ULTIMA - The Best All Aluminum In-Car Smartphone Holder

HERE IS THE PROMO VIDEO NOW ON YOUTUBE - 'ULTIMA' World's Finest Universal In Car Holder Dock Mount - YouTube

Hey guys,

Would love to share my project that is very close to going into production, it’s called ‘Ultima’ and we believe it to be the finest example of a universal smartphone holder for your car on the market.

I began this project over a year ago because I was looking for a holder for my iPhone 3GS (phone at the time so about 2 years ago) so I actually made a holder out of stock gps holder parts and it actually worked great, the only issue was I made it fit my iPhone 3Gs with it’s specific case I had on the phone so it was useless without a case and of course any other phone.

Since getting an iPhone 4 I had the issue of the holder being useless also so was on the lookout for a holder, what I found wasn’t very good at all. I actually bought the Tom Tom holder for $160 Aus and it worked great for about a day and then the locking mech on the suction cup got very loose and wouldn’t really stick much and of course the fact you couldn’t use it with a case and most people I know use a case with their iPhone 4. I also used other very cheap holder that either had a goose neck that would wobble all over the place or simply would just stop working. So I decided to design my own the way I thought it was always meant to be.

Another large part of the driving force behind creating a very nice design was that todays smartphones have some great designs, especially the iPhone 4 in my opinion so I thought we spend so much money on these stylish phones but we hold them with cheap plastic holder that tend to wobble all over the place, fall of the windscreen or won’t work with a case so now I believe you can finally HOLD STYLE WITH STYLE


It is made mostly out of Aluminium which i’ve never personally seen before in a car holder. Done for a quality build and great look.

The locking mech for the suction cup locks in and cannot go any further so it won’t wear from locking too far or hard.

Larger suction cup to stay on your windscreen far longer and to accommodate many different weights of phones.

Can be adjusted from portrait to landscape and back again with ease.

Now the last and main function of the holder, to actually holder your phone.
The mechanism we used from my knowledge has never been used in a phone holder before, sure you may think that there are other holders that press in from the side and this is true but it’s the way Ultima does this that makes it stand out. I wanted an adjusting action that was easy to use, smooth, silent and that would of course hold your phone so it won’t’ fall out.

This is actually what we achieved. You press and hold the release button to open the holder, place your phone in on the left side and press in the sides until it clamps onto your phone. Now surprisingly you do need to press very hard at all for it to grip and the best thing about it is that is has (again from my knowledge) the most accurate adjustment so it depends on how much you press and once you press it will not move outwards until you press the release button, even if you apply force.

Again other holders I tried with a similar holding adjustment would only adjust is measured increments so was a bit hit and miss depending on the dimensions of your phone. Not to mention they were very noisy, felt cheap and eventually stopped working.

I do have a working prototype and it is by far the best holder I have ever used.

I actually launched this project on Kickstarter but due to lack of exposure I felt It wouldn’t reach it’s funding goal in time so I have just re-launched with a much lower funding goal and also pledge points so for those who are interested you can check out more info at: Ultima - Best In Car Holder Dock Mount for iPhone and more! by NKMOS — Kickstarter

You can check out further images and info at Redirecting... and LIKE the page if you’d like

Any feedback and questions are most welcome.

NKMOS Design Technology


Yes, this product is truly hideous, but it’s also $29. Made entirely of plastic, and likely leads the category in sales.


How do you expect to compete with this product making yours out of aluminum? Production costs will be double at best, putting yours in the $60 range…

You’ve put a lot of thought (or so it seems) into your product, but not much about your competition and market placement.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the reply and feedback :slight_smile:

Well it’s actually because of products like this I went as far as making a holder that yes does cost more to produce and will in fact be well above the $60 range to retail.

There are actually also $49 or cheaper mobiles phones on the market too but Apple sells it’s phone for up to $999 (Aus)

Practically most products in the world fall into the same category, you have cheap and you have more expensive, most of the time it’s for a good reason, sometimes not.

So I have actually put a great deal of thought into market placement but I do appreciate the concern though :slight_smile:

Any other questions are most welcome

The iPhone also does much more than just make calls. All your cell phone holder does is hold the phone… Why is it I will want to pay $60, $80, $100 for this? If it’s just because I’m willing to spend $200 on an iPhone, I think you’re missing the mark.

You may also find that those people who want to have a cell phone holder in their car, don’t mind the shoddy quality of plastic made crap. Which is why that’s the market for window/dash mounted phone holders.

Hi Chris,

Thanks again for the feedback.

So can I ask, do you actually use a holder for your car or have you ever used one?

I’d also like to add that I just don’t think people have been given the option of a higher quality and thus more expensive holder to really be able to compare to, I know the tom tom holder was the best seller on the apple store at one stay and that was actually a very expensive holder and I do understand that it has electronics and other functions but again it was limited to the phone without a case.

