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iPhone 4 Tripod Mount Shootout

UPDATE: I also reviewed the glif and compared it with these mounts.

If you’re like me then you justified getting an iPhone 4 (on top of the original 2G, 3G and 3GS) by telling your wife “honey, this has an HD camcorder BUILT IN. By getting this we actually SAVE the money for an extra device.” And then on the second or third video you’re shooting you’ll find that you have the hands of a programmer and not of a surgeon. Meaning that it is next to impossible holding the iPhone perfectly steady.

Yet once more we see that technology has advanced to a level where it is no longer the limiting factor, but instead the human body is. For all intents and purposes of my iPhone business I deem the quality of the iPhone 4 video recorder more than sufficient. If only there was something that would help me steady my aim and frame. Well, there is, because this problem is one that photographers and videographers have been having for a long time. And most of the solutions revolve around contraptions that allow you to levitate your lens in a fixed distance from the floor.

I am of course talking about the tripod. You might remember from geometry that any surface can be described by 3 points. Tripods define a point by three feet. The point where you can mount a camera usually has two or three degrees of freedom which you an restrict by tightening screws. One or two of these screws might be attached to a handle that would allow you to move the tripod head around and adjust the tightness of one scree by turning your wrist.

I shopped around for a 3-way tripod to mount my iPhone 4 on and ended picking the Cullmann Nanomax 250 which is a sturdy but extremely lightweight tripod that almost fits into my backback. Because it is made out of aluminum it weighs only 2.3 lbs (1 kg). So it’s ideally light and compact to work for a blogging developer like myself. Cullmann in Germany grants you 10 year warranty on the tripod if you register on their website.

But this article is not about my choice of tripod. Once you got one you are presented with the challenge to somehow mount your pretty iPhone on it. That’s where special cam mounts are necessary. I asked around on Twitter and two options were recommended to me. I purchased both and now I’m going to compare them so that you don’t have to.

Mosy Mount

When I received the Mosy Mount package they made it as much an Apple experience as possible. You receive a metal box with a clear window at the top that presents the mount. Or rather, A mount, because inside the box you find another one to make TWO mounts for the price of one. One is already attached to a clear case that fits the iPhone 4’s rectangular frame. The other is affixed to a temporary piece of cardboard with instructions on how to mount this on your own case. Disclaimer: nothing sticks to silicone. You also get a foldable mini-tripod for use on tables.

You have a choice of three motives that all are basically a rectangular foamy plastic piece with an embedded 1/4″ screw. Once the iPhone is in the case there is no chance in hell that it can fall out, removing the case takes a bit of fiddling which is a good thing if you worry about that. A bad thing if you are impatient and are not planning to use it on rough rides. Through the Mosy Mount the mounting screw is placed near the center of gravity on the back of the iPhone. This is the reason why out of the box you require a 3-way head on your tripod. With 2-ways all you can hope to film is the heavens.

With the 3-way head of my tripod I can have the camera point at a target with the handling sicking out to the right side. That’s fine for shots that don’t require an up and down movement. Horizontal panning and steady shots work perfectly if that’s all you require. When I ranted on Twitter about this the maker of Mosy Mount contacted me and sent me a list of materials plus plan on how to to convert the Mosy Mount with an right angle bracket. He’s a very friendly guy, an incredibly personal level of support. He warned me not to tighten the mount screw too much or else I would pull out the metal piece of the mold.

The clear case tightly grips the sharp edge of your iPhone 4. The 3D mold is a piece of art but it has a bit of a drawback. The surface is not flat and thus you don’t quite feel how much you can tighten the screw. Also it does not feel like there is a good contact which still permits a bit of rotation around the screen. That’s another con. You might feel that your iPhone is safe in the case when mounting it onto a moving vehicle, but you should take extra precautions because of this weak spot.

U+G4 Holder

I found the website for the U+G4 holder even before Mosy Mount because they are more SEO-savvy: www.iphone-tripodholder.com. My first impression was to think that the screw is on the wrong place, namely on the small side. Wouldn’t that mean I can only shoot portrait video?

I received the holder without any trimmings in a padded envelope. But what the packaging understates the holder itself talks all the more loudly. You find the holder to be made out of strong plastic with a professional screw embedded in the smaller side and 2 small 3M Bumpon pads to keep the iPhone from sliding out once you moved it into place. You can slide the iPhone in both ways due to a small window in the mount, a sort of rail fits the device perfectly.

