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Phone and tablet holders

Best-ways-to-secure-your-camera1Not so long ago, people like myself were DIYing our own iPad holders and clamping them to tripods, to take advantage of the stop motion apps, for kids workshops and such… but now this gap in the market has been firmly filled with a plethora of products that do a great job.

There are actually lots of phone and tablet holders on the market now, as smart phones have become better at photography, so more photography apps have arrived at the app stores to take advantage of the new features and capacitates. Many people are enjoying the benefits of long exposures, time-lapse, and of course stop motion animation.

They have various names, such as tripod adapters, phone clamps and phone holders. So it can take a bit of searching for if you don’t know what you are looking for. Some adapter/clamps will have a turn screw to tighten the holder to the phone/tablet. The universal size spring clamps will have a spring mechanism. Some holders will also hold your phone but not firmly, these are not meant for photography but more for holding your phone for you whilst you drive, or work. They will probably bounce a bit each time you touch the phone, and that is no good for stop motion animation. We will need the camera to be held firm with not movement between frames.

You will also find that the prices and quality range widely. You can pay anything from £5 to £35, and the quality can be anything from very breakable thin plastic, to aluminium. Price does not always guarantee quality. That’s why I have put together this review, so you can see what you get at the expensive end of the range, what you can get at the lower end of the range and what you get in the middle.

The most important thing is that the adapter should securely mount the phone or tablet to a tripod. Don’t get a mount or holder that wobbles or is attached to a springy or bouncy arm, it will be no good for stop motion.

Interestingly, for the phone holders/clamps the best one I’ve found is also one of the cheapest! You don’t always get more when you pay more either, but sometimes an attractive feature can add a lot to the price. (These are affiliate links, I haven’t been asked to review them, some I recommend, some I don’t. I use affiliate links as one of the ways to pay for the running of this site, and I always review and offer products that I think would be genuinely interesting or useful for my readers.)

Smart Phone Adapters/Clamps

These are specifically for smart phones.

 

MeFOTO Sidekick 360 Plus Adapter for Smartphone

Key Features:

  • Rock solid holder, aluminium, well made, lovely to use.
  • This has a proper 360 ball and socket joint that offers not only a swivel but side to side and up and down, so it will allow you to position your phone just how you need it. This is particularly useful if you don’t use it with a tripod, you may just want to clamp it to a shelf, or simply let it sit on its own base plate. In these cases the full rotation ball and socket joint will really help you to frame your shot correctly.
  • It comes in 12 different colours! But they are not always in stock.
  • The base plate has two sizes of female threads so that it can be mounted on a variety of quick release plates, monopods and handles.  There are three of the smaller threads (0.63 – 50.8cm) and one larger thread (0.95 – 40.64cm).

Down Side:

  • It’s expensive, but not the most expensive.
  • Also it comes in two sizes, which is a little annoying as you have to measure your phone and make sure you get the right one:

MeFOTO Sidekick 360 is for smaller phones, for which the clamp range is: 57 to 73mm
<< MeFOTO Sidekick 360 best prices on Amazon >>
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

MeFOTO Sidekick 360 Plus is for larger phones, for which the clamp range is: 2.99-3.58″ or 76 to 91mm
<< MeFOTO Sidekick 360 PLUS best prices on Amazon >>
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

 

Zacro 360 Degree Rotation Mount Holder

Key Features:

  • This is a far cheaper option, and its good quality, solid plastic, and well made. This is one of the cheapest on the market, and probably the best of the cheapest.
  • It has a swivel joint that allows you to film in landscape or portrait. But be careful not to confuse the 360 of the name with the item above! It doesn’t have the ball and socket joint even though its called a 360 degree – its only for the rotation. This doesn’t matter too much as most good tripods will have a set of joints that will give you full angle manipulation, so you don’t need more than the swivel that this gives you.
  • You can detach the clamp from the mount, if you don’t need the swivel, making it very small and portable.
  • Also this fits all phones, even in a case, which is very handy. The clamp range is 58mm- 101mm.

Downsides:

  • Only has one size thread for attaching to mounts and tripods, but this is unlikely to be a problem as it’s a pretty universal size.

Otherwise, hard to fault.

