Wireless Charging: Up to 7.5W
With thousands of car phone mounts out there it's difficult to know where to start. I'll cut this short — you start with the Sandmarc Active Car Mount.
No matter how advanced new cars and their entertainment systems get, running Google Maps or Waze on your phone is sometimes still the best way to go. So long as you have an iPhone 12 or later and don't mind spending $60, that is. Actually, there are more caveats than that, but I'll get to those in a minute.
Sandmarc Active Car Mount: Price and availability
The Sandmarc Active Car Mount sells for $60 and you can pick one up directly from the manufacturer right now. It'll come with a 40-inch USB-C to USB-A cable in the box so you're all set for some wireless charging action.
The only thing you won't get is any kind of adapter, which is worth remembering if you have a more modern car that includes USB-C ports instead of blocky USB-A ports. If that’s you, you’ll need to source your own suitable cable or adapter.
Sandmarc Active Car Mount: Design and features
Few would accuse the Active Car Mount of being small, but it isn't huge. Almost as wide as an iPhone 12 Pro and *just* short enough to fit under its camera bump, this mount is big enough to get a good grip of your iPhone but small enough that it isn't distracting when it isn't being used.
The lack of any sort of grips helps the mount disappear and it's the MagSafe compatibility that makes the Sandmarc offering stand out. It isn't official MagSafe however, so charging is limited to 7.5W rather than the 15W of Apple's standard.
There’s no mention of the word "MagSafe" anywhere, but the Active Car Mount definitely has magnets inside — and they're strong. Sandmarc markets this thing squarely at owners of iPhone 12 though, so don't expect to be able to use your older iPhone or Android device here. Your phone needs its own magnets built-in, and as a result there are no magnetic stickers supplied in the box.
Sandmarc Active Car Mount: Setup
Attaching the Active Car Mount to your car is a simple affair thanks to the clip on its rear. A simple screw mechanism opens and closes the clip so you can make sure it has a good grip on whatever you're attaching it to. I used my car's air vent, but any part of your dashboard or spare bit of trim will do the trick — so long as it's thin enough to fit in the grip, of course.
Attaching your iPhone to the mount is as simple as slapping it on there and letting go. Alignment isn't really something you need to think about because the magnets do that job perfectly well, latching onto the back of your iPhone when it gets close enough.
That means there are no magnetic stickers to deal with, and no grips on the side of the mount to open before inserting your iPhone. However this does mean you can't easily remove the iPhone with one hand without also pulling the mount away with it.
Sandmarc Active Car Mount: Performance
In terms of holding your iPhone in place while you drive, the Sandmarc Active Car Mount does its job and it does it well. The magnets are strong enough to make sure the iPhone doesn't move away from the mount, even when driving around corners or over the UK's bumpy roads. Once your iPhone is on the mount, it'll stay put.
The same can't necessarily be said about the mount itself, though. Attaching the mount to my air vent was the only option thanks to my car’s layout. To complicate matters further, my air vents are circular, which are infamous for being difficult to find car mounts for.
That's an important point to remember when I say that the mount itself moved when going around more severe corners. The problem was clear — the weight of the mount, coupled with the heft of my iPhone 12 Pro, meant the air vent itself sometimes moved.
Is that the fault of the mount or my car? I'm not sure, but I can only report on what I saw. Those with somewhere more stationary to clip the mount will likely fare better.
Everything else works great. The wireless charging charges wirelessly. You still have access to the iPhone's Lightning port if you need it, and the little light on the mount tells you that it's getting power from your car. Just remember that at 7.5W, the wireless charging offered here isn't going to be anywhere near as speedy as you’d get with Apple's 15W MagSafe Wireless Charger.
Sandmarc Active Car Mount: Verdict
I really like the Sandmarc Active Car Mount, but I can't really use it. But while my car may be unsuitable, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who has something solid to clip it to. Could things be improved if the mount came with different ways to attach it to your car? You bet, but it doesn't and that's why it's only getting 4 stars.
At a $60 price point, this isn't the cheapest way you can stick your phone to your dashboard and charge it at the same time — but it is one of the best I've used.