on November 25, 2012
At first I was quite satisfied with the product. The S3 has an absolutely horrible interface that pops up when the "car dock" mode starts, but that is no fault of the iBolt.
However, after several weeks I started noticing during long trips that my phone was draining battery and not charging as it should have been. When I started paying closer attention I noticed that the connection from the dock to the phone via the USB cable would intermittently terminate. If I bypassed the built-in cable and plugged an external cable into the phone while it's in the dock, I do not see this problem. I only see the problem when the phone is connected directly to the dock.
And then finally, the phone would no longer recognize the connection to the dock at all. This has been a rapid degrading in functionality of the iBolt dock. I still use it as a physical holder of the phone, but for the price charged for this item, I need more value.
(Edited 12/3/2012: I'm happy to say that iBolt is standing by their product and sending me a replacement, free of charge. I am bumping them up a star for standing by their product.)
on September 14, 2012
What can I say? This is a great car dock. Very sturdy, fits the phone nicely with or without case, and plugging in the phone activates 'car mode' (do yourself a favor and get the Car Dock Ultra app to replace S-Voice).
Coming from a former Droid X user who was used to having a phone-specific plug-and-play dock that 'just worked', I had high expectations for car docks. I wanted one that would do the same thing for my GS3 that the old Motorola dock did for the Droid X. This dock does it.
One cool thing to note / minor complaint: the dock leaves the camera exposed so you it can theoretically work as a dash cam. However when the USB cable is plugged in, the picture will be upside-down. This is not iBolt's fault. Apparently when the phone is in car mode it 'locks' the horizontal orientation for reasons known only to Samsung. And the iBolt is holding the phone the 'wrong way'. Of course, if the cradle held the phone the 'right way' the volume controls would be inaccessible.
Anyway, there are a couple work-arounds: flip the cradle upside down, temporarily unplug the USB jack, or just deal with the upside down picture and flip it later with an editor.
Again, I don't fault iBolt for this issue, but you should know about it if you plan to use this as a 'dash cam'.
Other than that, five stars and worth every penny.
on August 30, 2012
After seeing the youtube video, I pre-ordered this from smartphonepedia since Samsung didn't have a dedicated GSIII charging car dock. It replaced the Infuse 4G dock I was using for my GSIII.
I have to disagree John's review. First off, the directions are clear on how the supplied pads are to be used. The power button never gets pressed. The dock allows for a very good fit with or without a case thanks to the removable insert (nice design). The same is true of the, I think, brilliantly simplistic charging solution, which again allows for use with or without a case. The other benefit of this design decision is that if the cord gets tugged on it doesn't pull on the handset's micro usb socket.
The flip latch is much easier to use than locking the handset into the Infuse 4G dock. The single cable which terminates in both a USB plug and aux audio plug reduces clutter. I use the spigen Kuel P12Q/C car charger because my car doesn't have a USB socket.
My only gripe is that when the phone is in the dock the volume rocker is partially covered by the latch, so I can increase but not decrease the volume without using the software UI controls.
It's not a perfect solution, but grading on a curve it's a 5 based on my experience with numerous other docks. Highly Recommended.
on July 19, 2013
If you've never used a car dock regularly before, or if you've only used those awful clamping universal mounts, you'll probably dig this, and will be happy with it both from a usefulness perspective and from a price perspective.
Unfortunately, I know how great a mount can be, and this was not that.
Perhaps I'm spoiled-- after years of using Motorola Droid docks (various phones, various docks), I know what life with a fantastic car dock is like, and this ain't it. As my sister so aptly put it, no one else's dock game is as on point as Motorola's. So, so true. My most recent phone prior to the S3 was a Droid Razr Maxx, and I used the phone plate of the stock dock. One hand to mount and get it charging. Dock automatically launched my preferred car home app with shortcuts to navigate to commonly traveled-to places and music players. Everyone was happy and there were rainbows all the time.
I use my dock All. The. Time. I dock my phone every time I get in the car, both because I like to have as much charge in my phone as possible at all times, but also because I use it to stream music, track mileage, navigate pretty much everywhere, and the best reason is that I never leave my phone anywhere: when I get in my car, I don't have to think, "Is my phone in my bag? Or on the table in the house? Or on my desk at work?" I know where it is, because I get in my car and immediately dock it. If it's not there, I don't go anywhere.
I got the S3, and immediately started dock hunting. The stock offering is one of those awful clamping universal jobs. No thank you. More research lead me to an expensive option from a company I trust and have used before (ProClipUSA), or this iBolt for about half the price. Since my husband, who doesn't care terribly much about docking, also has an S3, I figured I'd try the iBolt's less expensive offering first-- if I like it, yay! If not, I can pawn it off on him and I can get the more expensive one.
I installed it (admittedly, I only used the phone plate, as I have no patience for any of the suction cup nonsense offered with most docks), and plopped my phone in. The first problem is that it isn't intuitive to put your phone in a dock with the bottom edge towards yourself. I'm going to guess here, but I'd say about 85% of users put their phone docks somewhere in the center of their dash. Which means you mount it using your right hand, which in turn means the right edge of the phone should be on top when you're mounting in landscape. But, this phone has to be mounted with the bottom edge facing you, because you have to be able to plug it in, and if this dock accepted the phone the correct way (with the right edge at the top), you'd have to look around the phone to the right to get it plugged in.
