characteristics of mounts that you have to look at are how they attach to your car and how your phone or tablet attaches to them.  All mounts will attach to your phone by either using brackets or magnets.  So many mounts come in both styles – bracket and magnetic.

There are several more options when it comes to how mounts attach to your car.  They can attach to an air vent or a cup holder without using any sticky adhesive material.  A lot of people don’t like putting the adhesive on their dashboard so they find one of these alternatives preferable.

Then you have the sticky/adhesive mounts that attach to your windshield or dashboard.  Most people don’t mind using the sticky surface on their windshields because whatever residue they leave can easily be washed off.

However, a lot of people do not like using the sticky material on their dashboards.  Because that will leave permanent marks that either can’t be removed totally at all or if they can, it’s only with a lot of work.

Instead, we’ll review at least one of each type and give the pros and cons.

Magnetic Mounts

Magnetic mounts came out a few years ago and initially people were skeptical of them.  But they have more than proven their worthiness in the crowded mount market.  In the early days some magnetic mounts used magnets that were weaker than they should have been and they got a lot of complaints and bad ratings for it.  But the makers have long since solved that problem.  Today the magnets are so strong, you actually have to you’re your phone pretty hard to detach them from the mount!  That’s the kind of problem you want to have though.

Here are the top advantages of magnetic phone mounts:

  • Hassle-free – quick and easy placement and removal of your phone;
  • It doesn’t matter what size or shape your phone is;
  • It doesn’t matter whether you use a case on your phone;
  • If you use a case it doesn’t matter how large or thick it is;
  • Can easily switch phone to any orientation

When you’re driving for Uber and Lyft, you’re obviously in your car a lot longer than most people are.  And if you’re spending all day (or night) in your car you’re going to need to remove your phone many times during your shift.  So, ease of placement and removal becomes a big factor.

Magnetic mounts come in both long arm and short arm versions.

Bracket Mounts

Bracket mounts were the original type of mounts.  To their credit, we can say they are normally durable and they do the job they’re designed to do.

On the other side though, for Uber and Lyft drivers who will constant be inserting and removing their phones, they start to feel like a big hassle after a while.

Having to constantly stretch the brackets apart with your hands becomes a big pain, fast, when you have to do it multiple times a day.  And maybe this is just personal to me, but I always feel like the brackets are going to break when I touch them.  They never have, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it.  But I just don’t like that flimsy feeling you get every time you have to mount and dismount your phone.

Another bigger drawback to bracket mounts is the fact that the size of your phone is completely limited by the size of the brackets.  With magnetic mounts, it really doesn’t matter what size your phone is.  But with bracket mounts it does.  When you buy bracket mounts, you really have to read to see if your exact make and model of phone is listed as compatible.

Vent Mounts

Vent mounts are great if your car is designed so that you can conveniently place one where you need it.  And if you don’t mind the fact that they will very noticeably reduce the air flow from the vent you place them on, then they might be right for you.

I have always found vent mounts to be sturdy and easy to use.  However, they’re not good for heavier phones and they won’t accommodate tablets at all.

You have to be careful with magnetic vent mounts because if the magnetic bond to your phone is super strong it may be hard to detach your phone without pulling the mount off from the vent.  Although, on the other hand, if you do pull it off from the vent, it’s not that hard to slip back on.  So, not a huge problem – but it could be an annoyance.

Cup Holder Mounts

Cup holder mounts are great – as long as you don’t mind losing one of your cup holders to the mount!  Personally, I have better uses for my cup holders so while I like the cup holder mounts – I personally don’t use them – for that reason.

The benefits of cup holder mounts are:

  • they are very sturdy;
  • they can hold phones and tablets;
  • they come in bracket and magnetic versions
  • They don’t obstruct your view of any of your dashboard instruments or of the road;
  • They’re easy to mount in your car and remove. Although they’re fairly large so when you do remove it, you may have trouble finding a place to put it.

On the Con side:

  • You have to take your eyes way off the road in order to see your screen when it’s in a cup holder mount;
  • It uses one of your cup holders – which is space that many Uber and Lyft drivers desperately need for other things;
  • The base of the stand may not fit your cup holder. Even though manufacturers use a variety of methods to make the bases customizable to any cup holder size – a reading of the reviews shows that not all companies are successful with this!

I would recommend reading Amazon reviews on these mounts very carefully.  They, more than the other types, seem to come with a wider variety of problems.

What to Look for in a Cell Phone Car Mount

iPhones stacked on iPads

If you go to Amazon or Google and search for “car mount holder,” “phone mount,” or “car phone holder,” you’ll find a dizzying array of results. As with most types of cell phone accessories, much of what you find will be poor quality and will either break the first time you use it or won’t work at all.

Before you get bogged down in all the technical specifications, you should consider the basic function that a phone holder is supposed to serve. Does the device allow you to see and use your phone while still safely driving? That’s the only question that matters. Any other features are just a nice bonus.

Just about any cell phone car mount will do, but buying a high-quality phone holder will prevent you from returning to Amazon every few months to throw cash at another one. Here are a few features to consider when purchasing your phone mount.

Phone Compatibility

Charging port of cell phoneBefore you decide to purchase a phone mount, consider whether or not the mount will even work with your phone. While many mounts provide a universal fit nowadays, others may be dedicated to a few specific phone models. Double checking the list of compatible phone models before ordering can save you the trouble of returning and reordering items.

Most magnetic mounts are fully compatible with most smartphones, and won’t damage your phone or memory in any way. Bracket mounts are also frequently universal, and can feel more secure, but it’s crucial to ensure compatibility when purchasing this type of phone attachment.

