It may seem like gumball machine tech, but the Bracketron MobileDock is a very secure mount for in-car smartphone use.
Bracketron's MobileDock is a universal dashboard- and windshield-mounting cradle for most mobile devices and smartphones. It sticks to nearly any hard surface and holds nearly any phone, but the way it does so is a bit unconventional.
The unit features a suction cup mounting mechanism that locks into place with a lever, just like nearly every other suction cup mount that we've tested. However, the MobileDock stands apart because its cup uses what Bracketron calls Temporbond technology.
Essentially, the suction cup is made of a tacky material not unlike those sticky hand toys you get out of a gumball machine. The sticky material, combined with the cup's suction, allows the MobileDock to attach securely to nearly any hard surface. That means your can stick it to your windshield or dashboard without the need for an adhesive mounting disk. We even got the MobileDock to stick quite securely to drywall, so there shouldn't be many dashboard materials that can rock this cradle.
The MobileDock's cradle is attached to the suction cup base with a plastic arm that doesn't move, but does feature a ball joint at its neck that gives the user 360 degrees of rotation and a few degrees of tilt in all directions. The cradle features a pair of small padded arms at its base, but these don't really hold the phone in place. Instead, the MobileDock features a "stick dot" in the center of the cradle that is made of the same Temporbond material as the suction cup. This dot sticks to the back of a mounted phone, holding it in place while motoring. Because the MobileDock doesn't feature ratcheting arms, there are no adjustments to be made. Simply slap the phone into place and go, which is great for multihandset families.
We were a bit leery about relying on what we perceived as gumball machine technology to hold our pricey smartphone in place, but we slapped on our Motorola Droid and dangled the phone and cradle upside down as a test. Satisfied that the MobileDock could at least support the phone's weight, we mounted the phone and cradle onto our test vehicle's dashboard, booted up the Grav-O-Meter app, and hit the road.
In an empty parking lot, we tossed our test car through a series of hard starts, stops, and a few doughnuts to test lateral G-forces, but our Chevrolet Aveo wasn't capable of pulling more than about 0.6 to 0.7 Gs--less force than the full G the dock experienced earlier when we simply held it upside down, and not nearly enough to dislodge the phone from the cradle or the cradle from the dashboard. Considering that the Droid is a hefty phone for its size and the dock held it well, we are pretty convinced that the MobileDock will hold most flat-backed mobile phones in place in anything short of a serious high-performance driving situation.
Back at the office and feeling confident, we took shook the cradle firmly in an attempt to shock the phone loose, and eventually we did, though it wasn't the stick dot that gave up but rather the Droid's notoriously loose battery cover that let go first. When we were ready to remove the phone from the dock, we were able to easily do so by simply pulling with a gentle twist.
Of course, there are a few issues. For example, though the Bracketron MobileDock is portable and can be moved fairly easily from car to car, its tacky nature means that over time it will pick up a good deal of dust and dirt, reducing its stickiness. Bracketron's instructions claim that it can be easily cleaned with water, but we're still a bit nervous. The instructions also state that the suction cup may leave a light residue when removed (which can be cleaned with water) or leave a slightly raised ring when removed from padded surface (which should disappear over time). Fortunately, we experienced neither of these side effects during our testing.
For anyone who owns a smartphone that doesn't have its own OEM car kit, or for multihandset families who don't want to keep two or three separate car kits in the glove compartment, the Bracketron MobileDock is a great universal, nonpermanent solution for keeping your phone in place while your vehicle is in motion. It's available now at an MSRP of $29.95.