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

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

But by testing the Sony Xperia 1IV phone, I have found the ultimate phone tripod and vlogging setup. The thing is, it actually consists of two products: the $140 Sony GP-VPT2BT Wireless Bluetooth Grip and Tripod and the $199 Sony Vlog Monitor. And yes, it’s basically a setup for just under $350 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. It therefore does not work with an iPhone 13, a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or a Google Pixel 6 Pro. And the tripod/grip/remote control only works with Sony cameras and phones.

So why am I recommending a tripod and monitor that costs nearly $350 and only works with two niche phones? Because these accessories are exceptional. If you own or plan to buy a Sony camera or one of the two supported phones, I recommend you consider this setup. As with everyone else, I would 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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Sony GP-VPT2BT Wireless Bluetooth 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 turn those cameras into a vlogging setup. Helpfully, the grip also works with the Xperia Pro-I phone and the upcoming Xperia 1 IV.

Like a small selfie stick, Sony’s grip-tripod hybrid lets you hold your phone physically farther away so you can see your face and body better in the shot. Unlike a selfie stick, it doesn’t have the baggage of squeaky judgments from onlookers.

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

The tripod head mount is quick to attach and remove. When mounted, there’s a flip button that allows you to rotate your camera or phone between vlogging or facing you, while retaining access to 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. However, I definitely wouldn’t want to sit like that, so I recommend storing it in a bag or purse.

Coming back to price, there are plenty of other tabletop grips or tripods you can find online that don’t cost $140. But the Sony tripod grip shines with its convenience, as it all comes in a small, sturdy all-in-one package. If you bought a good quality grip, a nice Bluetooth remote, and a sturdy tabletop tripod, you’d easily spend over $140 and have more stuff 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 screen turns black.

James Martin/CNET

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

Getting started 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) vlogging setup. The tiny $199 3.5-inch monitor has a sturdy metal phone stand 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 handle. It’s a secure connection and has never dropped in two weeks of use. Your phone can power the Vlog Monitor, although it also has a separate USB-C input to receive power from a battery. If the monitor is plugged into the mains, it can also charge the phone. There’s also a 3.5mm microphone jack for using an external mic.

Phone on tripod filming triangle of billiard balls

The Sony Xperia Pro-I mounted on a Sony GP-VPT2BT wireless Bluetooth camera 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 have to do is turn on and plug in the Vlog Monitor. Once connected, you have the same robust controls to make the picture look the way you want and the convenience of being able to use the rear camera for selfies and vlogging.

In terms of price, it’s hard to compare the Vlog Monitor with other small magnetic screens, largely because they don’t exist. But a recent trend from TikTok has people 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 because it won’t receive new software updates — costs $199. So the price of the Vlog monitor makes sense in my book.

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

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