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ShiftCam SnapGrip review: I turned my iPhone into a DSLR

May 18, 2023

If you have an iPhone or any smartphone, chances are high that you take a lot of pictures with it — I know I certainly do with my iPhone 14 Pro with 1TB of storage. But one thing I’ve noticed, especially as phones got larger in size, is that the ergonomics have gotten worse, especially if you’re trying to take photos with one hand or even just a selfie. I personally need to use a PopSocket to even comfortably hold my device throughout the day. And though you could press the volume up button on an iPhone to snap a pic instead of the virtual shutter button, this can be hard to do with a case on.

Then I stumbled on ShiftCam's SnapGrip. This product is a magnetic ergonomic phone grip that makes it much more comfortable to hold your MagSafe-compatible iPhone for snapping photos, and it also has a wireless physical shutter button that connects via Bluetooth. And not only that, but it also doubles as a wireless power bank with 3,200mAh, so you can extend your shooting time.

Though there are many MagSafe accessories out there, the ShiftCam SnapGrip is becoming a new favorite.

Though the ShiftCam SnapGrip is designed for iPhones with MagSafe (iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and iPhone 14 lineups), it can actually work with any iPhone — and even Android phones. When you purchase a SnapGrip, it comes with a magnetic sticker that you can attach to any device that doesn't already have MagSafe, making it universally compatible. The big drawback is that you only get one magnetic sticker with the SnapGrip, and there doesn't appear to be a way to purchase more. If you change cases often, you’ll have to be very selective. Of course, if you have a MagSafe iPhone or MagSafe-compatible phone case, then you can easily swap the SnapGrip as you desire.

The ShiftCam SnapGrip comes in five colors to suit your tastes: Midnight (black), Abyss Blue (navy), Blue Jay (a slightly lighter blue), Chalk Pink (pale pink), or Pink Pomelo (a rich coral pink). I chose Pink Pomelo because it's a gorgeous shade of pink and stands out.

The SnapGrip magnets are quite strong (though my PopSockets MagSafe PopGrip is still the strongest magnets I’ve ever used), and attach to my iPhone 14 Pro with a Mous iridescent Clarity 2.0 case with ease. It doesn't take too much force like the MagSafe PopGrip to remove, but it should hold well enough when you’re shooting photos. ShiftCam's SnapGrip works in both portrait and landscape orientations, letting you capture photos as you please. And if you really want to, the ShiftCam SnapGrip also works as a stand.

The ShiftCam SnapGrip feels very comfortable to hold in your hand — much more ergonomic than just holding up a slab of glass and metal. The grip is mostly a smooth and matte rubberized material, with a pebbly texture on the part where your fingers go for additional grip. It's reminiscent of holding an actual DSLR camera, and the shutter button is in a spot that just feels natural. Holding your phone one-handed with the SnapGrip is much more steady than if you were just holding the phone itself, but using it with two hands is still the best.

The smaller button next to the large shutter button will turn on (and off) the wireless battery pack once double-pressed. At the bottom of the grip is the USB-C charging port, as well as a small pin-sized hole, which allows you to reset the Bluetooth connection if need be. However, there's no way to manually disconnect the SnapGrip from your device, but it will automatically turn off after a period of non-activity to conserve battery power.

Unfortunately, the ShiftCam SnapGrip is designed for right-handers only. If you are left-handed, then this is definitely something you’ll have to take into consideration before purchasing.

The SnapGrip is just one major part of ShiftCam's SnapGrip ecosystem. ShiftCam also has the SnapPod and SnapLight, which is a magnetic tripod and handle mount and a LED ring, respectively. You can use these products individually, or they all work together to create a magnetic mini studio on the go.

The SnapPod is a great addition to my setup, as it lets me easily do hands-free timed shots. However, when you get the SnapPod, it basically comes in two separate pieces: the tripod handle and the mount. You have to screw in the mount to the handle, so that means you can't fold it down for portable carry — instead, you’ll need to carry both pieces separately if the bag is too small. This is a little annoying, but it still has a relatively small footprint, so it's not too bad. The mount can be adjusted by tilting it up or down to fit your needs.

The SnapLight can be extended to provide light for your selfies, which is great when you’re trying to take them at night. It provides much better lighting than the iPhone's Retina flash, and if you don't extend it, the SnapLight can add more light to your subject when shooting with the rear cameras.

I did notice, though, that the more items you use at the same time with the SnapGrip, it feels like the magnetic hold becomes weaker. It's not too worrying, but just be careful if things just become a little too heavy on the top and it's not perfectly balanced. My iPhone 14 Pro with the SnapGrip did topple off the SnapPod when I pressed the button too hard.

