Review: Grip&Shoot iPhone camera grip with Bluetooth shutter trigger
The Grip&Shoot is a versatile Bluetooth accessory with a handle, trigger, and tripod mount, allowing for a steadier hold on your iPhone while taking pictures or shooting video. We think it could appeal to some videographers or people who want capture images remotely, but its dependence on third-party apps will be a dealbreaker for some.
The $99.95 Grip&Shoot is a comfortable, ergonomic handle, featuring a flat "trigger" button on the front that can be pressed to snap a picture. AppleInsider was provided a black Grip&Shoot by the manufacturer to test for this review, though it also comes in white.
There's a lot more to the Grip&Shoot beyond the handle and trigger, however. It also includes custom programmable buttons on the back for functions like digital zoom, flash toggle, quick switching between photo and video modes, and more.
This customization, along with the comfort and stability offered by the handle design, can help result in better images and more stable control of an iPhone.
A few unique design elements, including an iPhone clamp that can support devices of varying size, and detachable elements that can turn it into an iPhone tripod with remote image trigger function, only add to the value.
But the Bluetooth Smart connectivity of the Grip&Shoot means it can only work with select third-party apps, including a free one offered by the manufacturer itself. And that means the accessory will disconnect every time the iPhone is locked.
The Grip&Shoot features a hard plastic design that is light but feels sturdy and durable. The trigger button on the front wiggles a bit much for our tastes, and gives the device a slightly cheaper feel, but this has no real effect on the responsiveness of using the device.
On the back side are two conveniently placed plus and minus buttons, which reside just under the iPhone mounting clip, and are easily pressed by the user's thumb.
In all, the Grip&Shoot is comfortable in the hands and feels sturdy and well built, even with an iPhone up top. The handle feels like a natural way to point and shoot.
When shooting photos on an iPhone in landscape mode, the thinness of the device, as well as the curved edges on the iPhone 6, can make it feel somewhat precarious and shaky. The Grip&Shoot eliminates that, and will definitely result in more steady shots.
The iPhone mount, dubbed "JawZ," is great. It's expandable to support iPhones of different sizes, including the iPhone 6 Plus.
We had no problems using the mount with our iPhone 6, with or without a case. It even held our iPhone 6 in a Mophie battery pack without issue, securely in place.
The mount also collapses flat, and can be removed from the top of the Grip&Shoot by pressing a button located at the top of the device. This allows for easy storage and makes it less likely to break when tossed around in a bag.
But the removability of the JawZ can also be paired with another, unique aspect of the Grip&Shoot's hardware: The bottom of the handle, which features a lanyard hole and tripod screw hole, is also removable.
When the bottom of the handle is taken off of the Grip&Shoot, the JawZ mount can actually be locked into the small plastic piece. The bottom and JawZ are sturdy enough to stand on their own on a flat surface holding an iPhone, or you can add stability and place in different locations by using the tripod mount at the bottom.
We tested this out with a Joby Gorillapod and it worked great. In a pinch, your Grip&Shoot can become a quick and sturdy tripod mount for your iPhone.
Things really get interesting when you consider the fact that the Grip&Shoot trigger and buttons work via Bluetooth. That means you can remotely set up your iPhone on a tripod, and remotely trigger the camera shutter.
So if you're the type to take a number of group family photos, or you want to potentially put your phone in an interesting spot to snap a picture, you can capture images on the device without needing to have it in your hands.
Overall, we really like the design of the Grip&Shoot hardware. It's far more than just a one-trick pony, and is actually a quite unique and versatile little accessory.
Unfortunately, because it is a Bluetooth Smart accessory, the Grip&Shoot requires the use of a third-party app to take pictures. That means if your favorite camera app isn't supported — including Apple's own built-in Camera app — Â then you can't use it with this accessory.
The device's creator explained to us that Bluetooth Smart uses less power and offers greater distance than standard Bluetooth accessories.
This allows the Grip&Shoot to run on a single CR2013 Coin battery, which comes built-in, but can be user replaced once it runs out by removing a screw from the bottom of the device, under the removable bottom piece. Grip&Shoot has said its coin cell battery is good for 10,000 button presses.
In addition, fact that it connects over Bluetooth Smart means the buttons on the device need to be programmed on a per-app basis.
The official Grip&Shoot app works well enough — Â we found that the accessory connected quickly once the app was launched, and the shutter was responsive when we pulled the trigger to snap an image. We did have some issues with the app crashing, but considering our iPhone 6 is on the iOS 9 beta, and the developer said kinks with iOS 9 are still being worked out, we can't hold that against the device.
Still, using the Grip&Shoot app means users will lose some basic camera functions. For example, while holding down the trigger repeatedly snaps images, it lacks compared to the high-speed burst mode found in Apple's native Camera app.
Still, there are advantages to the app over Apple's own. The reprogrammable plus and minus buttons are great and easy to configure. Options for the buttons include:
- Aspect Ratio Toggle
- Exposure Control
- Flash Toggle
- Geo Tagging Toggle
- Grid Toggle
- Photo/Video Toggle
- Photo Preview Toggle
- Preferences Toggle
- Switch Camera Toggle
- White Balance Control
- Zoom Control
All of the "toggle" options can be mixed and matched. That means, for example, you could have the plus button toggle between the forward and rear facing cameras, while the minus button would switch between photo and video.
But the official Grip&Shoot app does lose connection whenever your iPhone locks. That means if you have it ready to go, but your iPhone screen has locked due to time, you might miss out on a critical shot at the right moment while you unlock your phone and reestablish a connection.
Currently, there are three apps compatible with the hardware beyond the official Grip&Shoot app. They are Slow Motion Camera, PureShot, and 645 Pro Mk III. Popular options like Camera+ or VSCOcam simply will not work with this accessory unless the developer decides to add support with the open Grip&Shoot APIs.
Grip&Shoot's creator told us that there are six more compatible apps coming soon, with 15 other companies "getting their software on board." They said support would be coming for a variety of applications, including traditional cameras, 3D scanners, radar detection, and games.
How you feel about the Grip&Shoot will ultimately come down to how you feel about its dependence on third-party apps.
Thankfully, users can test out the official Grip&Shoot app for free by downloading and hitting the "skip connection" button. All of the functionality of the app, including a virtual shutter button on the screen, is accessible even without the hardware itself.
The hardware, we're happy to say, is great. It's comfortable in the hand, it will result in more steady shots, it's relatively portable, and its unique removable pieces add new portable tripod and remote capture capabilities that really round out the package and make it a versatile tool.
Score: 3.5 out of 5
- Comfortable and easy to use, with a secure iPhone mount for just about any model and case
- Lightweight, portable, and customizable with programmable buttons
- Clever design allows it to turn into a stand or be put on a tripod in a pinch
- Reliance on third-party apps means limited software options
- Device disconnects once your iPhone locks