The Military-Grade iPhone Windshield Mount

Using touchscreens in the car can be such a hassle, because even if you put them in a dash or windshield mount where they're safely in your line of sight, they still wiggle around too much. Or they did.

I drive my Land Cruiser all over creation. (Or at least I'm trying.) And while it's nice to have my phone handy on the road—or preferably off it—I use my phone too much to fish it out of my pocket every time I need to check a map or load more music. But if I'm going down an icy pass or even slowly slogging through the mud, I don't have time to dink around with a sissified phone mount. If it doesn't stay put—or worse, falls off—I have to wait until I'm out of the tricky zones before I can put it all back together. Something tough please!

The RAM Mount has a suction cup, but that's not novel. (Although it's very good.) It's got a hard plastic snap-in case for the iPhone which feels maybe too tough. But the arm. The arm is made for business.

I'd heard of RAM Mounts for years but hadn't ever tried one. But I'm so struck by this simple effectiveness of their iPhone 4 windshield mount that I'll deign to capitalize their name, even though that drives me crazy unless I'm writing about LEGO.

If you go to the page for the iPhone mounts and you'll see a lot of different options: suction cups for car windows, sticker based "Lil' Buddy" units (which I'm not terribly impressed by, because...you'll see), or clamp-on bike mounts. What you're looking for is the arm—that brilliant, sturdy, reliable arm. The Lil' Buddy has its own plastic, unmovable arm! No good.

It's the arm that makes the RAM Mount so notable. It's the first car mount I've ever used that has almost no give. Pressing the screen on my iPhone is very nearly as stable as if it were sitting flat on the surface of a desk. And because of the way the interior ball joints deform inside the arm—smooshing into a locking oblong instead of simply compressing—when you tighten down the thick wingnut, the arm stays in position just where you want it. It's such a successful design that RAM makes versions bigger than my arm which are used by the military to mount heavy equipment in their trucks.

There's nothing at all that makes this praise exclusive to the iPhone mount, either. The arm is the basis of nearly their entire product line, which supports smartphones, GPS units, fishing rod holders, netbook mounts, etc. RAM is a company that just makes mounts. And they're terribly good at it.

The suction cup isn't too shabby either, although I did finally have it give up one frigid morning in the desert north of Death Valley. I suspect the frost on the windows caused the rubber to shrink just enough to lose some adhesion. I just applied the suction cup, gave the locking clasp a twist, and it stayed on in place for another thousand miles unperturbed—just as it had for a couple hundred miles before when crawling over rock ledges and skidding at "floating speed" over washboard roads.

For the price—$25 or so, depending how you mix and match parts—they're hard to beat. I can't imagine using anything else in my truck. Those simple, ingenious arms are the best aftermarket mounting system I've ever used.