<< Find the best prices on Amazon >>
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

 

Manfrotto Universal Smartphone Clamp

Key Features:

  • The main benefits are that it’s small, so you can keep it in your pocket.
  • It also has silicone rubber pads to protect your phone.
  • It’s a universal size spring clamp so it will fit any size phone up to 84mm.
  • You also have a thread on the bottom and a thread at the back, so you can mount it from two different points which might help.
  • Its plastic, but well made.

The downsides:

  • It doesn’t have any kind of swivel joint or ball and socket joint. However this is OK if you have a tripod that can compensate.
  • This is a mid range price, and I don’t think you are getting much more than the Zacro above. However in this price range you also get holders of very thin plastic that will break easily, so for the midrange this is one of the better ones.

<< Find the best prices on Amazon >>
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

 

Tablet Clamps

These have the capacity to take various size tablets, but most will be good for phones too. Two in one, much better value if you have a tablet, and most stop motion apps will work on a tablet as well as a phone.

Ulanzi iPad Tablet Tripod Mount Adapter

Flexible Adjustable Clamp Tablet Holder for iPad Air Pro,Microsoft Surface and Most Tablets (5inch-12inch Screen)

Key Features:

  • Universal size, fits phones and tablets from 3 to 14 inches.
  • Friction pads and lock button to hold them securely.
  • Made of plastic but is quite sturdy.
  • The is a mount thread at the back and on the bottom, but the one on the bottom will give you a firmer hold.
  • Very good value for the price.

Downsides:

  • Make sure you use it with a tripod that has a ball and socket joint or multi angle function, as there is no angle adjustment on this.
  • Not suitable for use with tablets in their cases (depending on their case)

<< Find the best prices on Amazon >>
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

 

Ulanzi Metal Aluminum Tripod Mount Adapter

Tablet Clamp Holder for iPad Pro Mini 1/4″-20 thread Cold Shoe Mount Light Mic

Key Features:

  • Same as above but made in Aluminium, which means it also heavier. Very well engineered, and sturdy.
  • Also has a cold shoe mount on the top for mounting a light or microphone (not included).
  • Has an arca-style quick release plate on the bottom.
  • Compatible with any tripod with a ¼ inch mounting screw.
  • The largest size it will open to is 253mm (the iPad 12.9 Pro in portrait is about 305mm), but for animation I’d always recommend using it in landscape anyway.
  • As expected it costs more, but I think its still good value.

Downsides:

  • Make sure you use it with a tripod that has a ball and socket joint or multi angle function, as there is no angle adjustment on this.
  • Not suitable for use with tablets in their cases (depending on their case)

<< Find the best prices on Amazon >>
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

 

Universal Tablet Tripod Mount Adapter

Key Features:

  • Sturdy plastic, and great value.
  • Compatable with most tablets and phablets, but not the iPad Pro.

<< Find the best prices on Amazon >>
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

 

So as you can see there are a range out there, find one that suits your needs and budget, and you’ll find this is a vital bit of kit for taking advantage of the free or cheap stop motion apps.

Leave a comment if you have any questions, or would like to share which holders you find the best.

Lucy Lee

12 Comments

  1. Thank you!
    Amazing good timing as I had just decided to look into getting one and was wondering where to start! I have just ordered one on Amazon so thank you! 😊👍

    • Thanks Eve, glad I was able to help! Yes it can be a maze trying to find the right stuff. I’ve spent days trawling through Amazon looking for just the right things that I need. So I figured I would save a lot of time for my readers by reviewing some of my best finds here! Glad it has helped you, looks like this site is doing its job! Thanks for the comment.

  2. Cool, I’ve been kind of looking for something like these for my phone.  I haven’t gone into great depth to look, mostly because there are so many to choose from and it gets kind of overwhelming for me if I’m not really sure what I’m looking for.  Thank you for sharing this.  I know now I have a better understanding of what I want to get!  Thank you so much!

    • Thanks Kaeyoes, yes there are a lot of phone holders now, and they will all be good for different tasks. I’ve chosen some here that are good for stop motion, but they will be good for time-lapse and long exposure too.

  3. As great as this is I had no clue something like this even existed and I like to think I am up with the times.  I can definitely see how something like this could help people for many different scenarios.  Thank you for taking the time to do such a great review.  I might just be interested in one for my phone.

    • Great news Dale! You know its not that long ago that there just wasn’t anything like this on the market. I’ve done my fair share of DIY wooden holders… and yes there are lots of applications for them. The ones I have reviewed here are the ones that are best for animation and photography and of course making videos on your phone. Some of them are really cheap, so I think they are a must have for all phones! Thanks for your comment Dale.

