Bolt Smart Automatic Car Mount review: An energizing new take on car mounts

Inspiration often strikes in a single bolt, like lightning, and Lynktec's Bolt Smart Automatic Car Mount brings a fresh, electrifying spark to a segment that has gotten a bit stale in recent years. Don't get me wrong, car mounts have been getting better, safer, and cheaper over the last few years, but we've mostly seen refinements of the same old spring-loaded clamps or magnetic arrays that hold our phones in place while we drive.

Qi charging mounts in particular have felt stale, with charging plates snuck into the back of clunky clamp mounts. After all, if your mount needs power to charge your phone, why not use a bit of that power to control the mount itself? The Bolt feels like a breath of fresh air, and I was more than ready to take it for a spin. This mount has had a couple backfires, but it's been quite a useful companion on a cross-country move.

The Good

  • Responsive sensors easily open and close clamps
  • Easy to align phone with Qi coils
  • Comes with compact two-port car charger
  • Uses USB-C instead of old Micro-USB

The Bad

  • USB-C cable could be longer
  • Clamps could close a bit slower
  • Have to make sure you shut it off before you get out of the car

Bolt Smart Automatic Car Mount What revs me up

The Bolt claims it is an "automatic" car mount, but that's not entirely true; it's a sensor-activated mount. A touch-sensitive panel at the top of the mount opens the clamps, and an IR sensor near the top center of mount's front plate triggers the motor to tighten the side grips around the phone at a secure pressure. To get your phone back out when you arrive at your destination, simply touch the same touch-sensitive panel to re-open the clamps.

When the phone is secured in the mount, it should ideally be lined up with the Qi wireless charging coils inside the mount and begin recharging your phone's battery. Bolt is compatible with both of the fast Qi wireless charging protocols for Samsung and Apple phones, and a hour-long drive could refill more than half of my Samsung Galaxy S9+'s battery.

You may need to adjust the bottom feet of the mount to find the sweet spot for your phone. The Bolt's motorized clamps may hold your phone up more than the feet do, but they provide a precise landing zone as you slip your phone into the mount.

That guidance is important because with automatic clamps, you need to set your phone down flat in the Bolt quickly. The clamps activate just a second or two after the IR sensors register an approaching phone — not a phone flush with the mount, approaching the mount. It can take a few tries to get used to, but once you do, that speed is appreciated since it gets your phone secured and you on the road faster.

The Bolt's LED indicators are bright and easy to recognize on each side of the unit: a blue LED icon on the left side of the unit dictates the Bolt's current status (on/off/charging), while a red/green LED gives an easy indicator if the phone held in the mount is wirelessly charging or not.

While the Bolt is heavier than the average car mount, the spring-tension clamp the mount comes with easily held to my CR-V's air vents easily, though a suction windshield/dashboard kit is also available. Another bonus of the Bolt is that it comes with a two-port USB-A car charger, including a QC 3.0 port meant to power the Bolt's fast wireless charging coils. This charger is compact, well-angled, and allows you to charge an extra device as you drive.

Bolt Smart Automatic Car Mount What grinds my gears

Now, I originally received the Bolt back at the beginning of November, and I spent much of the month testing the mount in my CR-V during my drives around town and down Interstate 35 to visit my family. Alas, as I was finishing up my initial draft of my review, my review unit died. I got in the car for karaoke night, and the mount simply would not open, wouldn't turn on. I received a replacement Bolt which has performed flawlessly — especially during my long and arduous drive from Texas to Florida — but that initial failure is worth noting.

I will also say that I wish the Bolt would turn off when your car is off. If I forgot to turn off the Bolt before I left the car, I would see that blue LED shining through the driver's window, sitting there running in an empty car for hours or days between drives. I quickly got in the habit of power off the unit after I killed the engine — you cannot power off the Bolt while it is receiving power through the USB-C cable — but if the Bolt could implement an automatic power-down after 5 minutes without USB power or a phone in the mount, that could save power and prolong the life of the mount.

Bolt Smart Automatic Car Mount

Bolt Action

I drove over 1,500 miles with the Bolt car mount, and for the vast majority of the time, it was more than automatic; it was greased lightning! Once I got the hang of the speed of the IR sensor and clamps, I found myself reaching to mount up my phone, whether it needed a juice-up or not.

4.5 out of 5

While the Bolt is a little jagged at the edges, like a lightning strike, this mount is solid, stable, and the perfect companion for Android users that don't have Android Auto-compatible head units in their vehicles. Whether you need to keep your phone charged while it navigates you through rush-hour traffic or you just want to keep your phone safely out of the way, Bolt is a worthwhile investment for your car and your Qi-enabled phone.

$50 at Amazon

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.