Joby adapts smartphone holder to car mount

Joby became well-known for its lightweight and flexible GorillaPod camera tripods, and has expanded its line to include smartphone holders. Now the company takes that smartphone holder and attaches a clip designed for a car's dashboard vent, an often convenient place to mount a smartphone for easy view and access.

The Joby GripTight Auto Vent Clip has a spare, industrial look, eschewing the forced style of other vent clips I've seen. At the same time, it feels sturdy, with solid plastic-and-metal components. The movable parts, such as the phone bracket and clip ball joint, feel like quality construction and fit.

Joby merely reuses the smartphone holder it developed for tripod mounts, a good thing as this holder includes a standard threaded screw hole for tripods. The holder has a spring-loaded arm that stretches from 2 out to 3 inches width, suitable for most smartphones. Joby offers a separate GripTight Auto Vent Clip with a larger holder for phablets.

The holder connects to a vent clip with a ball joint, allowing 360-degree rotation and a few degrees of tilt in each direction. As a clever bit of design, the ball joint and holder actually hang below the vent clip, which should eliminate the endemic problem of smartphones pulling air vents into a downward facing position.

Joby GripTight Auto Vent Clip
You can insert the strut included with the GripTight Auto Vent Clip between interior panels in your car to make a new mounting point. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

As another bonus, Joby ships the GripTight Auto Vent Clip with a simple plastic strut designed to fit between dashboard panels in a car. That lets you avoid blocking air flow from a vent by establishing a mounting point somewhere else in your car.

Taking it out on the road, I pushed the rubber-lined clip of the GripTight Auto Vent Clip onto the louver of a car's driver-side vent. It went on easily and held firmly, the narrow tongs of the grip fitting easily into the vent space. The aforementioned lower position of the holder helped me prop it up against the lower part of the vent, so the whole thing wouldn't dip down. And I was easily able to adjust its position with a tightening screw on the ball joint.

Most importantly, I was able to slip my phone into the holder with one hand, pushing out the retractable arm. The grip felt strong and held my phone in place as I drove along curvy and rough roads. Once, stopped, I was able to free my phone one-handed, an important attribute for smartphone mounts.

Joby GripTight Auto Vent Clip
The GripTight Auto Vent Clip passes the access test, making it easy to insert and remove your phone with one hand. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

At $35 on Joby's website, the GripTight Auto Vent Clip is expensive compared to other vent mounts. However, the construction feels sturdy, and it has some ergonomic features that are lacking in others that I liked. Getting my phone in and out of the clip was easy enough for frequent use, and the ball joint let me fix its orientation. Joby defuses my usual caveat for vent mounts that they block air and potentially overheat your phone when the car heater is on by providing the alternative mounting strut.

 

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