Belkin's MagSafe Car Vent Mount Pro review: not as 'pro' as we'd like

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2021
Belkin's new car mount is the first official third-party MagSafe mount to start shipping, but with limited functionality, it isn't quite as "pro" as we were hoping it was.

The new Belkin MagSafe car mount
The new Belkin MagSafe car mount


Apple's new MagSafe technology has opened up the floodgates to a whole new ecosystem of accessories that connect to or charge iPhone 12. As the accessory world was largely surprised by MagSafe, no accessories were ready to go with the launch of iPhone 12, sans a few select Apple partners.

Otterbox debuted a line of MagSafe-enabled cases, Scosche launched a few adapters for Apple's MagSafe charger, and Belkin debuted the Car Vent Mount Pro as well as a docking station.

Belkin's MagSafe docking station is still not shipping quite yet, but its car mount has finally started shipping to customers after Apple took the wraps off on stage at the Steve Jobs Theater.

Finally something new for the car

Car vent mounts are a pretty boring accessory category. You've got the typical clips that hold the phone on the sides, and you have ones that are magnetic but require you to add a shim or a sticker to the back of your device.

Thanks to MagSafe, we now have a new option that is better than anything we've had before. The magnetic ones we had before always required the shims, and the clips could be a pain to hold your phone or were bulky.

Belkin's mount in the car
Belkin's mount in the car


When relying on MagSafe, no additional shim or sticker is required, and it couldn't be easier to place or remove your phone.

It is finally something new that is simple and reliable. We'd still say it is a fairly unexciting accessory, but one we use frequently enough to care about.

Belkin's MagSafe car mount

A car mount only has to do a few things well, and Belkin's offering is functionally solid, but there are a few ways it falls short.

When we first saw Belkin's MagSafe mount, we thought it was made of metal. It has a matte silver finish that looked just like anodized aluminum.

That's absolutely by design, but does leave us disappointed when we pick it up and feel the light and warm plastic.

The magnetic front panel of the mount attaches to the back on a ball head to rotate to different angles and clips onto the vent of your car. Unlike small magnetic car mounts, the large size of the mount blocks your phone from getting overheated when your car's heating is on.

Belkin's MagSafe mount is quite large, which is due purely to the design of MagSafe itself. MagSafe mounts use two parts -- a circular array of magnets in the center of the phone and a vertical line of magnets towards the bottom, which is used for alignment.

If the mount only used the circle, it would be possible for your phone to rotate inadvertently.

Using our iPhone 12 Pro Max with the Belkin Car Mount Pro and wireless CarPlay
Using our iPhone 12 Pro Max with the Belkin Car Mount Pro and wireless CarPlay


Between the circle and the alignment magnet, it makes the whole ordeal on the large size, but it is still hidden entirely when your phone is connected.

The grip is strong and held in place well on our Jeep's driver-side air vents. The front is covered in silicone, which adds a bit of passive grip to your phone. Inset in the silicone is a circle and line to represent where the MagSafe magnets are located.

Should you buy Belkin's Car Vent Mount Pro?

If you want a MagSafe car mount, Belkin is currently your only true option. Over time, that will change as other manufacturers release their designs.

While Belkin's mount does what it says it will do, we were unimpressed with the quality. The plastic body feels rather cheap to the touch, despite the sleek metal-like appearance.

Maybe skip the Belkin MagSafe car mount?
It may be worth skipping the Belkin MagSafe car mount


There's also something funky going on with the internal magnets. As we bring our phone towards the charger, there is a distinctive clicking that sounds like a piece of thin plastic flexing back and forth, as if the magnets are starting to engage.

Functionally there is nothing wrong with that, but it kills the "pro" moniker.

Unlike a tablet or computer, it is hard to infer what would make a car mount rated for "pros," but based on our time testing it, this doesn't quite make the mark.

The Car Vet Mount Pro works for now, but we are very much looking forward to a nicer model that could also include support for charging.

Pros
  • Sleek silver appearance

  • Strong MagSafe connection

  • Rotating and pivoting ball head

  • Strong vent clip

  • First MagSafe mount to be released

  • Much better than any magnetic alternative
Cons
  • Feels cheap and plastic-y

  • Has an odd clicking noise inside when we mount our phone

Rating: 3 out of 5

Where to buy

The Belkin Car Vent Mount Pro is an Apple exclusive at launch and sells for $39.99. It has already begun shipping to customers.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    XedXed Posts: 1,479member
    Are people with CarPlay also using a vent clip for their iPhone?
    caladanianStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 26
    No charging?! Bummer
    blpublicapplguyJFC_PAGeorgeBMaclongpathStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 26
    XedXed Posts: 1,479member
    No charging?! Bummer
    That would've been an excellent feature to include.
    longpathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 26
    No charging, so what’s the point? I really thought that was an assumption with this product. I really laughed when I read that line. You need to reassess the score. This is a one-star product. And and expensive one at that!!
    bloggerbloglongpathjeffharrisStrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 26
    Hmmmm....let's see: $40 for a plastic clip that doesn't have any charging capabilities? No thanks. I'll wait for the obligatory $6-10 amazon clip that's coming.
    longpath
  • Reply 6 of 26
    sirdirsirdir Posts: 143member
    Unfortunately bought this, too. Now I have a Chinese thingy that charges and even hold better to the vents. Didn’t cost half of what this thing cost me
    longpath
  • Reply 7 of 26
    I don’t see an advantage of this over a RokForm case and vent/dash magnetic mount which are very strong and proven. Plus, it’s half the cost!  Neither has wireless charging.  https://www.rokform.com/collections/automobile-mounts/products/universal-vent-mount
  • Reply 8 of 26
    Having used other generic mount clips for my previous iPhones I found them to be quite useful for keeping the phone in view while not obstructing my line of sight on the road. 

