Although we’ve covered quite a few in-car solutions for iOS devices, there is often the question of where to keep your device when driving. Some cars inconveniently route a cable through the glove compartment, while others have a place in the center console. If there isn’t a predetermined location, most people will mount their phones on their dashboard or windshield, much like GPS units of the past. Most of those mounts simply hold the phone with some sort of clamp system, but the $23 iMagnet mount takes a different approach.
As the name suggests, this particular mount works using a magnet. Up front, some may be concerned, as it has been long suggested that magnets and gadgetry don’t mix (this false claim was mostly related to scrambling data on floppy disks, hard drives, and other magnetic media—Apple actually uses magnets in many of their computers for things like sleep sensors and the iPad’s Smart Cover). Still, the only side-effect is that while using the iMagnet, your iPhone’s compass may be slightly off. Navigation won’t be affected, as the phone typically uses your location compared with the previous location to figure out your heading. On the iMagnet FAQ:
Some models of smartphones have compasses which may experience minimal interference when mounted onto iMagnet. This situation can be easily resolved by removing your smartphone from your iMagnet and waving it in a figure-eight motion to reset the compass. When you place your smartphone back onto your iMagnet, the compass should work again. Make sure the magnet is not in direct contact with the top edge of the device, as this is where electronic compasses are installed in many mobile devices.
Disclaimers aside, the iMagnet looks like someone took a traditional suction-cup mount and chopped the cradle off of it, replacing it with just a rubber disc. At one end, there is a silicone suction cup, designed by 3M, that offers a bit of gel to stick more throughly. If the sticky portion ever gets dirty, it can be washed to restore adhesion. The arm portion is not as long as some mounts, giving you a few inches of clearance, and the disc itself sits on a ball joint. Included in the package are a few metal plates—two are designed to either stick on the back of your phone or phone case, and the other one can be wedged between a case and the phone itself. On phones where the battery door is removable, one could also place the plate in between the battery door and the battery itself, providing a very clean installation and eliminating the need for a case.
Any case that is less than 0.07″ (2mm) thick will work with the iMagnet, although thicker cases will reduce the magnetic field. It would have been nicer if the metal plate designed to be wedged between a phone and a case had some sort of cushioning. While this would add to the thickness, it certainly would be better than metal-on-metal. It should fit snugly, but there’s always the chance it could shift a tad, leaving scratches. For our testing, the metal disc was wrapped in plastic. It has been tested and is stated to work with all iPhones and iPods, the iPad mini, and similarly sized devices from other manufacturers.
Once the metal plate is installed and the mount is stuck in your car, the iMagnet is ready for use. Although in some ways, the idea itself feels like a bit of a “hack”, it works really well. My test case was an iPhone 6 and Apple’s Silicone Case. After trying a few locations, I found the best place was on a panel on the dashboard, putting the phone at about the same height as the radio (be aware of the potential area for airbag deployment if you’re looking at a non-standard location). The phone itself sticks to the mount easily and hasn’t fallen off, despite driving on some rather bumpy streets. My routine has always been to attach the Lightning cable for charging and audio when I get in my car and then either place it on the seat or in a cradle. With the iMagnet, I found myself placing my phone on the passenger seat less, as I could attach and remove it from its “seat” with one hand and not much effort. The only side effect that I’ve noticed is the slight bump in my iPhone’s case caused by the metal disc. After removing the disc, I haven’t noticed any damage to the case or the phone. Additionally, the iMagnet provides a strong enough hold for the Lightning Connector when not in use, keeping it off the floor, where it might be damaged by whatever ends up on my floor mats.
In testing, the iMagnet’s pros far outweighs its cons for me. I would’ve liked to see a different treatment for the metal disc (but then I’m paranoid), but I really enjoy the ease of use of this product and its low price. If you’re looking for a mount for your car, the iMagnet provides a unique solution that works well.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
The iMagnet is a clever take on the rather boring car mount that may actually make you want to use it regularly.
Pros: Clever design, strong suction cup, no awkward cradles, inexpensive, holds Lightning cable
Cons: Plate for between case and phone could leave scratches, may interfere with compass
Platform: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad mini, other small devices