Attachment Style

Cell phone car mounts offer a handful of unique attachment styles. While there isn’t a single way to attach your phone to your vehicle, it’s important to know your options so you can select whatever works best for you. Popular attachment styles include:

  • Dashboard mounts: Some cell phone car mounts can be attached on your dashboard, right above your steering wheel, for easy access to your navigation while driving.
  • Air vent mounts: These types of mounts easily attach to your air vent to keep your eyes up and on the road while navigating, though larger phones may decrease air flow during warmer months.
  • CD slot mounts: While this attachment style is growing more uncommon as CDs become a thing of the past, CD slot car mounts can be very secure and make use of your CD insert area.
  • Adhesive mounts: If none of the above attachments work for your vehicle, consider finding a mount with a strong adhesive attachment, so you can place it wherever it works best.

Charging Ability

When you’re spending hours driving with your Uber app on, it’s important to find a mount that allows you to charge your phone without detaching your iPhone or Android. When seeking this feature, look for a mount with an opening wherever your charging cable needs to attach to your phone.

If your vehicle doesn’t have a charger, keep in mind that some cell phone car mounts will charge your phone for you, as long as your phone allows wireless charging. Otherwise, make sure your mount can be placed where your portable charger can be safely accessed from your console.

Moving Capability

Though this isn’t necessarily a top priority, it can be helpful to find a cell phone car mount that provides flexible angles, or that can easily be detached and reattached elsewhere. This allows you to alter the angle of your screen if you need a clearer view, especially if the sun is creating a glare. Many movable phone mounts offer extended arms or bases that can be pivoted.

Top Phone Mounts for Rideshare Drivers

Taking into account our list of helpful features above, you can start shopping for your perfect cell phone car mount. To help speed up your search, we’ve curated a list of our favorite models for each vehicle attachment style.

Dash Mount: iOttie Easy One Touch 4

Cell phone car mount: iOttie

The iOttie Easy One Touch 4 is one of the latest versions of a popular phone mount model. Though it isn’t a traditional dashboard mount, as it is held with a suction cup, the Easy One Touch 4 allows you to securely fasten any smartphone (with or without the case) sized between 2.3 to 3.5 inches wide.

This car accessory can be positioned perfectly so that your eyes won’t be completely off the road when you glance at your navigation. With an extendable arm that can be moved vertically and horizontally, this dash mount is sure to keep you safe.

Vent Mount: Kenu Airframe Pro Vent MountCell phone car mount: Kenu Airframe

If you’re looking for a reliable way to clip your phone onto your car vent, the Kenu Airframe Pro Vent Mount is for you. Though the price is a bit hefty at nearly $30, it’s a universal, sturdy cell phone car mount that is unlikely to need a replacement.

Plus, because your mobile device will be held at the sides and the mount offers a 360-degree pivot, this vent mount checks off all our desired qualifications above.

CD Slot Mount: Mpow 051

Cell phone car mount: Mpow

This best-selling phone mount is also one of the most affordable in the game. With three color options priced at under $13, the Mpow 051 is compatible with a wide variety of phones, including the:

  • iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, and XS
  • Samsung Galaxy S10, S9, and S8
  • Google Nexus 6, 5, and 4
  • LG V30 Plus and V30

Once your phone is attached to this mount, all you need to do is tuck the back of the mount into your CD player. The grips on the mount will create a secure attachment and you can adjust the angle of your smartphone as desired.

Adhesive Mount: Nite Ize Steelie Original Dash Kit

Cell phone car mount: Nite Ize SteelieAll of the mounts listed above are fantastic examples of bracket mounts for your phone. However, a magnetic attachment can help you attach your phone with ease when you start driving, and detach your phone in a second when you’re done.

The Steelie kit, priced at just under $19, provides a magnetic attachment that allows any smartphone to attach onto and maneuver around the rounded platform without covering its charging port. In addition, it has a strong adhesive vehicle attachment that you can trust to hold up for a long period of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Car dashboard at night

Now that you’re fully prepared to go phone mount shopping, here are our answers to a few common questions to save you time, money, and hassle.

1. Will local regulations affect the type of phone mount I can use?

Many state laws prohibit drivers from using suction cup mounts on their windshield, as blocking your windshield can lead to additional safety issues. Checking your local regulations before purchasing a windshield mount or any other potentially obtrusive mount style can help you stay within legal guidelines.

2. Can I deduct my phone mount purchase from my taxes?

Most likely, yes, if you get them for the purpose of driving for Uber, Lyft, or any other kind of delivery app that requires you to use your phone in your vehicle. You should always consult with an accountant just to be safe, of course. For more information on rideshare and self-employment taxes, consult our guide.

3. Will Uber reimburse drivers for purchasing phone mounts?

Unfortunately, Uber currently does not reimburse drivers for cell phone car mounts and does not provide them either. Even where phone mounts are required, Uber is not required to provide them since drivers are considered independent contractors. This makes it especially important to keep track of your expenses for your write-off at the end of the year.

4. What’s the best iPhone car mount?

In terms of iPhone vs Android, there isn’t any difference between phone holders. The only thing that matters is the width of the phone, which can vary even among iPhones. So when shopping for phone holders, look at the width the device accommodates. Or, just get one with a magnetic mount so that you don’t have to worry about your phone fitting in the bracket.

5. Will magnetic phone mounts damage my phone?

No, they will not. While phones do contain some magnetic components, the magnets in phone holders are not powerful enough to damage them. They won’t wipe your phone’s memory, damage its speaker, disable its screen, or cause any other kind of problems.

Drive Safely With a Small Investment

Of all the car accessories you can purchase, your cell phone car phone mount should be your priority as a rideshare driver. Whether you’re driving with Lyft, Uber, or any other rideshare platform, your safety and the safety of your guests are always of utmost importance.

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