From my experience it hasn’t been a good experience at all, especially when a holder stops to function making it useless so I would love to hear other peoples experiences, have you had the same issues as I have, are you only willing to spend $30 - $50 on a holder regardless of looks and quality? or have you been looking for a quality option that you would pay up to $99 if it actually worked the way you’d like it to.

Again any feedback would be much appreciated :slight_smile:

While I think higher quality materials are good in most cases, you need to look at the use case. If this thing creeps up into the hundred dollar price range you’ve carved yourself a very small niche.

If you look on Amazon the typical suction cup + gooseneck holders range anywhere from $5-30. Which means if you jump up by a 200%+ margin you will really need to consider your addressable market.

Kickstarter is a great way to gauge interest in this and determine if we’re all totally wrong, but without knowing your history keep in mind the production costs for metal parts are very high, especially if you can not guarantee large quantities. (This is why Apple can pull off CNC housings and almost no one else in the industry can, for low-mid run production metal gets very pricy).

Disclaimer: I don’t use a cell phone holder - I think they’re all ugly, and while your design is nice I still wouldn’t see myself using it as I prefer to have my phone down low so I can change music easier without reaching.

Thanks for the great feedback Cyberdemon, much appreciated.

I do understand that there is a very very cheap market and of course i’m not looking to go anywhere near there, I think that would be pointless, i’m hoping to bring a much different experience to the market.

Would still love to hear from others who use phone holders for your car or are looking for a different alternative :slight_smile:

Remind me, how many dollars was it that a whole lot of people turned out to be willing to pay for a frigging armband for their ipod nano? Just because YOU don’t want to spend extra cash on a good looking product, doesn’t mean there aren’t enough people to make the business work.

I like the idea of a good looking quality phone holder. These days, I use my phone as a GPS, and plug into the stereo to stream spotify. My life would be easier with a holder, but I haven’t found one that isn’t a clunky POS plastic. I used to have one for the Google Nexus1 which looked great, but it was impossible to mount in my car (windshield is too far, I want it to sit closer where I can use it easily and safely).

Comments on design: why are the “jaws” so deep? Couldn’t they be half the size? It looks kinda big and clunky… And actually I’m not sure about the holding mechanism, will I be able to quickly remove the phone with one hand to take a call? That’s essential.
Can it be mounted on the dash? Suction cups work bad with curved textured plastic surfaces… I would also get rid of at least one logotype.

Right now it doesn’t look like the right holder for me, but as I said, I support the idea of a better looking quality product. If that crap cost $29, I could easily pay $60 for a better one.

Here’s the nexus one. I think it was $120, but it was more of a dock, with built in mic and speaker.

edit: CD posted regarding metal parts while I was typing. Just wanted to add that you could probably redesign the thing for extruded profiles instead of casting/milling. Your design wouldn’t be altered much, be much cheaper to produce. You could spend the extra cash on anodizing or some other finishing.

Hi Engio and thank you for your feedback :slight_smile:

Surprisingly the holes is actually really quite small, the render just make ti look big. Also when it’s not in use and the holder is closed it’s even smaller and looks great just on it’s own. It was designed in mind to compliant todays phones and also cars.

the ‘jaws’ as you say are that size due to making it as universal as possible and to also give the hold that it needs as the last thing you want is for the phone to not be held securely or to be shaking around.

The holding mechanism is actually very very easy to use and very quick to release, that is what I love about it so much. It is of course much easier to release with two hands but can be done with one hand.

It was actually a very big challenge to create a holder that is very stylish, works fantastic and is a universal as possible, that is why we believe this to be the best example out there. It was also a very big challenge fitting all the mechanisms in such a small device.

I would strongly suggest LIKEing the Facebook page to be the first notified of when the kickstarter page is up and running as it will have video of the prototype in action.

Thanks again for your feedback

Sorry I didn’t respond to some of your other questions - as is it wouldn’t work very well on the dash of a car but I will be including a plate you can attach to the dashboard if you prefer as for the the logos, they aren’t really that visible, of course as a brand I would prefer them to be there and when your phone is held, one is being covered. I am going for a point that has the brand and consumer in mind so that is why they are subtle and not overpowering.

This forum is to get feedback on projects and to show work to other designers, not to get other designers to fund or promo your kickstarter.

If you’re expecting customers to pay more you also need to offer more, just aluminium isn’t enough imo. The design needs to be more refined, this looks a bit clunky. An easy to operate (and secure) mechanism for getting you’re phone in/out of the holder would also be essential for me. I want to be able to do it with one hand, the same hand that’s holding the phone (I’ll give your design a pass here, just… but it looks kinda cumbersome), and I’d expect to be able to do it in one motion (your design requires three steps, just like the cheap options on the market).

I could be wrong about the importance of function though, some people are happy as long as it looks good and if it’s made more durable and stable, that in itself is a feature worth paying for.

