AirFrame+ review: the car mount that can handle any phone

Android devices (and probably the iPhone, too) are getting larger, and that's not a trend that will cease any time soon. Finding a mount for your car that can accommodate your girthy smartphone may not be easy. So many still cater to smaller phones, but an update to the popular Airframe changes that. The new Airframe+ will hang onto your plus-size phone just fine, and is the lowest profile mount we've ever seen.

Like the original Airframe, the Airframe+ uses your AC vent to make a home. It works with any vent, of any size, and and orientation. The rear "mount" — and by mount we mean the part that actually clips to your vent — has two different size grips. One larger to accommodate thicker vent plastic, and a slimmer opening to snag thin strips.

The attention grabber is the phone grabber, where a sliding arm juts out to let your device of up to 6-inches squeeze in. We tried it with a bevy of devices of all shape and size. Save for a Nexus 7 tablet, we had no issue getting any Android device in. Even the mammoth Huawei Ascend Mate 2 dropped in without issue.

In taking the Airframe+ out for a spin — literally — we found a device that does a few things really well. The sliding arm action is smooth and responsive, with just enough hold to keep your phone secure without you feeling like it had a death-grip. In the lab, it took us a hard shake to get a phone to drop out, and that's not something you'll run into while driving (we hope).

We will say that, depending on the type of vent you have, the Airframe+ may take a bit of fiddling for you to find the spot you like. In our test vehicle, a Scion xB, the vents stick out when opened. That gave the Airframe a test it handled well, but getting our phone to a position we liked wasn't a simple attach-and-go scenario.

The added weight to your vent may also throw things out of whack, and your phone into some kind of awkward diagonal pose. For many vehicles, this isn't a problem, as the vents simply open and close vertically. For others that have articulating vent openings, it will likely mean you'd be best served finding the sweet spot ahead of your drive.

Losing an air vent to a smartphone was also a concern, so we suggest you pick one that you only need ambient air flow from. Happily, when using our devices for navigation (something we do often), the Airframe+'s natural use-case kept the phone cool to the touch, whereas it would normally be warm in your hand afterward.

The nice part about the Airframe+ is that it accepts any case you might have (depending on your case and phone size, of course), and sometimes works best when it has a snug fit on a material other than your smartphone. Case in point (pun!) was the HTC One M8, where the smooth metal casing on the phone left us uneasy it would slip out of the holster (even though it didn't). Slip a case on, though, and those worries slide away (double pun!).

The Airframe+ is easily the best low-profile smartphone mount we've seen, and with the ever increasing belt-line of Android devices, it's an easy recommendation. It also retails for $29.99, making it one of the more cost effective mounts around. Not having to fuss with sticking it to a dash or windshield is actually refreshing, too. You can also easily take the Airframe+ with you; no adhesives or suction — along with it's incredibly low profile (great for tossing in a travel bag) — make it the ultimate travel companion for when you rent a car. A little slice of home comfort, anywhere you go? We like that a lot.