Logitech ZeroTouch review: A pretty good way to go hands-free in your car

One of the most important things you can do with your smartphone is to not use it in your car while you're driving. You're going to ignore that advice, of course. We all have. So the trick is to use your phone as safely as possible. And that means keeping it out of your hands.

There are myriad ways to do this. Android Auto is a good one. (And I've been using it for more than a year.) Various car docks are available, too, so you only have to touch the phone when you need it to do something — or let you use your phone's built-in hands-free options.

Logi (née Logitech) has just unveiled its own option. Dubbed ZeroTouch, it's an excellent system for safely doing four basic things while driving. Let's take a look.

Logi ZeroTouch

Eyes on the road

What is Logi ZeroTouch?

There are two parts to ZeroTouch. There's the app on the phone that does things — you can find it in Google Play here (opens in new tab) — and there are a couple of ways to mount your phone in your car. The mount triggers the app thanks to a metal tab that you affix to the back of your phone, and you're off and running.

Answer: A mount and an app for more safely using your phone in the car.

The ZeroTouch air vent mount that (wait for it) mounts your phone to your car's air vent. That's not a particularly new phenomenon (Logitech has had that sort of accessory before). But now it works in conjunction with the app. It runs $59.99.

There's also a dash mount that's a bit more beefy but works very well, with a sticky suction cup on the bottom and an articulating head that lets you adjust the angle of your phone between 0 and 90 degrees. The dash mount is $79.99.

Neither of those prices is what we'd call inexpensive. But considering that you're getting the app and the service along with it — and, ya know, a better chance at not killing yourself or someone else because you were previously being really dumb and holding your phone while driving — the price makes a little more sense.

And then there's the metal tab that you stick to your phone. I'm never crazy about this sort of setup. It's ugly. Really ugly. It makes the phone feel funny. It makes me resent whatever reason I had to put it on in the first place. (There's a disc that you can slip inside a case, too, if that works better.) But it is necessary, using low-power Bluetooth to tell your phone it's time to use ZeroTouch — otherwise the hands-free service would be running all the time.

The metal tab scares me, frankly — especially when it comes time to take it off. But I was able to remove the tab from the HTC 10 without too much trouble after slipping a razor blade under it. And I wouldn't use anything else to do that job — unless you want to scratch your phone.

One of the best we've seen

Logi ZeroTouch setup process

The setup process is probably the most important part of mobile accessories. They can get complicated, and they can kill an experience before it ever gets started.

ZeroTouch had one of the best setup processes we've seen.

Logi nailed it on the ZeroTouch. A woman's voice walks you through waking the phone with a "high five" in front of the earpiece, triggering the phone's proximity sensor. She then walks you through the voice commands.

And my favorite part? Setting expectations. "I'm not perfect, and won't always get everything right," ZeroTouch says during the setup process. "But it's easy to change or cancel." Nearly every voice-activated device I've ever used in the car had to have something repeated to it at one time or another. Logi addresses this up front, and in a friendly, human way. That's smart.

After that you'll get to see a whole bunch of warnings about how doing any of this is inherently distracting and dangerous and might actually be illegal where you are so it's up to you to not kill someone in the process of doing all this even though it is really good.

Some things never change, right?

Setup continues with you choosing default apps for three of the four things ZeroTouch tackles — navigation, messaging and music. (Making calls is handled by your phone app, of course.) You can set home and work locations (so you can tell it to navigate to "home" or "work") more easily, though it'll do some basic search as well.

And that's it. After that you're good to go.

Logi ZeroTouch

So how's it work?

Using Logi ZeroTouch

So what's all this like to use? It very much depends on where you've mounted your phone. I'm usually against using vent mounts — because I live in Florida and don't want anything to come between me and my air conditioning. But my dashboard is too rounded to mount the phone in a place that's comfortable to reach to do the "high-five" wake gesture.

The vent mount, though, was just about perfect.

Wave, speak, confirm. That's it. And it couldn't be much simpler.

One other alternative for me was on my center console, just in front of the gear shift. (Yes, I'm that old. I still drive stick.) It's not as easy to glance at, but it was easy to gesture at.

From there, Logi's hands-free UI was excellent. It did a great job of hearing and understanding my commands. Occasionally I did have to repeat myself. But, again, because I was warned about that during the setup process, it wasn't that big a shock.

One other thing that will control your experience a good deal is the apps you generally use. ZeroTouch is great with Google Maps, which is what I use, so no real problems there.

