ESR HaloLock review: everything a MagSafe car charger should be

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 28
ESR's unofficial MagSafe car charger for iPhone 12 is an incredibly convenient accessory that, in the simplest way possible, takes the friction out of phones and cars.

The ESR HaloLock car mount gives you MagSafe compatibility and wireless charging
The ESR HaloLock car mount gives you MagSafe compatibility and wireless charging


The ESR HaloLock Wireless Car Charger Mount is the most convenient iPhone car mount I've ever used. Once you set it up, it's as simple as holding your iPhone 12 up to the magnetic mount and letting it snap into place. You can prop up your iPhone in either portrait or landscape orientation, and it also wirelessly charges it.

This isn't an official MagSafe product, so you can't buy it straight from Apple, and Amazon is the only Apple Authorized Reseller that sells it. However, it does work with all iPhone 12 series phones and official MagSafe cases. It also supports ESR's cases with HaloLock branding, which essentially translates to "this is exactly like MagSafe, and it's compatible with MagSafe, but it definitely isn't MagSafe."

ESR HaloLock: Setup and use

Attaching it to your car's vent is quick and easy. Your first step is figuring out which vent spot will work the best. Once you do that, a clamp slides onto a single vent blade, with a lower arm extending down into a second vent to stabilize your phone.

The back part includes a nut-and-ball mount, clamp, and stabilizing arm
The back part includes a nut-and-ball mount, clamp, and stabilizing arm


It uses a ball-mount mechanism that lets you wiggle it around to find the right viewing angle. If you need to make adjustments after installing, it's easy to loosen the nut, re-angle, and re-tighten again to secure it in place.

It supports iPhones in either portrait or landscape without moving the mount. Just pull off your iPhone, rotate the phone, and snap it back into place. It's precisely what you want a MagSafe accessory -- official or not -- to be.

The accessory's magnets are strong, and it held onto our phones without any problems
The accessory's magnets are strong, and it held onto our phones without any problems


The ESR HaloLock is a hard-plastic accessory. The round plated section that the phone attaches to has a reflective appearance that looks glass-like, but it's also plastic.

The bundled charging cable plugs into the mount using USB-C. The cable's opposite end that plugs into your car's charger is USB-A. The cable is 40 inches long, and you'll need a car charger or USB-A port that supports 18W Quick Charge fast charging. A car adapter is not included.

ESR HaloLock: Beating MagSafe to the punch

Our review unit has worked as expected. It has consistently held up an iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 mini in either orientation. The phone stays secure and doesn't wobble, and it immediately charges.

This ESR accessory points to a bright future for MagSafe and its unofficial knockoffs. It's surprising that an off-brand version beat Apple and its partners to the punch on one of the most obvious uses for the new platform. Belkin teamed up with Apple for a MagSafe car mount for the same price, but it doesn't have wireless charging.

It supports both portrait and landscape orientations without moving the mount
It supports both portrait and landscape orientations without moving the mount


Kudos to ESR for launching this well-made accessory so quickly after the iPhone 12 release. We don't know why Apple and its official MagSafe partners haven't yet announced anything equivalent, but at least you have one unofficial, yet high-quality option in this space.

Pros
  • Works with iPhone 12 series and MagSafe cases

  • Reliable wireless charging

  • Adjustable viewing angles

  • Stable mounting

  • Easy to install

  • $40 is reasonable
Cons
  • Only available at online stores

  • Shipping may take some time

  • Not officially licensed as MagSafe

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to Buy

The ESR HaloLock Wireless Car Charger Mount costs $39.99 from ESR. It's also available for $37.99 from Amazon.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 829member
    Pro:
    It’s dark color means it blends in a little better against most dashboards. Unlike Belkins solution, which sticks out like a sore thumb. 
    Con:
    CarPlay is only available in cars that support it wirelessly. 

    I can’t wait to see how Apple uses the NFC in MagSafe to enable CarPlay on the port-less iPhones coming our way. 
  • Reply 2 of 11
    Bought the charger and a case directly from their website on November 29th, it didn’t ship until December 11th, and I’m still waiting for them to arrive. 
  • Reply 3 of 11
    Japhey said:
    Pro:
    It’s dark color means it blends in a little better against most dashboards. Unlike Belkins solution, which sticks out like a sore thumb. 
    Con:
    CarPlay is only available in cars that support it wirelessly. 

    I can’t wait to see how Apple uses the NFC in MagSafe to enable CarPlay on the port-less iPhones coming our way. 
    There's a wireless adapter that replaces the wire https://cplay2air.com/
    I don't particularly confidence with the vent clamp though. There're better products that really locks the blade using an extendable arm and the tightening nut. The one here looks like it can be easily snapped off.
    watto_cobraJaphey
  • Reply 4 of 11
    I used a vent mount years ago to hold my TomTom GPS.

