The video quality from smartphones can be greatly enhanced by using a tripod mount / stand, that allows you to put your smartphone in a holder on a tripod. Two excellent options as smartphone mounts are the Joby GripTight Micro Stand and The Glif. Here is a review of the two. Both are excellent and I recommend them.
Smartphones are excellent to make videos. They are easy to use and make very good quality videos today. In fact, the video camera quality of the smartphone was one of the main motivations why I bought my first smartphone. (It also has the added advantage of having a microphone input jack which no other small video camera has!)
But smartphones are also light and usually handheld. By using a tripod of some kind you can radically improve your smartphone videos. And, of course, if you want to do any kind of timelapse video with your smartphone it is compulsory to use a tripod.
However, smartphones do not have a tripod mount, so what can you do?
Well, there are many different options, and even do-it-yourself solution for smartphone tripods. I looked around for something good and found two solutions I liked. Both are very good but have somewhat different advantages and drawbacks.
I use both together with my Samsung S4 smartphone. All my recent videos on BKWine TV on YouTube are made with that.
Joby GripTight Micro Stand
This is a very neat little device that is a fully functional tripod in itself.
You mount the smartphone by fitting it into the fold-up “jaws” that are spring powered. The jaws keep the phone in place well. However, they will not keep it in place if you shake it violently (why would you?).
The GripTight Micro Stand comes with its own tiny fold-out tripod. When the two pieces are fitted together you have a fully-functional tripod. There is a tiny “ball head” function so that you can tilt the phone slightly up and down.
If you screw the two elements apart then you can mount the phone holder part on any standard tripod screw. If, for instance you want to mount it on your full-size tripod you can do that.
This is a very good tiny tripod, easy to use with all sorts of smartphones. (It is made by the same people who make GorillaPod.)
More information on the Joby GripTight Micro Stand.
The Glif was perhaps the first, and certainly the cleverest, smartphone stand designed specifically for the iPhone, incarnation 3 or 4. They quickly realised, I assume, that designing a smartphone tripod (holder) for a specific phone design was not a good idea. When Apple changed the dimensions of the phone the Glif became useless. If I remember right it was originally created by two guys using Kickstarter crowdfunding.
In the new design the Glif can be used with any kind of smartphone, of any dimensions. It is a very simple, neat and clever design. It is basically a plastic stick with three claws that holds your phone.
You can use it in two ways: either you mount the Glif on a tripod (it has a standard tripod screw mount), or you can use it to position your smartphone standing up on a table. (Watch the video and you will see how this works.)
Before you use it you need to adjust the Glif to the correct smartphone size. It comes with a key to do this adjustment. When you have done that you simply slide the phone into place in the Glif and it is held in place.
But this also means that if you want to use it for different phones then you need to change the size of the grip for each phone (or buy one Glif for each phone perhaps…).
It has no moving parts (except the screw that you adjust once), no springs, nothing. It is a simple, solid piece of cleverly designed plastic.
But, in contrast to the Joby GripTight Micro Stand, it is not a self-sufficient tripod. You need to use it with some kind of tripod to shoot videos. On the other hand, if you are shooting videos you are likely to use the GripTight with a “real” tripod too.
More information on The Glif tripod mount.
Both The Glif and the Joby GripTight micro tripod cost around $30.
Stand for playback
Both are also very useful if you are watching a video on your smartphone. They give you a good watching angle on a table. Much better than having the phone lying flat on the surface, or holding it in your hand.
What about if you use a flip-cover on your phone? Does it still work?
Yes, mostly. Both mounts are possible to use with a flip-cover, at least the one I have on my Samsung S4. It is sometimes slightly inconvenient, it sticks out behind the phone, but it works fine. You do not need to take the cover off.
There is one more thing that you can use to make this work even better. I often have my full-size Canon DSLR mounted on my Manfrotto tripod when I am out shooting. So, if I then want to shoot a video I need to unmounts the DSLR take it off the tripod mount plate and fix the smartphone grip on it. Time consuming and tedious.
Here is a better solution:
Get a hot-shoe (coldshoe) tripod mount adapter. It only costs a few dollars / euros.
You put that in the camera hot-shoe and then you can mount the smartphone holder on top of the DSLR. No longer any need to unmounts the DSLR. It makes for a fancy setup with a smartphone on top of a DSLR too.
In this case there is one thing that makes a big slight between the Glif and the GripTight. Both are of course possible to mount on the adapter on top of the DSLR.
The difference is that the “claws” of the GripTight protrudes behind the camera if you mount it forward. This means that you cannot shoot with the DSLR while the Joby GripTight is mounted. But there is a simple solution to that: mount the Joby GripThight backwards on top of the DSLR.
You can see how it all works in the video above.
Two good smartphone tripod mounts
As a conclusion I can certainly recommend both of them. Both are excellent and do the job. The GripTight might perhaps be more fragile, with its moving parts, but has the advantage of being a tripod in itself. The Glif is so brilliantly simple and robust but a little bit more fiddly to use and is not stand-alone (except as a viewing stand of course).
I recommend both.
Just one? Then I’d probably go for the Joby, thanks to its flexibility and versatility.