Why buy a GPS when your smart phone can guide you? Sales of GPS units are tanking, with this growing trend of people choosing to use their cell phones as their primary navigational tool.
But if you're going to make that switch, you need to have a good, solid phone mount for your car. Just like a GPS device, you want to be able to easily see the phone's screen.
Consumer Reports checked out 11 different smart-phone holders, ranging in price from $9 to $25 dollars. CR testers drove all around a test lot, phone mounts installed, to see which ones performed best.
These units mount on the dashboard, windshield, vents, in cup holders and lighter sockets. One even attaches to the sun visor, though this may not be the best design.
Jim Travers from Consumer Reports explained why.
"Being on the sun visor means you have to take your eyes off the road. And the instructions tell you to put it on the passenger side, which is way out of your line of vision," he said.
The ones that sit in your cup holder have the same disadvantage, forcing you to look down, taking your eyes off the road.
Plus if your cup holder's holding your phone, where do you put your coffee?
Consumer Reports also evaluated how easy each one is to use. How well does it hold the phone?
To check for stability, testers made some quick turns in the car, to see if the phones stayed in place. The lighter socket mounts tended to be unstable, shaking a bit while you drive. And the ones that mounted on the vent were flimsy.
"The ones that we like the best are the ones that attach to either the windshield or the dashboard. They hold the phone securely and they keep it right where you can see it easily," Travers said.
The favorite among Consumer Reports staffers is the Lottie at $20. It holds different phone models in place, is easy to use, and keeps your eyes in front of you. While using your cell phone is convenient, Consumer Reports says there are advantages to using a dedicated GPS unit. The sound quality is better, and G-P-S reception is reliable.
In another test, Consumer Reports named the Garmin Nuvi as its best buy model at $160