Studio Neat helped usher in the era of tripod-based iPhone photography with its very first Glif in 2010; the phone holder offered artists a way to securely hold and connect their iPhone to just about every standard tripod out there. It used an Allen wrench system to secure the mount around the phone, where it could then be attached to whatever the photographer desired.
In the seven years since, there have been a panoply of variations on the concept from just as many vendors, attempting to improve upon the brilliance of the original. Many tried to offer quick-release options, but those models came at the expense of stability and long-term reliability; I broke at least four different "quick-release" tripod mounts over the years with over-use or using larger models (hi, iPhone 6s Plus).
That streak has ended: I've finally found a quick-release tripod mount that not only works flawlessly — it's just as durable today as it was when I purchased it two months ago. The mastermind behind this fantastic new accessory? None other than Studio Neat. The company has not only redesigned the Glif to make it easier to use for phones of all sizes, but photographers of all commitment levels.
Fit and finish
There are no Allen wrenches involved in the new $28 Glif; instead, the company uses a spring-loaded lever to lock the tripod into place. Snap it back, and the mount's clamps can adjust freely around your device; snap it closed to freeze the clamps in their current position.
The Glif is easily adjustable when the lever is open, but super-secure when shut.
It's a huge improvement over the original Glif without sacrificing build quality or security. I've used a Glif-mounted iPhone over water, atop cliffs, and out of cars with Studio Neat's new handgrip, and I haven't once feared for its safety. The mount's lever holds the iPhone in place, while its rubber-and-plastic clamps provide a suction grip to eliminate any extraneous movement. It's a great piece of technology.
But the Glif's redesign doesn't end there. While the quick-release lever should please photographers and selfie-loving teens alike, the Glif's real power is in its flexibility. Like the original, you can mount it in landscape orientation to any 1/4"-20-compatible tripod screw, but this version goes a step further by offering a top and side screw-mount, as well.
As a result, not only can you mount the Glif in either landscape or portrait on an existing tripod, but you also now have two additional mounts for pro accessories like mics and lights. Casual users may not even notice their existence, but they're incredible options for anyone who wants a bit more out of their iPhone photography or videography. (Bonus: You can use the side mount to prop your iPhone up in portrait mode on most flat surfaces — no tripod necessary.)
I mentioned earlier that Studio Neat now offers an optional $55 Hand Grip package if you don't have a tripod you favor: It's a beautiful piece of cherry wood with a wrist strap and fits nicely into your hand. I used it quite a bit during WWDC to shoot video and have been alternating using it and my Gorillapod on trips. Unlike the Gorillapod, Studio Neat's hand grip doesn't allow you to convert it into a standalone tripod; it's primarily designed for in-hand shooting and stabilization. I like the weight and balance it offers quite a lot, and it's a good intermediate solution if you don't plan or want a full stabilization rig for your iPhone photography or videography.
If you ever find yourself in need of an external mounting solution for your iPhone, the Glif is a worthy option. Whether you shoot selfies or Sundance films, the mount is versatile enough to handle them all, and its durability should last you well beyond the next time Studio Neat decides to reinvent mobile tripod photography.
Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.