This is a review of iBolt xProDock car mount for Samsung Galaxy smart phones (Note 2, S3, S4): iBolt.co - Stay connected with your world.
After reviewing close to half a dozen of different car mounts, I thought I was done. They all typically have suction cup base and phone mount attached to it, with different variations of the mount/grip mechanism. Very straight forward stuff. I heard about iBolt, but never had a chance to review it in the past thinking it will be just another car mount variation. But with a number of people asking me about which car mount to use with Zerolemon extended battery, I started to research more about mounts capable to accommodate cases up to Defender size which also offer the best vibration-free support. Everything pointed to iBolt. What I didn't realize is that although priced at $39.95 which is higher than most of the car mounts - you get so many additional bonuses that it takes this car dock into a totally different category I would refer to as "smart car dock".
So lets start with suction cup base. This one is a standard piece with a new type of sticky-gel base that helps it being attached to textured area and some uneven surfaces. It's a new trend with a lot of premium car mounts, and I have demonstrated in pictures below it sticks upside down and sideways to textured surface without any problem. What I did like is an honest warning included with the instruction card about possibility of leaving an indent on soft leather or soft textured material dashboards. I have experienced that before with another brand, and wish I would have been informed ahead of time about it. The base has a standard universal ball joint mount so it's interchangeable.
Now to the mount itself. It a 3 contact point mount with two expendable rest feet at the bottom (will extend to a depth accommodating Zerolemon battery/case without a problem) and spring loaded latch in the middle at the top. I found the grip to be tight enough to hold the phone in landscape mode very sturdy, no wobbling or vibration. It is possible to use one hand to insert the phone by pushing it on the latch to expand it and sliding the phone in to rest on the support feet. To remove it, I had to use both hands. This 3-point support configuration with back plate not covering the entire back of the phone allows the camera to be open so you can use it as a dash cam. Also, due to universal joint connection, you can obviously rotate the mount 360 deg and tilt it to adjust to a better viewing angle. The quality of material didn't feel flimsy at all, and I hardly experienced any flex.
At this point I would be done with my review for a typical car dock, but iBolt provides you with a number of valuable surprises. First of all you get so called "charging arm" which is a flexible short piece of micro-usb male-to-female cable that secures in the back of the mount with cable wrapping around any side to be plugged into the phone. You can position it facing right or left, and with flexibility of the cable you can bend it at any angle. The cable is heavy duty, no need to worry about pumping 2A of current. Next you get 9ft (yeah, 9 feet!!!) of heavy duty charging/auxiliary cable to connect to your car charger and to extract audio output from HDMI interface. A lot of car stereos support bluetooth interface but for phone connection only. Audio output from the phone is not support. I learned it a hard way a week ago when my Sirius receiver unit (routed to car stereo) start acting up and I wasn't able to stream my audio from the phone. I had to use my little Anker bluetooth speaker connected to a phone which caused a conflict since it wanted to connect to both phone and audio while car head unit was fighting over phone connection. With this setup, I don't even have to power up bt speaker. Just use aux cable to connect to aux-in of the speaker and listen to streaming audio from my phone that way. This cable itself is high quality for sure. And if that wasn't enough, iBolt offers it's own custom dashboard app for driving. Very highly configurable app; I captured various setup screens for you to get an idea of it's flexibility. You can use it without iBolt dock, but with xPro dock as soon as you plug it in - you can have it start automatically and trigger certain evens like toggling BT or WiFi. I did have a small issue with my Note 2, when plugged in it was turning my display off requiring me to press Power button on the phone twice for it to come up. So, I need to investigate it further. I have seen on the Play market, iBolt guys constantly working on this app updates and resolving different compatibility issues.
Overall, this car dock turned out to be full of surprises. I found it to be a great value considering all the extra bonuses with included cables and capability to support Note 2 with large cases, including Zerolemon battery with it's TPU case (although spring loaded latch with it's rubber lining did put some marking on TPU case, but those were hardly noticeable and easy to wipe off). So for anybody who is on a road a lot and in need of a decent sturdy car mount with flexibility of audio output for streaming and included quality charging cable - iBolt xPro Dock deserves a serious consideration.
Here are the pictures.