Text messages worked pretty well, too. I'm a bad use case for that sort of thing, being a card-carrying member of Project Fi and a Hangouts user. ZeroTouch has options to reply via WhatsApp, Facebook Manager and Hangouts. But I also ended up with messages being routed through the Messages app. Again, not surprising given my setup. (If you're like most folks and just use one phone and one SIM and one phone number, you should be just fine.)

The music options in settings only show me Spotify and Deezer — with big install buttons for both. I don't use either of those, but ZeroTouch was able to control Google Play Music just fine.

And, finally, you can tell ZeroTouch to "Share my location with [insert your favorite person here] ..." ZeroTouch will fire off a temporary Glympse link via SMS. And it's pretty brilliant, showing the recipient where you are, when you were are, and how fast you're moving.

And while that's the gist of it, it's also just the tip of the iceberg. There are a bunch of options for ZeroTouch, including the ability to use your Bluetooth to output audio, use a wave instead of a high-five gesture, and you can set up automatic replies, if you wish.

Logitech ZeroTouch

The bottom line

Should you buy it? Sure

The big question: Is this the best way to safely use your phone in your car? If you don't have something like Android Auto — or a really good Bluetooth-enabled system (and let's face it, so many of those suck) — then Logi's ZeroTouch is a pretty good option.

Again, $60 or $80 seems like a lot of money to throw at a way to stick your phone to your air vent or dash. And it is. But you get a really good hands-free system along with it. Then again you've also got to put a pretty ugly metal tab on the back of your phone.

Or do you? If I were a smart man I'd get myself a simple TPU case for a couple bucks — the kind that you can easily take on and off — and then put the metal tap on that, and not on my phone. The Bluetooth setup means that direct contact between the tab and your phone doesn't matter — it just has to touch the base holder. And the magnetic bond between the tab and the holder is easily strong enough to hold all that together.

All in all, this is a really good product from Logi — and one that's going to make your ride a little easier, and a lot safer.

