From the selfie stick to the miniature tripod, our smartphones are getting treated more and more like actual cameras, and for good reason.
Many of today’s best smartphones are equipped with lenses and sensors that put them toe-to-toe with even the most competitive of dedicated point and shoot cameras. And considering the type of high-quality images our phones can capture, it makes plenty of sense that there’s such a massive market for mobile-photographic accessories.
Then there’s the accessory to rule all accessories: the smartphone rig.
Designed to optimize images and to provide housing and attachments for a medley of excellent smartphone add-ons, the best smartphone rig is a worthy investment for both amateurs and pros.
Why Should You Buy a Smartphone Rig?
At face value, it’s easy to see why a smartphone rig could be great for YouTube filmmakers and other types of mobile influencers, allowing these career videographers to wire up a number of quick-connect gizmos to optimize their recorded footage.
But does it make sense for the average joe to order a smartphone rig for everyday use?
After all, most of us are used to simply grabbing our phone out of our pockets, firing up the onboard camera, and snapping a photo using either automatic or manual lens settings.
The short answer is no, you don’t need a smartphone rig for your iPhone, but there is a range of benefits that even some of the least expensive rigs can offer the once-in-a-while photo taker.
Safety for your phone
We’ve all dropped our phones. Some of us drop our phones a lot.
While a smartphone rig won’t necessarily prevent you from accidentally dropping your devices, many mobile rigs are designed to take some of the awkwardness out of hanging onto your phone with only your palms and fingertips, thanks to design elements like sturdy phone clamps and adjustable grips with cushioned handles.
Improved picture and video quality
Treasured memories are often photographed with shaky hands, especially at emotional events like weddings and other celebratory gatherings.
We’re not saying that you need to go out and grab a monolithic $200 rig that will put the wedding photographer to shame, but carrying around a quick-clamping solution (like the below-mentioned Beastgrip Beastclamp) can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your phone camera steady and sharp — especially in environments where lighting and other obstructions may make it even tougher to capture a clear picture.
This point goes hand-in-hand with improved picture and video quality. Most of the best smartphone rigs come with a series of cold shoe mounts (attachment modules for connecting accessories) and threaded adapters.
While you don’t need to use every A-to-B connector a rig is packaged with, even the most basic ones are great for incorporating items like tripods and LED lights into your next photo session, which can make all the difference when it comes to capturing a “great” photo versus a “good” one.
For your consideration, we’ve put together a roundup of the best smartphone rigs you can buy today. Read about them below.
1. Movo VXR10+ Smartphone Rig
It doesn’t matter if this is your first time investing in a smartphone rig or if this happens to be your fifth purchase as a decorated YouTube vlogger, the Movo VXR10+ is built for both laymen and veterans. It wasn’t difficult for us to decide on the “Best Overall” laurel for the VXR10+ either, especially when you consider how much you’re getting for the price.
Out of the box, the smartphone rig comes with a smartphone clamp, a mini tripod (with a removable 16-inch extension shaft), a microphone and a windscreen for said mic. The VXR10+ will fit most phones up to 3.6-inches wide, and many Amazon reviewers have noted how durable and easy to use it is. While we would like to have seen a few more cold shoe options for things like LED lights and additional mics, that doesn’t deter us from proclaiming that the Movo VXR10+ is one of the best rigs on the market right now.
2. Beastgrip Beastclamp Rig
BEST FOR VLOGGING
Social media careerists need to be ready to capture photos and footage in an instant, but audiences also expect professional quality when it comes to the final product. After all, who wants to watch 10-plus minutes of a shakily-captured interview. That’s why the Beastgrip Beastclamp is such a great mobile rig for those that need to snap or record without much advanced planning. Easily clamp-able to a wide range of mobile phones (some cases may provide resistance), the Beastclamp fastens in seconds and allows for both portrait and landscape orientation. Sure, it’s not as robust as some of our other featured rigs, but it also comes with two cold shoe mounts for a small LED fixture or microphone, along with five 1/4 accessory mounts for attaching the Beastclamp to a wide range of tripods.