    I was going to purchase a new case/mount set (Evutec) but decided to give the Belkin unit a try.

    So far I’m pleased with the mount - while it looks as if it came from Apple’s design group and made of machined aluminum, practically speaking that doesn’t matter as once is set in place on my cars AC vent I’m not touching and fondling it on a day to day basis, admiring the quality of the materials & machined perfection...it’s just a phone mount after all. 

    While it would be nice to have included a charging capability it still would have required a cable to power it. Since I already have been using a cable to keep the previous iPhone charged I just plug it in as usual.  

    I can only imagine what a mount/charger/aluminum combo would have cost - $80, $100, $125, more?

    I must say I never heard the “clicking” noise until I read the review and went to check it out. While there is a very minor sound when removing the phone, there isn’t anything loose or making noise when shaking the mount itself. I’m assuming the clicking has something to do with the magnets in the mount aligning properly. 

    The one feature which I didn’t even think about until I started using the Belkin mount is that it has a ball head mount which allows it to be turned to face the Driver (or passenger) so the Face ID functions without have to lean over in front of the phone.

    I would have given it 4 stars at least
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 26
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 1,070member
    I’m holding out for the Peak Design Mobile, which I learned about right here on AI. Kickstarter is shipping next spring, but I probably won’t have anywhere to go until I get my COVID vaccination anyway. 

    Japheywatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 26
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,410member
    “The intuitive cable management keeps your cable at your fingertips, so a quick charger is always within reach.”

    -Verbatim from the product description on Apple’s  website. 

    Is it fair to ask why there wasn’t any mention of this in the article? And why no pictures of the back of the damn thing were at least provided so we could see for ourselves? It was the feature I was most curious about as my old 2020 (sic) model car only supports wired CarPlay like most other cars on the road still. 
    philboogiewatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 26
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,410member
    My concern with this product, one that should definitely be listed as a con, is the stark white color. How many dashboards out there are white? When not in the car or actively being used, this thing is going to stick out like a sore thumb. Plus, with the obviously visible magnetic circle pattern, any would-be thief will easily know that the driver is the proud owner of a brand new, expensive iPhone. Maybe this makes the car more attractive to someone curious about what other goodies might be inside. Lame. 
    jeffharriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 26
    No charging? No thanks!  Giving up my Anker wireless car charger for a non charging MagSafe mount is definitely  a step back 
  • Reply 13 of 26
    There  is another option with a charger... smaller form factor and cheaper... i have ordered one based on reviews i read about it..

    Search for 

    TeckApe™ MagSafe Car Vent Mount Wireless Charger for iPhone 12  

    $39.00

  • Reply 14 of 26
    p-dogp-dog Posts: 120member
    If this thing doesn’t charge, then it is absolutely and totally worthless in 2020. I’m surprised that the review never mentioned the complete and utter lack of any charging capabilities. So much for using Apple Maps on a long drive. 

    A car mount without charging capabilities is the equivalent of a smart home device without HomeKit. It is immediately eliminated from my consideration.
    kiehtanStrangeDaysphilboogiewatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 26
    This is perfect for those whose car has wired CarPlay. Your phone will be plugged in and charging anyways.
  • Reply 16 of 26
    cjcoopscjcoops Posts: 102member
    Xed said:
    Are people with CarPlay also using a vent clip for their iPhone?
    Well... I’m certainly not.

    Got an adaptor to convert a Mazda to wireless carplay, and the phone sits on a Qi charging pad, which is powered from the adaptor usb out port...


    XedStrangeDaysphilboogiewatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    No charging?! Bummer

    That's ridiculous!
    The main reason for using something like this is for Apple Maps.   And the phone needs to charge for any longer trips.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    I avoid any vent mounts
    I used one back before AppleMaps to hold my TomTom GPS.   When I bumped it accidentally it broke the panes on my vent.

    We need one that attaches for real -- like with screws.  But, that would likely involve cooperation with auto manufacturers.   But their history of cooperating with the smart phone industry has not been good. Many want to push us into using their proprietary systems.

    Along that same line:   I would much prefer to be able to mount an iPad instead of the vehicle's own display panel.   But, no way a car manufacturer would ever allow such a thing.
    jeffharrisrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 26
    roakeroake Posts: 790member
    calfoto said:
    Having used other generic mount clips for my previous iPhones I found them to be quite useful for keeping the phone in view while not obstructing my line of sight on the road. 

