Review: Kenu Airframe+ Portable Car Mount
Roughly six months after we covered the original Airframe car vent mount, Kenu has released Airframe+ ($30), a tweaked version capable of supporting larger devices. Now promising to fit devices with up to 6" screen sizes -- notably including both of the as-yet-unreleased iPhone Air/6 models -- Airframe + ditches the gray accents of the original model in favor of black, and offsets the car vent mounting point to be closer to the center of a larger device. Fully case-compatible and as handsome as before, it sells for a $5 premium. Because it's so similar to its predecessor, this text includes observations from our prior review.
Built with a spring-loaded, expandable arm, the small plastic and rubber mount can firmly hold any prior iPhone or iPod touch, with or without a case. It can then expand to around 3.6” wide, which should even be enough to hold the rumored 5.5”-screened, 3.2”-wide larger iPhone 6/Air, with enough extra space for a case.
Like its predecessor, Airframe+ is a minimalist accessory: it’s 2.6” wide, and a millimeter less than 1” tall, made of nicely molded materials. The jet black design enables the mount to fit in with pretty much any vehicle interior. Four rubberized rear fingers form a claw that fits onto virtually any car air vent, enabling you to use turn-by-turn GPS navigation and take phone calls while driving. Their spacing creates horizontal and vertical pairs that can rigidly grasp either thick or narrow vent grates; once you fit the claw onto your air vent, you can ratchet the frame to the rotated position of your choice, keeping your iPhone or iPod touch on a vertical, horizontal, or off-kilter orientation. Kenu also suggests that you can insert a credit card into its back to use it as a desktop stand.
Airframe+ fit well in two test vehicles, although vent placement may impact the experience from user to user. By inserting the iPhone with its left edge in first, it’s easy to expand the holster. Once again, the only real issue we had was removal, as Airframe+ tends to come off along with the handset, unless it was held in place—something that doesn’t tend to happen with air vent iPhone mounts.
While the $5 price premium puts it on the fine edge of our B+ and B ratings, Airframe+ is still a very good product, ultimately meriting our strong general recommendation. We really like the fact that the design is small and unobtrusive; the fact that it’s easy to use with virtually every one of Apple’s pocket-sized devices—including upcoming models—is also a plus. As was the case last time, the price is on the high side, and we’d prefer that it remain attached to the vent at all times. That said, it’s a really nice solution for users who prefer minimalism and are willing to pay a bit more for something that looks and feels good.
Updated October 21, 2014: We’ve been testing AirFrame+ with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and it works perfectly with both of them, regardless of whether they’re inside or outside of cases. This remains a very good solution for iPhone mounting, assuming you’re in a climate where you don’t have to worry about subjecting your iPhone to constant additional heat from air vents.