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

Whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker or just want to shoot better vlogs and selfies, you may have been looking for a phone tripod. The problem is, there’s a seemingly endless selection, ranging from cheap stands that hold your phone to sophisticated setups that double as a vlogging grip and remote. You should also consider phones like the iPhone 13 Pro and Galaxy S22 Plus record better quality video with their rear cameras than their selfie cameras, which can make it even harder to set up your shot. (Fortunately there is no shortage) TikTok hacks to get around this

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

So why do I recommend a tripod and monitor that costs nearly $350 and only works with two niche phones? Because these accessories are excellent. If you own or plan to buy a Sony camera or either of the two supported phones, I suggest you consider this setup. As for everyone else, I would like to see similar setups from phone manufacturers or third parties offering products with this level of quality and ease of use.

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Sony GP-VPT2BT Wireless Bluetooth Shooting Grip and Tripod

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

Like a tiny selfie stick, the Sony grip-and-tripod hybrid allows you to physically hold your phone further away so you can get more of your face and body in view. Unlike a selfie stick, it doesn’t have the baggage of critical judgment from onlookers.

The grip also connects to your phone or camera via Bluetooth, meaning you don’t have to pull a cable from the tripod to your phone or camera. The handle acts like a Bluetooth remote even with nothing mounted on it, which I find quite appealing.

The tripod head attachment is quick to attach and remove. Once mounted, there’s a flip button that allows you to rotate your camera or phone between a vlog position or facing away from you, while still having access to the controls. There’s also an adjustable tilt knob to help you level a shot or find a dramatic angle.

When using the grip and tripod with the Sony Xperia 1 IV camera, I could easily detach the phone and keep the grip in my back pocket. I definitely wouldn’t want to sit like that though, so I recommend storing it in a purse or purse.

Back to price, there are many other handles or table tripods you can find online that don’t cost $140. But the Sony tripod grip excels in its convenience, as everything comes in a small, robust all-in-one package. If you bought a good grip, a nice Bluetooth remote and a solid table tripod, you could easily spend over $140 and have more things to carry around.

Sony Xperia 1 IV mounted on tripod

When the Vlog Monitor is plugged in and attached to the back of the Xperia 1 IV, the camera preview on the phone’s screen turns black.

James Martin/CNET

The Sony Vlog Monitor lets you use the camera on the back of your phone for selfies

The grip is only part of the story. Add to that the Sony Vlog Monitor for Xperia Pro-I and Xperia 1 IV and you have an ideal (albeit expensive) vlog setup. The small $199 3.5-inch monitor has a sturdy metal phone holder with a cold-shoe mount (for adding a shotgun microphone, 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 housing of the phone grip. It is a secure connection and never dropped out in my two weeks of use. Your phone can power the Vlog Monitor, although it also has a separate USB-C input to get power from a battery pack. If you have connected the monitor to a wall outlet, it can also charge the phone. There is also a 3.5mm microphone jack for using an external microphone.

Phone on tripod films a triangle of billiard balls

The Sony Xperia Pro-I mounted on a Sony GP-VPT2BT wireless Bluetooth shooting grip and tripod.

James Martin/CNET

Unsurprisingly, this setup also worked great with Sony’s Photo Pro and Video Pro apps, which work right out of the box with the monitor. All you need to do is have the Vlog Monitor turned on and connected. Once plugged in, you have the same robust controls to make the image look the way you want 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 according to a recent TikTok trend, people are using their Apple Watch as a small, rear-facing monitor for the iPhone, and the result is identical to using Sony’s Vlog Monitor. Right now, a brand new Apple Watch Series 3 — which we no longer recommend as it won’t receive any new software updates — costs $199. So the Vlog Monitor’s price point makes sense in my book.

Wish the grip or magnetic monitor would work with other phones like the iPhone? Absolute. It would make this setup a worthwhile investment for years to come. But if you get an Xperia Pro-I or an Xperia 1 IV, this combination of grip and monitor makes these phones an even more versatile way to record videos. If you also have a Sony camera, you get double the usage.

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