As you might have heard by now, I’ve been using the LG Nexus 4 for a little while, and I’m absolutely loving it. And to help in my transition to different phone, the folks at Mobile Fun were nice enough to send me a new car mount to review, so I wouldn’t have to go without. (They’ve also got tons of other Nexus 4 docks, too.)
The Kidigi car mount cradle for the Nexus 4 is an accessory that attempts to be the best way to use, charge, and hold your phone in the car. Featuring a sturdy plastic construction, a suction cup design that allows for windshield or dash mounting, and an integrated charger that keeps your phone juiced up, it certainly seems to be great at what it does, although there are a few things on my wishlist that this accessory does not have. So is it ultimately worth your money?
The box is fairly simple and includes the actual car mount cradle, a cigarette lighter car charger, the arm and suction cup, and a very short instruction manual in several languages. The manufacturer also includes a sticky, flat piece of plastic that you can use to mount the cradle on your dash, in case you don’t want to use this on your windshield. In other words, absolutely everything you need to get started is included in the box.
As a car mount, this actually does a fairly decent job. It’s designed to be used with or without a case on the Nexus 4, although I had mixed results with the official bumper (more on that in a bit). If you place your phone in this without a case, there’s a shiny plastic insert that you have to place in the mount first – this will ensure a perfect fit (Kidigi calls it an “active cover”). That’s how I’m currently using my phone with this cradle, and once I flip the clip down over the top of the phone, I find that the Nexus 4 is held tightly, securely, and with no discernible wiggle room when my car is in movement.
If you plan on using this car mount with a case, that’s also possible – simply remove the active cover first, and place the phone in the cradle. In theory, the manufacturer says that most cases should fit, but in practice I had a little bit of trouble fitting my Nexus 4 in there with an official bumper case. The phone seemed to sit just slightly crooked, and I had to struggle to find just the right angle at which the clip would actually stay over the top of the phone and hold it in place. I found this to be disappointing, since this was the official bumper, after all.
Still, like I said, I’m using my phone without any bumper, and it fits perfectly. And with such a large variety of different cases, it’s difficult if not impossible to find a design that will accommodate all of them, so I can cut Kidigi some slack here. If you do decide to use this with a case, I appreciate the fact that it is a matte black color; the shininess of the active cover seems like it might be a dust or fingerprint magnet over time.
Since the microUSB port is located on the bottom of the Nexus 4, the only way to charge the phone is through an included plug that hangs down when the mount is not in use, and plugs into the bottom of the phone when it is in use. This is one area where I’m a little disappointed: since the Nexus 4 is capable of wireless charging, I would have really liked to see this capability added to this car mount, making this truly as wireless as possible. As it is now, there’s a microUSB connector plugged into the back of the cradle that stretches down to my cigarette lighter, and another shorter microUSB cable that just dangles there otherwise.
As you can see, it doesn’t look bad when it’s actually in use, but it can add some clutter that may bother people with anal retentive tendencies, like me.
My other minor gripe with this accessory is that the included cigarette charger doesn’t include an additional USB port for other devices in the car. This is essential for me, since my in-car Bluetooth audio system is actually powered by this Samsung Bluetooth headset, which requires USB power.
For now, I’ve solved the problem by simply using the same dual USB car charger I had for my previous car mount, but it’s a shame I couldn’t use the USB charger included with this set. For most people, this is probably a non-issue, but it’s worth mentioning in case you do occasionally need to charge more than one USB-powered device in the car.
It may seem like I’ve been focusing on a lot of negatives so far, but I’m actually really pleased with how this car mount works. The build quality seems good so far, and in my week or so of use, it’s held up nicely. My phone is held tightly, and I have no fear that it will go flying during my erratic driving. The suction cup grips the windshield so tightly that I have no fear it will come loose.
If you don’t use Bluetooth, then it’s worth noting that the phone’s speaker is slightly covered by the back, so it may sound a bit muffled in the car – but honestly, who doesn’t use Bluetooth, or at least an auxiliary cable? So to summarize, my only complaints are the lack of wireless charging, and the lack of an extra USB port to charge another device. Also, this is only fully compatible with thinner cases, and the fit might not be perfect even with the official Nexus 4 bumper.
In any case, I can live with all of these niggles, and when paired with a naked Nexus 4, it’s one of the best car mounts I’ve used in a while. I like that it’s custom fit for the Nexus 4, so there aren’t the same compromises you have to accept with some of the universal car mounts – not to mention the price is really reasonable for the quality you get here.
So to answer my earlier question, yes, this is worth your money – and as someone who uses his phone all the time for in car navigation and internet radio, this comes with two thumbs up.
The Kidigi car mount cradle for the LG Nexus 4 is available for $30.99 from Mobile Fun.