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Jun 25 2014

iOttie Easy Flex Wireless Qi Charging Car Mount Review

Introduction

Again, I want to thank MobileZap for sending out the iOttie Easy Flex Wireless Qi Charging car mount for me to review on my blog. This car mount was one of a number of solutions physically and technically suitable for my new Nokia Lumia 1520 – this is just one of the wider range of wireless chargers on offer. Otherwise, if you’re not really keen on wireless charging there’s a raft of traditional cabled car chargers car chargers to browse as well.

This was a good opportunity to try out a car mount after being unsurprisingly disappointed with some of the cheap solutions found on those “deal of the day” sites. Common problems I found were:

  • not enough resistance in the mount to counteract inertia (turn a corner in the car, the mount swivels and your phone falls out),
  • not enough grip (either in the way the mount connects to a window/dashboard or the mount and the phone),
  • limited or zero adjustment afforded by the mount.

Another challenge I faced was that I could no longer fit my phone in the cupholders which was my favourite spot to stash my phone while driving. In fact, the Lumia 1520 could only lay on top of the cupholders and nothing apart from the new case stopped it from sliding off. Plus, it wasn’t the best spot either if I were using a GPS solution other than what the Prius offers – looking down at the cupholders would not have been very safe at all.

So, a car mount was the appropriate legal solution.

Unboxing

First things first, here’s the unboxing video:

In a nutshell, you’ve got the following:

  • the car mount,
  • a cigarette lighter to micro USB cable (rated for 5V @ 2A),
  • two cable routing adhesive mounts,
  • quick start literature.

It was all pretty easy to unbox and the packaging was all recyclable as well. As for package contents you probably wouldn’t expect much else for car mounts apart from perhaps a piece of plastic to adhere to your dashboard or other surface if it is textured rather than being completely smooth. I’ll cover the adhesiveness of the mount a bit later in the article.

Features

Let’s have a quick look at the capabilities of the iOttie car mount:

  • Qi wireless charging,
  • Micro USB power connectivity,
  • Support for devices 2.6″ to 3.4″ wide (or 6.6cm to 8.63cm),
  • One touch locking mechanism,,
  • Recharge status LED (indicates if the cradled device is charging or fully charged).

As far as the Nokia Lumia 1520 is concerned it comes in at the maximum supported width for the iOttie car mount. Even with the Lumia 1520 inside a slim case the mount was able to accommodate my phone without stressing the clamps. Other phablets such as the HTC One Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 provide a little more breathing room at 3.3″ and 3.1″ respectively whilst the Sony Xperia Z Ultra ends up being too wide at 3.63″ (9.22cm).

So let’s have a closer look at the locking mechanism and how it works

iOttie car mount locking mechanism

iOttie car mount locking mechanism

When the horizontal clamps are extended you’ll notice a button in the middle of the mount pops up. When you place your phone into the mount the back of the phone pushes in this button which activates the clamping mechanism. To release your smartphone you can pull apart the clamps or just pull out your phone – fairly straightforward stuff. The third clamp at the bottom is also adjustable courtesy of its own adjacent button. This was useful as it allowed me to fine up the right clamp in the gap between the power and camera buttons on the Lumia 1520 which is the same width on the Lumia 920 as well.

Side view of the iOttie car mount where the USB cable is attached

Side view of the iOttie car mount where the USB cable is attached

The USB cable plugs into the left side of the mount – I would have preferred the cable socket to be in the base of the mount so you avoid potential tangles when the cord is moved (particularly when rotating the mount).

Nokia Lumia 1520 installed in the iOttie car mount

Nokia Lumia 1520 installed in the iOttie car mount

Build

Features are great but unless the build is of good quality then it won’t go the distance nor will it perform reliably.

At least to me, one of the major selling points of the iOttie mount is wireless charging. This functionality relies heavily upon good contact and alignment between the charging receiver in the phone and the charging transmitter in the mount. However, this won’t account for much if the mount can’t stay fastened to your window or dashboard.

