Lets be honest when most of us are choosing a smartphone the camera seems to be the main consideration point, but what about the actual action of shooting the photo/video ? Well this is where the ShiftCam SnapGrip is attempting to make mobile photography a richer experience. The user experience on a touchscreen does the best with what it has, but it’s not perfect, modern smartphones are thin, slippery without a case, and tactile feedback just isn’t the same as buttons.
That’s exactly the problem ShiftCam wants to solve with their SnapGrip photo kit. The leading product here is a magnetically attachable camera grip and shutter, but the whole package includes a few things to improve your shots and make photography more comfortable.
What’s in the box.
The kit comes with
- The SnapGrip.
- Snap Light.
- Snap Pod.
- Carry case.
- USB Type C Charging cable.
The SnapGrip is essentially a flat, MagSafe-compatible dock with a thick, protruding hand grip built on the right side. It measures 114mm by 82.6mm at the grip. The thinnest points of the dock are 6.4mm, and the grip is 32mm deep. This meant there was enough room on the grip for all my fingers to fit when held in a shooting position, and the depth is not too bad for a solid hold.
It weighs 140 grams which certainly gives the grip some heft, but it does hold a 3,200 mAh battery for wireless charging to keep your phone topped up for prolonged use. On the back of the grip are two rubber areas where the grip comes into contact with the rear of the phone. Otherwise, everything you see is plastic. I thought this was a little deceptive as the grip has the textured appearance of a rubber-coated grip, but it’s actually hard plastic.
The full-sized shutter button at the top of the grip is placed with a little slant for better ergonomics and the click when it’s pressed down is pretty satisfying. Next to the shutter button is a smaller circular button for turning on the SnapGrip’s Qi wireless charging.
Due to the magnetic attachment the grip can be positioned in both landscape and portrait, or even a stand.
On the backside of the grip are four super-bright LEDs to indicate the battery level, one light to show if it’s powered on, and one light to indicate Bluetooth pairing with the phone. On the bottom side of the grip is an exposed USB-C charging port. Next to that is a tiny hole for sticking a pin in there and resetting the device in case of malfunction, the kit comes with a SIM card tool in the box that fits right in there.
The SnapLight features the connector magnet on one side and a small ring light on the other. Inside the ring light is a selfie mirror with slight wide-angle distortion, and the whole light is based on a hinge so that it can pull away from the mounting point and face either direction. It has an internal battery that charges through a USB-C port on the device so it can work independently from the SnapGrip. To be clear, though, while it can connect directly to an iPhone’s MagSafe on the back, it does not work as a battery pack to charge the phone.
Another accessory for the SnapGrip is the SnapPod. This tabletop tripod and magnetic mount can work with the SnapGrip, the SnapLight, or by itself connecting to just 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 connector arm.
I took the SnipGrip away with me, on a trip the Scottish Highlands, and thanks to the magnetic nature of the system, using the SnapGrip ecosystem is simple. I don’t imagine most people will leave these accessories attached to their phones full-time, but that’s okay because they all just snap into place when needed and pull off when done.
The magnet is at its strongest when it comes to shearing force. Trying to slide the phone off laterally against the SnapGrip is challenging to do casually, which is great. The easiest way 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 good enough to where I never felt the need to totally baby the kit. Yes, you’ll always need to keep in mind that it’s held together by magnets, but it’s not such a distraction that it gets in the way of enjoyment.
The SnapGrip pairs with a phone over Bluetooth and once it has been set up, the phone should 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 characteristics of that on a per-app basis.
That means inside the Camera app, a short press in Photo mode will be a single picture, and a long hold will be a burst. When creating an Instagram Story or using Snapchat, a short press takes a photo, and a long hold records a video.
The SnapLight is probably even more useful because there’s never a shortage of needing a small portable light somewhere. The light has four power settings, and I timed it to last 30 minutes at full power. The hinge means it can sit on a flat surface and still point out horizontally, plus it can attach to anything magnetic, and it has a mirror for a quick self-check. It’s a cool gadget to keep around.
What If I’m not a Iphone User ?
Well I’m not my main device is the S22 Ultra, but thanks to the inclusion of a metal magnetic plate which I attached to a TPU case, I even purchased a case to fit the S22 Ultra with a Magsafe attachment, I was able to use the Snap Grip system absolutely fine.
Yes, it is a nice addition to smartphone photography, and in use it does change your mindset in regards to shooting your photos. While a number of smartphone accessory makers rushed to build ecosystems of products based around MagSafe, there hasn’t been anything quite like the SnapGrip. The SnapGrip is available in 5 colours and is priced at £69.99 from Amazon