Review: Just Mobile Xtand Go for iPhone 3G/3GS
Though we're especially fond of the company's battery packs for iPods and iPhones, Just Mobile is better known for a series of device stands that are inspired by Apple's designs, and sometimes nearly as impressive as the products they accessorize. Last month, the developer debuted two new iPhone-holding products, Xtand Go ($40) and Lounge ($50), which while similar in concept are entirely different in execution. They're both capable of serving as car or desk mounts for the iPhone 3G or 3GS, and this combined review looks at both designs.
Of the two products, Xtand Go is the one that’s technically designed to be used as an in-car windshield or window mount, but could be used as a desk or dashboard mount if desired. As an evolution of the company’s earlier aluminum Xtand, which coupled an X-shaped iPhone-holding frame with a one-legged stand design that was clearly inspired by Apple’s iMacs and Cinema Displays, Xtand Go is made entirely from matte black plastic, and drops the metal stand component in favor of a screw-based suction cup mount. Just Mobile has kept the X-frame almost entirely intact from the prior Xtand, but the shift to plastic has removed the need for device-protecting rubber edging, while enabling the frame to just clip onto an unencased iPhone 3G or 3GS with all the requisite firmness required for safe mounting in a moving car.
The big difference between Xtand Go and its predecessor is what goes behind the X-Frame. This time, there’s a unique rotating and pivoting joint that connects the cradle and screw-on suction cup, enabling the iPhone to be mounted on your choice of angles—with Xtand, there was no such joint, and apart from rotation, the position of the iPhone was substantially limited. Just Mobile’s new joint extends the iPhone 1.5” to 2.5” from the suction cup, enables it to turn a full 360 degrees, and tilts on nearly any angle you might prefer—a great design that’s stable in any position you choose. You attach the X-shaped cradle to the joint, and the joint to the suction cup, place the suction cup in your chosen location on glass, then turn the oversized screw to easily pressurize the mount. Once this is done, Xtand Go stays firmly in place on your windshield or window.
Just in case you want to attach the joint to another flat surface on either side—say, any iPhone case, and/or any non-glass flat surface that the adhesive can bond with—Just Mobile includes three case- or flat-surface-friendly attachments for this purpose. You can even use an encased iPod such as the iPod touch with Xtand Go if you’re willing to use the adhesive on its case; the attachments are low profile enough not to dramatically reduce a case’s pocketability.
By contrast, Just Mobile’s Lounge stand does the same general thing—it holds an iPhone 3G or 3GS, or an encased iPod touch—but every part of its design is different. The box describes it as an “iPhone Dashboard & Desktop Stand,” and notes that it was designed by an outside firm called Tools. Like the classic Xtand, it’s almost entirely made from aluminum, but it drops the X frame and makes other changes, as well. Most notable is its 4.3” circular base, which initially looks like it’s suited solely to desktop use, but actually hides a coin-like adhesive mount underneath. You can attach this piece to a dashboard or other flat surface for stability, then lock it into a matching groove on the bottom of the rubber-padded base. Though it’s going to be either too big or awkward for some vehicles, it will work in others, and surely fits most easily into the role of a low-profile desk stand.
Yet its appeal for this purpose is somewhat of a question mark. On the plus side, Lounge replaces Xtand’s prior X frame with an aluminum and padded foam iPhone 3G/3GS holder that is capable of accommodating some cases, plus encased iPod touches, a nice alternative to the entirely case-unfriendly and device-specific original Xtand. But the viewing angle it provides for the iPhone’s or iPod touch’s screen isn’t exactly ideal. A pin in its rear arm ratchets into locked 90-degree positions for stability, and holds devices either in horizontal or vertical orientations, but the viewing angle feels like it was developed to work well on a dashboard, without as much regard for desktop use. Unlike the Xtand and Xtand Go, which permitted some upright adjustment of the iPhone frame relative to the base, Lounge’s arm is fixed at a single angle, and can’t be changed. It’s a little steep for watching a video on a tabletop unless you’re a few feet back; using a flexible arm joint like Xtand Go’s would have been a better idea.
Overall, though neither of these products is perfect, Xtand Go is easier to recommend than Lounge: if you’re looking for a relatively short windshield or window mount, Xtand Go is as versatile of an option as we’ve yet seen, though obviously the 2.5” reach will work better for some applications than others—speakerphone users may well find the mounted iPhone 3G or 3GS to be too far away on a windshield, less so on a window, a dashboard or table. The more expensive Lounge stand looks a little bit nicer, but between its oversized base and inflexible rear arm, strikes us as a less practical alternative for in-car or tabletop use. A stand needs to be pretty impressive for a $50 asking price, and Lounge falls short of what we’d expect for that much cash; that said, if you have a dashboard surface with room for the big base, you may well like it. Our hope is that Just Mobile will tweak both designs in the year to come to increase their universal appeal.