A unique concept in phone mounts for cars, the iMagnet Mount for Smartphones, as its name suggests, uses a magnet to hold a smartphone in place, with no bracket or cradle for the phone.
The mount consists of a suction cup on one end to stick onto the windshield or dashboard, a short, fixed plastic arm, and a strong, rubber-coated magnet at the phone end. The box also holds one circular and two rectangular metal plates as part of the system.
By itself, the magnet will not hold on to a phone. iMagnet's manual suggests a number of ways to use the metal plates with a device. The preferred method is sliding one of the plates between a phone and its case, assuming the phone has a case. With this method, the case itself serves as a bracket, and the magnetic pull from the mount is strong enough to hold the phone through most cases. However, when I tried it with a thick rubber case, the iMagnet Mount's magnetic pull was too weak to use in a car.
The two rectangular plates come with an adhesive side, which could be stuck to a phone case or the phone itself. The direct contact between plate and iMagnet mount will be stronger than having it connect through a case, but the plate may look odd, depending on the phone or the case. Sticking the plate to a phone may also interfere with access to the battery or SIM card, depending on the phone.
The name iMagnet suggests the mount is designed for iPhones, but using these mounting options, it should work with just about any smartphone.
The suction cup end includes a lever to pull the cup back with, increasing the suction. The cup also has a sticky ring that helps it grip windshields and other smooth surfaces. Connecting the mount to a windshield, it felt very strong and not likely to fall off. When I tried it with an iPhone 4S in a plastic case, with the metal plate between phone and case, it easily stuck to the iMagnet in both horizontal and vertical orientations.
Batting the phone on the side caused it to move a little, but the iMagnet maintained a firm hold. On typical city roads, the iMagnet held the phone in place, making it suitable for running a navigation program. Over very rough roads, the phone would likely begin to slip and eventually lose grip.
The arm of the iMagnet is only about an inch long. When it was mounted on a windshield, it was not really possible to use the phone's touch screen from the driver's seat without leaning far forward. However, the phone can be easily removed from the magnetic mount and held in a more convenient place for operation.
The magnetic end of the mount uses a ball joint, which offers about 40 degrees of angular movement and swivels completely around. Given the shortness of the fixed arm, the iMagnet does not offer a lot of positioning flexibility. On the other hand, it gives you good visibility of the phone when driving.
One last note: some people may be concerned about putting a strong magnet so close to a smartphone. In our testing, the iMagnet had no effect on the iPhone we used to test it. We also stuck an SD card loaded with music files to the iMagnet. The files on the SD card were left completely unharmed.
The iMagnet Mount for Smartphones costs $34.99, making it a little more expensive than other mounts. Because of the need to fit one of its plates to the phone, it might not work for everyone. The lack of flexibility in positioning the phone could also be a problem. The iMagnet Mount's best feature is how easily you can attach and detach a phone.