When Apple revealed the iPhone 12 lineup, the company pitched its new MagSafe feature as a way to fix one of the many flaws of wireless charging. What I instead saw with MagSafe was a solution to another smartphone problem I’ve had for years: attaching the phone to a tripod. Moment is the first to deliver what might finally be the perfect iPhone tripod mount.
The iPhone hasn’t just become a convenient alternative to carrying around a camera since its launch, it’s also become a legitimate photography and videography tool. But Apple has been trying to nudge its way into an industry that’s been around for more than 100 years, and as a result the iPhone often has a hard time playing nice with camera and video accessories designed for dedicated shooters.
Do you want to attach your digital camera or camcorder to a tripod? No problem — on the underside of the camera you’ll find a convenient screw mount that out of the box works with any tripod you can get your hands on. Do you want to attach your iPhone to a tripod? Whoa, whoa, hang on. Unfortunately, there’s no screw mount on the side, which means you’ll either have to squeeze your smartphone into a special case that gives you the connection points you need, or rely on a more temporary tripod adaptor like this expanding contraption I’ve been relying on for years. It works in a pinch, and folds away small enough to keep in a pocket, but even the lightest screen taps will cause my iPhone to shift or come loose, along with a few skipped heartbeats.
The day the new MagSafe feature was revealed was the day I knew this sketchy tripod mount’s days were numbered.
Among avid smartphone photographers and videographers, Moment is best known for its tiny lenses that can be attached to mobile devices using special cases that give smartphone cameras macro, telephoto, and even anamorphic shooting capabilities. For the iPhone 12 line, Moment now has a collection of MagSafe-compatible tripod mounts (as well as mounts for other spots like the heating vents in your car). Honestly, it’s an even more compelling reason to upgrade to an iPhone 12 than the camera upgrades Apple delivered.
Attaching any of Moment’s new Mounts for MagSafe accessories to any of the iPhone 12 models is as easy as attaching a magnet to a fridge. The Moment mount snaps into place with a soft thud thanks to a layer of rubber that sits between it and the iPhone that limits twisting and prevents unwanted scratches on the back of your device.
Moment offers several configurations to choose from. The cheapest tripod-compatible option is about $65 with an extended arm that allows it to be used with an iPhone 12 in either landscape or portrait modes, but for $15 more you can get an optional adjustable cold shoe mount for easily attaching a microphone or light source too. A non-tripod version called the Cold Shoe Mount with MagSafe is also available for $55 if you’re just looking for an easy way to attach cold shoe accessories while shooting handheld with your iPhone 12.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo, In-House Art
The MagSafe magnets in the iPhone 12 aren't the strongest, but when paired with a MagSafe-compatible case featuring additional magnets (from Moment or Nomad) your device will remain securely paired to a tripod.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo, In-House Art
There’s one small catch with Moment’s MagSafe tripod mounts, however. Because Apple has positioned the feature as primarily being used to improve wireless charging, the magnets are strong, but not necessarily strong enough to give you complete peace of mind while your expensive device hangs in the air. It holds strong enough for casual use, but videographers might want to consider Moment’s $80 MagSafe-compatible thin case as well, which adds another ring of strong magnets to keep your iPhone 12 securely mounted.
I’ve found that other Magsafe-compatible cases featuring additional magnetic rings, like Nomad’s Rugged Folio MagSafe case, also provide a more secure connection to Moment’s new magnetic mounts, which means I no longer have to take my iPhone 12 Pro out of its case before attaching it to a tripod.
Was MagSafe the sole reason I upgraded to an iPhone 12 Pro? No, an ageing iPhone 8 on its deathbed finally forced me to have to live with that hideous screen notch in a post-home button world. But MagSafe has been a great consolation prize, and if you shoot anything more demanding than selfies with your iPhone 12, you shouldn’t even think twice about pre-ordering Moment’s MagSafe mounts.