As someone who does not own a standalone digital camera, I solely rely on my iPhone 14 Pro and other smartphones for taking pictures, even for work. Camera technology on mobile devices has gotten pretty advanced, and for most people, it's enough. But as phones get larger, I find it hard to even take selfies comfortably with my stature.

ShiftCam's SnapGrip is a great accessory that changes that. I get self-conscious about my appearance quite a bit, but I try to change that and take selfies, especially when I’m at Disneyland. Without the SnapGrip, I often struggle with getting the right angle and still being able to reach the on-screen shutter button (short arms and petite hands are not a great combo). The SnapGrip lets me comfortably hold my iPhone 14 Pro for a selfie in portrait orientation, and the shutter button is so much easier for me to press than trying to reach for the on-screen button with my thumb. I know you can use the volume up button to do a capture, but that causes some slight movement due to the force needed to push the button, which also is affected by whatever case I’m using.

The SnapGrip is also great for taking photos with the rear cameras as well. Though the iPhone 14 Pro has sensor-shift optical image stabilization, I know my hands aren't the steadiest, and sometimes it's just hard for me to get a good shot without parts looking blurry because of slight movement. Because the SnapGrip gives me an ergonomic and comfortable grip, I find it easier to hold the device steady, especially with two hands.

I also find the physical shutter button not only makes things easier, but it also feels better than just tapping on the screen to capture a photo or start recording a video. It makes the iPhone feel like an actual point-and-shoot camera, which is not a bad thing at all. But I just prefer the convenience of my iPhone 14 Pro, and you know what they say: the best camera is the one that's with you.

For the most part, my iPhone 14 Pro lasts all day with my typical use. However, if I’m out shooting a lot of photos and videos, which I’d be doing with the SnapGrip, then it will drain faster. Fortunately, the SnapGrip doubles as an external battery pack, which is a nice touch. It may not have a huge capacity at only 3,200mAh, but it is enough to get me through a shooting session if my device is running low. However, if you are using a magnetic sticker to make it compatible with a non-MagSafe device, then the wireless charging with the SnapGrip may not work.

I’ve mostly been just using the SnapGrip itself. But I got the SnapGrip Creator Kit, which includes the SnapPod and SnapLight, along with a carrying case for the SnapGrip. The SnapPod has come in handy when I need to do some hands-free shots by myself or when I need a bit more distance between me and the camera for selfies.

I don't typically take a lot of selfies in low-light environments, but the SnapLight definitely makes those selfies look not terrible. There is a small mirror in the middle of the LED ring though, which is helpful for those selfies. I think that the SnapLight may actually be more useful for me when I take photos of my food in dimly lit restaurants (ambiance and all that jazz). But overall, the SnapLight easily attaches to the SnapGrip or SnapPod as an extension to give you that extra bit of light — and every little bit helps.

You can get ShiftCam's SnapGrip directly on ShiftCam's website, or even on Amazon. However, be aware that Amazon only has the SnapGrip, along with SnapPod and SnapLight, all sold separately. Amazon also only carries the Midnight black color too. On Amazon, the SnapGrip itself is $70, and the SnapLight and SnapPod are both $40 each, respectively.

If you opt for ShiftCam's website, the SnapGrip is also $70, with the SnapLight and SnapPod at $40 each as well, all of which come in five different colors. However, on ShiftCam's website, you can purchase bundles, which help you save a little bit of money if you were planning on picking up the entire setup. There's also the Creator Kit Plus and Creator Kit Max, both of which have additional accessories for an extra cost.

Though the ShiftCam SnapGrip doesn't add any extra features to your phone's camera itself, it certainly makes it easier to use when shooting photos and selfies. I love taking pictures with my phone, but I hate how unergonomic it feels — especially when I’m attempting a selfie.

The ShiftCam SnapGrip provides that much-needed ergonomic grip that makes your smartphone feel like an actual camera in the hand, and the wireless shutter button adds a nice layer of convenience as well. I also enjoy that the SnapGrip works in both portrait and landscape orientation, and even doubles as a stand. Plus, with 3,200mAh of power, you don't even need to worry about running out of battery if you’re in a long shooting session.

Though I’ve mostly just been using the SnapGrip by itself, having the extra accessories in the SnapGrip ecosystem just gives it more versatility for everyone's needs. The SnapPod gives me a little bit of extra reach for certain situations, like group selfies (perfect for the upcoming holidays) or when I need hands-free shots. And the SnapLight definitely brightens up any shot better than the Retina flash setting for selfies, to say the least.

It may look a little bulky, but if you’re planning to go out for a photo shoot with your iPhone 14 Pro or another smartphone, then ShiftCam's SnapGrip is a fantastic accessory.