Unsightly iOauto mount grips smartphones with magnetic force

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/ Updated: September 30, 2013 1:55 PM PDT
iOmounts' iOauto phone mount uses a powerful magnet to hold a phone in place. Josh Miller/CNET

An important attribute of any smartphone mount for your car is how easily you can attach and detach the phone. iOmounts attempts to solve this issue by using a magnet in its new iOauto phone mount.

One problem: the iOauto mount's magnet is almost too powerful.

For the in-vehicle iOauto mount, iOmounts partnered with ProClip, a company that has been making device mounts to fit in cars for decades, and has many products customized for specific vehicles. Although iOmounts sent me an example of the iOauto attached to a suction cup mount, this magnetic phone holder can fit the variety of vehicle mounts offered by ProClip. Many of these mounts fit unobtrusively into dashboard panels.

The iOauto mount itself is simple: a flat plate with a 2-inch-long cylindrical magnet sticking up from it. The plate has four screw holes so you can attach it to any of the in-vehicle ProClip mounts.

Magnet and metal
By itself, a phone won't stick to the magnet, so iOmounts includes a couple of adhesive-backed metal discs in the package. The idea is, you attach the disc to the back of your phone with the adhesive, and voila, the phone now can be held in place with the iOauto magnet mount.

I wasn't thrilled about sticking a bright silver washer to the back of my sleek, black iPhone 5. iOmounts includes two "skins," stickers really, that attach to the back of a phone, protecting it from the adhesive residue of the metal disc. And iOmounts' instructions point out that you can attach the disc to a phone's case, another way to avoid marring the looks of the actual phone.

The iOauto phone mount, with its big, red-wrapped magnet, is not exactly an elegant addition to a car's interior. Josh Miller/CNET

Beyond having the disc on my phone, I didn't think the iOauto mount's large magnet would look particularly good in my car, as the circle of red plastic around it made me think of those big, red emergency stop buttons on industrial equipment.

Unsticking the disc
While examining the mount, figuring out how the thing worked, I let one of the included metal discs, sans phone, hit the magnet. Bad mistake. This strong magnet wasn't going to let the disc go without a fight, and the disc itself was too thin to easily get a fingernail under its edge. I had to work it loose with a jeweler's blade-type screwdriver.

To test the mount, I initially stuck a disc to the back of a plastic iPhone case. iOmounts says to let the disc's adhesive dry for 30 minutes after sticking it to a device or case. I then put my phone into the case, and the whole apparatus locked onto the iOauto's magnet. One advantage of the magnet mount was that I could stick the phone on in any orientation, vertical or horizontal, without having to adjust screws or a clamp.

The magnet held my phone in place very well, although it took some force to pull it free from the mount. Then, after I'd attached and removed it a few times, the pull of the magnet proved stronger than the disc's adhesive. My phone came free, but the little disc remained stuck in place.

After painstakingly removing the disc from the magnet, I attached a second disc to a device with a metal casing and let it sit for 30 minutes. I was able to repeatedly remove the device from the magnet without the adhesive letting loose.

Removing the disc from the device took some force, but didn't leave much of a residue.

I tested the iOauto on this suction cup bracket, but it can be ordered with a variety of clips that fit unobtrusively into a car's interior. Josh Miller/CNET

I was initially worried about scrambling my phone's memory with the magnet. To allay my fears, I took a USB drive filled with files and held it next to the iOauto's magnet. Plugging the USB drive into a computer, I found that the files were completely unaffected. I also saw no signs of trouble with my iPhone after attaching it to the magnet.

Unsightly cabin addition
The iOauto mount worked as advertised with a metal-backed case or device, but the discs did not adhere to plastic as successfully. The magnet allows easy mounting and unmounting, very useful in a car.

However, I don't think the iOauto is very well executed. The discs are an ugly addition to the back of a phone, and the red-wrapped mount itself stands out in a car's cabin. Whenever one of the discs got loose and stuck to the magnet, it proved very difficult to remove, the process giving me a few scraped knuckles.

I found iMagnet's phone mount a much better magnet-based solution. The iMagnet Mount looks nicer, it adds a protective coating over the magnet, and its mounting plate is designed to slip into the back of a phone's case.

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Where to Buy

iOmounts iOauto Car Mount

Part Number: 852901

MSRP: $70.00

See manufacturer website for availability.