The bottom of the mount is flat to allow for good fastening of the mounting plate which is standard with all modern tripods. It’s a plastic rectangle that you screw onto the 1/4″ thingy which itself can be fastened to the tripod by a simple lever. You feel that some thought went into this method, enough to be pending a patent.

Having the mounting screw at the side allows for the tripod handle to be where it should be: in the opposite direction of the lens. Mounted like this you can pan vertical and sideways with ease. In this case tightening the handle will restrict the up/down motion. It’s logical and intuitive this way which makes this mount my favorite for any kind of moving targets.

What remains to be seen is how the life of the pads will go. That’s only something that repeated use of a longer time span can show us. If you’re planning to use the U+G4 on a moving vehicle you might want to add an additional rubber band to secure your phone into the mount. While it stays inside against gravity a short jerky movement can move it out of its secure position inch by inch.

Conclusion

For both cases you will need to remove any Bumper or other case you might have to fit. The Mosy Mount itself is a case that will protect your phone a bit, at least from scratching and it comes with the benefit of letting you transform a protective case of your choice into a mount (as long it’s not silicone). The U+4G is way less artsy, straight to the point and gives me more confidence in the screwing. Also it costs half as much as the competitor.

After having evaluated both mounts for some time in direct comparison I formed my opinion. Personally I prefer the U+4G over the Mosy Mount because of the more logical way of “steering” via the handle and because of the tighter fit with my tripod mounting plate. You might have noticed that I have a red sticker around the edges of my iPhone (by :blueMac) to protect it until I get my official bumper. The Mosy case threatens the life of this sticker because of how tightly it hugs the device.

My summary of the pros and cons of both mounts follows below.

Mosy Mount

Pro: Stylish, 3 Motives, two mounts let you convert your existing case, great personal support, foldable mini-tripod included

Con: area around screwing hole not flat, inconvenient mounting position for moving targets

$19.95 by Art4Media LLC

U+G4

Pro: Sturdy plastic, professional screwing hole, allows usage of “steering handle” in tripod, patent pending

Con: Open side might allow iPhone to shake out, not designed for protecting iPhone

$9.95 by G Design LLC


Categories: Tools

18 Comments »

  1. Hey there!
    Nice review of these two products. Seems like they both rely on the external dimensions on your iPhone or iPod. If you have Android phones though, there seem to be less options.

    Have you seen my product? The BuddyGripper? My SEO hasn’t started kicking in yet but it’s pretty simple and can be used in the same ways and more. In fact, without a tripod, it is also a kickstand of sorts so you can watch movies and stuff hands free while you take airplane flights and stuff.

    Check it out, let me know what you think!! I’m in Germany now so I’ll post some videos soon of how we used it in our rental on the AutoBahn! Sweet!

    Take care,
    Chris

  2. The glif is nice but does have its drawbacks. My company, PC Treasures, makes a product called the GrippIt! that I think gives the glif a run for its money. Not only does it cost ten dollars less, but, unlike the glif, it works with any phone and lets you leave your phone in its case when using it. Check it out here: http://www.digitaltreasures.com/camera_acc_details.php?recordID=07471

  3. Actually I looked at this post when I was working on this new tripod mount for the iPhone 4:

    http://snapmountforiphone.com

    I thought there had to be a more secure solution that also gave versatility! So here it is :-).

  4. Been looking for an iPhone4 tripod adapter for a while, but as always was put off by the ‘iPhone-I-must-therefore-be-able-to-charge-more’ for this cheap bit of plastic!

    This looks a bit more like it; and the postage is a very reasonable FREE. Not tried it yet, but here goes!

    No brainer ..

    http://www.r-p-r.co.uk/kestrel/tripod_clamp.htm

  5. Does it come with the tripod?

  6. Hi,
    I’m not sure about the rest of the reviewed iPhone mounts, but for a limited time, our product, a BuddyGripper (http://www.buddygripper.com) comes with a FREE tripod (see photos on our site) and a snazzy, custom made phone case (only 10x cases remaining). We have plenty of tripods left for our offer. And yesterday, I made a guitar video and if you have a Spanish guitar like I do, you can sneak the legs through the head stock and actually film down the neck of the guitar…very cool!

    Check out the site, you can see all the videos we’ve made using our tripod and iPod Touch. Our product works great with both iPhones and iPod Touch. But also works with Androids, Nokias and other phones. And if you’re not quite ready to buy, consider following us on Facebook or joining our newsletter (a sign-up link is at the bottom of the page). How were you thinking about using a gadget like this? To take photos? Videos? Or to prop up as a kickstand?

