REVIEW – Our phones are indispensable when driving, often providing directions, music, audiobooks and more. But, did you know that at least 24 states here in the US ban the use of a hand-held cell phone while driving? That doesn’t mean you can’t use your phone for directions, but it does mean that you need a secure location for your phone that isn’t your hand. Scosche has a new configurable solution called the MagicMount MSC 4-in-1 that’s designed to be used with Apple’s MagSafe Charger and provides multiple mounting solutions in your car.
What is it?
The MagicMount MSC 4-in-1 is a vehicle mount for Apple’s MagSafe Charger that provides options for mounting to an air vent or a directly to a smooth surface via 3M adhesive. There’s also an extension swingarm, a 20w power delivery adapter for your car’s cigarette socket and two adhesive cable guides to help keep things tidy.
What’s in the box?
- MagSafe Charger Cradle (MagSafe charger not included)
- Swingarm extension
- Vent mount
- Surface Mount and extra 3M adhesive
- 20W PD adapter (USB-C)
- Cleaning wipe
- 2x adhesive cable guides
As for the specs, all the main parts of the mount are made with high quality plastic and silicone designed to withstand the heat and direct sunlight that’s common in the dashboard area of the car. Phone compatibility is limited to iPhone 12 series models that support MagSafe charging.
Design and features
Scosche’s mount that can be used 4 ways: Mounted to your vent, mounted directly to your dash, and either of those with an extension swingarm that allows you to position the charger off center from the base mount. Vent mount and swingarm configuration is shown below.
The cradle securely holds Apple’s MagSafe charger which you’ll need to buy separately.
The vent mount (left) and surface mount (right) both use the lock nut to securely position the cradle or swingarm depending on which you want to attach.
Also included are adhesive cable guides help to route your cables cleanly.
To install the MagicMount, you’ll first want to insert a MagSafe charger into the cradle. Feed the cable through the lower right opening, snap the charger into place and then flip the cradle over to tuck the cable into the channel groove.
The next step is to determine if you prefer to mount to one of your air vents or use the surface mount. All cars are different, so any of my following pictures here may not apply to your scenario. Let’s look at the vent mount first. Here’s an image from Scosche that helps to show which types of vents their mount will work with. In general it’s with vents that have primary blades all running the same direction. We’re mounting this up in a VW Tiguan which has vents like the two in the center of the 12 shown.
You’ll want to take note of where your dash controls are including which ones you use and which ones you could obscure if needed. As a result you’ll quickly understand which vent and whether or not you will want to use the extension.
It worked best for us to insert the mount onto the lowest blade where the surface of the mount could leverage the face of the dash, especially since the Tiguan’s vents can spin to have the blades vertical or horizontal. Here’s how that looks with the cradle mounted directly to the vent mount.
A quick note: you’ll want to push the mount in slowly and evenly as it may be possible to pop your blades out of their pivot points. Also note that the two axises of the vent clip have different width slots. You may need to rotate the mount 90º to match your vent widths.
Make sure you’re sitting in the driver’s seat and adjust the tilt of the MagSafe so that your phone is angled the way you want and then verify that it does not block any needed controls or worse, interfere with access to a turn signal or anything else related to steering. Make adjustments if needed.
If you decide to use the surface mount, you’ll need to remove the vent mount first. Unscrew the locknut fully, then pop the ball out of the socket. Keep the lock nut on the ball side and press it into the surface mount, then thread on evenly until firm. The same process applies to the extension arm and the vehicle side (vent or surface) always gets the lock nut. Here’s where we attached the surface mount.
You’ll want to similarly try holding the mount in some locations and figure out if you need the extension. When you’re ready to mount, use the included cleaning wipe to clean the surface, dry it fully, then peel and stick the base mount. It may be easier to remove the rest of the mount from the base for this step so you have full access and can press and hold firmly. Reassemble and check for safe positioning.
First off, the MagSafe charger in the cradle holds a phone very well. During our testing the phone never came free and always mounted quickly and easily. We did notice some wiggle and bounce while driving in all configurations and it was more noticeable when using the swingarm. Every car is different, and between vent location, availability of smooth, sturdy surfaces and where your power port is, it quickly becomes obvious how challenging it is to design a universal solution that fits every vehicle as best as possible.
Here’s a few of our findings with the VW Tiguan…
- The vents are pretty susceptible to having the blades pop out of place and the fix requires popping open the dash and removing the vents to reassemble. You can see the blades misaligned here after the back spine connecting them got knocked out of place.
- With the vent mount on a low blade, the mount base was in a vertical position making good contact with the dash surface. This helped to create a relatively solid foundation. Without the extension installed, the mount protrudes from the dash a good bit further than I was expecting. Not a deal breaker, but you can see how far in the photo.
- With the extension installed you have the option to rotate to any angle and can actually get your phone to sit closer to the dash. In the Tiguan, we were limited to only extending down as anything out to the side resulted in the vent rotating until the extension was hanging down due to the weight of the phone.
- This ended up not being a major issue as it was the preferred location anyway, although you can see how close the phone is to the turn signal (which is why we ended up moving to the surface mount).
- We had a pretty good spot to place the surface mount and we were then able to use the swingarm to move the phone up and slightly to the side. Since we pretty much just use CarPlay, none of those buttons on the left side of the display get used much and the volume controls on the steering wheel are the primary control.
- The power port is right in front and slightly to the right of the gear shift which resulted in the cable being very easy to hit with your fingers as you reach for the gear shift. Annoying and an issue for any power adapter in this car. We solved this by picking up a 90º C-to-C connector that allowed us to run the cable directly to the side.
- This Tiguan has wired CarPlay. This means we have to connect a Lightning cable from the phone to the USB-A port on the car. Apple planned for this scenario electrically and the iPhone defaults to the wired connection for charging. In our case that means the MagSafe charger is just a magnetic mount. But if a passenger is driving the music (with their own phone) then the driver’s phone can charge via MagSafe. The lesson here is to know your vehicle’ capabilities and requirements so that the solution you pick works for your scenarios.
You can also see that we were able to tuck the MagSafe’s cable into the gaps in the dash panels to keep it out of the way. We’ll end up using the included cable guides for the CarPlay cable as soon as we’ve finished fidgeting with location.
What I like
- Clean look and secure phone hold
- One-handed phone docking, no clamps to mess with
- Versatility of vent or surface mount
- Included power adapter (you do have to buy your own MagSafe charger however)
What I’d change
- Would like the vent clip base to be symmetrical to be stable on either axis depending on your vent blade thicknesses
- Lower profile, but I’m nitpicking a bit there
The Scosche MagicMount MSC 4-in-1 is a great, versatile mount if you’re looking for a MagSafe charging mount for your car. It’s helpful that it supports both vent and surface mount options and that a 20w power adapter is included. The swingarm should allow you to position away from any controls you need to access making this a pretty safe bet for most cars. The only real caveat is that this is best suited if you connect to your vehicle through Bluetooth or wireless CarPlay in order to take advantage of MagSafe charging.