If you’ve bought a new vehicle in the past few years, it undoubtedly came with a built-in touchscreen or display of some kind so you can interact with your smartphone for basic tasks like navigation. But many older vehicles lack this feature – and leaving a smartphone while driving is classed as distracted driving in many jurisdictions. Where I live in Canada (Ontario), the first Getting caught tapping that smartphone screen while driving is a fine of $615 to $1,000 plus a 3-day suspension of your driver’s license and three demerit points. However, if your phone is securely mounted on the dashboard, you can legally interact with it.
Understandably, there is a large market for car dashboard mounts. Many of these are clunky affairs, made of cheap plastic. They can be wobbly, especially when you’re trying to attach a large phone like one of Apple’s Plus series models. Many use a clamp-like accessory with springs – these can be difficult to use, the springs can fail over time, and aggressively tight versions can even damage your smartphone case. All that hard plastic can also rattle when you drive around, which quickly becomes annoying.
Peak Design offers a very appealing alternative in the car mount SlimLink phone accessory. It features a premium, anodized aluminum construction, a ball head that can hold the phone in portrait or landscape mode, premium (and removable) 3M adhesive pads, neodymium mounting magnets, and it’s Apple MagSafe compatible.
For a 10-year-old Mazda used primarily as a dog carrier and work vehicle by a couple of 21-year-olds, each equipped with an iPhone 15 Plus, the Peak Design Car Mount seemed like the ideal solution.
Easy installation, but take your time
Peak Design provides everything you need for installation, including two weatherproof 3M VHB adhesive strips (one is a spare), an alcohol wipe and detailed instructions.
You don’t want to do this a second time, even though the adhesive pad can be removed and an extra one is included in the box. So planning is essential. You need to find an area on the dashboard that accommodates both the mount and a smartphone, in such a way that the display is in full view of the driver, but nothing important (like a button or gauge) is blocked. Every vehicle is different and ours was a bit of a challenge in this regard. I finally found the spot, but it was a vertical surface. I would have preferred horizontal (less separation tension between the bass and dash), but that’s what I had to work with…
After that, you need to clean that surface thoroughly with the provided alcohol wipe and give the surface time to dry. Finally, use one of the 3M adhesive pads to attach the car mount to the dashboard and apply pressure for half a minute or so. And then you have to wait a day for the tape to harden. Put weight on your phone before then and it risks dropping.
For best results, take your time during installation and do it right.
Looks great, works great, love the MagSafe compatibility
The Peak Design Car Mount looks very minimalist compared to many others, especially mounts with articulated arms and phone clips. It looks premium and the anodized aluminum adds to it. There is zero rattle when driving around.
The SlimLink magnetic attachment technology used in the car mount works as advertised. Only one hand is required. iPhones snapped on securely, with no fuss at all. They were easily removed, too, though the magnetic connection was strong enough to keep the iPhones (which were in a MagSafe-compatible case) secure, even over impacts. The ball head holds the phone’s position effectively.
Operation was just as good with my iPhone 14 Pro Max, the heaviest phone Apple has ever made…
Don’t have a MagSafe phone? Peak Design sells SlimLink cases with built-in magnetic support for iPhones, Pixel phones and a range of Samsung smartphones. For everything else, you can buy a universal SlimLink adapter that sticks to pretty much any third-party phone case.
The only issue we encountered wasn’t really a problem, but the relatively short arm of the car mount means that rotation of the attached phone’s display can be limited. It will of course vary by vehicle and base location, and in ours it didn’t affect the phone’s visibility in any way.
Peak Design Auto Mount Recommendation
If your vehicle lacks a built-in display and requires you to use your cell phone for tasks such as navigation, a dashboard car mount will make your life much easier – and safer.
When it comes to aesthetics and ease of use, few car mounts can match the anodized aluminum with MagSafe compatibility of the Peak Design Auto Mount. It looks good and not a MacGyvered afterthought, and the magnetic mount works great. At $44.95, it’s also pretty reasonably priced. If you want to add wireless charging to the mix, the $79.95 charging version of the Peak Design car mount includes a low-profile cigarette lighter socket, USB-C cable, clips, and a wireless charging pad integrated into the mounting head.
Disclosure: Peak Design provided a car mount for evaluation purposes but had no input into this review.
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