Prius dashboard surface

Prius dashboard surface

Well, the iOttie car mount had no issues staying stuck to the dashboard in the Prius even with its slightly textured surface.

This is made possible by the sticky suction cup on the bottom of the mount rather than just a standard suction cup. Certainly, the other cheap car mounts relied upon suction alone and an additional plastic disc to stick to the desired surface to secure themselves (with varying levels of success). At the time of writing, I’ve clocked up around 600 kilometres of driving with the mount installed and its not showed any sign of coming loose.

But how does the mount perform in holding on to your phone?

Well. there’s also a generous amount of padding on the clamps as well so you shouldn’t be concerned about damaging your smartphone. Plus, the clamps won’t exert any more pressure than required to secure your device so your phone won’t end up looking like a crushed soft drink can. The bottom clamp also provide a useful third contact to prevent your phone from pivoting out of the mount if you have your phone in either portrait or landscape orientation.

Speaking of which, you should not be disappointed with orientation options – roll (rotation), pitch (adjustment up and down) and yaw (adjustment left and right) are available but with enough resistance to stop the mount from moving unnecessarily. In particular, the rotation mechanism clicks as it moves past each of its defined positions of which you should be able to find one that suits your requirements – most people will be after dead straight portrait or landscape orientations though.

One thing I’ve not tested though is how the iOttie mount handles an Australian Summer (technically, we are in Winter now but the weather is a bit warmer than normal). Other mounts have failed miserably when left installed the Prius parked out in the sun even with its solar extraction fans enabled – the suction cups just couldn’t keep a grip on hot windshields with temperatures around 45C.

If you’re keen to see the flexibility of the car mount, the one touch clamping mechanism or how the wireless charging works then watch my brief overview video:

Conclusion

At the fundamental level, you want a charging car mount to charge your phone and securely hold it at the same time and the iOttie mount delivers in both of these areas. However, if you’re using a larger phone like the Lumia 1520 and going all out using it as a GPS with the screen active for prolonged periods whilst streaming music (such as Spotify) over the cellular connection and then beaming that into the car Hi-Fi using Bluetooth then time to recharge will likely take longer. Just something to keep in mind with any charging solution.

The iOttie Easy Flex Wireless Qi Charging car mount never once looked like it would come loose from the dashboard irrespective of phone orientation. The sticky suction pad remained stuck to the dashboard as if it were superglue and my phone stayed mounted in the cradle. Removing the mount requires a little care and attention but I didn’t find it very difficult to uninstall and found no residue left behind by the suction cup.

The iOttie mount also has a fairly extensive range of motion up and down and 360 degree rotation with enough left and right actuation to suit most people. Once you have the mount correctly positioned and suctioned to your dashboard you shouldn’t be too bothered by the relatively limited yaw.

Overall, I am highly impressed with the quality and robustness of the iOttie car mount and would consider buying another one for my wife’s car. You might think that AU$90 is a lot for a car mount but I reckon the convenience of wireless charging, the range of adjustment of the mount and general sturdiness are sound justification for the price. Particularly after having tried numerous low cost solutions I don’t think it is worth attempting to skimp out when you want a mount to properly secure your expensive smartphone whilst in motion – is it really worth the gamble?

2 comments

  1. Dave

    Hi Boyd,

    Do you know what the Qi Charging output for this is? I have read that you need about 700mA to charge Qi Devices (not have them go flat while using SatNav/ Bluetooth streaming) I have read that the Nokia CR-200/201 only provides 500mA, so will slowly flatten over time if using SatNav/Streaming)

    great review – also of note the Nokia CR-200/201 Charger Dock still goes for 100ish, so $90 for this one which appears more flexible is a plus !!

    1. Boyd Chan

      So the output is rated at 12V and if this charger is compliant with the low power Qi specification of 5W (didn’t specify on the box so I am assuming) then it would be 0.42A which would not be quite enough to keep up with high GPS usage.

      If I am going to do a roadtrip and use Waze I may just pull the USB cable from the dock and plug it straight into the phone instead. Otherwise, it’ll be fine just for music if I fallback to the in-car GPS.

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