With more and more medium- and long-haul low-cost routes – and even some full-fare airlines like American Airlines eliminating seat back screens – it is more important than ever to be prepared for a long flight without airline-provided entertainment.
While the first step in doing so is making sure your smartphone or tablet is loaded up with enough content to keep you busy for the duration of the flight, the other step is making sure you will be able to watch that content comfortably. And that is where device holders – such as The SkyClip – come in handy.
Continue reading to see what the best airplane phone and table holders are, as well as how to select the right one for you. Before continuing, though, below are my top picks.
TOP PICK: Flight Flap Device Holder
Simple design and flexible construction. “XL” version for larger tablets available.
Plinth Pocket Adjustable Stand
Offers multiple levels of tilt. Ideal for not only watching but also “active” working.
One of the first device holders to enter the market. Simple yet effective design.
5 Best Airplane Smartphone and Tablet Holders
Let’s start with the five products that I recommend you look at if you are thinking of getting a smartphone or tablet holder for your next trip. The one that will suit your needs the best will depend on your situation – and so the products below are in no particular order.
1. Flight Flap Phone & Tablet Holder
This tablet holder is designed specifically to fit the most devices. In other words, it’s universal. It’s made out of an aluminum core lined with soft closed-cell foam. The holder looks like a flat sheet at first, but, actually, it’s pliable and can be bent and folded to carry any smartphone or tablet.
Because of its flexible design, you can easily adjust the position at which your device is mounted to fit your preferred viewing angle. That said, the holder is strong enough to keep even heavier tablets in place.
Finally, since the whole product is lined with soft foam, you don’t have to worry about your expensive devices getting scratched. And, if your device happens to be too large for the standard one, you can get the Flight Flap XL.
- Takes up very little space
- Accommodates most phones and tablets
- Offers many viewing angles
- Doesn’t scratch your devices
- Foam might start splitting from the aluminum core after regular use
- Might not fit on smaller tray tables
2. CHARGEWORX Inflight Magnetic Phone & Tablet Mount
As its name suggests, the CHARGEWORX phone and tablet mount uses an adhesive metal plate attached to your device to mount it to the holder equipped with a magnet. The holder itself can be easily attached to an airplane’s tray table.
The mount has a ball and socket design which makes it very flexible in terms of the viewing angles you can set your device at. With this product, you can rotate your device 360-degrees along the vertical axis and pivot it up to 90 degrees.
If you are worried about the device falling off the magnet during turbulence, you don’t (for most cases) have to. The manufacturer has done turbulence-testing before releasing the product.
That said, if you don’t want to be sticking a piece of metal to your device or its case, pick from the other products on this list.
- Can be used with almost any device or case with a smooth back
- Comes with two metal plates
- Can be set to a wide variety of viewing angles
- Harder to use if you have a cover without a smooth surface
- Requires adhesive metal plates to be stuck to your device or its cover
3. Arkon Folding Tablet Stand
The Arkon folding tablet stand fits all iPad models within the 7-inch to 12-inch screen-size range. The windshield-and-dashboard mount design folds out into a tripod-like stand to support your device. When not in use, you can easily fold the stand and stow it away in your pocket or your iPad case.
This stand’s legs have notches that keep your tablet held up in place so you never have to worry about it falling off. Also, while the stand is mainly marketed for use with an iPad, it will work with other tables of similar sizes just as well.
- Compatible with all iPad models as well as other tablets
- Has notches in the legs to keep your tablet securely in place
- Head can be adjusted to provide several viewing angles
- Very compact due to its foldable design
- Construction not as sturdy as some of the other models on this list
- Cannot be mounted (fixed) to surfaces as it’s a stand
4. The SkyClip
The SkyClip is one of the first airplane tablet holders that was ever released. It’s also about as simple and straightforward to use as it gets which is the main reason it’s still very popular.
One of these mounts can securely hold a smartphone or small tablet. If you have a larger tablet, you can still use this mount – but instead of one, you will have to use two with space between them. To use this product, you simply hook its upper notch onto your tray table and fit your phone or tablet in the other notch.
I should also mention that the product comes in multiple colors – and so, you can get it in blue, grey, pink, red, and white in addition to the pictured black.
- Simple to use and minimalistic design
- Takes up very little space
- Can be used with most devices (although some might require two clips)
- Incompatible with some (although very few) tray tables
5. Plinth Pocket Adjustable Stand
The last tablet holder on this list, the Plinth Pocket Adjustable Stand, has an innovative and customizable design that lets you tilt your tablet to 5 different angles to best suit your needs.
These carefully thought out viewing angle positions are designed in a way that – according to the manufacturer – help avoid wrist, neck, and back pain. This can be especially helpful if you intend to be “actively” working on your tablet throughout your flight rather than just watching a movie.
The stand has rubber-lined panels that keep your tablet secured in place and a head that opens up with a push of a button. The head is adjustable and so it can hold tablets of a wide variety of sizes.
- Equipped with rubber feet that secure the stand in place
- Can be set to five different viewing angles
- Panels are lined with rubber and so don’t scratch your device
- Not sturdy enough for heavier tablets like the iPad Pro
Are Airplane Smartphone and Tablet Holders Worth Getting?
As with everything, the answer is “it depends.”
If you only fly in business class, for example, then chances are your seat will be equipped with in-flight entertainment screen. Also chances are that some of the products above will not work with your seat as they are mainly designed for use in economy class.
On the other hand, if you tend to fly economy class a lot and enjoy watching movies on your devices – regardless of whether or not an aircraft is equipped with its own in-flight entertainment system – then getting one of these holders is a must.
It’s also a must if you plan to fly with a low-cost airline on a long flight that does not offer any form of in-flight entertainment. Unless you plan to read a book or do something else during the flight, of course.
What to Consider When Getting an Airplane Tablet (or Smartphone) Stand
Because everyone prefers different products – and because there are many different devices out there – the airplane tablet holder that is perfect for one person might be the worst possible pick for another.
The guide below should help you with choosing the best airplane smartphone and tablet holder for your needs.
While some of the holders are marketed towards specific phone and tablet models – especially iPhones and iPads, in general they are universal. However, they can be limited in terms of the weight and size that they can accommodate.
As such, before ordering one of these holders, make sure that your device will fit in. And, make sure that the holder will be strong enough to hold it steady.
Viewing Angle Flexibility
You should also consider if you’ll need the holder to be flexible like the Plinth Pocket Adjustable Stand. In other words, you’ll need to think if you want it to offer the ability to switch between multiple viewing angles. You might find that useful if you want to, in addition to watching movies, also get some work done on your tablet.
If you only want to watch content then you might do fine with a fixed holder like The SkyClip.
Size and Weight
Finally, while the weight of these holders is minimal, they can vary in size quite a bit. Some are foldable, while others are not. Some are small, some are large. One reason to consider that is to know how much space it will take up in your luggage. More importantly, though, it will help you determine whether it will be able to fit your device or not.
If you are looking for something simple then the Flight Flap holder is worth considering. Alternatively, if you don’t mind having to stick metal plates to your smartphone, tablet, or their covers, then the CHARGEWORX phone and tablet mount is a great choice.
Regardless of which one you choose, though, you will certainly find the holder to be handy when flying on aircraft that do not offer seat back screens.