Phil Nickinson
  • Can you use more than one app in a category? Launch a podcast w/ Pocket Casts or a song w/ Google Play? Also, you took a drive w/ the product but didn't actually use it. No navigating, no texting, calls or playing music. What was the point of taking a drive w/ the product?
  • I had a bad cut of the video. (My fault.) Look again.
  • Thanks! The video certainly clarifies whether the product is worth the money. :/
  • I'm not really sure I understand from your review the purpose of the thing you stick on the back of your phone?
    I mean, surely you could use a standard dock with NFC to trigger the app?
  • It triggers a BT LE connection with the phone so that ZeroTouch (and the hands-free voice stuff) isn't running ALL the time.
  • So there's no way to manually turn it on and off, or have it start and stop when connected to my car's existing bluetooth?
  • Exactly, bt connection trigger would be so much.... nicer esthetically ... But it wouldn't provide logitech with the revenue on hardware.
  • The photo you have for Jerry in your contacts is priceless. Posted via the Android Central App
  • New desktop background
  • Amazon has the vent mouth for $39.99 and the dash mount for $69.99 right now. https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s?k=Logi+zero+touch+&tag=hawk-futu... Posted via the Android Central App
  • I definitely do not want that metal disc thing on the back of my phone Logitech. Please find a way to do it with NFC or another way even if its an on off from the APP screeen.
  • I use a magnetic windshield mount and place the metal disc inside the back cover of the phone. Using no case of course. Or you and try placing it between the case and the phone w/o sticking it to either. Works for my Note 4.
  • That metal strip on the back of the phone is a complete non-starter for me.
  • Yeah, that's why I put it on a case. And remember there's a disc you can skip under a case.
  • "The metal tab scares me, frankly — especially when it comes time to take it off. But I was able to remove the tab from the HTC 10 without too much trouble after slipping a razor blade under it. And I wouldn't use anything else to do that job — unless you want to scratch your phone." I would recommend a thin metal wire, I've used this on automotive trim before. It's nearly impossible to scratch the paint (phone back in this case), with just a little adhesive left to rub clean by hand. Dental floss may work, depending on how strong it is. But if you have a plastic back, one wrong move with a razor blade could nick the surface. Just thought I'd throw that out there for those of us with plastic bricks in our pockets, lol
  • I don't think that metal connector would attach to my Moto X Pure Edition with its rubbery back.
  • Since its illegal to operate a phone whilst driving, what is the point in this? And "ok Google" capabilities already mirror what this is able to do. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think most states allow phone use while driving, but are typically restricted to "hands free" operation. For which this is perfect, if the apps works well. I have an older windshield mount that requires you to plug in the charger, and that cable tells it to fire up the app. I can't remember the name off-hand, because I stopped using it years ago. It was glitchy and made my phone slow to a crawl. Now i just use the voice to text on my bluetooth through the defaults on my phone.
  • I don’t mind paying for functionality but I fail to see the value in this product. + It activates with a wave of your hand.
    - That’s not “hands-free” then.
    - I can activate Google Voice Search by just saying “OK Google”. And it’s free. + It works with Google Maps.
    - So does Google Voice Search. For free. + It allows you to make calls and send messages.
    - So does Google Voice Search. Did I mention it’s free? + It controls your music.
    - Unless your car is very old, it probably has volume and music track controls on the steering wheel. + Engaging the magnetic plate automatically launches the app.
    - This type of app launching automation can easily be done with apps like Trigger or Tasker. You don’t even need an NFC tag. You can trigger actions with BT connections.
  • This is mainly targeted to the cell phone illiterate. And maybe her
    https://youtu.be/lj3iNxZ8Dww Sent via Tandy Color Computer
    before you see the light, you have to deal with the darkness
  • Ha! Thats cold.
  • Ho Lee S#!t. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This. I pretty much have the same functionality with an $8.00 vent clip and Google Now. Looks like a solution to a question that's already been answered. Posted via Turbo
  • I have a Galaxy S6 Edge and use the Google now launcher. "OK Google" for some reason doesn't always work for me so I figured for $50, I'd give this thing a try. I've had it for two days and am already really happy with it. You'd really have to use it to understand. The recognition and voice prompts are so much more natural and comforting than "OK Google". Think of it this way, if you have and love an Amazon Echo, then this would be a great product for you. If you're one of those people who say "Why would I need an echo when I can just use my phone" then pass on the ZeroTouch, it's not right for you.
  • No thanks. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why would I pay $$$ for this when I can do exact same things using Ok Google and a cheaper magnetic mount for < 10 bucks off amazon ?
  • Seems like paying $80 for a step backward from google now thats already built into android .
  • I use my phone as a HUD at times. As such, I'm still trying to find a HUD that also shows my notifications at times and gives me the option to respond by voice. I'm probably overthinking this, though. But I might consider one of these for my parents.
  • There are a lot of car dock applications or similar that I'm still playing with. I too like the hands free option. I see way too many people messing with their phones while driving...!!! AutoMate
    Ultimate Car Dock
    Car Dashdroid
    eCID which monitors texts and calls. The first two are a little slow getting bugs fixed, the later three are more invloved Posted via the Android Central App
  • The only navigation app that I know of that has HUD capabilities is Sygic. Not sure about voice commands within that app. eCID does ask for your voice input on texts on whether or not you want to reply. On that part it does work rather well. I haven't tested it on phone calls. UCD has that option too - voice driven whether or not to reply... Right now working with the dev on a bug on my phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • My Note 4 has an app called Car Mode. Works with any mount, and is activated once it establishes a Bluetooth connection with my car. If only tried it a few times. If I'm not mistaken, you can only access maps, phone, text and something else, but I rarely use any of them while driving, so I deactivated it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What the hell does age have to do with driving stick!? Any sports car enthusiast will tell you driving stick makes you more one with your car.
  • Unless you stuck in (insert major city rush hour here) then a stick can be a pain especially when you have 18 gears to go through. Speaking from a truck driver's point of view. But my next truck will be an automatic I'm sick of a standard. Granted I do have a 1942 Studebaker truck 3 speed on the tree and a 1974 El Camino 4 speed (which I might be selling husband saying I have to many cars). And an 1997 MR2 Turbo 5 speed. are nice on a short coast drive but any thing with some serious miles I'd rather drive my husband's Pathfinder which is an automatic. Sent via Tandy Color Computer
    before you see the light, you have to deal with the darkness
  • Any sports car enthusiast...;)
  • Just wondering if the metal discs will play Havoc with wireless charging?
  • Are you sure this release isn't from 2009? The whole thing seems like overkill when there's much simpler solutions. Posted via the Android Central App from my S7 edge
  • Too expensive. There's no way I'm sticking that to the back of my phone.
  • I'm loving the video quality of AC's latest videos Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have never actually pulled this card before, and usually cringe at those who do. But, this feels like a paid placement, or at least a favor of some sort. I read the entire review and felt like it was a pretty solid buy. Came away thinking the price was for the "experience" of the software which had more polish than other options. Then I watch the video. Multiple times the "hands free" hand gesture didn't wake the app, waiting for forever for it to complete commands...music which stops for a second then bugs out....and this is just what you showed. This has to be one of the more clunky car mode apps I have ever seen, with a silly lock in excuse to their mount, which for 60-70 dollars doesn't even charge the phone.