OSO makes a prettier smartphone vent mount

Starting at $19

Most smartphone mounts for your car employ boring black plastic, with design being obviously the last thing on the manufacturer's mind, but OSOMount steps up the styling with its Luxe vent mount, sure to add a touch of class to even the most inexpensive compact car.

Attaching to a vent on the dashboard, the Luxe vent mount holds smartphones in its spring-loaded bracket within easy view, and reach, of the driver.

The Luxe vent mount shows off a silver and grayish design that looks better than most pebbled plastic car dashboards. A rubberized clip on the back, designed to grip the blade in a car's dashboard vent, attaches to its smartphone-holding bracket with a ball joint, allowing for 360-degree rotation and some angular adjustment. The Luxe's bracket includes rubber pads to protect the edges of smartphones. One arm of the bracket opens up on a spring-loaded mechanism, stretching from 2 inches all the way to 3.75 inches wide, large enough to hold a typical smartphone.

OSO Luxe vent mount
The OSOMount Luxe vent mount attempts to add style to an in-car smartphone holder. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Setting up the Luxe mount in a car involved some shoving to get it onto a vent blade. However, the rubber grip did not damage the blade and it held tight. The ball joint is very tight, so much so that I didn't want to twist the Luxe from portrait to landscape while it was in place for fear of breaking the vent. I resorted to detaching it when I wanted to change its orientation.

While driving, it held my iPhone 5S firmly in place, and there was no apparent slippage even when driving over rougher roads. Better yet, I found it easy to put my phone into the bracket and remove it with one hand, as the bracket opened up easily enough. That's an essential aspect of any smartphone mount.

The Luxe mount looked nicer than most, but its plastic bracket felt a little flimsy and it showed a lot of flex when stretched to its maximum width. At half an inch wide, the rear clip may not fit all car vents, especially those with more tightly placed blades.

And vent mounts in general suffer from a couple of problems. The vents in some cars move very freely, so that the weight of the phone on the mount will pull the whole vent down, making it difficult to see the phone. Vents also blow hot or cold air into the cabin, so the phone will be in the path of that airflow. Blowing a constant stream of hot air on a smartphone may adversely affect its electronics.

The OSOMount Luxe vent mount goes for around $20 in the US and £20 in the UK, about on par with others I've seen. It held my phone well yet made it easy to get the phone in and out when I wanted it. The style sets the Luxe apart from most, although as it will be invisible behind the phone when in use, that may not count for much.