    I stopped using it when I accidentally bumped it and broke the panes on the vent.  If these things are to become popular auto makers need to either make their vents out of something stronger than plastic or make them replaceable -- because they're gonna get bumped and they were designed as vents, not iphone holders.
  • Reply 5 of 11
    Got one for my wife, and it arrived in time for her to receive it as a Christmas gift. Her car’s center vents are very narrow; but I was still able to install it. I’m not 100% sure it’s positions the phone far enough from the steering wheel to not be in the way, so I may have to relocate it to the outboard vent. I’m not sure if my wife’s car just has tilt adjustment or or if it also has telescopic adjustment, so I’ll try that first; but due to the holidays, she’s yet to drive her car since the mount was installed. I also need to check if her 12v adapter has enough output (I have a 2020 SE, so I can’t test it with my iPhone).
    edited December 2020
  • Reply 6 of 11
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,260member
    You raise an interesting question:  Can the 12v outlets in autos supply an 18 watt charge?   What about the USB ports in car stereo systems?  If not, how much  of a step down does the charger provide to the phone?

    And, how can you tell?
    edited December 2020
  • Reply 7 of 11
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,251member
    You raise an interesting question:  Can the 12v outlets in autos supply an 18 watt charge?   What about the USB ports in car stereo systems?  If not, how much  of a step down does the charger provide to the phone?

    And, how can you tell?
    a 12V outlet can easily support 18watts. The car stereos will be all over the board.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 8 of 11
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,042member
    I used a vent mount years ago to hold my TomTom GPS.

    I stopped using it when I accidentally bumped it and broke the panes on the vent.  If these things are to become popular auto makers need to either make their vents out of something stronger than plastic or make them replaceable -- because they're gonna get bumped and they were designed as vents, not iphone holders.
    I've also uses a vent mount for years, for my 5S. Never broke a vane, but then I never bumped it either. Also, my vents pull out and can easily be replaced, should I ever manage to break one. They make great iPhone holders even if not by design.


    You raise an interesting question:  Can the 12v outlets in autos supply an 18 watt charge?  
    And, how can you tell?
    Both the cigarette lighter socket and 12V power socket in my American Iron are fused at 20A, so they support about 240W. Most American cars keep those sockets "live" when the ignition is off. Most foreign manufacturers have their sockets powered off unless IGN or ACC is selected. Are there any that keep the 12V power sockets "live" all the time.

    I'm giving this one a try and am returning the Belkin when it gets here. I ordered it when it was the only game in town, and it's not here yet. The ESR should be here Monday.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 9 of 11
    Bought this charger.  It only charges at 7.5 watts. Saw an add for a similar product on teckape.com. Similar price so I took a chance.  It is great. Connected to a usb c car charger with at least 20 watt output it charges at full power.  The way you can tell is if you get the MagSafe animation when you connect the phone it’s charging at full MagSafe power.    The tech ape one is great.  Many different mounting options.  
    Teckape.com.   

    Using the esr charger and the Cplaytoair wireless CarPlay adapter the phone would not charge.  More power being drawn then supplying.    A one hour car ride with the wireless car play and I actually lost 2 percent charge.    The teckape charger actually charges the phone.   
    GeorgeBMacurahara
  • Reply 10 of 11
    jcoh said:
    Bought this charger.  It only charges at 7.5 watts. Saw an add for a similar product on teckape.com. Similar price so I took a chance.  It is great. Connected to a usb c car charger with at least 20 watt output it charges at full power.  The way you can tell is if you get the MagSafe animation when you connect the phone it’s charging at full MagSafe power.    The tech ape one is great.  Many different mounting options.  
    Teckape.com.   

    Using the esr charger and the Cplaytoair wireless CarPlay adapter the phone would not charge.  More power being drawn then supplying.    A one hour car ride with the wireless car play and I actually lost 2 percent charge.    The teckape charger actually charges the phone.   
    Thanks for the report and useful info.

    Teckape has vague language on their website. It’s not clear if they support 15w for iPhone 12. However, they would support 15w for any Qi compatible device with 15w.
    As per my understanding iPhone 12 needs MagSafe charging protocol to charge its 15w (not just Qi standard which would charge it with 7,5 watt only). Is my understanding correct or am I missing something?
  • Reply 11 of 11
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,042member
    I bought the HaloLock and have been using it for a little over a week now. It's not a bad charger, though the fit and finish isn't quite up to what I expected, though it's certainly ok.

    The cradle is clearly advertised at 7.5W so I knew that going in. But I needed a car mount and didn't want the Belkin after seeing this because the Belkin isn't a charger. So putting the phone up on the ESR gets me a casual 7.5W, but if it was really down and I really needed it charged in a hurry the 18W charger could be connected directly to the iPhone for full charging speed.

    It's not perfect by any stretch. The jaws of the clamp are too thick to go deeply into the vent. They do have a tenacious grip though and the mount is still solid. The face of the ESR's MagSafe area is a smooth bit of sheet metal. The phone pivots very easily, to the point of shifting from vertical or horizontal if the road is a little rough. This hasn't happened yet and it's potential fixable.

    When powered up, a pair of blue LED strips light up momentarily to show the ESR is powered. They stay on when a 12 series is cradled and go out when it's removed. It'a nice look and not too bright at night. When first placed in the cradle the phone shows it's being charged and then goes dark, just as when charging by cable. There's no further indication of charging without waking the phone.

    The magnetic grip is good with no fear of it falling without a very strong impact or bump. Removing it one handed is simple and breaking the MagSafe grip is barely noticeable.

    I'll be looking for a MagSafe/MagSafe-ish cradle that charges at full speed ahead, but until then the ESR will do.
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