3. SmallRig Foldable Smartphone Stabilizer
Nothing says portability like a quick-folding chassis that allows you to stuff your smartphone rig into your pants pocket. Such is the case with the SmallRig Smartphone Stabilizer, a handy rig that allows you to attach a number of different phone brands. Once your device is harnessed up, the SmallRig’s wireless control module allows you to link your phone’s action button directly to the rig, allowing you to take photos and video without having to handle your device. The SmallRig is also equipped with three cold shoe mounts and five 1/4 thread holes, allowing you to connect and wire a number of different tripods, LED lights, microphones, and other hardware.
One Amazon reviewer did note that some parts of the SmallRig’s frame actually made it into their photo, an issue that may arise for some larger phones.
4. Ulanzi Battery Handle Grip
BEST FOR ON-THE-GO CHARGING
While not as formidable as some of the other smartphone rigs on our list, this miniature hand grip setup from the folks at Ulanzi provides a vital component that many other rigs lack: battery charging. Featuring a 5,000mAh rechargeable battery with USB-A and C connections, the Handle Grip allows you to quickly re-juice your GoPro, compatible smartphone, and a host of other cameras.
We also love that you can fold out the built-in tripod legs to turn this into a fast and easy tabletop fixture for your next mobile vlog session or time-lapse photo. Do keep in mind that you’ll need to allot up to three hours for the onboard battery to completely recharge.
5. Ulanzi U Rig Smartphone Video Rig
BEST BUDGET RIG
Shopping around for smartphone rigs, you’ll see some models costing upwards of $100. In fact, some of those options are even featured in this roundup. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be shelling out loads of dough to get a more-than-worthy rig. The Ulanzi U Rig is one such example of great quality at affordable prices. Compatible with most of today’s leading smartphones (up to the Samsung Galaxy 20 and iPhone 12 Pro), the Ulanzi includes three cold shoe sockets for connecting lighting add-ons, microphones, and other photographic accessories. There’s even a 1/4 inch screw hole on the bottom for threading up your favorite tripod or stabilizer.
Some reviews have noted that the plastic casing may not be the strongest armor for action-oriented picture-taking, but if you’re planning on using the Ulanzi for more easygoing photography, you won’t regret the purchase.
6. Dreamgrip Evolution Mojo 2
THE MOST BELLS AND WHISTLES
From DSLRs to smartphones and action cameras, the Dreamgrip Evolution Mojo 2 can handle pretty much whatever mobile photo gear you have on hand. Optimized to handle rigging duties up to the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy 21 series, the Mojo 2 also comes with an onboard directional mic, twin LED barn door lights with dimming capabilities, a collection of lens filters for optimized photography and a massive assortment of clamps, adapters and connectors. Whether you want to let your phone run the show, or you’d prefer to have a primary camera with your phone attached as a second monitor, the Mojo 2 has plenty of real estate to maximize your next photo session.
7. Neewer LED Ring Light
BEST FOR LOW LIGHTING
Lining up that perfect shot simply won’t matter if you’re in a light-starved environment. Images without proper luminance often result in final photos with underexposed areas, where color and contrast are lost to shadows. That’s where the Neewer LED Ring Light comes in. The easy-to-carry light chassis sports dual LED light plates that output a total of 16 watts, making it ideal for any photographic scenario.
Far more than just a light rig though, the Newer also comes equipped with three cold shoe mounts for harnessing up your favorite microphones, fill lights, additional cameras, and whatever gear you’re carting around. While the battery only lasts for about an hour, the rig comes with a USB charger to re-up the cells.
8. ShiftCam ProGrip
When it comes to the best smartphone rigs, filmmakers crave utility to get the job done. The best one in this category is none other than the ShiftCam ProGrip, which isn’t just a rig to film video, but doubles as a handy battery power bank, smartphone stand, and wireless charger. With an easy-to-use grip that cradles your phone, the ShiftCam ProGrip’s utility is unmatched because it comes with a cold shoe mount to attach all of your favorite accessories, as well as a tripod mount. If that’s not enough, you can prop it upright to use it as a stand for your smartphone, which makes it ideal for video chatting or conferencing. On top of that, since it features a built-in battery, your phone can continuously charge in the cradle thanks to its wireless charger.
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