Smartphones coupled with high-speed wireless connections have been incredibly disruptive for the GPS industry: you used to pay hundred of dollars, often with a subscription fee on top, for a dedicated device to give you directions. Now, you have multiple options given away with your phone (which is, of course, a device you pay hundreds of dollars for, along with monthly fees to the telecoms). GPS-maker Garmin has stayed in the game not by fighting smartphones, but embracing them with their own apps and accessories, like the Active Mount for the iPhone 5/5s, a combination car window mount and charger.
The setup will look familiar if you’ve used a car GPS. A suction cup attached to a ball mount latches onto a smartphone bed with adjustable arms to hold the iPhone securely. The bed also has a Lightning connector for charging via your car’s cigarette lighter. You stick the suction cup on the window, and the ball mount allows you to angle your iPhone to suit your visibility, and even use it in landscape mode if you choose.
The design of the Active Mount is a winner on several fronts. The contracting arms hold your phone tightly, but without scratching, and come apart via a button on top that’s set just below the level of the iPhone to reduce the risk of accidentally pressing it while turning the iPhone on or off. Because it’s adjustable, it can be used with a case on the iPhone (although, if the case is too thick, you might not be able to line it up with the Lightning connector). You can, of course, also use it with another kind of Smartphone should you need to. The power cable terminates in a standard USB connector, so you can use it even when you aren’t driving to charge your iPhone, as well as using the converter plug with your other digital accessories.
The swivel mount holds the device firmly in place at whatever angle you place it. Initially I had a problem with the suction cup popping off if I stopped suddenly. Then I flashed back to my childhood love of sucker darts; I cleaned off the suction cup, applied a little saliva, and voila—problem solved.
The Active Mount is a great solution for using your iPhone as a GPS in your car. Instead of looking down for directions (which I used to do), the map is right there, in your field of view. You can keep your iPhone fully charged even on long trips, and use the phone (via Siri) without taking your eyes off the road. For a company that found itself in competition with Apple for GPS, they’ve done a great job of coming out with a solid product.
Buy the Garmin iPhone 5/5s Active Mount
Provides: Car mounting/charging for iPhone
Minimum Requirements: iPhone 5/5s