X

Bracketron Earth Elements (E2) smartphone mounts review: These in-car mounts hold your smartphone with the magic of magnets

Looking for a way to keep your smartphone within reach in the car? It's elemental, my friend.

antuan-roadshow-headshots-jpegs-1893-007.jpg
Antuan Goodwin
antuan-roadshow-headshots-jpegs-1893-007.jpg

Antuan Goodwin

Reviews Editor / Cars

Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and performance to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.

See full bio
4 min read

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Most of the dozens upon dozens of smartphone mounts that I see each year hold your phone in place with adjustable arms. However, Bracketron's latest Earth Elements (E2) series of smartphone mounts replace physical grip with the magic of magnetism. Mounting and removing a phone without fiddling with ratcheting arms is extremely convenient, but not without a few hidden trade-offs.

bracketrone2mount-32.jpg
8.0

Bracketron Earth Elements (E2) smartphone mounts

MSRP

The Good

The E2 series' magnet mounting is both secure and convenient. Bracketron offers a wide range of mounting options to meet drivers' individual placement needs.

The Bad

Drivers who don't carry their phone in a case may not want to adhere a metal plate to the back of their device. The "Fe" metal plates can interfere with NFC tagging and payment and with wireless charging.

The Bottom Line

The Bracketron E2 series of magnetic smartphone cradles is a secure, convenient and universal mounting option that is best suited to drivers who regularly carry their device in a case.

E2 series magnetic head

At the core of the E2 series is the magnetic head. This little hunk of plastic features a face covered with rubber tread to both protect the phone being held while adding a bit of friction to the mounting surface. Behind the rubber is a strong magnet that serves to actually hold the phone in place. At the bottom of the head, a pair of plastic tabs flip down and extend to form a base and add stability.

Each E2 series mounting kit also includes a trio of "Fe" (taken from the periodic symbol for iron) metal plates in two sizes: large and small. One of the large and the small plates feature 3M adhesive pads used to affix the plate to the phone or device. One of the large plates is included without any adhesive.

The E2 head features a rubber surface that hides its magnetic mount. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Users are instructed to adhere one of the Fe plates to the back of their device. If you're one of the vast majority of users who carries their phone in a case, one of the plates can be sandwiched between the phone and the case. Then just place the plated phone against the E2 head, which will hold it in place by magnetism.

Most phones already have metal internals, and the magnet is strong enough that it was able to hold my test phone, an LG Nexus 5, in place without the aid of the plate. However, the addition of the Fe plate makes the mount extremely secure. Holding the cradle by its base and shaking gingerly, I found it difficult to shake the phone free from the combination of magnetic and rubber grip. I think it'd take a severe jolt to knock the phone free once mounted in a vehicle -- at which point a loose phone is probably the least of your worries.

Bracketron Earth Element (E2) in-car smartphone mounts (pictures)

See all photos

I can't think of a single person who would want to glue a metal plate to their precious handset, so I'm only really considering the E2 mount to be ideal for users with cases. I found that the Fe plates seem to work and fit better with thin, flexible cases and conform better to phones with mostly flat back panels. My Nexus 5's slightly convex back and extremely close-fitting hard plastic case required a bit of pressing to get everything locked in.

A trio of "Fe" metal plates is included. These are used to make the phone more attractive to the magnet on the bracket. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Phones like the LG G Flex or Samsung Round are probably out of the question without the user prebending the thin metal plate.

A few things I noticed during my testing: the Fe plate can cause interference with NFC tagging or wireless charging if your phone supports such technologies. So users who regularly use Google Wallet or Apple Pay will want to be careful with the placement of the metal plate, or seek a more conventional mount. I also noticed that the strong magnet can cause issues with a smartphone's internal compass. This didn't cause any issues with navigation, as most GPS apps that I've tested use motion to detect the direction the vehicle is pointed and heading, but it is something to be aware of.

Elemental mounts

The backside of the E2 is where you'll find a socket for a ball joint, which connects the head to the various mounts that differentiate the various E2 series models, which are all named after elements and compounds.

I was able to test the Si dashboard mount, a $39.95 E2 series kit that uses a flexible silicon suction cup mount to hold the E2 and a phone to any smooth, relatively flat surface. The lever-activated suction cup is made of a semi-adhesive, tacky material that works with the suction to stick to even rough plastic dashboards, leather, and other materials.

The Si mount was my favorite option. Its semi-adhesive silicon suction cup mount grips almost any flat surface. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

I liked that the Si dashboard mount put the screen at eye level and within arm's reach while holding the mount firmly in place, even when subjected to reasonably spirited jukes, hard acceleration and braking. In combination with the E2 mount, the whole kit was very stable and secure when used with my test Nexus 5.

Of course, there's no denying that actual arms that hold the phone in place with friction would be more secure in an emergency, but the convenience of the magnetic mount is nice.

I also got my hands on the $34.95 O2 mount, which uses plastic clips to hold the mounted phone in place on the plastic bars of the host car's air vents. This mounting base comes in five pieces (three arms, the base, and a locking panel) that must be assembled before use, but I found that it only took about a minute to snap together.

The O2 mount requires some assembly before it can clip to the host car's air vents. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Other mounts and accessories in the E2 series include the Zn windshield mount with its long, flexible arm and suction-cup mount; the Ti power dock, which plugs into the host vehicle's 12-volt power point; the Os SmartPak; and the H20 cup-holder mount. These mounts range in MSRP from $35 to $45. Bracketron also offers additional Fe mounting plates in a three-pack for $8.

bracketrone2mount-32.jpg
8.0

Bracketron Earth Elements (E2) smartphone mounts

MSRP

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8