As much as I've begged and pleaded for a truly mobile version of Alexa, the track record of Amazon and third-party accessory makers to bring the voice assistant out of our homes and into the wider world has not been all that great. Whether it was a half-hearted first-party attempt like the Echo Auto or a wearable version of Alexa found on devices like the Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense watches or the Wyze Band, the experience was never as fully-featured or useful as I'd hoped it would be.
That's why I kept kicking the can down the road on this iOttie Aivo Connect review; I honestly didn't have high hopes for it. But once I finally took it out of the box and set it up in one of our older vehicles, I immediately realized I'd misjudged this gadget. Even if you don't use Alexa all that much on your phone, I will wager that if you pick one of these up for your vehicle, you'll quickly agree that it is one of the best Alexa devices around right now.
iOttie Aivo Connect
Bottom line: One of the best car phone mounts I've ever used, the Aivo is sturdy, can wirelessly charge your phone, and its Auto Sense Mounting IR sensor makes it easy to stow and retrieve your device. The hands-free Alexa integration is a useful safety feature, and in some respects, is easier to use than more advanced infotainment systems.
- Fast hands-free Alexa access on the go
- Built-in 10W wireless charging
- Auto Sense Mounting with IR sensor works like a charm
- Has windshield mounting option
- Stable and secure phone holder
- Would've been nice to have a USB-A to USB-C power cable option
- Alexa app doesn't rotate in landscape mode
iOttie Aivo Connect: Price and availability
The iOttie Aivo Connect was released in late 2020 and can be purchased from iOttie's website as well as retailers like Amazon for $90. The Aivo Connect is one of two products in iOttie's Aivo series of hands-free driving accessories; the other is the Aivo View, a hi-res dash cam with Alexa integration.
iOttie Aivo Connect: What I liked
The iOttie Aivo Connect is a pretty impressive piece of tech hiding behind its humble phone mount exterior. It has a nice, solid feel to it that is reassuring from such an expensive accessory, and its center of gravity — along with its 3M adhesive stickies — assures that your phone will stay secure and in place on your car's dashboard. I appreciate that it comes with two adhesive pads in the box, so you have a backup if one fails, or you can stick one in your primary vehicle and put the other in your partner's car (for example). It's also nice that you can mount it to the interior of your windshield if your car's dashboard doesn't lend itself to such an accessory (for example, if it is a leather or cloth material, or if it's not flat enough). I found the adhesive holds firm, even on bumpy roads, though if you have a larger or heavier phone like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, you may notice it bouncing a bit.
The base of the device has that familiar Echo light ring that lets you know at a glance when it is listening or when there might be an error, as well as the familiar beep tone you'd hear on any other Alexa speaker. There is a physical mute switch on the Aivo Connect — like all other Echo devices have — but there is also a button to invoke Alexa when you're stopped and/or don't want to use the wake word.
Having wireless charging in the car is such a nice treat.
The charging cable for the device stretches nearly five feet, so it should easily reach from your power port to the dashboard, and it also features a USB-A passthrough to power other devices (such as your passenger's phone) while the Aivo Connect is in use. Speaking of power, the Aivo Connect can wirelessly charge your Qi-compatible smartphone: up to 7.5W for iPhones and up to 10W for Android devices.
One of the most impressive features here is the Auto Sense Mounting feature, which uses IR proximity sensors to open and close the clamps, making it easy to secure your phone in the mount one-handed. It is so much better than fiddling with both hands to get your phone out when you are exiting the vehicle, and it's almost magical to watch it open up and then securely clamp around your device when your hand approaches it.
Once you go through the initial setup process of installing the iOttie Connect app on your phone and adding the device to your Amazon Alexa app, the Aivo Connect starts up right away. Though it's recommended to pair your phone with your car's Bluetooth receiver (if that's an option), it will still work through the microphone and speakers of your device as well.
Properly implemented like this, Alexa in the car is actually quite useful.
If you can do so before you begin driving, I would recommend opening the Alexa app so that you can see the simplified driving mode interface while on the move. So long as you have a good LTE or 5G connection, Alexa's response time is decent — I averaged between 1-3 seconds between question and response.
