I get my nav on with the Arkon Slim Grip Ultra

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Arkon Slim Grip Ultra photo shoot 011

The Arkon Slim Grip Ultra smartphone mount worked better than I could have dreamed on a recent road trip. (Lyndon Johnson)

Dilemma: I’m test-driving a 2014 Ram ProMaster cargo van. In the same week, I have to ferry my grandmother- and aunt-in-law along with my wife to Nashville — a two-hour drive. The ProMaster has slick navigation built-in courtesy of Chrysler’s UConnect system, but it only comes with two seats. That means taking our 2010 Nissan cube, which comes sans navigation.

Never fear, ultra-cheap Samsung Galaxy Centura smartphones are here! Right? Maybe. Last time we used our phones for navigation purposes in unfamiliar Nashville territory a couple of months ago, the experience was far from ideal. But thanks to Arkon, this time was gonna be different. I could feel it.

So I peeled open the package from Arkon and found a medium-sized baggie of parts and pieces. Tearing open the Arkon Slim Grip Ultra’s packaging, I found the sticky suction cup arm, a backing plate obviously intended to serve as a base for my phone, and little plastic “fingers” that were packaged together, presumably to grip my phone securely to the backing plate. A single sheet of instructions clearly explained how it all came together.

After putting the Arkon Slim Grip Ultra together, I realized I still had an unused piece. Taking another glance at the included instruction sheet, I found the flat, circular disk backed with adhesive foam was for use on dashboards, where the Arkon Slim Grip Ultra’s sticky suction cup might leave a very difficult-to-remove residue. Apparently, the tacky substance on the disc is less likely to leave something you can’t wash off easily.

So I pieced it all together and found the Arkon Slim Grip Ultra (Model Number SM679) to be just the right size for holding my phone, which has a 3.5-inch screen. When I went to mount it on our Nissan cube’s windshield the next morning, I found it incredibly sticky and easy to secure in a position that would allow comfortable viewing. A suction lever located on the backside of the suction cup itself made it easy to make a position permanent once I found a mounting point I was happy with.

I got to put the mount to the test during the road trip. While my phone’s quirks made it frustrating to use as a navigation unit a couple of times during our trip, the Arkon Slim Grip Ultra was rock-solid. My phone stayed perfectly still, even over a slew of rough expansion joints in a construction zone and a couple of serious clover interchanges that saw me taking near-360-degree turns just to get off the interstate.

I’ve never been a person who though he would enjoy or even find a use for a smartphone mount, but this turned our journey into a far more productive one than it might have been without a way to easily use the navigation app on our smartphones. Let’s just say I’ve done an about-face on the subject of smartphone cradles’ usefulness in an automotive setting, having spent the day plotting out destinations to unfamiliar points of Nashville and letting my phone act as a tiny satnav unit.

In fact, I plan on using the Arkon Slim Grip Ultra all week while I complete testing on the Ram ProMaster. Lord knows it’s certainly got enough glass area on the windshield, giving me plenty of mounting locations to choose from.

Disclosure: Arkon provided the Arkon Slim Grip Ultra for reviewing purposes.

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