As soon as we saw the iPhone 12‘s new MagSafe connector our minds started whirring with ideas about how it could be used – and Moment has already provided a very promising answer with its new range of tripod mounts.
While we’re sure to see some more extreme accessories like games controllers in the future, photographic MagSafe add-ons certainly make a lot of sense – in fact, magnetic friends like the ones in Moment’s new range might just be prove to be the iPhone 12’s biggest camera upgrade.
Despite a new brighter f/1.6 lens on its main camera and the arrival of night mode on all three of its cameras, the iPhone 12 isn’t a huge photographic leap over its predecessor. But MagSafe opens up the possibility of adding some genuinely useful, fuss-free accessories to help amplify its camera talents.
The four photography-related ones Moment has announced are understandably pretty basic. There are two MagSafe tripod mounts for the iPhone 12 – a simple $39.99 (around £30 / AU$55) one that connects to any standard 1/4-inch tripod or handle, and lets you shoot in landscape or portrait, plus a more interesting $49.99 (about £40 / AU$70) Pro Tripod Mount.
The latter includes a cold shoe mount (like the mounts you see on top of cameras, only unpowered), for attaching lights or a microphone and turning it into a compact little vlogging setup. It’s also a potentially good way to get the most out of the iPhone 12’s Night Mode, with tripod stability allowing you to extend those exposures (by tapping the Night Mode icon and using the on-screen slider) by up to 30 seconds.
Of course, all this has been possible before, but it’s traditionally involved slightly awkward clamps or bespoke cases – new MagSafe accessories like these promises to make it a more frictionless experience, while opening the door to new types of camera accessory. Particularly if the rumors about the iPhone 12 hiding a reverse wireless charging turn out to be true.
Moment’s new MagSafe accessories aren’t just for photographers either – there’s also a Multi Threaded Mount for video shooters, which promises to let you magnetically attach your iPhone 12 to pretty much anything via a magic arm, rig mount, tripod or ball head. Again, the benefit is really the simplicity of snapping your phone onto a trusted accessory, with or without a phone case, and just hitting record.
A question you may be asking is how strong the magnets are, and if they can be trusted to protect your iPhone 12 from a glass-shattering fall? We’re looking forward to testing this out, but Moment says it uses a proprietary magnet array that provides even more strength than the MagSafe charger or wallet.
In fact, Moment uses the example of the DJI OM 4‘s new magnetic mount – its new MagSafe mounts apparently have equivalent strength to DJI’s gimbal, and we can certainly vouch for the latter’s strength. The OM 4’s mount is absolutely rock-solid and very secure, so we’d certainly be happy to leave our iPhone 12 on a magic arm with a similar attachment.
Still, as promising as Moment’s new mounts are, they’re clearly just scratching the surface of MagSafe’s photographic possibilities. Moment is better known for its iPhone lenses, and the company’s Product Manager Alex Stankie revealed on a Reddit thread that it has toyed with a MagSafe clip-on lens.
In the thread, he said that “you might see this from us, we did patent it but we’re worried about alignment.” The issue is obviously making it work with different phone case sizes, but there could potentially be magnetic lenses – for example, a version of its new Anamorphic lens – for videographers who don’t mind going without a case.
Looking even further ahead, could we see magnetic ‘lens camera’ that’s the spiritual successor to the Sony QX10 (above)? The latter was effectively a compact camera built into a lens attachment for your phone, complete with a larger sensor and 10x optical zoom.
Given how far smartphone cameras have evolved since then, a lens like that feels a little niche and outdated. But the concept – clip-on hardware that can help you amplify the iPhone 12’s computational power – is certainly an interesting one that we’re looking to see riffed on soon.
As for Moment’s new MagSafe accessories, they’re estimated to ship in March 2021, though Moment has said that it’s aiming to ship in January. Hopefully by then the MagSafe ecosystem, and the iPhone 12’s photographic versatility, will have grown even further.