PanaVise 15509 holds your phone far, far away

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/ Updated: July 23, 2013 5:30 PM PDT
The 15509 Portagrip has a long, extendable arm, making it suitable for mounting phones in big vehicles. Josh Miller/CNET

Editor's note: Portions of this review were copied from the PanaVise 15508 Portagrip review .

Constructed of metal and tough plastics, the PanaVise line of Portagrip smartphone mounts are as durable as they come. But the 15509 Portagrip also shows they can accommodate some extreme applications. This particular phone mount, intended to suction cup to a windshield, incorporates a very long, extendable arm, making it suitable for cars with very wide dashboards, recreational vehicles, or construction equipment.

Most of the components of the 15509 Portagrip are the same as those found on the 15508 mode l, except the 15509 adds an adjustable shaft, giving the unit an extension from approximately 12 to 18 inches. The metal two-part extension arm uses a plastic collar at its midpoint, with a lever for locking down the amount of extension you need. That collar makes for a very secure hold, so the mount's adjustment is not likely to change under even very harsh conditions.

The 15509 Portagrip has good adjustment capability at its end, but no hinging in the middle. Josh Miller/CNET

The suction cup end uses a metal cap. In its center sits a big plastic button, helpfully labeled "Press." Do as the button says, then pull up the lever straddling the button, the suction cup grips any smooth surface like a barnacle.

A bracket sticks up from the suction cup and holds the long, extendable arm at a single hinge point. That hinge lets the arm move through about a 150 degree arc and has a screw in the bracket to lock it down.

A gimbal at the clamp end of the mounting arm offers an excellent range of motion. Loosen the bolt in its metal cap, and the gimbal lets the clamp twist and turn with remarkable versatility. Once you get the right position, tighten the locking bolt, and the mount becomes immobile.

Between the suction cup hinge and the gimbal, the arm runs straight, with no ability to angle or turn it. That long arm makes the 15509 Portagrip a somewhat awkward fit.

Ratchet grip
The phone clamp is the same piece that PanaVise uses across its line of Portagrip mounts. This clamp has a soft backing, so as not to mar any smartphone placed in its care. The short, or bottom end of the clamp, has two little feet that swivel so they can be pushed out of the way.

Two spring-loaded ratcheting arms do the job of holding a smartphone in place.

At the press of a button, the arms pop out, opening up to a 3.75-inch width. That means it will easily hold a Samsung Galaxy S4, and even smaller tablets. After placing a smartphone between the clamp arms of the 15508 PortaGrip, push them together and they ratchet closed, holding the smartphone firmly in place.

The gimbal at the phone clamp end of this mount offers an excellent range of motion. Josh Miller/CNET

With the 15509 PortaGrip suction-cupped to a windshield, I found I could operate the clamp with one hand, simultaneously holding my phone against its soft backing and squeezing the clamp arms together. Pushing the button to pop open the arms, I quickly learned to keep a grip on the phone, lest it fall out and hide under the car's seat.

Given the design of the clamp arms, this mount is intended to hold a phone in a vertical position. The gimbal allows it to be swiveled to horizontal, and tabs on the clamp arm can be moved to grip the phone closer to its center, but the narrowness of those tabs made for a questionable horizontal hold.

The 15509 Portagrip lacks any USB pass-throughs or cable runs, so you will have to deal with any cable clean-up yourself.

Big vehicle applications
For a passenger car with a wide dashboard, the PanaVise 15509 Portagrip would be too unwieldy as a smartphone holder. The long arm would put the phone in reach of the driver, but it also puts a thick, metal tube running straight out from the windshield towards the driver. This mount would work better in a larger vehicle with a big cab, or even a boat.

As with other PanaVise mounts, it feels very durable. Its suction cup sticks well, and its adjustment bolts lock down its position.

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  • CE Product Type universal car holder