Smartphones have become a ubiquitous part of our lives and there’s barely any place where we don’t lug around these mobile computers. Just as true this is, I’ve got to accept that mobile phones are not necessarily suited for all the scenarios we come across on a daily basis. Be it finding a place on a washbasin while brushing your teeth or using the phone to capture the night sky without having to prop it with a make-do mount, there is scope to improve the smartphone-usage experience.
Peak Design, the maker of some of the finest camera accessories out there, realised just this and has announced an ecosystem of mounts, accessories, and even chargers that try to address just this – making it easier than ever to use your smartphone in varying scenarios
All these new mounts and accessories revolve around a protective phone case, called the Everyday Case, which has an in-built ‘SlimLink” connection system. Unfortunately, Peak Design will only offer cases for the iPhone 11/12 series and the Samsung Galaxy S20 series.
While that’s a bit of a bummer, they also offer a universal adapter that will make the ecosystem compatible with any phone out there. In fact, that’s exactly what I used to make my phone compatible with all the accessories.
Before I tell you about my experience with the few accessories and mounts that Peak Design sent my way, let’s talk a little bit about the SlimLink mounting system, which is uncannily similar to Apple’s new MagSafe technology. In Peak Design’s defense, SlimLink was designed much earlier than the iPhone 12 series launched (4 years in the making apparently) and it’s definitely more robust than the dainty magnetic MagSafe connection.
But if you’re an iPhone 12 user you should know that PD is working on making all accessories (ones using the soft-lock mechanism) compatible with Apple’s MagSafe. This means you won’t need to buy a case or an adapter to make use of the various accessories and mounts in the Mobile range.
The SlimLink mounting system makes use of a dual-locking mechanism. It uses magnets embedded in the case and the mounts for a secure fit. But, for even more demanding applications, it also has a hard lock mechanism that involves mechanical claws for a sturdier mount.
Now that we have SlimLink out of the way, let’s talk about my experience with Peak Design Mobile ecosystem. I was sent the universal adapter, the Bike Mount Pro, the Car Mount, the Mobile Tripod, and the Wall Mount. While these were all pre-production units, I have to admit that the attention to detail and the build quality is delightful. In fact, Peak Design even offers a “lifetime guarantee” for all its products. You’ll be surprised to know that each product is individually serialized to make it easier to track issues and provide support when needed.
I initially applied the universal adapter on the glass back of my phone. Unfortunately, doing this wasn’t a great idea as my phone popped off the cycle mount during one of my cycling sessions around the city – battle scars visible in the image below . A PD spokesperson then suggested me to install the adapter on a hard polycarbonate case and my experience since then has been pretty good. So, a word of caution – it’s best to install the adapter on a hard polycarbonate case even if you have a phone with a polycarbonate back. This way you’ll be able to snap the adapter off when not needed and the case will also provide additional protection in the rare case that your phone may drop while mounting.
Tip: After installing any mount that makes use of a 3M VHB adhesive, give it 24 hours to properly attach itself to the surface.
First up, let me talk about the Mobile Tripod. The super-compact Mobile Tripod comes with its own small pouch and is perfect for times when you don’t want to lug around a big tripod for your phone. It’s made of anodized aluminium and features a full articulating ball head which lets you prop the phone at any angle you wish.
What’s really convenient is the integrated tuning key that will help you lock the stand at an angle. The phone can be mounted either horizontally or vertically and the tripod can also act as a kickstand if needed.
Next up are Wall Mounts that can be attached to a magnetic surface as is or to a regular surface with the 3M VHB adhesive. The wall mounts are perfect for scenarios where you normally wouldn’t have a reliable place to prop your phone.
As for me, I installed one right next to my gas stove and a second one above the washbasin and I no longer have to risk spoiling my phone with either water or accidental food drops. The wall mounts do a solid job of holding the phone and I can slap the phone both vertically and horizontally. One thing you do need to take note of is that the magnets in these walls do attract dust as well but a simple swipe with a cloth should help keep things tidy.
The Bike Mount Pro is a great way to hook up your phone to your bicycle and make it easy to track your maps or even record your bike rides with your smartphone. The weatherproof anodized aluminium of the mount ensures it doesn’t bend in front of rust.
The mount, unlike the above two accessories, makes use of a hard-lock mechanism that provides for a rigid installation that’s really required for bike rides. While the phone magnetically snaps to the mount, you’ll need to press a button on the underside of the mount to disengage it.
After riding my bike in Mumbai, a city that is known for its rough roads, I am quite surprised by how well the mount has held my phone. But since safety is the best precaution, I’d still recommend you install the universal adapter on a rigid polycarbonate case to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Peak Design Mobile accessories and mounts really is a better way to mount your phone.
Peak Design also provides a GoPro mount with the Bike Mount Pro if you ever want to prop your action camera to the stand instead of the phone. One thing I wish the Bike Mount Pro had was an easier way to adjust the angle. For now, you’ll have to make use of a screwdriver every time you want to change the angle of the stand.
I was also sent the Car Mount to check out but I wasn’t able to prop the car mount on the dashboard of my car. I believe this was because of the textured surface of my car. Although if you have a clean surface, the Car Mount with its 3M VHB adhesive should hold up well.
This isn’t even the entire range of accessories offered by Peak Design Mobile. There’s a cool kickstand wallet, which – as the name suggests – acts both as a wallet and a kickstand that can make the phone stand.
Another interesting accessory is the wireless charging stand that does exactly what Apple intends to do with its MagSafe charger – make wireless charging hassle-free. PD’s soft-lock magnet mechanism will make it easier than ever to charge your phone wirelessly. The best part about the charger is that not only supports fast charging for Apple, Samsung & Google smartphones but it’s viewing angle can also be adjusted.
There are a few more accessories that Peak Design offers and you can get to know more about these accessories on their Kickstarter page. What you should know is that PD intends to keep all these accessories compatible even with future phones which means these accessories won’t be futile if you ever decide to get a new phone. Simply buy the compatible case or a universal adapter and keep using the accessories and mounts.
All in all, Peak Design Mobile is outright impressive and it definitely goes a long way in making your phone more usable in different scenarios – some of which I mentioned above. Further invoking confidence in the product is the excellent build quality and the company’s long-term vision of not just maintaining the ecosystem but also developing it further. I’m interested to see where this goes and what else PD introduces in the future.
Having said that, you should know that there are risks associated with a Kickstarter campaign. Backing a crowdfunding campaign isn’t the same as buying a final product from an offline or an online retailer. The final products may change a bit when they actually ship and there may be unexpected delays too. The reward of taking the risk is getting a discount of getting up to 30% off on the entire line-up.
The case costs $32 whereas the universal adapter costs $16. You can then choose whichever accessories you want from an a la carte menu. If you’re interested in getting most of the accessories, you’ll have to shell out $332 for the Mobile lineup.