Which leads me to my second problem. You still have to plug it in on your own! Not only does putting it in the dock (arguably) require two hands, but then you still need two hands to plug this tiny little cord into the charging port. Which, okay, the tiny little cord is convenient in that it's always right there, but the cord is stiff and short, and gives you little leeway on maneuvering it into the port.
Which leads to my third problem. All other car docks I've owned with Android phones have launched the What App Would You Like To Use Right Now window. Which, to it's credit, this did. Except the phone thinks this is a desk dock, not a car dock, so it only gave me options for desk dock apps. I talked with the maker of my preferred car dock app, and they said that the dock tells the phone (used to be via magnets in older phones, but I don't know how they're doing it these days) what kind of dock it is, and this dock is telling my phone that it's a desk dock. So I had to back out of that window and put a shortcut to the car dock on the home screen of my phone, which is approximately 75% less convenient than the phone and dock actually doing what they're supposed to do when they get together.
WHICH leads to my fourth problem. The "deck" of this dock, in which the phone sits horizontally, is SO CUMBERSOME. It's huge. I have trouble accurately touching anything on the lower edge of the phone (including the back button) because of it, plus it's just aesthetically ridiculous looking. About which I wouldn't care, if it didn't make using the phone while docked such a pain. But it does.
I knew pretty much the moment I installed it that I hated it and would not use it, but I've been using it for the last few days (until the much better, if considerably more expensive, custom dock from ProClip arrives). These are not simple annoyances, they are items that make this dock significantly lesser in quality and usability than it could be. Docking should be a one-handed operation, the dock should talk to your phone correctly, it should be secure and not look ridiculous, and should allow you to use your phone freely and safely. This dock doesn't adhere to ANY of those items. All it does is hold your phone. Which, if that's all you want this thing for, then this is perfectly lovely. I expect more.
*Edited to add: This dock blocks access to the power button, as the right edge of the phone sits in the dock. Not necessarily the worst thing ever, but pretty silly, and worthy information for a potential buyer to know.
on January 11, 2013
UPDATE 02/06/2013: After a few more weeks of owning this item it stopped working through my car stereo system. It's functionality was sketchy at best, but now it is only useful as a dash-mounted car charger. This item dropped from 3 stars to 1 start. I can't recommend purchasing it.
If all you want to do is listen to Pandora through your stereo system from your dash mounted Galaxy S III, this is fine. It holds the Galaxy securely and connects to your power and car speakers via USB. Given the size of the S III, this is a pretty sleek, low profile, and nice looking car mount. Beyond that, however, it's tough to recommend this phone holder.
If you have a smart phone, and you drive, a car mount seems like a no-brainer. I use my phone as a 4G radio, hands-free speaker phone, and a GPS while I'm driving. I was spoiled by the Motorola dash mount for my Droid 2. I could secure the phone in the mount with one hand, listen to the car radio while using turn-by-turn driving directions, and take calls effortlessly while driving. The same experience with the Galaxy should have been better, but it's much, much worse. I don't know if it's the car dock, the Galaxy, or a combination of both, but I definately expected better than I got.
First, it's impossible to lock the phone into the dock with one hand. In fact, it's difficult to do with two and I almost invariably end up hitting some button or icon on the phone, and inadvertantly launching an app that I then have to back out of. I learned quickly to use the rubber pad stickers that come with the dock to keep the phone from shutting off every time you hit a bump. Without them, the phone can completely power down on its own while driving because the power button rests against the lower arm of the mounting system. So, while the phone looks great once it's mounted, ergonomically it's a disaster. Don't even try to mount the phone while driving unless you're looking for an impromptu introduction to the driver the next lane over.
Second, the driving directions voice runs through the car speakers, which means you have to have your car stereo set to Aux in order to hear it. That's fine if you're listening to Pandora or the music on your phone, but not if you want to listen to a local radio station on your car stereo. The workaround is iHeartRadio or other free radio app, so this is not really a show stopper. It's just a bit annoying given that the Motorola mount I had with my Droid 2 was smart enough not to try and direct sound to my stereo when the stereo was not set to Aux. This meant that when listening to the radio the navigation voice came through the phone's external speaker.
Third, while the Galaxy S III is the best speaker phone I've ever had (including the wired speaker phon in my office), it's useless when running through the car dock. There's static on incoming calls that's reminiscent of CB radio squelch and people on the other end of the line can barely hear you at all. The solution to this problem is to unplug the USB cable from the phone when you take a call and just use the dock as a holder. It's not the best, but at least you can take a call.
I'd probably give this 2 stars if there weren't viable workaround for the problems and maybe even 4 stars if I'd never had the Motorola car dock, so this thing sits squarely in the 3 star range. I'm not thrilled with it but I'm not unhappy enough to return it ti iBOLT. If somebody knows of a better option, however, I'd love to hear about it.