Smartphones and car accessories for navigation

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A well-planned drive is a safe drive and with various smartphone navigation features, this is made easy. We look at the best smartphones for navigation and the accessories that will help your drive be as smooth as possible.

Smartphones with a larger screen size will allow you to view directions on the map easily, helping to minimise distraction while driving.

New state and territory legislation for roads in Australia limit the use of phones in a vehicle because of the risk of having an accidenti. Knowing the limits on phone usage in the car and using permitted accessories that do not cause excessive distraction can improve your safety as a driver. There are a variety of features and adaptable accessories, such as navigation systems, display screen sizes and car mounts that you can look out for when choosing a smartphone. These will enhance your driving experience while promoting in-car safety.

Screen size

Screen size should be a factor when choosing a smartphone, especially when it will be used regularly for navigation on the road. A larger screen size will allow you to view directions on the map easily and will allow you to remain focused on the road. The table below lists some popular smartphones in descending order of screen size.

Samsung Note 3 5.7ii
Samsung Galaxy S4 5iii
Sony Xperia Z 5iv
Nokia Lumia 625 4.7v
HTC One 4.7vi
Google Nexus 4 4.7
Blackberry Z10 4.2vii
Apple iPhone 5c 4viii
Apple iPhone 5s 4ix

In-built navigation systems

While there are many smartphone navigation apps available for download, there are also smartphones that come with in-built navigation systems.

Navigon presents maps in 2D and 3D, including drive and walk options and up to three possible routes to your destination.

The Samsung GALAXY S4 comes with a free navigation app called Navigon. It uses voice guidancex and preloaded maps that can update every three months over the Internetxi. Navigon presents maps in 2D and 3D, including drive and walk options and up to three possible routes to your destination. On top of this, it shows where the nearest petrol stations and parking zones are.

Maps by Apple is another navigation system that appears on Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPadxii. Maps features directions that are spoken as the driver approaches a turn to maximise focus on the road. If you miss a turn, Maps recalculates your route and estimated time of arrival. With both interactive 2D and 3D map views, Maps also comes with a light sensor which automatically adjusts the screen-light so that the map is easier to see in low light conditions.


Since it's illegal in Australia for a driver to hold a phone while the vehicle is moving or stationary (excluding parked), smartphone mounts are an important accessoryi. By law, a phone must be secured in a mount and the driver mustn't touch or manipulate the phone while drivingi. This allows the driver to focus on the road and their driving, and not be distractedxiii.

Studio Proper offers the Wallee M Car Mount, a magnetised case and cradle connected by their signature cross magnetxiv. The mount can be used not just in the car for navigation purposes but on any surface at home and work. Using a strong magnet and a heavy duty suction cupxv, this car mount is compact and uncomplicated. It's currently limited to five smartphones: the iPhone 4, 4s, 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Nexusxiv.

Kenu Airframe Portable Car Mountxvi has a spring-loaded expandable jaw that secures most smartphones to the air vents on a vehicle's dashboard. Its design makes it compatible with any horizontal, vertical or angled vent. The Kenu Airframe is for smartphones with a screen size of up to 4.8", which includes most iPhones, Samsung Galaxy and Windows phones.

The Steelie Car Mount Kit is a phone holder for the dashboard (and any other surface). It is comprised of two parts - the Steelie Magnetic Phone Socket and the Steelie Ball Mount – which connect magneticallyxvii. The socket is made of silicon, aluminium, and a strong magnet that attracts the ball mount. It's a small, but strong accessory that can be placed on the dashboard to securely hold your phone. The best part of the Steelie Car Mount Kit is that when you detach the Magnetic Phone Socket from the Ball Mount, the socket will still attach to any metal surface. This includes fridges, filing cabinets and shopping trolley handles so you can place it anywhere that you need to see it!

While you're using your car mount, don't forget to bring your car charger so that you can charge your smartphone while it's in use.

i Kidman, A 2012, 'Australian Laws For Using Your Mobile Phone While Driving', Life Hacker, 1 November, viewed 16 October 2013,

ii Samsung, 24 September 2013, Samsung Introduces the GALAXY Note 3 to Australia,

iii Gizmag, Smartphone Comparison Guide 2013, viewed 4 November 2013,

iv Sony Australia, Xperia Z, viewed 4 November 2013,

v Nokia, Nokia Lumia 625, viewed 4 November 2013,

vi HTC, HTC One Specs, viewed 4 November 2013,

vii Blackberry, The New Blackberry Z10, viewed 4 November 2013,

viii Apple, iPhone 5c Tech Specs, viewed 4 November 2013,

ix Apple, iPhone 5s Tech Specs, viewed 4 November 2013,

x Samsung, Free voice-guided navigation by Navigon, viewed 4 November 2013,

xi Samsung, Samsung Galaxy S 4, viewed 4 November 2013,

xii Apple, Maps, viewed 4 November 2013,

xiii Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) 2012, State of the Road, viewed 4 November 2013,

xiv Catanzariti, R 2013, 'Wallee M car mount a good looking solution to NSW road rules', Good Gear Guide, 8 February, viewed 4 November 2013,

xv Studio Proper, Car Mount, viewed 4 November 2013,

xvi Kenu, Airframe, viewed 4 November 2013,

xvii Nite Ize, Steelie Car Mount Kit, viewed 4 November 2013,