You need a mobile phone mount like the one from Camzilla in this video review if you drive a car in Australia – the cops will fine you just for touching the phone as you drive, even if you’re not actually using it. The penalty? A quarter of your licence – three demerit points – and almost $300. With this in mind, I just reviewed arguably the best smartphone mount on the market – the Camzilla Universal Smart Phone Suction Mount.
New road laws in New South Wales on November the 1st, 2011, mean – in practice – it’s illegal to drive and use a mobile telephone, if it’s not securely mounted in a mount like the Camzilla one in the video.
Actually, you are technically still allowed to use the phone completely handsfree – as in, if you don’t touch it at all. Hypothetically you can receive calls via Bluetooth this way (answering via the steering wheel ‘answer’ button) and you can also stream music via Bluetooth, but if you need to press any buttons on the phone to use the Bluetooth, you’ll be breaking the law if the phone is not in a cradle.
Dialing a number – even if the phone is connected by Bluetooth – is illegal unless the phone is in a mounting. Even using Siri on an iPhone requires the use of the ‘home’ button – so even using voice control to dial means you’ll need a cradle.
The safest option is to use a mount whenever you drive. Just slip the phone in while you’re still parked, and you’re good to go. (Remember you will get booked for touching the phone when the car is stopped, but not parked – so, if the engine is running, you’re running a risk any time you’re not using a cradle.
The new laws basically mean all you’re allowed to do without a cradle is answer calls handsfree via Bluetooth, or pass the phone to a passenger. Everything else is out. It’ll cost you at least $298 and three points if you get caught. The penalty is even higher in a school zone – in both dollars and points.
If the phone is held in a mounting, calling, GPS and playing music are allowed – but everything else is out. So - no texting, no tweeting, no web surfing, and no watching YouTube – which is pretty much a good policy for safe driving.
The Camzilla Mount
With two ball joints, the Camzilla mount I tested has more degrees of freedom than half a dozen contortionists. In practice it adapts to every conceivable smartphone, and also every conceivable vehicle. Good news is that you won’t need to upgrade your mount when you change phones, and the soft rubber pads hold the phone firmly without rattling or slipping.
The locking action is easy to use, and the mount locks up very firmly and it doesn’t rattle appreciably as you drive. You get the impression it’d stay there for months if you never changed cars.
The other big plus here is the suction mount – it’s strong, rock-solid and just a quick twist to go from zero to full suction. It’s designed in the USA to hold point-of-view cameras outside race cars at two or three hundred kays an hour, so it’s not exactly over-taxed when it’s holding a phone like this.
Just remember: whenever you drive you can still get distracted even if the phone’s in a cradle. Whenever you’re driving, use the phone sparingly, and keep your eyes as much as possible on the outside world – that’s where all the potential safety threats are.
Keep the phone and the mount well outside your primary vision area, and make sure it’s within range of the recharging cable. The bottom right corner of the screen works really well here – provided the charging cable reaches across from the power outlet. With the Camzilla mount and an iPhone in the bottom right corner, I found there was no impact at all on my safe view of the road ahead. And the Apple recharging cable reached easily – over the top of the steering column.
If you ever mount your setup on the passenger’s side, keep it well away from the airbag … unless you want an iPhone-sized dent in your head, if you crash. Airbags explode towards you at about 300km/h, so if anything gets in the way, that’s bad.
The Camzilla universal smartphone mount really hangs on, and it’s built to outlast several phones. Having used it for a week, it’s fair to say that it’s miles ahead of the cheap plastic mounts on offer at the likes of Dick Smith.
It’s a robust, easy-to-use, high-quality product.
Best of all, it costs just $58 – which is 80 per cent less than just one fine for holding the phone in your hand while you drive. So, economically, it’s a pretty easy purchase to rationalize.
It’s on sale at Camzilla.