These models slip onto the slats of your car's climate-control air vents. However, they can block air from the vent or, depending on the car, access to some dash controls.
Vent mounts tend to be a bit less sturdy than dash mounts, although it depends on the combination of car, mount, and phone.
Sometimes they can weigh down the slats too, which can affect your view of the screen. And we've heard a few reports of vent mounts breaking a vent's slats, although we've never encountered this problem.
This type of mount physically grips your phone to hold it in place, usually with arms that extend and contract from the side. Some of them also have a third arm extending from the bottom for added support.
The best cradles expand to fit any size handset, close securely around your phone, and let you install or remove a phone quickly with one hand.
Most wireless charging mounts use a tension-grip design, which holds a phone with two spring-loaded arms on either side; some models also include an additional support underneath. Photo: Rik Paul © 2019 The New York Times.
Compared with a tension-grip design, attaching or removing your phone from a magnetic mount is even quicker and easier. You just hold your phone near the mount and, when properly aligned, the magnet will "grab" it and hold it in place. Similarly, you simply pull the phone off to remove it. And don't worry, these magnets won't hurt your phone.
You do need to attach a thin, metal plate to the phone or its case (inside or outside), so the magnet has something to hold onto. To align with the magnets in conventional, non-charging car phone mounts, the plate is typically placed in the centre of the phone's rear side. But this location can interfere with wireless chargers. That's why the few available wireless-charging magnetic mounts require the magnets – and the metal plate(s) – to be located near the top and/or bottom of the phone.
Placement: Unlike regular phone mounts for cars, wireless-charging models need to be plugged into a vehicle's 12-volt outlet (aka cigarette lighter) to provide juice to the phone, which could affect where you place it. For most cars, a mount in the centre area of the dash would be closer to the outlet, while one mounted in the left corner of the dash or windshield – an otherwise popular location – would mean draping the cord over the steering column or routing it under the dash (if it's long enough). Alternately, you could hard-wire the mount to the car's fuse box, either by doing it yourself (if you're comfortable enough with car wiring) or taking the vehicle to a car-audio installer.
Charging speed: While wireless-charging mounts are handy, don't expect them to charge your phone at the same rate as a wired charger. The fastest wired chargers can get recent phones up to about 50 percent in only half an hour, while the models tested here were less than half that speed. That said, most of the mounts come with a separate USB adapter that's plugged into a car's 12-volt outlet, so you can swap it for one with higher amperage if you want to optimise your wireless charging speed.
Wirecutter's previous top pick, the Scosche StuckUp Qi, has been discontinued, so the new dash-mounted Scosche StuckUp Qi WDQ2M and the vent-mounted Scosche VentMount Qi were tested. Both models held phones securely, although the automated tension arms were slow to open. Like the original StuckUp Qi, the newer model has an adjustable gooseneck that offers plenty of flexibility but tends to wobble, particularly with larger phones. It also wouldn't charge a phone through a case. The VentMount Qi quickly charged a phone through its case, but the attachment only rotates from portrait to landscape mode, with no way to tilt the screen up and back or to the side.
The original Scosche MagicMount Charge MPQWD-XTSP is a magnetic, dash-mount model that charges phones more quickly than most models tested, although not as fast as the Kenu Airbase Wireless and Airframe Wireless, or the Scosche MagicMount Pro Charge. Compared with the latter, which uses two magnets, the MagicMount Charge uses only a single magnet, located at the bottom of the base. This setup held most phones securely, although it struggled to hold a large 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max in landscape mode.
The Lynktec Bolt Smart Car Mount & Qi Wireless Charger has a pair of motorised tension arms, which open with a touch and are supposed to automatically close around a phone when it's placed in the cradle. But they didn't open or close reliably, and there was no way to manually override the system, which either leaves your phone unsecured or trapped within its grasp. Even worse was when a tester accidentally grazed the mount while driving, prompting it to open up its arms and drop the phone.
The Anker PowerWave Fast Wireless Car Charger held phones securely, was easy to open, and charged at a decent rate, but it doesn't come with its own 12-volt car adaptor (testers used runner-up USB car charger pick, the Anker PowerDrive 2). And while it came with two different vent-mounting options, neither one was particularly stable or remarkable.
Several models were tested that were not WPC-compliant, including the Mophie Charge Stream Vent Mount, TaoTronics Car Fast Wireless Charger TT-SH004, and the Choetech T521-S and Choetech T530-S, but none of them stood out in any way that made them worth the lack of certification. Previously tested was the vent-mounted Ventev Wirelesspro Dock, a magnetic model with a charger that kept cutting out, possibly due to magnetic interference.
What to look forward to
iOttie recently announced a new line of wireless-charging magnetic mounts, called iTap 2 Wireless, which will be available in dash-, vent-, and CD-slot-mounted versions. The company's iTap Magnetic 2 is currently the top pick for standard (non-wireless-charging) car phone mounts, and these new models look like they will use the same mounts, as well as a two-magnet setup that's similar to the Scosche MagicMount Pro Charge.
This guide was written by the editorial staff of Wirecutter (New York Times group) and republished by CHOICE. The products are independently selected. This test was conducted in the United States and was originally published on the Wirecutter website. You can read it here in its original version.
Thom Dunn, who wrote the most recent version of this guide, is a Wirecutter staffer who has also written about Bluetooth car kits, Google Assistant-compatible devices, and standard car phone mounts (without wireless charging). His work has also appeared in Upworthy, Vice, and the Huffington Post, as well as in publications for institutions such as MIT.
Nick Guy, who wrote an earlier version of this guide, is a longtime Wirecutter staffer who has researched and tested hundreds of car mounts. He's also written guides to desktop Qi chargers, standard car phone mounts, multiport USB wall chargers, USB car chargers, and more. Prior to joining Wirecutter, Nick spent three years as the accessories editor at iLounge, where he reviewed more than 1000 products, including early wireless-charging devices.