    I was going to purchase a new case/mount set (Evutec) but decided to give the Belkin unit a try.

    So far I’m pleased with the mount - while it looks as if it came from Apple’s design group and made of machined aluminum, practically speaking that doesn’t matter as once is set in place on my cars AC vent I’m not touching and fondling it on a day to day basis, admiring the quality of the materials & machined perfection...it’s just a phone mount after all. 

    While it would be nice to have included a charging capability it still would have required a cable to power it. Since I already have been using a cable to keep the previous iPhone charged I just plug it in as usual.  

    I can only imagine what a mount/charger/aluminum combo would have cost - $80, $100, $125, more?

    I must say I never heard the “clicking” noise until I read the review and went to check it out. While there is a very minor sound when removing the phone, there isn’t anything loose or making noise when shaking the mount itself. I’m assuming the clicking has something to do with the magnets in the mount aligning properly. 

    The one feature which I didn’t even think about until I started using the Belkin mount is that it has a ball head mount which allows it to be turned to face the Driver (or passenger) so the Face ID functions without have to lean over in front of the phone.

    I would have given it 4 stars at least
    4 stars, minus 3 for lack of charging, or lower the price by $35.  Simple charging is a fundamental feature of MagSafe.  No charge, no thanks!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 26
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,196member
    p-dog said:
    If this thing doesn’t charge, then it is absolutely and totally worthless in 2020.
    Absolute and total bullshit. Yes it would be nice if a charging puck were built-in. But it would have to be plugged into a power supply. So you have two run a cable from the phone to a power supply instead of a puck to a power supply. Yes, not as convenient but far from a deal breaker for everybody.

    If the grip is as strong as AI says that's a big plus since many of the magnetic vent grips I've used for other iPhones work loose as you pull the phone off the grip. I can remove a charging cable and lift the phone off with one hand but I can't keep the grip on the vent, so it routinely comes off with the phone.

    sdp4462 said:
    No charging, so what’s the point? I really thought that was an assumption with this product.
    It was obvious to me that it didn't include charging. Since the puck from Apple cost $39, no way a $39 grip from Belkin would have charging. Maybe some no-name Chinese import, but not Belkin.

    blpublic said:
    I don’t see an advantage of this over a RokForm case and vent/dash magnetic mount which are very strong and proven. 
    It wouldn't be easy to see any advantage just on paper, but my guess is having the Belkin mount designed for MagSafe, where the RokForm doesn't mention a word about it could be a big one.

    Have you used the RokForm with a MagSafe phone? None of my magnetic mounts are large enough in diameter to hold the phone securely. The phone doesn't hang vertically and won't stay aligned horizontally, as the mount's magnet affixes itself to a point on the circumference of the phone's magnetic ring. This is with a 12 mini.

    Knock off imports that are designed for MagSafe should work much better. However the strength of some of them are crap. I've sent several back. I used an Ottie magnetic vent clip with a previous phone that gripped the phone well (shim inside a two-piece case) but the vent not so much.

    calfoto said:
    Having used other generic mount clips for my previous iPhones I found them to be quite useful for keeping the phone in view while not obstructing my line of sight on the road. 

    I was going to purchase a new case/mount set (Evutec) but decided to give the Belkin unit a try.

    So far I’m pleased with the mount - while it looks as if it came from Apple’s design group and made of machined aluminum, practically speaking that doesn’t matter as once is set in place on my cars AC vent I’m not touching and fondling it on a day to day basis, admiring the quality of the materials & machined perfection...it’s just a phone mount after all. 

    While it would be nice to have included a charging capability it still would have required a cable to power it. Since I already have been using a cable to keep the previous iPhone charged I just plug it in as usual.  

    I can only imagine what a mount/charger/aluminum combo would have cost - $80, $100, $125, more?

    I must say I never heard the “clicking” noise until I read the review and went to check it out. While there is a very minor sound when removing the phone, there isn’t anything loose or making noise when shaking the mount itself. I’m assuming the clicking has something to do with the magnets in the mount aligning properly. 

    The one feature which I didn’t even think about until I started using the Belkin mount is that it has a ball head mount which allows it to be turned to face the Driver (or passenger) so the Face ID functions without have to lean over in front of the phone.

    I would have given it 4 stars at least
    I'm on board with everything you said and especially with the clicking sound. I notice when i put my Apple clear case on my 12 that there was a beep from the phone. I'm thinking that the click may be Belkin's version of that. I don't get that with any of third-party mounts for my previous phones.

    So, full disclosure- I'm going to try the Belkin mount. In operation it'll be no different than when I was using the Ottie with my previous phone.

    That said I wish it were all black. I'd like it to be less obvious to a passerby. The Ottie is practically invisible, being very small and black. And wireless charging would be nice. It is pricey for what it is. But if it grips well, I'll be happy.

    It'll be interesting to see what the MagSafe dedicated third-party grips bring to the table. Something that supports wireless charging would be nice. The Peak Design Mobile looks to be a great ecosystem. But for now I think the Belkin would be fine for me.
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