  4. Hi Lucy,

    I found your website as I am a member of Wealthy Affiliate.

    My wife will love your post. She has been talking about getting a holder for a while. She is a selfie addict.

    She is also going to start making videos for her black dress website, so I can see this being a good place for her to start her search.

    I really like that you are linking to amazon as it makes purchase so easy.

    Thanks for your reviews

    Tim

    • Thanks Tim, I’ve found lots of very useful websites through Wealthy Affiliate too. I think phones today are able to take very good quality videos, especially the latest Samsungs. I think with a tripod and holder your wife will be able to start making some very good videos. 

      I’m very glad that you found it easy to purchase through my site with direct online shopping links! The aim is to make a really useful resource for anyone interested in animation film making, through education, help and links to exactly what you need!

      Thanks for the comment Tim!

  5. Hi Lucy,

    Thanks for the info on Phone/Tablet holders. These look like something my son could use when making his films. Do you have a preference out of all of these that you use yourself? I don’t really want to spend a lot but would want something that is going to work well. 

    Do you recommend using these for people who are just wanting to take normal pictures? There seems to be a lot of new gadgets out there for phones these days. I have clients who like to take good pics on holidays etc. Are these easy to pack into a suitcase or carry on bag? How long do they take to set up?

    I look forward to hearing back from you!

    Cheers,

    Melanie

    • Hi Melanie, thanks for you questions. I use the MeFOTO Sidekick 360 Adapter, because I wanted to have the option of ball and socket on the holder too incase I use the holder clamped to something other than a tripod. Its very well made and very sturdy. If you don’t want this extra functionality then the Zacro 360 would be better for three reasons, firstly its a universal size, secondly its very good value, thirdly the clamp detaches from the mount so you could keep it in your pocket. However if you are after flexibility and want to have just one holder that could fit all your devices (phones, phablets and tablets/iPads) then the Ulanzi is a no brainer because that will take all sizes, and the aluminium one would then be your best best as its more sturdy.

      These are great for people who just want to take normal pictures too, because it would allow you to do long exposures, time-lapse and group photos on a timer. They are all small, and will fit in any travel bag. However you will need a tripod with them too, these can take up a little more space, but there are some small ones out there. Make sure you get a tripod with sturdy legs. I may need to do a review of some tripods to help, and then a video of how to set them up. 

      Its really easy to set up, all you have to do is screw the phone holder onto the top of the tripod. Takes seconds to do. Thanks for your questions Melanie! Hope this has helped.

  6. Hi Lucy,
    I have purchased an Ulanzi clamp and I’m very happy with it. I also recommended it to my project leader and we now use it at work but we’re finding tripods on tables rather precarious and I’m looking for a more secure set up.
    Is there something like an animation rostrum to use with an iPad?
    Do you know if there is anything that would clamp an iPad to an animation rostrum?
    Or is there an adaptor that would enable the ipad to turn at right angles to the tripod/rostrum fitting? (So it looks down rather than staring across the room!)
    We’d be very grateful for any ideas!
    Thanks

    • Thank you Eve, I have some good solutions for you here:

      Cheapest option – This might be better than a tripod, but it’s a bit flimsy and still on the table. But its cheap enough to have a couple to use if needed. It is more out of the way than a tripod so you can have it gaffer taped to the table behind a persons artwork, and it will give them the space to work with the iPad above. Biggest drawback is that its best for photographing A4 sized artwork, and I’m not sure how large an artwork underneath you’d be able to see. This one just has the screw fixing at the top that you can screw in the Ulanzi clamp https://amzn.to/32JnQoA other versions have a smart phone clamp attached, but those clamps wouldn’t be big enough for an iPad.

      More expensive option – A copy stand could be best, you can attach your clamp to the camera attachment. But the cheap ones don’t have such good reviews (cheap one https://amzn.to/2LxrY5d ) This one looks better and comes with lighting too, so really its giving you everything you need https://amzn.to/2Qc8kjK again its a tripod attachment so you can attach the Ulanzi.

      Mid price option – This is a mid price option, it’s basically a tripod, but with a horizontal bar extending from the top. This means you could have the tripod on the floor beside the table and the horizontal bar could extend over the art working area. https://amzn.to/2Q7no1Q

      I would look at all three and decide what works for your budget, space and working practices.

      Thank you so much for your question! Let me know what works best for you!

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