Sunday, December 25, 2016

How I mount my Galaxy S7 phone in the car

I had been complaining about the GPS issues with my phone in the past (read about it here). That's because I use them for navigating when I am driving the car. The GPS issues were resolved after buying the Galaxy S7 and disabling the My Optus app (read about it here). But I never talked about how I was mounting my phone in the car.

Initially, I ordered a Handsfree Bluetooth Smart Phone Holder from Kogan as per my cousin's recommendation. However, the ETA for it was a bit too long, so I cancelled the order.

I then went to the JB Hi-Fi and bought the Cygnett Dashview Universal Car Mount which was much cheaper and I could buy it on the spot. It wasn't a great product and the price probably reflects that. The arms of it which held the phone in place scratched the body of my phone's case because they were so tight. The tightening dial (I don't know what it is called, you just have to tighten it for the mount to stay fixed on the windshield) would loosen every now and then, although the mount never came off all by itself. But it at least got the job done.

But few weeks ago, I ran into a new problem.

I was in Beaconsfield and heading towards Melbourne City on the Monash Freeway M1. The phone lost GPS and never recovered. The phone felt hot and very sluggish, so I cleared all apps and when it didn't do anything, I rebooted the phone. Still it did not recover, so I just switched to my wife's phone for the rest of the trip. A few days before the first incident, I installed Optus Sports app to watch cricket on the phone. (I could use it freely with my plan) I thought that app messed up my GPS, just like the My Optus app did a few months ago. The phone had gotten a bit slow as well over the months, so I decided to do a complete factory reset and start from the scratch. I didn't get any issues with GPS afterwards, and I thought that it was just a software issue and that it was resolved.

And it occurred again on another day, around the exact area!!!

I was familiar with my route as I had done a few trips to that area, and I just took the phone off the mount. It was, again, really hot (very hot to even touch the case) and sluggish (really, really sluggish - few 5 seconds to respond to home button kind of sluggish).

I asked about this on the Whirlpool Forums, and one guy asked me where I mounted my phone in the car. When I told him that it was on the windshield, he told me that it was a bad idea to mount the phone on the windshield in the summer. (This is the summer in Australia) While it was a coincidence that the phone would lose GPS in the exact same area, the reason why it happened was because the phone overheated, and with some Googling I found out that the S7 becomes very sluggish when it overheats. Some people have claimed the screens of phones and GPS navigators would crack in the extreme heat of the summer, which made me really scared and made me want to look for alternative ways to mount the phone in the car.

The timing was ideal as I won a prize at a contest done by iMore who teams up with Vena who makes phone accessories. (Colambage D is my entry) My prize contained seven iPhone 7 cases (which are useless to me at the moment) and a magnetic car mount which would fix itself to the air vents. While the gift pack was intended to be used with the iPhone 7, the car mount seemed to work fine with my S7, so I gave it a shot.

This is what was in the box.

The phone would mount magnetically to the base which fits into the air vent. There was a rectangular metal plate which would go between the phone and the case if you were using a case, or a round metal plate which would stick to the back of the phone if you weren't. Since I was using a case, I used the rectangular one. Of course I could have used the rounded one and stuck it on the case of the phone, but it would look ugly. I tested how firmly the base attached with the phone afterwards and it was satisfactory.

Then it was time to install the base in the car. I sadly could not install it with the brand name aligning properly, but I could install it. I positioned it so that the weight of the phone was not completely carried by the base (and the vent). The top edge of the head unit was protruded a bit which could support the weight of the phone partially.

I tested it on the road and it never came off if the phone was properly supported. But I think I could get a better attachment with the magnetic base if I moved the metal plate a bit towards the top of the phone.

Overall, I am pretty happy with it. While I had to get used to the new position, there were no distraction or covering of the view when mounted on the vent. Plus, the phone runs cooler and the micro USB cable from the car charger (if I needed to use it) would not run across the dashboard anymore. I was not pumped about winning that gift, but now I am pretty happy that it really save me some money!

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