I’d pay more ($50-80) for a nicer looking phone dock, even if the functions were fairly simple, and I agree there’s likely a market for a well design product in this area. This one seems better looking than most but it still might not sway me into paying that much. To me, the bent metal part connecting the suction cup to the phone clamp has a more premium look to it, but the clamp doesn’t seem quite there yet IMHO -Maybe too many details or a little clunky? . It has a bit of a sharper image look to it, but that’s a market right there. Anyway, design comments beside - it’s impressive that you stepped up to create a product that addresses a gap you saw in the market and I wish you the best with it

Just to bring it up, wouldn’t surrounding the phone with metal affect the antenna performance of the phone? You know, a la the iphone antennagate hand+phone=dropped calls saga

Thanks for the replies guys.

I guess it’s always a little difficult to really get an idea of function when you are just looking at images and trying to analyse.

All I can say and of course your taking my word for it is that is by far not clunky, especially when you compare to other holders out there.

I definitely didn’t just want to make an aluminium holder as anyone can really do that, it has to have more but also we weren’t looking to reinvent the wheel, just try and make what kind of worked at times, work to the full potential.

The clamping mechanism it the key feature of the holder, i guarantee that you would never has used this mech in a smartphone holder for your car before and possibly any smartphone holder period.

It is very smooth, quite and incredibly quite. I have actually even picked up 3.75kg in weight with it no problems.

I also haven’t found an issues regarding signal loss as the phone ends up being held by rubber, so it’s not touching any metal and the metal doesn’t seem to interfere in anyway.

If you check out the Kickstarter video, it basically explains everything. Ultima: The Best In Car Holder Dock Mount for iPhone + more by NKMOS — Kickstarter

In regards to ease of use, it is very easy to use and can be done with one hand as shown in the videos.

Any other feedback is more than welcome.

If design is supposed to be a big feature of this, to me it doesn’t cut it. Why are the clamps so deep? The phone is thin, this looks like it was made to clamp a brick. Why the placement and detailing of the buttons on the side of the clamp? Looks kinda random. Why the size/shape of the clamp? Doesn’t relate at all to the shape/size of the phone.

I don’t know bout function as I’ve never used a clamp or existing gps but this is not something I think that looks “designed” or premium or compliments the phones aesthetic. I don’t really see anything that novel in function either.


thanks for the feedback.

Well if you can’t see it then I guess you can’t see it.

I would suggest to search online for images of other holders out there for a little comparison and that may help.

This is actually a universal smartphone holder, not an iPhone specific holder, so the clamp was design in mind to cover as many different types and shapes of smartphones. Some cases do make a phone thicker and to me it’s must that the clamp must be able to hold the phone securely so the extra little depth also helps with this.

Again all I can go by is the experience I have had with many other phone holders and the experience I have had with ‘Ultima’, it definitely helps being able to experience it first hand, then you may understand but hey, some people like somethings and some people don’t.

If you like my product then great, if you don’t then great :slight_smile:

Universal works from manufacturing outward, one SKU, one set of tools, one sales pitch.

However, the user has one phone. One thickness, and wants the optimum. He or she does not care about the process. He or she wants it to fit their phone like a glove and not look awkward in the middle of the windshield.

Thanks again for the feedback.

I’m really quite sure what you mean.

But again, not everyone is the same, most people I know, have a case on their iPhone or have a different phone altogether.

Some people even have 2 or 3 different phones themselves, or they like to change cases when they feel like it.

People seem to want more variety and more options these days but hey I could be wrong.

Again I wanted to bring a particular experience to as many different people as possible, there are already holders out there that fit iPhones or other phones and only fit that phone so they may as well just go for those holders so then it wouldn’t really be worth it for myself to go through so much trouble to make a holder if it’s just the same as other or may performs the same and just potentially looks a little better.

I believe this holder actually looks amazing when not in use, so when it’s fully closed, that actually gives it it’s small form factor so I wanted it to look good on it’s own when not in use and I believe it does this amazingly well.

We have tried to get it as small as possible to give it as slime a profile as possible but it is a huge challenge when implementing the type of clamping mech we have used so I think overall the experience is a great one.

I would also like to hear some other peoples experiences with car holders but keep the feedback coming as it’s much appreciated.

So… you’re going to keep ignoring this post then?

NKMOS, maybe you should edit your original post - that one seems the most like a sales pitch.

As an aside, it would be interesting to see a concept created on Core77 forums go kickstarter. Maybe from a 1HDC or thread about a particular problem or something like that

How about a holding mechanism that doesn’t even require you to hold or even touch it? Something where the phone itself engages the holding mechanism, since you’re holding the phone already. I think of the Hercules guitar wall mount as an example because it has a mechanism that is dynamic:

I also think anything suction cupped to the windshield looks odd, if not potentially unsafe even. There’s a section in the DMV code about this but I forget the particulars. How about a holder that is mounted low on the drivers A-pillar?

Well, good luck.