After seeing too many incidents when smart phones popped out of their tripod mounts and came crashing to the ground, I decided it was time to write this article.
Posted December 16, 2017. Revised and re-posted November 18, 2020.
After reading a lot of reviews and testing three smart phone tripod mounts for myself, here’s the bottom line. The Square Jellyfish and Joby GripTight tripod mounts are the best, safest, smart phone tripod adapter for less than $20.
Square Jellyfish Tripod Mount
The Square Jellyfish comes in several versions, one of which includes short legs. The version pictured above and immediately below is the simplest and most straightforward. It is my preferred version.
Folded up, the Square Jellyfish is about 3 1/4 inches long, 1 1/4 inches thick (from the round knob to the jaws), and about 1 1/4 inches wide at the jaws. The long base is about one inch wide
The jaws are a little over 5/8 inch deep and have a nice lip to wrap around your smart phone so it doesn’t fall out of the jaws, which is a real issue with several other brands.
There is a standard tripod socket on the bottom of the metal base
The Square Jellyfish will mount on any standard tripod head with 1/4 inch threads.
If you use a tripod head with Arca-Swiss type jaws you can get a mounting plate to go on the bottom of the Square Jellyfish.
Just screw the mounting plate onto the bottom of the Square Jellyfish and leave it there. You can get a $30 universal camera plate from Kirk Enterprises (link below). Really Right Stuff also has mounting plates (link below). You will need to talk to the folks at Really Right Stuff to find a basic camera plate or basic lens plate that will work with the Square Jellyfish since their site does not list a “universal” mounting plate..
Just drop the mounting plate into your tripod head (photo immediately above) and close the Arca-Swiss jaws. Then put your smart phone into the jaws of the Square Jellyfish (they are spring loaded) and tighten the round knob to keep your phone from rotating in the mount. The jaws open up to 3 1/2 inches wide so it will take a fairly wide smart phone. To go vertical, loosen the round knob, rotate the phone to vertical and tighten the knob. You will probably need to slide your phone up in the jaws before you tighten the knob so the bottom of the phone clears the tripod head. (For the record, when I took this photo I was testing the Chinese lens that is mounted on the phone. The image quality of this lens is lousy.)
I chose the Square Jellyfish over the Joby because the jaws are just deep enough to hold my iPhone while it is in a Mophie case.
Joby GripTight Tripod Mount
My other favorite choice is the Joby GripTight Mount. Unfortunately for me the jaws are not deep enough for the lips on the jaws to wrap around the Mophie case for my iPhone SE. If the iPhone SE is out of the Mophie case the Joby Grip Tight Mount works just fine. The Joby GripTight will work with most standard (not overly thick) smart phone cases.
I really like the simple and elegant design of the Joby GripTight Mount. It folds flat when not in use so it takes very little space. This medium size model folds flat to about 3 1/2 inches long, just a little over one inch wide, and about 1/4 inch thick. You can see the tripod socket on the right. If you use the Arca-Swiss system you can screw a mounting plate into the tripod socket to use the Joby on an Arca-Swiss type tripod head.
The jaws of the Joby are 9/16 inch deep and the jaws have a nice lip for gripping the phone. If your smart phone case is thicker than 9/16 inch, the Joby won’t work unless you take your phone out of it’s case.
Like the Square Jellyfish, the jaws are spring loaded. How wide they spread depends on the size you get. The Joby Grip Tight Mount comes in three sizes. You choose the size depending on how wide your smart phone or small tablet is. When you use the link below at my photography store, it will take you to a page at Amazon which has information on all three sizes.
Update 2020: I upgraded to an iPhone 11 which is in an Apatronix battery case. The phone and case easily fit in the Square Jellyfish tripod mount and it just barely fits in the medium size Joby Grip Tight Mount. The Apatronix case is about the same size as the Mophie case in these photos.
The Smart Phone Tripod Mount to Avoid
This is the tripod mount to avoid. It is sold under several different brand names and it often comes with a mini-tripod with either flexible or rigid legs. The jaws are spring loaded. Sometimes this kind of mount comes as part of a package deal when you buy some other kind of smart phone accessory.
The problem is the jaws do not have any kind of lip to wrap around and grab the smart phone or phone case. The bottom is rubberized but the top “jaw” is metal so it is easy for the phone to slide out of the top jaws. On more than one occasion I have seen a smart phone pop out of this kind of tripod mount. You will not be happy if you are using one of these and your phone pops out and comes crashing to the ground.
Whatever kind of tripod mount you choose for your phone, get one that has lips on the jaws and a rubberized surface on the jaws.
For more information on Arca-Swiss type quick release systems, read The Very Best Quick Release System.
Really Right Stuff and Kirk Enterprise Solutions are two of the best sources of Arca-Swiss type ball heads, mounting plates for cameras and lenses, and jaws to convert standard tripod heads into Arca-Swiss compatible heads.
This is one in a series of articles that will guide you to the best of all things photographic. The rest are here: Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More.