A while back I reviewed the only two tripod mounts I could find to fit my iPhone 4 and to this date its one of the most searched for articles on this blog. So its only fitting that I would also review the glif as soon as it became available. The two previous contenders for the crown of iPhone 4 Tripod Mounts were the Mosy Mount and the U+G4 Holder. There I preferred the latter because of how snug the holder fit my iPhone4 and because of the engineering effort that went into it.
You might remember reading how the two inventors of the GLIF wrote their own success story on Kickstarter. Originally they where shooting for $15,000 but with the help of some friendly linking they soon went past the $100,000 mark. When backing the project you had several options. One of the regular options would get you one glif as soon as mass production would start. I opted for the $50 variant where I would also receive a pre-release glif so that I could review it before everyone else. For a while I was tempted to go for the VIP option which would have gotten me a dinner with the guys, but being in Europe made this impossible.
When you first see the Glif you might think that “there’s something missing”, it is that simple. Holders before it would encompass or grab the iPhone 4 in some way to prevent it from obeying gravity. Here is the first major difference. The glif only gribs as much of the iPhone 4 as is absolutely necessary. The material has a somewhat intentional roughness without which the iPhone would simply slide out. But because of the friction and precision molding that much material is all it takes to firmly secure the iPhone in place. Theoretically even upside down, but I would not dare doing that without some extra tape. The first few times it would hold upside-down, but I suspect that insertion of the iPhone flattens the structure of the material slightly over time which would reduce the friction to a point where the iPhone 4 would fall out. Now the material of the final production Glifs might be somewhat different, but generally it would not be wise to risk you iPhone just to boast to your friends: “weeee! upside down!”
Tripod Holders have one basic function: to fix a standard camera mounting screw onto an iPhone. And this one the glif does very well. Engineers and laymen alike can only marvel at the ingenuity. You can screw the mounting plat of your tripod into the brass screw hole at the bottom without fearing to pull it out of the plastic. And contrasting to other holders this has the screw where a photographer expects it: on the bottom.
You have to remove your bumper or other case. This is generally necessary for all reviewed mounts. Then you stick the iPhone 4 into where it fits into the glif and you’re set. The biggest advantage of the glif over the other candidate holders is that you don’t have to use a 3-way tripod and also don’t have to contort the tripod head to strange angles for using it. Also you can use a 2-way tripod head as the mounting screw is positioned at the bottom. It’s simple and logical.
The glif has another bonus feature. You can also use it as an iPhone stand, for example to watch video on a plane/train. To make use of this you put the small part on top of your iPhone. You probably would want to adjust its location such that it is outside of the visible area of your movie because it otherwise would reach into the picture. Because of its small form factor I can imagine you’d throw the glif into your backpack when traveling. Since there is no U shape as in the U+G4 holder you don’t have to fear about breaking it under rough conditions of by accidentally sitting on it.
So in conclusion – after having played with all three holders – my verdict is that the glif is optimal for 95% of all situations you might find yourself filming or photographing. The glif has some slight advantage over the U+G4 because of its size and robustness. I would generally prefer the glif unless I have a shoot requiring upside down or sideways mounting because there is no place to put a tripod. These are the 5% of situations that most of us probably never face anyway.
If you already got a U+G4 you don’t have to run out and buy a glif as the range of functionality is almost identical. This means that you also already have a tripod with 3-way head because the U+G4 positions the mounting screw at the side because there is not enough material on the U elsewhere. Since the Mosy Mount fell behind the U+G4 even in my first review I don’t have to compare much more. It’s the same price as the glif and thus no longer competitive.
Now if you don’t have a tripod yet and are still in the market for an iPhone 4 holder then I can wholeheartedly recommend the glif as it also allows using cheaper less-than-3-way head tripods. The glif costs twice as much ($20 instead of $10) as the U+G4 but it is surely worth it.
Pro: Stylish, small, sturdy, well designed, useful as stand
Con: not made for very odd angles or upside down without extra fastening
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
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