Smartphone photography is taking significant leaps forward with every item cycle, however what typically gets glossed over is the act of shooting. The ShiftCam SnapGrip is trying to make mobile photography a richer experience.
While the SnapGrip is clearly most in the house on iPhones with MagSafe built-in (the iPhone 12 and 13 series at the time of publication), there is a magnetic sticker inside the box which can be attached to any phone, if you so dare. While a number of smartphone device makers hurried to build ecosystems of items based around MagSafe, there hasn’t been anything quite like the SnapGrip.
The SnapGrip does not make its foray alone either, as ShiftCam has actually started a little community of magnetically-compatible devices working together. In this review, I take a look at the SnapGrip, the SnapLight, and the SnapPod.
The SnapGrip is essentially a flat, MagSafe-compatible dock with a thick, extending hand grip developed on the right side. It measures 4.5 inches long (114 millimeters) by 3.25 inches high (82.6 millimeters) at the grip. The thinnest points of the dock are 0.25 inches in depth (6.4 millimeters), and the grip is 1.25 inches deep (31.8 millimeters). There suffices space on the grip for all my fingers to fit when held in a shooting position, and the depth is excusable for a strong hold.
It weighs 4.9 ounces (140 grams)– which is certainly something– but considering it hosts a 3,200 mAh battery for on-the-go charging, it’s lighter than I first believed it would be. That comes down to the products. A number of rubber areas enter into contact with the installed phone. Otherwise, whatever you see is plastic. I believed this was a little misleading as the grip has the textured appearance of a rubber-coated grip, however it’s actually difficult plastic.
Looking over the Kickstarter campaign, I didn’t see this clarified, and I believe that will cause dissatisfaction from backers once it shows up. In general, it’s a little cheap feeling, and I think a rubberized grip could have stepped up this impression.
The full-sized shutter button at the top of the grip is positioned with a little slant for much better ergonomics and the click when it’s pressed down is quite pleasing. Beside the shutter button is a smaller sized circular button for switching on the SnapGrip’s Qi wireless charging.
On the behind of the grip are four super-bright LEDs to indicate the battery level, one light to reveal if it’s powered on, and one light to show Bluetooth coupling with the phone. On the bottom side of the grip is an exposed USB-C charging port. Next to that is a small hole for sticking a pin in there and resetting the device in case of breakdown. Whether it’s great manners or a lack of confidence, my test unit included a SIM card tool in the box that fits right in there.
One of the most glaring build quality concerns with my testing sample is that the magnet suggested to hold the SnapGrip accessories came off. The adhesive couldn’t handle the force applied when getting rid of devices from it. Prior to I even notified ShiftCam, the business sent over an email detailing problems experienced with pre-production samples and the changes that will be made to production designs to fix them. In this case, the painted surface underneath the adhesive implied it couldn’t be properly protected. ShiftCam stated that the variation customers would get won’t be painted under the magnetic ring.
I can only report on what I have, so you’ll need to take ShiftCam’s word for it.
The SnapLight features the connector magnet on one side and a little ring light on the other. Inside the ring light is a selfie mirror with minor wide-angle distortion, and the whole light is based upon a hinge so that it can pull away from the mounting point and face either instructions. It has an internal battery that charges through a USB-C port on the gadget so it can work separately from the SnapGrip. To be clear, however, while it can connect straight to an iPhone’s MagSafe on the back, it does not work as a battery pack to charge the phone.
The construct quality of the SnapLight matches the SnapGrip. The hinge utilized is simple to control however does come at the cost of not staying in place if there’s a great deal of vibration or movement happening while it’s extended. There are a couple of notches that keep it in location in the closed position.
Another accessory for the SnapGrip is the SnapPod. This tabletop tripod and magnetic install can work with the SnapGrip, the SnapLight, or by itself linking to simply the phone. When the SnapPod legs are folded, it works as a short selfie stick. It features a built-in ball head that allows for leveling the port arm.
This is the device that feels the worst. Like the SnapGrip, the textured part of the tripod is not actually the grippy rubber that it seems however is in fact plastic. The legs of the tripod feel cheap and the hinge to set them at an angle has a low-quality feel. The whole thing creaks when it’s controlled and has nasty feeling plastic edges.
It is not a good item experience.
The top part that features the magnetic holder is fine, and to ShiftCam’s credit, it can be removed from the SnapPod tripod and used on any other tripod with its integrated 1/4-inch threading. As an alternative, I ‘d recommend the Manfrotto PIXI Mini Table Top Tripod, which isn’t that pricey, has a much better construct quality and ball head design, and is exactly what I want the SmartGrip was.
