I finally found the perfect phone tripod. But there are 2 big problems

If you are an aspiring filmmaker or just want to shoot better vlogs and selfies, you may have been looking for a phone tripod. Problem is, there’s a seemingly endless selection, ranging from cheap mounts that hold your phone to fancy setups that double as a remote and remote. You also have to take into account that phones like the iPhone 13Pro and Galaxy S22 Plus record better quality video with your rear cameras than your selfie cameras, which can make your photo setup even more difficult. (Fortunately, there is no shortage of TikTok hacks to get around this.)

But when testing the Sony Xperia 1 IV phone, I found the best phone tripod and vlogging setup. The trick is that it actually consists of two products: the $140 product Shooting Grip and Wireless Bluetooth Tripod Sony GP-VPT2BT and the $199 Sony Vlog Monitor. And yes, that’s essentially a shy $350 setup to hold your phone so you can film yourself. Also, the vlog monitor only works with Sony Xperia Pro-I and Xperia 1 IV phones. So it doesn’t work with an iPhone 13, a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or a Google Pixel 6 Pro. And the tripod/grip/remote only works with Sony cameras and phones.

So why am I recommending a tripod and monitor that costs around $350 and only works with two niche phones? Because these accessories are great. If you own or plan to buy a Sony camera or either of the two supported phones, I recommend considering this setup. As for everyone else, I’d love to see similar setups from phone manufacturers or third parties that offer products with this level of quality and ease of use.

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Shooting Grip and Wireless Bluetooth Tripod Sony GP-VPT2BT

Originally designed for Sony cameras like the ZV-1, ZV-10E, A7C and A7S III, the Sony GP-VPT2BT was an easy way to turn these cameras into a vlogging setup. Handy, the grip also works with the Xperia Pro-I phone and the upcoming Xperia 1 IV.

Like a tiny selfie stick, Sony’s grip and tripod hybrid lets you physically hold your phone farther away so you can get more of your face and body in the shot. Unlike a selfie stick, it doesn’t have the baggage of weird judgments from viewers.

The strap also connects to your phone or camera via Bluetooth, which means you don’t have to run a cable from the tripod to your phone or camera. The grip doubles as a Bluetooth remote even when you don’t have anything mounted on it, which I find quite appealing.

The tripod head mount is quick to put on and take off. Once assembled, there’s a flip button that lets you swivel your camera or phone between a vlog or back-to-back position, while still maintaining access to the controls. There’s also an adjustable tilt knob to help you level a photo or find a dramatic angle.

When I used the strap and tripod with the Sony Xperia 1 IV camera, I was able to easily unplug the phone and keep the strap in my back pocket. However, I definitely wouldn’t want to sit like that, so I recommend keeping it in a purse or purse.

Coming back to price, there are plenty of other table mounts or tripods you can find online that don’t cost $140. But Sony’s tripod shines for its convenience, as it all comes in a small, sturdy all-in-one package. If you were buying a good quality grip, a good Bluetooth remote, and a solid table tripod, you’d easily spend over $140 and have more stuff to carry.

Sony Xperia 1 IV tripod mounted

When the Vlog Monitor is plugged in and plugged into the back of the Xperia 1 IV, the camera preview on the phone screen is black.

James Martin/CNET

Sony Vlog Monitor lets you use your phone’s rear camera for selfies

The grip is only part of the story. Add the Sony Vlog Monitor for Xperia Pro-I and Xperia 1 IV and you have an ideal (albeit expensive) vlog setup. The tiny $199 3.5-inch monitor has a sturdy metal phone holder with a cold shoe mount (for adding a shotgun mic, for example). An included USB-C cable connects the monitor to the phone.

The back of the monitor is magnetic and attaches to the metal body of the phone’s strap. It’s a secure connection and it has never dropped in my two weeks of use. Your phone can power the Vlog Monitor, though it also has a separate USB-C input for taking power from a battery. If you have the monitor plugged in to power, it can also charge your phone. There is also a 3.5mm microphone jack for using an external microphone.

Phone on tripod filming a triangle of billiard balls

The Sony Xperia Pro-I mounted on a Sony GP-VPT2BT Bluetooth Wireless Shooting Grip and Tripod.

James Martin/CNET

Unsurprisingly, this setup also worked great with Sony’s Photo Pro and Video Pro apps, which work with the monitor right out of the box. All you need to do is have the Vlog Monitor turned on and connected. Once connected, you have all the same robust controls to get the picture just the way you want it, and the convenience of being able to use the rear camera for selfies and vlogging.

Price-wise, it’s hard to compare the Vlog Monitor to other small magnetic displays, largely because they don’t exist. But a recent TikTok trend has people using the Apple Watch as a small rear-facing display for their iPhone, and the result is identical to using Sony’s Vlog Monitor. Right now, a new Apple Watch Series 3 – which we no longer recommend as it won’t receive new software updates – is $199. So the Vlog Monitor price makes sense in my book.

Do I want the handle or magnetic display to work with other phones like iPhone? Absolutely. This would make this setup a worthwhile investment for years to come. But if you’re getting an Xperia Pro-I or an Xperia 1 IV, that grip and monitor combo makes these phones an even more versatile way to shoot video. If you also have a Sony camera, you get double the usage.

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