SnapGrip Finally Solves Holding Your iPhone for Photos

And it uses MagSafe!

  • ShiftCam’s SnapGrip is a MagSafe-attachable camera grip for the iPhone.
  • It’s probably the easiest-to-attach phone cam grip ever.
  • But you might still find it easier to carry a dedicated camera.
Someone sliding an iPhone with a SnapGrip attached into a satchel.

SnapGrip

Add-on camera grips for the iPhone appeared as soon as the iPhone’s camera was worth using. But until now, they’ve all been more hassle than just carrying a separate camera. 

The iPhone’s cameras are amazing, but the iPhone itself is ergonomically lacking when it comes to snapping pictures. Gripping it is awkward, tapping the screen to fire the shutter means taking your eye off the subject, and while you can use the volume buttons as shutter buttons, half the time, you’ll probably just press the sleep button by mistake. ShiftCam’s SnapGrip fixes all that, and it does it with MagSafe. But can it really make a phone into a batter camera?

"I can’t, as much as I’ve tried, engage with a smartphone as a camera. My preference is always for a point & shoot over a smartphone. I highly doubt a grip would change that," photographer and photography journalist Hamish Gill told Lifewire via direct message. 

Snap!

There have been plenty of iPhone camera grips over the years, and I have reviewed my fair share. Some are part of a case, some clamp on and provide nothing more than something to hold, while others provide a hardware shutter-release button, so they feel like a real camera. 

ShiftCam’s SnapGrip takes Apple’s MagSafe connector and goes crazy. The unit is a combination battery pack and camera grip. It snaps onto the back of the iPhone, and aligns itself using the MagSafe magnets, makes the phone easier to hold, and adds a familiar shutter button. The battery pack charges the phone, but it doesn’t stop there. 

One of MagSafe’s tricks is to allow a kind of low-level daisy-chaining of accessories. You can add a MagSafe case, for example, and still stick a MagSafe charging puck to the back. In the SnapGrip’s case, you can stick extra photo accessories to the ShiftCam. At launch, there’s an LED light (tiltable for hot selfie action) and a tripod mount/selfie stick. Plus, there’s a ShiftCam case, which can be used under all those other accessories. 

Ergonomics

Film camera design grew out of a mixture of ergonomics and necessity. The aperture was controlled by a ring around the lens because that’s where the aperture is. Ditto the focussing collar. This had the side effect of making these settings easy to adjust without thinking about it. The shutter button moved from the front to the top of the camera, the exposure compensation dial piggy-backed on the film-speed (ISO) dial because they essentially adjusted the same thing, and so on.

The SnapGrip attached to a camera and showing the ring light and tripod accessories.

SnapGrip

Digital cameras either mimic these control layouts out of habit or mix in freely-assignable dials and touch-screen controls. But however they work, digital cameras are purpose-built and are always easier to hold and use than an iPhone. 

"The first thing I think of when I see this is that it makes cameraphones more accessible," photographer and fashion stylist Nuria Gregori told Lifewire in an in-person interview. "People who have trouble holding a phone due to age, for example, can take pictures more easily."

Bulk

One of the biggest downsides of these add-on grips is that they make your iPhone as bulky as a camera. An iPhone is a great camera partly because you can whip it out of your pocket and be ready to go in a second. 

Closeup on the SnapGrip attached to an iPhone.

SnapGrip

The SnapGrip is probably the fastest-to-deploy accessory grip we’ve seen, but it’s still unlikely that you’re going to snap it into place to take a single photo. So, the question remains, if you know you’re going to be taking a lot of photos, and you’re willing to carry a bigger device to do it, why not just use a dedicated camera? You’ll get better results from its larger sensor and fancier lens, for a start, plus extended low-light capability and so on. 

The SnapGrip is currently on Kickstarter, but ShiftCam already makes iPhone camera cases, grips, lenses, and other accessories, so the Kickstarter looks more like a publicity grab than a funding drive especially as there’s no launch date or price as yet. But if you know you want a grip, this really does look like the one to get.

Was this page helpful?