Another problem with my evaluation sample is that the integrated ball head can not firmly hold the weight of a phone and other SnapGrip accessories. ShiftCam mentioned that this would be repaired in production designs and is triggered by smooth paint used to the ball head. The business plans to have the ball head textured without any paint in the production models.
As in the past, I can just report on my experience, and you’ll need to take ShiftCam’s word on this.
In the Field and At Home
Due to the magnetic nature of these devices, utilizing the SnapGrip community is basic. I do not envision most people will leave these accessories attached to their phones full-time, however that’s all right because they all just snap into location when required and pull off when done.
The magnet is at its greatest when it comes to shearing force. Attempting to slide the phone off laterally against the SnapGrip is challenging to do casually, which is great. The simplest method to get the phone off the SnapGrip is to peel it from the grip side because you get some leverage off the MagSafe side where the phone overhangs. This would be how the magnets are weakest, but it’s still sufficient to where I never ever felt the need to absolutely child the kit. Yes, you’ll constantly need to keep in mind that it’s held together by magnets, but it’s not such an interruption that it obstructs of pleasure.
The SnapGrip couple with a phone over Bluetooth and when it has been set up, the phone needs to remember the connection for the next time it’s on. The shutter button is mapped to the volume up button on the iPhone, so the functionality will match the attributes of that on a per-app basis.
That means inside the Camera app, a short press in Picture mode will be a single photo, and a long hold will be a burst. When producing an Instagram Story or utilizing Snapchat, a short press takes a picture, and a long hold records a video.
I did pick up a little mental magic where the photo-taking experience felt less like getting snapshots and positioned me into a more artistic mindset. Considering that I’ve been using traditional-style electronic cameras for the last 20 years, it does make some sense why I might be conditioned that method. I do not wish to over-emphasize that since you can enter the state of mind no matter the gadget utilized to develop images, but it made me more readily value having the SnapGrip.
As an Apple iPhone 12 mini user, I came across issues with using numerous stacked accessories. Utilizing the 1x rear camera, I can not stack any additional devices onto the SnapGrip without them appearing in the bottom best corner of the frame. The very same issue occurs when using just the SnapPod and the SnapLight together. Although the 0.5 x cam on this phone sits even more out than the 1x electronic camera, yes, accessories still show up prominently in the same circumstances.
Whether intentional or not, one thing I appreciate about the SnapGrip and its devices is the variety of alternatives they have. The SnapGrip doesn’t constantly have to be utilized as a grip to handhold my phone, and I have actually used it frequently on my desk as a cordless charging dock. The phone stands vertically at an angle, and the USB-C port goes out the bottom left side to supply continuous wall power.
The SnapLight is most likely a lot more helpful since there’s never a shortage of requiring a little portable light somewhere. The light has four power settings, and I timed it to last thirty minutes at full power. The hinge suggests it can rest on a flat surface area and still explain horizontally, plus it can connect to anything magnetic, and it has a mirror for a quick self-check. It’s a cool device to keep around.
Examples of each of the 4 power settings of the SnapLight. It has the ability to provide a good amount of fill for a compact light.
Quick and Protect
Mobile phone devices run the range in between garbage and treasure. Go to any electronic devices store, and you’ll find a discount rate bin with shoddily-made mobile phone devices that will not sell, no matter the cost. Nevertheless, there are still mobile-focused companies that will put long-term focus and attention into something, and I get the sense that ShiftCam is trying to be more on that end. The SnapGrip is not an item without faults, however I see reasonable explanations for its drawbacks, and ShiftCam has actually promised greater quality in the production run.
ShiftCam likewise makes a product called the ProGrip and offers it for $150 with the starter kit. Like the SnapGrip, it’s a camera-style grip that connects to a phone, however this one uses a clamp rather than MagSafe or magnets. In PetaPixel’s evaluation, Ted Kritsonis appreciated its functionality and ultimately suggested it.
Another tool to think about is the Fjorden, however what was supposed to provide by February has been delayed and the business is still in the pre-order stage.
My look for other mobile phone grip alternatives that dealt with magnets rather than a clamp or holster showed up empty.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. If ShiftCam ships the SnapGrip with all develop quality issues repaired, it is a great addition to smartphone photography. If you have an iPhone mini, know that stacking devices will suggest cropping images and video to get around them showing up in the photos taken with the rear video camera.
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