I was able to ask Alexa to take a reminder for me, add items to my shopping list, and see what was next on my calendar. Alexa was also useful in starting a playlist or audiobook, and she quickly opened Google Maps when I wanted to find the nearest burger joint at lunchtime. I could even ask her to place a call for me (which happened almost instantaneously) or activate my Alexa Guard after I had forgotten to do so before I left the house.
iOttie Aivo Connect: What could be better
Honestly, there hasn't been much that I haven't enjoyed about my time so far with the Aivo Connect. But there are a couple of little nitpicky things that iOttie and Amazon could work on for the future, and one potential deal-breaker may keep many from purchasing this device.
Let's start with the little things. While I greatly appreciate the wireless charging capability of the Aivo Connect — and the USB-A charging passthrough for non-Qi phones (like my Google Pixel 4a) — I was a little curious why iOttie opted for this charging solution. Given that most phones today support USB-C Power Delivery — and USB-C would be a smaller port to build into the mount — it's odd that iOttie didn't also offer USB-C to USB-C and/or USB-A to USB-C cables in the box to accommodate all sorts of vehicles and charging needs. Minor quibble, but something you may notice.
The other issue I had concerned landscape mode, but this is an Amazon problem, not an iOttie one. The Aivo Connect easily rotates to let you view your phone in landscape mode. This option is great for navigation or music, but when I had the Amazon Alexa app open, it did not rotate to landscape orientation, not even in "car mode." That seems like a big oversight to me. I even double-checked that I had auto-rotate enabled on my phone, and it worked with other apps, but not Alexa. Curious.
The biggest barrier here for most people is going to be price — $90 is quite a bit of sticker shock.
Those are minor quibbles compared to the elephant in the room here, and that is the Aivo Connect's price. While I am sure it will see discounts over the coming months, its MSRP of $90 is tough for many people to swallow. Sure, it's cheaper than getting an aftermarket Android Auto unit, and it's certainly more affordable than getting a new car. However, there are too many "regular" phone mounts to count that are tens of dollars cheaper and get you most of the same functionality. It really boils down to whether or not you already have an auto infotainment system and how much you like bringing Alexa along for the ride.
iOttie Aivo Connect: Competition
Just using Android Auto through your car's built-in infotainment system or wirelessly through the Android Auto for phone screens app is probably what most people will elect to do, even if they're Amazon Alexa fans. It's convenient, it works with more apps and services, and it's gaining new features all the time. Of course, you still may wish to secure your phone in some mount or holder, but there is no shortage of options there.
Like the Android Auto app, there is even a dedicated car mode for Alexa and Amazon Music, so you could simply use that with a regular old car phone mount. In fact, there are literally hundreds of excellent car mounts to choose from, and most of those — even those that have wireless charging capabilities — are significantly cheaper than the Aivo Connect. Even iOttie's popular Easy One Touch Dashboard Car Mount is a solid, affordable alternative, particularly if you're planning to use your phone with Android Auto.
The closest competitors to the Aivo Connect in terms of car-specific accessories would have to be the Roav Viva or Amazon's own Echo Auto. Both devices are substantially cheaper than the iOttie Aivo Connect. Both offer hands-free Alexa controls; however, neither can function as a phone holder or phone charger, and neither is as responsive as the Aivo Connect, at least in my testing.
iOttie Aivo Connect: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You have an older car without a modern infotainment system.
- You prefer Alexa as your default voice assistant.
- You need a good phone mount that can wirelessly charge your device.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You prefer to use Google Assistant or Siri.
- You already have access to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
- You don't want to spend almost $100 on a glorified phone mount.
The iOttie Aivo Connect may be an expensive automotive accessory, but it's also a case of you getting what you're paying for. It's really well-made, it works as advertised, and it brings a ton of useful functionality to your car. Motion-sensing clamps, wireless charging, and hands-free Alexa access are all great value adds, particularly if you don't already have a built-in infotainment system in your car like Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
iOttie Aivo Connect
The iOttie Aivo Connect is one of the best car phone mounts I've ever used. It's sturdy and solid, it can wirelessly charge your phone, and its Auto Sense Mounting IR sensor makes it easy to stow and retrieve your device. The hands-free Alexa integration is a useful safety feature, and in some respects, is easier to use than more advanced infotainment systems. It is a bit pricey, though, and it's probably not worth it if you already have access to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
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