    Take care and let us know if you have any questions! Also consider entering our contest to win a BuddyGripper, an enhanced tripod, and some other cool shwag!!
    Chris

    p.s. also remember that we have a 90 day return policy, but I don’t think you’ll want to return it :)

  7. Hi Duncan,
    How did you like the above tripod mount? I’d be curious to know. Thanks

  8. The best one I’ve seen/used thus far…simple and non intrusive, and very good quality.

    http://www.kungl.com

  9. But that one is only for iPhone4 right? And what if you already have a case? And $28.99, does that include shipping or is that separate of shipping? And can you prop it up somehow to watch a video?

    Let us know! Thanks!
    Chris

  10. Hello, great reviews. Just wondering, would a cheap tripod from Best Buy work for the U+G4 Holder? (I’m on a budget).

    For example, something like this:
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Polaroid+-+57%22+Tripod/2075259.p?id=1218308261697&skuId=2075259&st=tripod&cp=3&lp=7
    … or …
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Sunpak+-+6601TM+61.4%26%2334%3B+Tri-Monopod/2535111.p?id=1218333865789&skuId=2535111&st=tripod&cp=2&lp=13

    If not, what would you recommend (that’s cheap)? Thank you very much!

  11. Hi Taylor,
    Most smartphone tripod mounts should have the standard 1/4-20 threads to SHOULD mount to ANY tripod you can find. I know the BuddyGripper does. The small mini tripods range from like $3 up to $7 and you can get as expensive as you want for larger scale, more professional tripods.

    We have a deal that if one of our customers uploads a video to YouTube.com, says it was made using our product and it gets more than 10k views on YouTube.com within the first 3 months, we give you your money back (the video has to be of appropriate content)!

    And as you likely know, our product comes with a mini tripod. But also remember, not all tripod mounts for your Smartphone give you the “kickstand” option to view media like the BuddyGripper.

    Lastly, our product is competitively priced because we manufacture locally to customer demand as an effort to maintain middle-class manufacturing jobs. For example, if you order a BuddyGripper from the U.S., it’s made in the U.S. If you order from Spain, it’s made in Spain. A “cheap” product may be of low price, but be warned, may also be of low quality, low customer support, low value.

    To continue about manufacturing, it’s scary how low-cost Chinese manufacturing can produce such inexpensive or “cheap” products. But we have to ask, at what expense? The U.S. habit of outsourcing manufacturing has completely hollowed out middle-class America and our capacity to innovate is on the decline. Additionally, we’re often unaware of what conditions workers in China are exposed to and a “cheap” tripod mount may reflect low-cost child labor or damage to the environment.

    Therefore, I encourage you to consider products like ours, theglif.com or theoona.com because we all produce products in the U.S.A., supporting the American manufacturing system. For example, did you know for that for every 1 manufacturing job created, up to 15 more associated jobs are created. Manufacturing has a multiplier effect and we at BuddyGripper hope to restore the health of countries that have demand for innovative products.

    I probably didn’t help you at all with your purchase decision…sorry,
    Chris

  12. You mean “more THAN”, not “more then”!

  13. fixed it, thanks!

  14. Hello Cocoanetics,

    Its always great to see objective reviews of products. We want to introduce our product into the foray as well.

    Our product “Capta” (currently being launched on kickstarter.com http://kck.st/pgLC98) is a tripod mount, phone stand and cable management accessory that works with iphones (all generations) and any other smart phones and media devices on the market. What can it do you may ask?

    1) Tripod mount – connect to any standard tripod mount and hold your phone very securely at ANY angle for very extended period of time. Because the grip is a solid contact with your phone there is no shaking. Check out our pool shot and grip in motion test videos

    2) Phone stand – its a great stand alone stand for your different devices you can use for movies, facetime, clock and wireless keyboard typing etc etc. check out our main video for uses as a stand. Plus it also works as a viewing stand for tablets like the kingle, galaxy tab and ipad. Its small but mighty :-)

    3) Cable management – helps you manage your cables when in or not in use. Check out out cable management videos

    Currently some of our pledges include a versatile suction cup mount.

    Capta is small enough to fit in your pocket and is made with aluminum.

    We are currently launching it on kickstarter.com so come check us out. We have a few videos showing the iphone 4 in a golf swing and also being twirled around in our grip test video. Check out the videos we have and we are sure you will help us bring this to market.

    We invite you all to come take a look. Thanks again and have a great day. Cheers. The link is below..

    http://kck.st/pgLC98

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