Editors' note: Portions of this review text also appear in our evaluation of the Bracketron Mi-T Grip, since that device and the Aduro U-Grip Plus are almost identical.
With voice prompts, you can keep your phone in your pocket when using it for navigation, but what happens when it rings? Most people can't fight the temptation to at least check who's calling, and that's where a good phone mount comes in, keeping the phone in easy, hands-free view while you drive.
Among the many car mounts available for smartphones, the Aduro U-Grip Plus distinguishes itself with a sticky material on its suction-cup base that lets you put it on either a windshield or dashboard surface. I've been skeptical about this sort of sticky material, as it picks up dirt and requires washing. However, if you leave the U-Grip Plus stuck to your car's dashboard or windshield, it should remain in place with very little maintenance required.
The U-Grip Plus has only one point of articulation, a ball joint where the gripping claw meets the mounting arm that moves 50 degrees in any direction. So, care must be taken to properly orient the base when locating the U-Grip Plus. Additionally, the 2.5-inch angled mounting arm may place the U-Grip Plus outside of the driver's reach when windshield-mounting on vehicles with steeply raked glass.
On the other hand, with only one articulation point and a short arm, the U-Grip Plus is quite stable, exhibiting none of the shakiness and vibration that longer, more-flexible mounts do. However, the U-Grip Plus perhaps performs best when it's not stuck to your windshield.
The suction cup at the base of the U-Grip Plus is made of tacky, semi-adhesive material that sticks to most solid surfaces under its own power. This stickiness combined with the suction generated by locking the U-Grip Plus' suction cup in place resulted in a remarkably tenacious grip on whatever surface it was mounted.
This strong grip is a boon for keeping a smartphone secured and stable while driving, but it can also make the mount a tad difficult (but not impossible) to remove between trips. The tacky material also has the aforementioned tendency to pick up dirt when stored or transported without a cover, so the U-Grip Plus is best left semipermanently in place in your vehicle between trips, rather than repeatedly placed and removed like a conventional suction cup mount.
The tackiness of the U-Grip Plus' suction cup means that it can be attached to leather, leatherette, wood, and that oddly rubberized "soft touch" dashboard material. I particularly enjoy the dashboard-mounting capability, because it allows me to mount the phone low and near the radio controls, where it can be easily reached for destination input, changing songs, and answering calls while the windshield remains unobstructed.
Your phone is held in place with a spring-loaded, C-shaped claw. The interior of the claw is covered in ribbed rubber to increase grip and protect your phone's finish. The claw has a few degrees of tilt articulation and can be freely rotated, thanks to its ball-joint connection to the mounting arm. The assembly can also be locked in place by tightening a ring on its back panel.
The claw itself is spring-loaded, with a width of 2 inches empty and 3.5 inches fully extended. That width is plenty for an iPhone 5 and a snug fit for a Samsung Galaxy S4. Over hours of driving, the claw held various phones without slipping when mounted on the windshield and dashboard. The ball joint also let me twist the phone horizontally, and the claw easily held it in place.
With the stiff spring in the U-Grip Plus' claw, it at first seems difficult to slip a phone in one-handed. But with the suction cup firmly locked in place and the ball joint screw tightened down, I found I could take an iPhone 5 out and put it back in without any trouble. That operation will become more difficult with a wider phone.
The U-Grip Plus works as a stable mounting solution for smartphones in most cars. The short mounting arm might rule it out in some applications, but the fact that the suction cup can stick to any flat surface greatly extends its utility. It won't work for tablets, and it will be difficult to get especially wide phones in and out of the claw. Lacking any USB pass-throughs or cable guides could mean a minor amount of spaghetti if you run an aux and charging cable out of your phone.