Peak Design Mobile phone case and mounts: A viable competitor to Quad Lock

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Best known for its high-end and innovative camera accessories, Peak Design is now expanding into a new market with an ecosystem of mobile phone mounting accessories. It’s a market that already has some strong competition from the likes of Quad Lock, but Peak Design is entering with an innovative approach that answers a few complaints with existing options. And based on early impressions, it’s going to sell very well indeed.

The company is a Kickstarter veteran and has used the crowdfunding community to help launch its previous nine products. Its last product, the Travel Tripod, netted over US$12 million in Kickstarter funding from some 27,000 backers, and the company isn’t shy in saying that it expects this launch to be even bigger. They’re hoping it’ll let them overtake Pebble as the most successful company in Kickstarter history.

What it is

Much like Quad Lock (which we reviewed last week), Peak Design’s Mobile is designed around an everyday-use phone case that lets you attach your phone to a multitude of mounts. There’s an out-front bicycle mount, a tripod adapter, a car adapter, a desk stand — the list goes on. And while some pieces are more expensive than Quad Lock’s, Peak Design has seemingly narrowed in on the weaknesses of the market leader, making the case slimmer, lighter and grippier, all while making the mounts more intuitive and faster to use, too.

The supplied sample case is for an iPhone 11 and adds just 2.4 mm thickness to a bare phone. The case is light (33 g), offers a good feel in the hand and a subtle denim-like style.

The defining feature of the case is the centrally placed square hole, the receiver for the locking mechanism. What’s not visible are the series of thin magnets bonded around the edges of a machined Zirconia ceramic square plate. Those magnets then interface with the magnets in each mount.

The square receiver adds almost no bulk to the case.

There are two distinct types of mounts, the “Soft Lock” relies solely on the holding power of the magnets, while the “Hard Lock” adds in two sprung latches for a worry-free level of phone-holding security. With all mounts, the magnets act to self-guide the phone into either a landscape or portrait position.

As used on the bicycle and motorbike mounts, the “Hard Lock” locking mechanism is insanely intuitive. Let me explain. My partner is fairly technically challenged. The type that can’t assemble an Ikea lamp. And so she’s a perfect person for testing intuitive design. After having carefully displayed how the Quad Lock Out in Front mount works, she tried — 25 seconds passed and the phone still wasn’t locked in. I then handed the Peak Design over. It was the first she’d seen it. I said nothing. The phone was locked in place within the blink of an eye. That’s intuitive design.

Push either button and the tabs of the locking mechanism retract.

Removing the phone from its locked-in state is just as easy. Push either of the two side buttons on the mount and the phone releases. It’s awesomely simple.

A few tech details

For launch, Peak Design will only offer cases (US$40) to suit the Phone 11, iPhone 12 and Samsung S20. Other popular phone models will being catered for in the near future. These cases offer a dark denim-like aesthetic that’s Bluesign certified – effectively proving the material used is produced in a quality-controlled and sustainable manner.

Personally, I use an iPhone Xr and so made use of the Universal Mount. This attaches to the back of any phone or smooth case via a strong 3M VHB adhesive, it adds 12 grams and sticks out by 2.3 mm. By comparison Quad Lock’s adhesive universal adapter sticks out by 5 mm.

I tested the system with the Universal Mount. Peak Design even includes a paper jig to assist with central/straight placement.

Ok, so what about the mounts? Well, most applicable here is the Bike Mount Pro (US$60). It’s made of aluminium, it’s anodised, it looks classy, and it weighs 66 grams. The design offers a lower profile than Quad Lock’s Out Front Pro mount, and it can then be configured for a flush profile fit that puts your phone inline with the bars (however due to clearance issues this will only work with the phone in landscape orientation). This mount also includes a universal GoPro-style adapter that can be fitted underneath for use with a front light or camera.

In its stock setup the Bike Mount Pro offers a low profile that sees the phone hover over the stem. It can also be flipped for a lower profile.

Peak Design will also offer a “Universal Bicycle Mount” (US$50) which features a large rubber strap that’s intended to be wrapped around any stem or handlebar.

Peak Design has a huge array of other mounts at launch and more in the works. Two that stood out to me are the Mobile Tripod and Car Mount.

The Tripod (US$55) is a cute-sized folding item. You can leave it on the back of the phone or easily stash it away. There are a number of ways to set it up, including using it as a simple selfie stand or by making use of the three tripod legs. The phone can be positioned in either a landscape or portrait orientation and the ball head seems to strike a nice balance by being movable without flopping, and the tension is adjustable, too. This one isn’t just handy for taking photos or videos.

I really like the Tripod. It weighs 55 grams and folds up to be 5 mm thick.

The car mount is on the simple side, matching an adhesive mount with a ball head that allows easy positioning. Peak Design will offer charging (US$70) and non-charging (US$40) versions, and have suggested that a suction cup model may come in future.

A week of use

I’ve only had my hands on some pre-production samples for a week so it’s way too early to talk durability. Early impressions suggest all pieces are built to a high standard, with careful thought to the smallest details and all with quality materials. And if my experience with previous Peak Design products is anything to go by, these things should last.

The case is slimmer, grippier and classier-looking than the Quad Lock phone case. However, I suspect this minimalist case will offer a little less protection to the back of the phone.

Compared to the Quad Lock, Peak Design’s case is slimmer and grippier in the hand. Note, the cases pictured are for different phone models.

The “Hard Lock” on the Bike Mount is super clever. You can simply drop the phone into place and ride. It’s quicker and easier to use than the Quad Lock. There is the slightest wiggle in the interface, but it’s a non-issue as my sample is free from any rattles or other annoying noise.

Click. Just drop the phone case onto the mount.

Detaching the phone is a smooth and easy process, but not all that much faster than Quad Lock’s twist-based design. However it’s a different story where mounts with the “Soft Lock” are involved. Magnets are fast!

Those magnets do introduce handy and not-so-handy elements. For example, the case’s magnets are strong enough for the phone to stay put on a steel surface, such as a fridge or a toolbox. However, those magnets also have a habit of collecting steel debris or picking up some items you don’t expect. On one occasion I had a small hex key go missing before my eyes, only to find it behind my phone.

Wireless charging will work with Peak Design’s own wireless charging products and the company claims other charging products will work too. However, I can confirm that’s not the story for the universal mount I used with my generic charging pad – it seems the thickness of the mount plus the plastic case was just too much.

An impressive entry

Just as I mentioned in my Quad Lock review, the same fundamental issues remain for those looking to use a mount like this for cycling. Modern phones are large and distracting. For many, cycling is an escape from daily life, and having your phone on your bars somewhat undermines that.

That said, if you want to use your phone as a cycling computer, put powerful mapping capabilities in front of your eyes, or use Zwift outdoors (I’m joking), then this is a seriously impressive new option. Peak Design has clearly done its research and has released a product that without a doubt will provide real competition to Quad Lock, even if it’s a little more expensive.

The Peak Design Mobile is now live on Kickstarter.

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